ANALYSIS OF THE YANKEES
The Yankees have power hitting, good defense and front-line pitching. They hit 193 home runs last season (a league record), 70 more than second-place Baltimore. Big gun Mickey Mantle (40 HRs) was pressed hard by Roger Maris (39 HRs). Behind them were Moose Skowron with 26, Yogi Berra, 15, and Tony Kubek and Cletis Boyer, 14 each. Elston Howard and Hector Lopez, relatively dormant last season, also are capable of destruction. "Yankee defense, sometimes overlooked, is one of best. Infield of Skowron, Bobby Richardson, Kubek and Boyer top-rate. Mantle and Maris outstanding outfielders. Howard, fine catcher with a strong arm, will get more work under new manager Ralph Houk. Starting five pitchers—Whitey Ford, Art Ditmar, Ralph Terry, Bob Turley and Bill Stafford—are talented enough to make any manager smile.
Secondary pitching, relief pitching, bench. Jim Coates' 4.29 ERA and his ineffectiveness late in season may be sign of troubles ahead. Luis Arroyo was sharp in spots last year, but cannot be regarded as day-in, day-out stopper. Eli Grba and Bobby Shantz were lost in the expansion draft. So were Bob Cerv and Dale Long, two powerful pinch hitters. And Gil McDougald, the versatile infielder, retired. So Yankee bench, always strong in past, is only ordinary now.
THE BIG IFS
The new manager, Ralph Houk. If there is truly no trick to managing a team like the Yankees to a pennant, as some argue, then Houk is home free. But if that craggy and wonderful old man, Casey Stengel, was a genius, if something in the way he winked or rolled his arms from the top step of the dugout inspired the Yankees to 10 pennants, then Houk may have problems. He has the team. The big question is whether he can make it go.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Top prospect is Bonus Pitcher Roland Sheldon. He was 15-1 in Class D last year, was best Yankee pitcher this spring. Yankees will try Deron Johnson at third or first. Jesse Gonder, a catcher, has a sweet left-handed swing and may be kept as bench strength. Danny McDevitt, the ex-Dodger, and Bill Short, who had a brief trial with Yanks last year, should fill out the pitching staff. Both are lefties.
A bet against the Yankees, without proper odds, would be wasted money. This team is loaded in a league without much competition. The only thing that might hurt them is their unaccustomed lack of depth.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
Everyone remembers the ground ball hit by Bill Virdon that bounced crazily up into Tony Kubek's Adam's apple in the final game of last year's World Series. Joe DeMaestri, a utility Yankee infielder, was explaining how close he had come to taking Kubek's place minutes before the accident.
"Casey came to me during the top of the seventh inning," DeMaestri said. "He said to get ready because I was going in for Tony. Tony was going to take over left field from Yogi. Then the inning ended and Casey changed his mind. He wanted to keep Yogi in the game in case we needed some more runs. So Tony stayed at short and I sat down."
A New York newspaperman asked DeMaestri what he thinks would have happened if he had been playing instead of Kubek.
"Tony asked me the same question," said DeMaestri. "He asked me how I would have played the ball. I told him it probably would have nailed me right between the eyes."
"You could have been unluckier than that," said another sportswriter. "The ball could have bounced off your shoulder. Then you would have looked like a bum because you wouldn't have been hurt and no one would have felt sorry for you."
"I never thought of it that way," said DeMaestri. "Wouldn't that have been awful!"
Whitey Ford said, "Sometimes it's better to surprise a batter by pitching to his strength than trying to throw to his weakness. I remember we were playing the Red Sox last year. The score was something like 2-1, the Red Sox had a man on first, nobody out. I got Runnels on an infield out and Ted Williams came up. I worked the count to two balls and a strike and shook off a couple of signs. Finally I got what I wanted—a fast ball right down the middle. I threw it, and Ted was so surprised he took a sort of double hitch with his bat and finally hit a weak one-hopper directly to Richardson and we got a double play."
"Every time I see him, he says something about that pitch," he said. "I've got him out quite a few times, but that's the pitch he remembers. I don't think I'd throw it to him again if he were still in the league, but he would never be sure. The same is true of the other good hitters in the league. If you pitch to their strength when they least expect it, you create a little doubt in their minds. They never know what's coming."
Johnny Sain, the Yankee pitching coach, added that the single most important thing a pitcher must have is the ability to remain calm under pressure.
"Say you're driving your car and the motor stalls at a busy intersection during the rush hour," he said. "Lots of people get so excited with everyone honking at them that they even forget how to get the motor started again. They lose all their poise and most of their coordination. Well, that kind of pressure and tension happens to a major league pitcher more often in one ball game than it happens to most people in a lifetime. If he can't control himself and the situation, he can't be a major league pitcher. There's lots of fine pitchers with great arms who never made the majors and that's why."
THE FRONT OFFICE
Co-owners Dan Topping and Del Webb own Yankees in partnership. Webb has huge contracting business, mostly in Southwest and Far West. Topping, a sportsman-socialite, inherited wealth. Webb, Topping and Larry MacPhail bought Yanks in 1945 for $2.8 million. In 1947 MacPhail sold his third to the other two for 2 million. Club's value now estimated at well over 10 million. Topping takes more prominent place in administration of club now that General Manager George Weiss and Field Manager Casey Stengel have "retired." Veteran baseball traveler Roy Hamey (Pirates, Phils, Yanks) takes over Weiss's GM chair. Most pressing problem: re-establishing high quality of scouting staff, which was seriously damaged in recent years by deaths of veterans Paul Krichell, Bill Essick, Joe Devine.
THE BALL PARK
Yankee Stadium, a massive triple-deck 67,000-seat park, is situated in The Bronx six miles north of 42nd Street. "The House That Ruth Built," with its short foul lines, has been kind to Yankee power hitters (19 times have American Leaguers hit 46 or more home runs in one season; 15 of these have been by Yankees), and club has won 23 pennants since taking residence in 1923. In deep center field are monuments to Yankee heroes of the past: Sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Manager Miller Huggins, Owner Jake Ruppert. Stadium Club serves dinner, drinks before game to season ticket holders. Ushers and vendors are noisiest, most aggressive in majors (just try to get away without tipping a stadium usher!). Subways (crowded, fast) are best way to get there. Buses, taxis, private cars get jammed in traffic whenever there is a sizable crowd.
1960 TEAM PERFORMANCE
1960 INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES
RUNS BATTED IN