ANALYSIS OF THE REDS
A strong outfield, a trio of fine relievers, a solid catcher, one dependable starting pitcher. Center Fielder Vada Pinson and Left Fielder Frank Robinson are heart of team. Both have power (last year Pinson had 20 home runs, Robinson 31), good batting averages (Pinson .287, Robinson .297), speed (Pinson stole 32 bases, Robinson 13) and good gloves. If Pinson overcomes an occasional tendency to lunge at pitches, he will be even better. Wally Post and Gus Bell hit total of 31 home runs, will be platooned in right field. Jim Brosnan (2.36 ERA), Marshall Bridges (2.37 ERA) and Bill Henry (3.18 ERA) form choice bullpen. Catcher Ed Bailey handles pitchers well, has strong arm. His 13 home runs, 67 RBIs were second-best totals for an NL catcher last season. Control Pitcher Bob Purkey (17-11) is only reliable starter.
Ragged first-line infield, inadequate reserve strength (except for outfield). With departure of Shortstop Roy McMillan and Second Baseman Billy Martin through trades, infield will be almost completely revamped. Gordy Coleman has had only half a year of major league experience at first base, has yet to prove himself. Second base belongs to 30-year-old rookie Jim Baumer or disappointing holdover Elio Chacon. Veteran Eddie Kasko played 33 games at second a year ago, another 86 at third. He's now the shortstop, where he played only 15 games in 1960. Hard-hitting, poor-fielding Gene Freese is at third.
THE BIG IFS
The young pitchers. Except for Purkey, Red starters are kids: Jim O'Toole (24), Jay Hook (24), Joey Jay (25), Jim Maloney (20). This quartet started 85 NL games among them last year, won only 34, and they won't be helped this year by the shaky infield. But they are a talented group; if they come through en masse, Manager Fred Hutchinson will have a first-division club.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Trades brought Jay from Milwaukee and Freese from the White Sox. Jay, a perennial disappointment with Milwaukee, must improve his control. Rookie Jim Baumer (.293 at Salt Lake) is a 10-year veteran in the minors, only major league experience was eight games for White Sox in 1949. Second-string catchers are rookies Jerry Zimmerman and Hal Bevan, who shared duties at Seattle last season.
Since third-place, 91-victory year in 1956, Reds have fallen lower and lower (sixth, 67 victories last season). It's unlikely they'll fall any lower, just as unlikely they'll go any higher.
SWEAT AND BB GUNS
Fred Hutchinson had his Redlegs sweating this spring. They ran, did push-ups, ran some more, worked on fundamentals, did more running and even went to night school. Hutchinson's reasoning was simple. The Reds last year were a dead team. They finished sixth—comfortably. If they finish sixth again this season, as far as Hutchinson is concerned, they will do it uncomfortably.
The running that took place at the end of each practice was enough to drop a tough marine. In spring training running usually consists of a friendly jog of perhaps 50 yards across the outfield, then a leisurely walk back over the same course. Generally, the players are left to themselves: they decide when they have run enough. But at Tampa Jim Turner, the old Yankee pitching coach, stood beside the outfield fence, a counting device in his hand, his cool blue eyes surveying the drooping athletes. When some of them cut the length of the course from, say, 50 yards to 30, old Jim told them to stretch it out again. When one of them insisted that the 20 laps he was supposed to run had been completed, old Jim just smiled and said that his indicator had registered only 17. When the running was finally over and the exhausted athletes walked to the clubhouse 100 yards away, they looked as if they would never make it.
The night school was closed to the press. Hutchinson showed films and drew diagrams on a blackboard. The films were of the players hitting or pitching and were shown in slow motion. The diagrams showed pickoff plays, backing-up plays and rundowns. Classes lasted about an hour and were held several times a week.
There was one other drill at the Reds' camp. Down in the right-field corner the players had target practice every day with BB guns. A Lucky McDaniel instructor (SI, Oct. 20, 1958) named John Hughes was there to show the boys how to hit small objects that he tossed in the air. The Redlegs even assigned a coach to load the guns. "The object of all this," Hughes said, "is for the boys to correlate their attempts to hit my targets with their attempts to hit baseballs." He took a disc with a hole in the middle, stuffed a little wad of paper into the hole and tossed it in the air. Wally Post missed his first try, then hit six in a row, and on the eighth shot knocked out the wadding. The first target the Reds used was a baseball. Then they tried discs and even pennies. Some became so proficient that they were able to hit BBs.
"I'm trying to get the players to concentrate on their target, whether it's a baseball or disc," said Hughes. "I have the boys shoot with both eyes open, and I teach them that they should think of the gun or bat as merely a working member of their body.
"Look at that kid batting now. That's Fred Hopke. We discovered his sighting eye was his left one. He bats lefty, and we found that when he took his stance his nose actually impaired his left-eye's view of the ball. We figured he might do better if he turned his head more toward the pitcher. I know all this sounds odd, but this gets his nose out of the way and he can see better." Just then Hopke lined a long drive to right center, and John Hughes smiled.
Even an established hitter like Vada Pinson seemed to be sold on the merits of the BB gun drills. "My best year was 1959, and that was the year we had a week of this shooting in spring training. Last year I bought a little gun and worked out myself, but that's not as good as when you have someone helping you. These drills teach you to concentrate, and they help you to pick up the ball faster. Learning to do those things isn't going to hurt any batter." Some of the pitchers said it helped them, too. Bob Purkey said, "Sometimes a pitcher gets out there and just throws without concentrating completely on his target. I've done it." He went through a haphazard and abbreviated pitching motion. "These drills help me concentrate. You can't hit the spots if you aren't concentrating. That's the difference between a thrower and a pitcher—concentration."
The BB guns' finest moment came one day in batting practice. First Baseman Gordon Coleman swung and missed badly on the first two pitches to him. Batting Coach Dick Sisler growled, "Think of those BB guns!" Coleman hit the next five pitches over the fence.
THE FRONT OFFICE
The late Powel Crosley, owner of the Reds for 27 years before his death last week, had a saying: "Millions are monotonous unless put to work." Crosley, brought into baseball by Larry MacPhail in 1934 at the suggestion of club publicity man James (Scotty) Reston, now chief of The New York Times' Washington bureau, put his money to work successfully in industry (cars, refrigerators, radios, etc.) but had only sporadic luck in baseball (Reds have not won pennant since 1940). Crosley's will left the club to a non-profit, charitable foundation, with the wish that the Reds be kept in Cincinnati. The baseball operation is run by Bill DeWitt, who became general manager last fall after Gabe Paul left to join the National League's nascent Houston Colts. DeWitt, 58, brings to Reds 45 years of baseball experience.
THE BALL PARK
Crosley Field (30,274 capacity) is smallest National League park, but it has two claims to permanent fame: no other park has had a ballplayer row a boat over its center-field fence (Lee Grissom did it when the Ohio River flooded in 1937); and the first major league night game was played here in 1935. Field is near Union Terminal, draws large out-of-state audience, especially from the South. New expressway runs to within few blocks of park. Parking near field improved (6,000 spaces). Refreshments include bratwurst, mettwurst, fried shrimp and 16-ounce lemonade (Cincinnati leads league in lemonade sales). Dugouts are air-conditioned (home team also has heat). New screen in left keeps homers from denting cars parked between ball park and adjacent laundry. No more will cry go up as well-tagged ball leaves stadium: "It's over the laundry!"
1960 TEAM PERFORMANCE
1960 INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES
RUNS BATTED IN