Talk about your long seasons! Today was a year in itself. My roomie [Lee Walls] started it off. I know damn well somebody had heard something. At breakfast we practically had Al Dark at third for tonight's game.
The roomie hit the sack leaving an unfinished crossword for me...can't permit that. I completed it, read the paper, listened to the radio until I sensed Walls would decide he no longer could sleep—then I turned it off. Having a roomie causes the most selfish notions to take control! He finally grumbled off to dress and said he'd meet me in the lobby to go out to Oakland. Had to have our hair cut "at the right shop, you know." He turned the bathroom over to me and went out. I had a chapter to go in Spectorsky's Exurbanites (still have) and I insisted on finishing it before I ate. He said, "ten minutes" and I said, "by three"; and continued to lie and read.
At 2:32 the phone rang. And tho I can't remember the exact time I was born, or married, or became a father, I have that minute imbedded forever in my memory. Holland (John Holland, general manager of the Chicago Cubs) said, "Will you come up to my room a minute?"...and I looked at my watch—2:32 p.m. E.D.T....and I knew I had been traded.
Between thinking how to let my roomie know where I was, and thinking what my wife would say, I really didn't think where I might be going. The sure sense of having been traded was in me, however. And, just as in the oft-repeated past when I was sent to another club, usually a lower league, I climbed the stairs wondering how I would say what I felt without ruining the man's regard for me.
July 20, 1958
That tableau of the next hour, and the memory of it, is hazy and slightly ridiculous. Holland's words "I don't know whether this is good news or bad news"...and "We appreciate all you've done for the organization," while probably well intentioned, were spoken like a poor actor at first rehearsal. The self-hypnosis about the Grand Nature of the Good American Game tends to delude the managers of baseball. They have relatively little influence on each working day. Neither do they throw, nor catch, nor hit, so how can they win? Yet they assume divine authority over their performers as if an inbreathing of their spirit will transform men. The "flesh peddling" is carried on daily, and the subconscious concern of man for his fellow creatures (be they simply ballplayers) creates a mental disturbance in baseball's bosses. For the player is an extension, inevitably, of the manager's own body. And the identification of Will and Instrument is so intimate a process that the release of a ballplayer by his manager must be a self-absolution. Mea Culpa, that I ever used you. Vale...never darken my conscience again....
My roomie showed a hurt concern and regret...we had reached a certain intimacy of men working deliberately together for a partly selfish, partly collective purpose. Other players smiled happily for me, and perhaps wondered that I showed less pleasure than they. I must remember not to laugh at the sweet sorrow that is supposed at parting. Yosh, the clubhouse boy, and Doc, the trainer, obviously were sorry, and together we were pitiably joyful at my "big break...." "You'll be glad"..."think of the future"...and damn the regrets. If I make more friends in baseball let them be as comfortably close to me as those two!
My wife cried via long distance from Chicago...for ten minutes...and after not being able to get on the plane, and being told to await the Cardinal arrival—I did, too...a little. Why me?
I watched the game today between the Cubs and the Pirates.... The Cubs won and I lost...for I wished them no luck. Drabowsky's fiancée was there and Moe asked me to sit with her during the game, a gesture unexpectedly pleasant. He did like me despite my treatment of him when he first joined the Cubs as my roomie. He must have felt my resentment of his status as a bonus player, and also of his obviously superior physical talent for the game. Despite my bitterness he always tried to be friendly. He'll be a success, I'm sure, and to him I wish good fortune. His girl loves him, and if he makes the most of that, what greater luck can a man have in any game?
After the game I ate at Carter's. Walls was there...with Dark. I sat down for coffee, and we talked for a while. Dark voiced the hope that we would not have a mutual wish for the other to have a bad year...just so the trade would look bad. I'll give it a try!
Lee seemed undecided about what to do till the train left for Philly, but I insisted that I was going to see Giulietta Masina in Nights of Cabiria. We agreed to have a drink later, and I went off on the streetcar. They yelled after me, "You're with the Cards now, take a cab."
The movie was magnificent. If Dark meant what he said about not understanding foreign movies (how many languages do you speak, he had asked incongruously), then I wonder how well he'll understand his new roommate. The realism of a work of art is so simple to comprehend, so elemental, that identification and understanding come to one in ninety minutes! Contrast the weeks of wondering of what your fellow man ever thinks about.
Somehow I missed Lee at the bar and the Cubs left. I sat there alone with a stinger...properly done, destiny! I finally called Art [Chicago Advertising Executive Art Meyerhoff], and his phone bill should reflect the concern, the regrets and the assurances he so wisely expressed. Perhaps I sensed his loss of power over me. I was now on my own.
The Cardinals arrived by plane at 2 a.m. So I waited till noon to get in touch with Hutch, who said, "Hello. Glad to have you with us." I took Dark's place in a bridge game in the clubhouse while the rain fell that canceled the night's game. My partner and I won two rubbers...I do like to play bridge.
The change of uniforms seemed hardly more noticeable than the posting of a new stockade guard at Ft. Meade.
My new roommate [Cardinal Pitcher Lindy McDaniel] is a fan...a religious fan. He talks about his religious affiliation...incessantly, I was told...that's fine. I can talk about religion for hours...any kind of religion! We went at it for two hours. He didn't win.... I didn't either, but I wasn't playing seriously. I did play rough tho. We probably won't talk about it much hereafter.... I'm harder to convert to the Right Way than a left-handed shortstop.
The Pirates won the game. We scored too few times. An occupational hazard for pitchers. The game was well pitched, but too close for relaxation. The Cardinals have a bench warmer who chews up towels. He spits small balls of cotton on the dugout steps. Since the towels are purple in color, I thought for a moment that somebody had shredded orchid petals on the steps....
There is less joking and carefree-ness on this bench. Nobody laughs when things are going bad. Everyone sits silently as the game goes on. Once in a while an umpire is criticized or a pitch praised (gorgeous curve ball)...or a base hit questioned (that ball should have been caught).
The beer is supplied by the local distributor for Budweiser. Two cases per day...win or lose....
Still no runs.... Hutch lets the starter go a long way. As a former pitcher might be expected to. I see the difference between the Cubs and the Cardinals more quickly now. Chicago is a counter-punching club. Take a punch...take another...maybe we'll get an opening. The Cardinals slap and cut, always on the go. So far the majority of rounds seem to be going the other way. We took a plane for Cincinnati.
I was born in Cincy. My folks live there, so does my married brother. And there are aunts and uncles, and a few friends from my adolescence. I haven't lived here since the first year I played as a pro.
When I checked in at the Netherland Plaza I should have made some phone calls...that's etiquette...or nostalgic interest...or something. But I wanted to see The Young Lions because it was possibly a new emotional experience...escapism perhaps...but at least I knew I would enjoy it. So I went to the movies first.
The papers said I had the first game. First I knew of it, for sure. My roomie had the second game so he wasn't going to the park until later. The forecast was for intermittent showers, so I knew the canvas would be on the field and we wouldn't hit. A bridge game was started and I joined in. There are five bridge players on this club so I felt good about the invite. Apparently Ennis [Cardinal Outfielder Del Ennis] doesn't play on the day of the game. I held bad cards...we made only one bid in nine deals. A Bad Omen?
Warming up, I didn't feel exceptionally good. Some days you throw better than others and you assume superiority, but today I knew I had my work cut out for me. The first batter doubled, and my assumption was confirmed. Nevertheless, I got out of the inning and we quickly made four runs in three innings to give me a boost. There's nothing like a good lead in three innings to make a pitcher feel like king of the hill.
In the sixth Bell hit a shot at me with two on. I saw it coming but I didn't glove it...with my eyes, I was lucky to see it. The ball broke my protective cup (as I later learned) and the pain was intense. Didn't note until I'd thrown Bell out on the rebound...but man...it hurt! After rolling around the infield for a while I lay still groaning. Ballplayers hovered over me with pained expressions and the trainer used ice and smelling salts...and I came to, hoping the ache would die down.
We won. The relief pitching was superb. Nothing like going all the way, but any win in a storm!
The reporters had an obviously good story, so they were in there pitching. What was there to say? I did my job. It was unusually difficult, perhaps, but not unique. The trainer gave me pills and assurance, and I headed for the train station. Since the club was going to Milwaukee I wanted to spend a day in my new house in Chicago.
The responsibility of buying a new home when you play ball is compounded by the risks of not spending more than half a year in it. Buying a big, expensive home is exaggerating the risk, perhaps, but so I did.
My gait was a hobbled one when I got off the train. I could hardly help thinking, "Gus had enjoyed the hospitality of my new house at a house-warming party this past winter, and 'bang,' he thanks me with a blast in the groin!"
The pile of mail was enormous and the phone was still ringing as friends, acquaintances, and just plain fans called to express their opinions on the trade. Anne was snowed under with the calls, and the repetition of regrets hardly relieved her own mind. However, she needed them, and appreciated them, so that the days went by rapidly till I arrived with my own consolation. After the win in Cincy our baseball life obviously would still have its merits, thanks to a good start in the first game.
I drove to Milwaukee for the game...ninety minutes from my home in Morton Grove. My groin was still too sore for exercise, but I enjoyed the feeling of belonging from the chorus of comments on the injury.
We lost to Spahn 3-2, despite his badly pitched game and our well-pitched game. Spahn is a treat to watch usually, and I was disappointed to see him win when he should not have. A great pitcher shouldn't be satisfied with a game like that....
The kids knew I was leaving when I packed my bags. They "helped" me put my things together for a month's absence from home. Tim was crying even before he decided to take my shorts and T shirts back out of the bag. Jamie, being older by a year, takes it in her stride.... "We'll go to kiddieland later, won't we, Daddy?" No child ever got a greater thrill out of the carnival ideas than Jamie. If she always maintains such a patient attitude to pleasure she'll make a great woman for somebody (not a ballplayer).
I took a train to Milwaukee and a plane to St. Louis after the game. We won in 12 innings 7-4. The single player in a new major league city finds it hard to choose between Any Place and The Right Place. A transient guest is inevitably downgraded in his host's eye. The succession of Card players had designated the George Washington Hotel. The room was adequate, if not air-conditioned. Hadn't I heard that air-conditioning was a necessity of life in St. Louis?...Still, I slept.
An off day for us ballplayers. We don't get many. My plans included two fine movies...three hours of the day taken care of...and inquiries about accommodations for the family. They would be coming in by next week. The question was: Should I blow a lot of money for a first-class vacation or should I get just enough room to be comfortable, and damn the inconveniences? After all, it was just a matter of two weeks.
Anne liked the swimming pool adjacent at the Forest Park. Why not live it up? The expense was high but I couldn't argue that I couldn't afford it, so the issue really was settled by her expressed preference.
San Francisco had beaten me twice already, so I was aware of their power. But we scored six in the first two innings and my job was made easier.
The half-facetious conclusion of a teammate after an 8-1 win was that I was marvelous, and my status as a Cardinal was practically assured.
Five of us ate together—[can't make out this part. A.B.]
Success activates popularity among the group. If any ballplayer achieves 90% success he will normally achieve 90% acceptance as a friend of all on the team.
I hit the sack at 1 a.m. but didn't sleep till 4 a.m.... So it goes. What pitcher ever relaxes to normal sleep after he pitches that day.
The Man rested today. He wasn't hitting anyway, and his replacement was, so why not confound the fans by benching him! Besides, a left-hander was throwing and a theory persists that left-handed hitters can't hit left-handed pitching! Ridiculous, as it obviously is; just search the records. Still, a change in habit often shakes the reactions of a veteran athlete.
The few days off in a married player's life are spent doing what the family wants to do. Mine was driving down to spend the 13 days of the homestand in St. Louis. While I had reservations at several places, I knew I'd decide to stay at the best one, the hotel with the swimming pool and the ridiculously high rental. But what the hell, you only go this way once. We looked the others over and then prayed for blue skies so we could enjoy swimming in the sun.
Certain ball clubs give certain pitchers a rough time. I have trouble with Pittsburgh and especially their big man. Frank Thomas hits me like he owns me. I know he's not that good a hitter, but he must wish for nine guys like me to throw to him. Even when I try to knock him down he gets a double.
Fortunately, we had five runs before Thomas managed to do too much damage. After he'd hit a two-run homer to make it 5-3 (he already had a line drive single, a triple, and a foul home run) Hutch must have noticed me talking to myself.
He used a hitter for me with the bases loaded (and the way I'm hitting, that's a good move any time). The game was saved, so I have a win over the Pirates, but what am I going to do with Thomas?
Either I have to have a long talk with myself, or plan some verbal attack on big Frank. Maybe I can con him into popping up once a game. Musial says I don't change speeds on him enough; but I had him set up for one tonight, made a good pitch, and he hit it into the upper deck foul, but impressive. Somehow he seems to sense exactly what I'm going to throw him.
Of what importance is a good manager? He affects less than 40% of a season's schedule...at least 100 games are won or lost entirely on performance alone. Front-office management and circumstances restrict his choice of performers. What manner of man makes the best decisions, whenever they must be made?
These are managerial types I've seen: The Father Image. He has "his boys" hustling; they're "young," "improving" and should "mature" into winners. Unfortunately, every player doesn't need a father, so that this manager tends to end up with a few "bobos" and quite a bit of dissension. Still, he represents the most successful type of modern manager. Perhaps he becomes the symbol of what the players fight for as a team. The incentive to do good on the field is basically the selfish desire to make more money. The abstract "team effort" comes into being represented, if psychologically acceptable to the player, by the team manager.... Win this game or I'll tan your hide, boys!...This inference coming from a determinedly paternal directive.
The average fan not only seldom thinks of baseball as anything more than good, wholesome recreation, but he associates the life of a ballplayer with that of "Riley." Whatever "Riley" did for a living, it couldn't have been playing baseball! The days off are infrequent, and the double-headers in St. Louis on a humid Sunday have turned many a player into a limp hank of hair with bones attached.
The physical exhaustion seems to lessen when actually under tension and on the mound. But sitting on the bench between innings, the tiredness is compounded. Unfortunately, I sit there thinking, "Only three outs to do" instead of "How am I going to pitch to the next man." Worrying about your last mistake seems to bring on a rash of them, too.
The sympathies of teammates and friends just aggravate the depression.... "All right, big man, you pitched a hell of a game."...Bird seed!...Even if I made a hundred good pitches I did not win and I did make a couple of bad pitches.... I know it (and they usually do, too), so please omit the flowers...the corpse can't smell a thing for his own mental B.O.
My zombielike attitude usually ruins the happy domestic scene when I get home. I wonder then if my wife wouldn't be happier to have me selling shoes, or driving a cab for a living. The thrill of winning is easily shared, but the frustrations of not winning could be assuaged only by the most competent of psychiatrists. The complaint "I don't understand you when you're like this" is a reasonable one, I guess, when I think about it.
Naturally, I won't sleep tonight. I don't lose any sleep before I pitch, but the night after I work is always a long one.... What's more, since my muscles don't relax uniformly I'm a dangerous man in bed that night, with arms and legs jerking and flying. The next morning it looks like a ball game was played right there on the bed...a straitjacket is needed to protect my wife when I subconsciously decide to "really break off a good curve ball" and my arm suddenly comes flying around.
ALL ABOUT BROZZ
The pleasant young fellow on the left looks like a professor. He wears glasses, smokes a pipe, reads good books and welcomes conversation on any subject from religion to real estate. His associates, sure enough, call him "Professor."
His name is Jim Brosnan; he is a professional pitcher and an amateur psychologist. During tedious hours on the road this summer, Brosnan kept a diary. We present it here—the most unusual baseball writing to come along in years, penned by a 1958 antithesis of the brash rookie Ring Lardner once immortalized as the typical ballplayer.
Jim Brosnan was born in Cincinnati in 1929. His father loved baseball and decided Jim should become a ballplayer. His mother hated baseball and decided Jim should become a doctor. Jim was split. When he finally did begin playing ball, he was a disturbed young man and, by his own admission, difficult to get along with.
In 1948, Arthur Meyerhoff, a Chicago advertising executive who handles the Cubs' publicity, suggested that Brosnan see a psychiatrist. Jim spent eight months in analysis. He learned to control, to some extent, his temper.
Brosnan is married and has two young children. They have a home in Chicago where Jim played during 1956-57. Early this season he was traded to St. Louis.
As a pitcher, Jim has one peculiar failing. Good as he may be at first, he all too often folds in the late innings. Nevertheless, perhaps Moose Moryn, a former teammate, but not a psychiatrist, hit closest to home when he suggested: "Brozz, you go along fine for a while, and then about the seventh inning you begin to think your way right out of the game."