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PITTSBURGH PIRATES

April 14, 1958
April 14, 1958

Table of Contents
April 14, 1958

Acknowledgments
Baseball '58
  • East and West will clash in a season made exciting by new cities, fans, faces and champions. All this, and a whale of a pennant race—or two

  • The Braves have finally won their pennant and they should be even better this year. The pitching is superb and very deep, the power unmatched in either league, the catching solid and the defense is at least adequate. The Braves are both good and young—and they are going to be hard to catch

  • Here is a ball club with leadership and spirit, a great hitter, a tight infield, good run production—and the memory of how tough they made it on the Braves last year. There are weaknesses, but if the fine young pitching staff produces with real consistency, the Cardinals could go all the way

  • Here are your Dodgers, Los Angeles. Once they were magnificent, but now they are playing on a memory. They have lost the flash of Robinson on the base paths, the boom of Campanella's bat. Applaud them anyway and perhaps in time they will reward you with a pennant. But not for a while

  • Speed, power, catching and a sharp defense can carry a club a long way—or just as far as the pitching will allow. The Reds have made some trades and they have some new pitchers who should produce. With a little help from the old ones, this is a team that could win a pennant

  • Philadelphians have known dark days. Between the two wars, the Phillies finished in last place 16 times. Then in 1950, after 35 years of ridicule, the Phillies won a pennant. Happy days, it seemed, had come at last. But they have not come close since, and fans are wondering if they must wait another 35 years

  • The Giants arrive at the Pacific brimming with hope. A new era demands a new team, and with smart looking rookies augmenting the wonderful reality of Willie Mays, the Giants believe they might have that new team. The question marks are many, however, and time, as they say, will tell

  • People tend to mock the Cubs. In Chicago the newspapermen like to call them the Cubbies, to demonstrate how ineffectual they are. Possibly it's true. Possibly the Cubs this year are just as bad as ever. But do not forget that there are some very fine ballplayers on this otherwise weak team

  • The Pirates were supposed to start their climb last year—and didn't. Now, a year wiser, they realize that half a dozen fine young players can't do it alone. But if Kluszewski can only deliver those big hits and the pitching staff somehow comes around...well, 1958 could be different

  • It is a new year but the Yankees of '58 are an old story. As in the past, they have power, pride and the winning habit. Some critics may argue that this team is not to be compared with the great Yankee teams of '27 or '36, but what does it really matter? They are good enough to win...and easily

  • Without a home run hitter worthy of the name, the White Sox are all set to make their annual run at the Yankees—and the elusive pennant. If they succeed, it will be because they can pitch and run and field much better than anyone else. They still can't hit the baseball out of the park

  • No one has spent more money for more disappointment than the owner of the Red Sox, Tom Yawkey. Ten years ago he had the team everyone wanted: Williams, Doerr, Stephens, Pesky and DiMaggio. But it won no pennant. Now all that remains is Williams. But for some, that is enough

  • Everybody's glamour club last spring and a bitter disappointment in the summer, the Tigers don't intend to be either this year. They think they can win and, who knows, they might—if the Yankees were in another league. At least, they should be closer at the finish this season

  • People have just about forgotten that the Baltimore Orioles used to be the St. Louis Browns, so far up the ladder of respectability have the Orioles climbed. They finished within a half game of the first division last season, and they have hopes of reaching that promised land this year

  • Last season was disastrous for the Indians. Herb Score was hit in the eye, Bob Lemon hurt his arm, the pitching fell apart, and after 10 years in the first division they collapsed into sixth place. Now, with a new manager and a new general manager, the Indians start the long road back

  • Once Lou Boudreau left the scene last season and Harry Craft succeeded him, Kansas City started to play more spirited ball. But the final result was about the same since there isn't that much difference between last and seventh places. By now, Cowtown fans must be resigned to what they have

  • Summers are generally long in Washington. This year should prove no exception as far as the Senators are concerned. Charley Dressen tired of the team last year, and now it's up to Cookie Lavagetto to inspire it for another long summer. But inspiration is a weak substitute for talented young baseball players

  • Three baseball-loving artists put their palettes together and whipped up a brand-new baseball game. It's fun and as easy to play as choosing sides

  • By Robert Boyle

    Chicago's seldom-interviewed boss, Phil Wrigley, wants everybody to have a good time at Cubs Park. And everybody does—except the Cubs and Wrigley himself

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

The Pirates were supposed to start their climb last year—and didn't. Now, a year wiser, they realize that half a dozen fine young players can't do it alone. But if Kluszewski can only deliver those big hits and the pitching staff somehow comes around...well, 1958 could be different

THE MANAGER

This is an article from the April 14, 1958 issue Original Layout

A big league infielder for seven years and a big league manager since last August when he replaced Bobby Bragan, Danny Murtaugh has fond hopes that he can keep the Pirates moving at the same .500 gait at which they played the last two months of the '57 season. If so, he will be accomplishing something no other Pittsburgh manager has been able to do over a full season for the past 10 years. A chunky, tobacco chewing, cigar-smoking Irishman with a keen sense of humor and a genius for double talk, he wears uniform No. 40, which matches his age. Murtaugh's coaching staff is made up of Bill Burwell (41), Leonard Levy (42), Sad Sam Narron (43) and Frank Oceak (44).

ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S PIRATES

STRONG POINTS: Strangely enough, a last-place ball club can have some strong points, and the Pirates have theirs. Dick Groat at shortstop and Bill Mazeroski at second base make up one of the finest double-play combinations in the league. Groat is quick and smart and a sharp hitter, while baseball men are saying that Mazeroski, with his great hands and range and arm, is perhaps the finest young infielder in the business. Frank Thomas, a valuable and highly versatile athlete who can play first, third or the outfield, has always hit with real power, and each member of the outfield—Bill Virdon, Roberto Clemente and Bob Skinner—has been a .300 hitter at one time or another in the big leagues. In addition, the first two, playing center and right respectively, are outstanding defensively. Bob Friend ranks as one of the top pitchers in. the game, and Hank Foiles, the surprise of 1957, turned in a splendid catching job with little help. This is a young team with very good speed and surprising depth: Infielders Gene Baker, Gene Freese and Johnny O'Brien, Outfielders Roman Mejias, Paul Smith and John Powers.

WEAK SPOTS: The Pirates are well represented her°, too, and the pitching staff is a good place to begin. Behind Friend there is only Ronnie Kline and Vernon Law, who have looked good but never quite good enough, and the relief ace, Elroy Face. Don Gross, picked up in the deal with Cincinnati, may be the fourth starter—and the lefthander—the Pirates so badly need. But for a fifth man and a spot pitcher or two, the Pirates are going to have to stir up something from among a double handful of young hopefuls, semifailures and raw rookies who between them managed to win less than a dozen big league games last year. There is also little reason to believe that the catching, behind Foiles, will show much improvement; the same ones are around again who have missed before. And the Pirates, despite some good high-average hitters in the lineup, are still woefully short on power. Only Thomas has proved that he can consistently hit the ball out of vast Forbes Field.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES: The new face which looms largest on this ball club is attached to Ted Kluszewski, and every Pittsburgh official, player and fan only hopes that it may be seen an awful lot this year out on the field. The other trade acquisition was Gross, a highly promising young man for whom the Pirates were willing to part with Bob Purkey. The rookies include a pair of Coast League pitching phenoms named Bennie Daniels (a left-hander) and George Witt, who between them won 35 games and lost only 15 for Hollywood last year. Now that Dick Stuart, the home-run-hitting strikeout wonder, has been found lacking again in his attempt to switch from the outfield to first base, R. C. Stevens, another big long-ball hitter, has a good chance to be the man who will back up Klu. And Johnny Powers, a hard-hitting 28-year-old who keeps coming back each spring, may stick as a pinch hitter and as an outfield reserve.

THE BIG IFS: Perhaps the biggest if in all baseball today concerns Ted Kluszewski and his aching back. After a slow, cautious start this spring, the big slugger has been driving baseballs out of the park and seems to have regained all his old prowess. The only question now is whether he will be able to play with any great regularity. If he can, most of Pittsburgh's worries over a power shortage will immediately disappear. Virdon and Clemente, second and third in the league averages in '56, must hit like that again instead of at their .250 level of last year. And finally, if Gross does well and one or two of the other pitching hopefuls manage to become a winner, the Pirates will be pretty well set.

THE VOICES

Bob Prince (41, confident), the son of a regular Army officer, moved from one Army post to another as a youth and then from school to school (Pitt, Stanford, Oklahoma and Harvard Law). When he won announcing audition by "accident," Prince forgot family tradition and quit law school. Colorful and controversial, Prince makes no bones about rooting hard for the Pirates. His repeated "Sufferin' Catfish" and "Oh, how sweet it is" leave no doubt in listeners' ears as to how the Pirates are doing at the moment. Some say he is a show-off and too gabby but everyone concedes he has one of the finest air voices in the business. Loses 15 pounds during season, JIM WOODS (41, deep-throated) entered baseball at the tender age of 4 as mascot for the Kansas City Blues. A stint as bat boy followed and Woods's career was set. He came to the majors in 1953 to cover the Yankees and switched to the Giants in 1957. Woods brings his deep, rhythmic delivery to Pittsburgh for the first time this year.

View this article in the original magazine

PHOTODICK GROATPHOTOBILL MAZEROSKIPHOTOTED KLUSZEWSKIPHOTOFRANK THOMASPHOTOROBERTO CLEMENTEPHOTOHANK FOILESPHOTOBILL VIRDONPHOTOBOB SKINNERPHOTOBOB PRINCEPHOTOBOB FRIENDPHOTORONNIE KLINEPHOTOVERNON LAWPHOTOELROY FACEPHOTOILLUSTRATION

THE OUTLOOK: A young, improving ball club, the Pirates have too much talent to stay in the cellar. With such stars as Thomas, Friend, Groat, Mazeroski, Virdon, Clemente and Skinner on the roster, backed up by a good supporting cast, they should now begin to move up. Yet Friend, Kline and Law can't carry the pitching all alone, and unless Kluszewski is able to come back, Thomas is in the position of having to supply all the long ball punch by himself. The Pirates will cause a lot of trouble to teams chasing a pennant but they are still a long way from becoming a serious threat themselves.

BASIC ROSTER

no.

player

position

1957 record

3

Ted Kluszewski

IB

.268

4

Bob Skinner

OF

.305

6

Johnny O'Brien

IF

.314

8

Gene Freese

IF-OF

.283

9

Bill Mazeroski

2B

.283

11

Paul Smith

OF

.253

14

John Powers

1B-OF

minors

15

Frank Thomas

IF-OF

.290

18

Bill Virdon

OF

.251

20

Hank Foiles

C

.270

21

Roberto Clemente

OF

.253

23

Gene Baker

IF

.264

24

Dick Groat

SS

.315

25

Roman Mejias

OF

.275

19

Bob Friend

P

14-18

22

Ronnie Kline

P

9-16

16

Elroy Face

P

4-6

32

Vernon Law

P

10-8

38

Don Gross

P

7-9

39

Luis Arroyo

P

3-11

PAST PERFORMANCE CHART TEAM

year

finished

won

lost

behind games

1957

7

62

92

33

1956

7

66

88

27

1955

8

60

94

38½

1954

8

53

101

44

1953

8

50

104

55

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

batting

pitching

1957

Groat

.315

Friend

14-18

1956

Virdon

.319

Friend

17-17

1955

Long

.291

Friend

14-9

1954

Thomas

.298

L'field

10-11

1953

O'Connell

.294

Dickson

10-19

home runs

runs batted in

1957

Thomas

23

Thomas

89

1956

Long

27

Long

91

1955

Thomas

25

Long

79

1954

Thomas

23

Thomas

94

1953

Kiner

35

Kiner

116

HOME SCHEDULE

APRIL

CINCINNATI

18, 19, 20

MILWAUKEE

21*, 22

MAY

PHILADELPHIA

9*, 10, 11, 11

CINCINNATI

13*, 14*, 15

CHICAGO

20*, 21

ST. LOUIS

22*, 23*, 24

SAN FRANCISCO

25, 25

LOS ANOELES

27*, 28*

MILWAUKEE

30, 30, 31

JUNE

MILWAUKEE

1

SAN FRANCISCO

17*, 18*, 19

LOS ANGELES

20*, 21, 22, 22

ST. LOUIS

24*, 25*, 26

CHICAGO

27*, 28, 29, 29

JULY

PHILADELPHIA

1*

LOS ANGELES

22*, 23*, 24

SAN FRANCISCO

25*, 26, 27, 27

CHICAGO

29*, 30*, 31*

AUGUST

ST. LOUIS

1*, 2, 3, 3

CINCINNATI

8*, 9, 10, 10

MILWAUKEE

11*

SEPTEMBER

PHILADELPHIA

1, 1, 2*

CINCINNATI

4*

MILWAUKEE

5*, 6, 7, 7

SAN FRANCISCO

9*, 10*

LOS ANGELES

12*, 13

CHICAGO

14, 14

ST. LOUIS

16*

PHILADELPHIA

26*, 27, 28

*Night games