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THEY CALL IT BASEBALL

April 13, 1959
April 13, 1959

Table of Contents
April 13, 1959

Ask Him Anything
Wondrous Wall
Florida Derby
Wonderful World Of Sport
They Call It Baseball
  • HERE, beginning with a few ideas on what one can expect in 1959, Sports Illustrated presents its fifth annual preview of the major league season, with pictures in both color and black and white, scouting reports, schedules, statistics and features

The Umpire
Scouting Reports
  • Even in an inflationary economy there is no safer and better return on your money than the 40¢ profit you get in the fall from the dollar you bet in the spring that the Yankees will win the pennant. New York will win again in 1959

  • The White Sox feel that this is the year the Yankees can be beaten. If such a feat is possible, this is the team that can do it, if only someone would start hitting home runs. The rest of the pennant-winning ingredients are all there

  • Let the small letter i represent the American League. The Yankees, of course, are the dot, so the best the Boston Red Sox can hope for is a place near the top of the stem. Much depends on whether life truly begins at 40 for Ted Williams

  • Colavito, Minoso, Piersall, Power and Martin are about as colorful a crew as you will find in baseball. The team as a whole isn't nearly as good as the perpetual second-place finishers of a few years ago, but it's going to be more fun to watch

  • Every spring the Tigers promise much, but when summer rolls around they deliver little. This year they are keeping quiet, hoping that this team of many stars can finally do what everyone feels it should do—contend for the pennant

  • The Orioles' outstanding pitching and good defense should guarantee a fight for any opponent. Last season they finished sixth, but a good sixth, just three games out of the first division. To finish in fourth place, then, is their goal for 1959

  • The fury of mass trading is just about over, and the Athletics are a lot closer to that glorious day when they will be able to boast 25 major leaguers on the roster. Nevertheless, a .500 season for Kansas City is still a remote possibility

  • The road to the American League cellar is paved with the good intentions of the Washington Senators. Baseball magnates feel it needs a major league club in the national capital, but Cal Griffith provides only the palest imitation of one

  • An original statistical report

  • The Braves are not too blasé to appreciate those fat World Series checks every fall. With a well-rounded band of seasoned players and the richest pitching resources in the league, Milwaukee will not be easily beaten. But it can be

  • The Pirates will be a stimulating team to watch this summer as they throw strong pitching, superior defense, sharp hitting and fast legs onto the field. They'll be nearly everyone's sentimental favorite and might just win it all

  • Talented young players with great arms, blazing speed, sure instincts in the field and powerful bats in their hands are the trademark of the 1959 Giants. Sophisticated San Franciscans are in for excitement if the pitching holds up

  • The great power teams of 1956 and '57 are gone, but so is the bad pitching that wrecked them. Changed also is last year's squad, which was unbalanced in the opposite sense. Now the Reds plan to field a ball club with a smoother blend

  • Bad days have fallen upon the St. Louis Cardinals, and the bright promise of two years ago has been faithless. The effects on the club of uncertain, divided direction and erratic trading policies are now being felt. Busch has a loser here

  • Heavy trading during the past two seasons and a thorough search of the farm system produced last year a hard-hitting lineup that gave the Cubs the best team they've had in a long time. There is, however, still lots of work to be done

  • Walter O'Malley made all the money he expected to last year. Now it's time for the Dodgers to start playing ball. This is too good a team to be fooling around down in the second division. It should be a more pleasant season for Los Angeles

  • The good old days for the Phillies were in 1950, when Manager Eddie Sawyer led the club to its first pennant in 35 years. Those days are gone, and the Phillies are back in eighth place. Once again it's Sawyer's job to take them on and up

Boxing
Horse Racing
Motor Sports
Food
Dogs
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

THEY CALL IT BASEBALL

HERE, beginning with a few ideas on what one can expect in 1959, Sports Illustrated presents its fifth annual preview of the major league season, with pictures in both color and black and white, scouting reports, schedules, statistics and features

Down through the years since 1920 the New York Yankees have won 24 American League pennants, six times bunching them in clusters of three or more in a row. In some circles this might be viewed with consternation. The American League, however, is not that kind of a circle. Outside of a few rugged souls like Frank Lane and Paul Richards and Al Lopez and Bill Veeck—whose dismay is only semiofficial—the fact that the Yankees are almost certain to win again in 1959, hands down, is hardly something to incite alarm.

This is an article from the April 13, 1959 issue Original Layout

In the National League, on the other hand, where the Milwaukee Braves have won the pennant for the past two years, there has been a great deal of bustle and scurrying about. The Pirates and Giants and Reds and Dodgers and Cards and Phillies—in fact, everyone but the Cubs, who were so happy with their fifth-place tie last year that they hesitate to rock the boat—have been trading away, one with the other, in an attempt to land on top of the heap. For in the National League, where no one has won three straight since the Cardinals in the war years of 1942-44, domination is a nasty word. It is long past time, they figure over there, to knock off the Braves.

And so the stage is set for the 1959 season. The American League has a new president (Joe Cronin), a new club owner (Veeck), new general managers at Boston (Bucky Harris), Detroit (Rick Ferrell) and Baltimore (Lee MacPhail)—and the same old Yankees. The American League has something else that the National does not—all the ingredients for a miracle. That is what it will probably take to beat New York this year.

The White Sox remain a good ball club and they still have Al Lopez, who has never finished lower than second. They can run like the dickens and field and throw and the Chicago pitching figures to be good, although certainly no better than before. But they hit only singles and not enough of those, and you don't beat the Yankees without scoring runs.

Boston has hitting—although perhaps they depend too much on Ted Williams and Vic Wertz—and a pitching staff that has been impressive this spring. But the Red Sox are slow and they can't field a lick. Detroit lacks power. Cleveland is hurting in the infield and may have traded away too much pitching in an attempt to patch it up. Baltimore can't hit, Kansas City has only one outstanding big league hitter, Bob Cerv, and Washington is Washington.

The Yankees staggered through the last few months of '58, but compared to the others, their stagger has a way of looking like an all-out run. Without making a move all winter, they may be the most improved team in the American League. With Whitey Ford and Don Larsen throwing hard again, that is all it will take.

In the National League, there should be a whale of a pennant race. Maybe the Braves will win, for they still have the best pitching staff in sight and a world of power in Henry Aaron, Wes Covington, Eddie Mathews and Joe Adcock. But the Braves are going to miss Red Schoendienst, and this is a matter of quiet inspiration as well as physical ability. Mel Roach could do the job at second base, but Roach is now another in a long line of near-disastrous Milwaukee knee injuries, and no one knows when he will be able to return. The Braves may even send him down to play his way back into shape and try to get by for a while with what is left. But without a good second baseman in the absence of Schoendienst and Roach, and with Johnny Logan on his last legs at short, the Braves will be weak down the middle—and this is where pennants are lost as well as won.

Who can beat them? Well, the Giants, for one, now that they have added Jack Sanford and Sam Jones to a pitching staff which seemed to be the one major weakness in sight last year. There is no question that the Giants have the most impressive set of young muscles in the league, with Mays, Cepeda, Brandt, Spencer, Alou, Wagner and the rest, plus a tight defense and spirit and speed to match.

The Pirates too, appear perfectly capable of finishing first, with the best-balanced lineup around. This, too, is a hungry young team, and it proved in the second half of the '58 season that it could win. With an outstanding defense, very fine pitching and enough sharp hitting to get by, all the Pirates lack is power.

The Dodgers have moved in the right field fence at the Coliseum—which shouldn't hurt Duke Snider a bit—their defense is sound and the lineup is full of hitters. With that young pitching staff almost certain to improve, Los Angeles is not going to finish anywhere near seventh again.

The Reds, who lack only pitching to look good at every position, will be tough, too, and there are days when the Cardinals and Cubs and Phillies can beat anybody. Last year Philadelphia finished 23 games out of first place, which is the second closest eighth-place finish in the history of baseball.

Both leagues will be fun in 1959 because of the presence of some new faces; not brand-new, exactly, but new enough that they will be watched very closely by everyone for the first time. Excluding those still-young but proven athletes like Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks and Henry Aaron, who are already in the superstar class, the list of outstanding young players is a long one. The American League has only Rocky Colavito, who could be one of the game's great power hitters, and perhaps the new Yankee catcher, Elston Howard. But the National League is loaded with youngsters who have played enough to establish themselves as the big stars of the future. Some of these are Bob Skinner and Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates, Harry Anderson of the Phils, Orlando Cepeda of the Giants, Ken Boyer and Joe Cunningham of the Cardinals and Wes Covington of the Braves.

There are some old faces that are about to disappear, too. Neither Ted Williams nor Stan Musial looks too good this spring and perhaps this is the last we will see of these two great hitters as regulars in the lineup. Sal Maglie is apparently through. Yogi Berra has lost his job and will be a part-time player. Virgil Trucks is unwanted. Larry Doby is a question mark. Vic Wertz has come back before but he is older now and it will be tough. It is always sad to see the truly good ones fade away.

Since spring training began and the ballplayers took some of the type away from the front offices, there has been less talk than before in the councils of the mighty about three leagues or two 10-team leagues. But cities like Minneapolis and Houston and Toronto—and New York—are still talking, incessantly, and the talk will grow louder as the minor leagues lose fans, more and more, to the telecasts of major league games. Expansion is coming and the season of 1959 may show that it should come right now.

It is time for a new season, and 1959 should be a good season. The National League could have a pennant race that baseball fans will talk about for years to come. They will talk about the American League pennant race even longer—if someone can just beat the Yankees. Maybe they will. It's a funny game—and a good one. They call it baseball.

TWO PHOTOSJOHN G. ZIMMERMANThe poetry of baseball action, when grace veils power, is personified by Wes Covington and Bob SkinnerPHOTOJOHN G. ZIMMERMANDefending perfectly against one of baseball's classic plays—a drag bunt by a fleet left-handed batter—Catcher Yogi Berra reacts with speed and grace and professional calm. His hard throw caught the runner
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TWO PHOTOSJOHN G. ZIMMERMANFrantic pursuit and stumbling capture of fly ball by Pirates' Clemente typify day-by-day excitement of NL racePHOTOASSOCIATED PRESS[See caption above.]PHOTOJOHN G. ZIMMERMANRed Schoendienst, who could make plays like this every day, is gone now and it is the Braves who sufferPHOTOJOHN G. ZIMMERMANOld White Sox problem of no punch puzzles new Owner Veeck and Manager LopezPHOTORICHARD MEEKWhiplash right arm of Jim Bunning sends high hard one toward plate and start of another seasonTHREE PHOTOSRICHARD MEEKThe flow of action takes many forms on the bases—a jarring crash at second, a swift dash from home, a quick relay to first on a double playTWO PHOTOSRICHARD MEEKThe solitary action of man chasing ball occurs in the outfield—Williams sprinting, a Cub climbing a wall