ANALYSIS OF THE RED SOX
Despite the retirement of Ted Williams, the Red Sox outfield will be strong, certainly stronger than it was last year. It is gaining I) Rookie Carl Yastrzemski, the best-looking young player in the league; 2) the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1958, Jackie Jensen, who returns to action after a year of voluntary retirement; 3) a healthy Gary Geiger who, from all indications, has finally become a first-rate major league ballplayer. Frank Malzone, an All-Star third baseman for four successive years, dropped off last year in home runs and RBIs, largely because of fatigue and foot trouble; addition of versatile Billy Harrell to Boston bench will enable Manager Mike Higgins to rest Malzone occasionally. Pitcher Bill Monbouquette, using a slider effectively, won 14 games with the seventh-place Sox last year. Batting champion Pete Runnels has no real power, but he is a solid hitter and can play either second base or first.
Pitching, shortstop. Outside of Monbouquette and Reliever Mike Fornieles (70 appearances, 10-5, 2.64 ERA), Sox pitching staff is subpar (worst ERA in baseball). The shortstop is once again Don Buddin, who holds job through Sox inability to develop or trade for anyone better.
THE BIG IFS
Boston has high hopes for rookie Left Fielder Yastrzemski. If the advance buildup proves too much for him, the Sox will have to go with the likes of Lou Clinton (.228), Carroll Hardy (.234) and Rip Repulski (.243) in left field. Aging Vic Wertz (36) had 19 home runs, 103 RBIs in 131 games last season. Sox need his big bat all year again. And, of course, the Red Sox assume that Jackie Jensen, at 34, will come back strong after his year off.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
After Yastrzemski, the best-looking rookie was Second Baseman Chuck Schilling. Sox hope that Schilling, a spindly 170-pounder with good range, will hit well enough to push batting champion Pete Runnels over to first base. Lanky right-Hander Gene Conley was obtained from Phils after subpar 8-14 season. Chet Nichols, onetime Braves' bonus boy who is now 30, was 18-6 at Vancouver. Help for reliever Fornieles could come from Tracy Stallard.
The Red Sox appear to be a sounder, more versatile club this season than they were last year. They seem certain to beat three rivals (KC, LA and Washington), and may overtake Tigers, too.
MILD-MANNERED MAN NAMED WILLIAMS
Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox batting instructor, stood toweling himself in front of his locker, a striking figure of size and strength. A visitor edged up from one side and said, "Ted, how do you like your new job?"
Williams looked up suddenly and responded with a half-amused, half-pained smile that said, "God, here we go again." He looked past the visitor for someone to share his distress. The visitor fidgeted and rephrased his question, Williams' mouth and eyes softened and he said easily, "Well, it's O.K. I'm not doing much. Just following the crowd around."
Which players had he been helping? None in particular, Williams replied, just anyone who wanted help. Were some better pupils than others? They were all pretty good. They all had stuff. "I can't do much for them," he said, and sounded oddly convincing. "I just show them a few things about hitting. The rest is up to them."
Picking up a second towel, he stepped away from the locker. "Excuse me," he said, "back in a minute." He came back carrying a bottle of orange soda, which he finished in three hard swallows. The visitor asked about Red Sox prospects.
"Oh, we're much better this year," Williams replied with an air of simple truth. "Jensen's back and we have two good kids stepping in." Was one of the kids, Carl Yastrzemski, ready to play left field? "Oh, he's ready, all right," said the man who had played left field for 19 seasons. "No doubt about it." Yastrzemski, he explained, was adequate as a fielder, thrower and runner, and he could hit that ball. The other kid. Schilling, looked fine around second. "He can punch out the hits too," Williams said, wristing an outside pitch to the opposite field.
What do young players most often do wrong? "Two things," said Williams without hesitation. "They swing too hard and try to pull the ball. Maybe they're all taught to pull from the start, but they shouldn't be. Damn few of the great high-average hitters have been pull hitters. Cobb, Speaker, Hornsby—they all knew how to hit to the opposite field." It seemed indiscreet to mention a big left fielder who had always pulled the ball and had hit for an average of .344.
"Ted, what do you have in mind for the long run?" Williams showed the annoyance of a man who has just started one job and finds his friends anxious to talk about a better one. "I mean, do you plan on staying in baseball indefinitely?" Williams stretched over to tie a shoe and said, almost solemnly, "I'd like to stay in baseball all my life."
He pulled on a white polo shirt, straightened a pair of fawn-colored boots in the bottom of his locker and combed his shower-rumpled hair. "Say," he said, suddenly looking past the visitor, "I got to go."
With a parting slap on the shoulder he hurried out the locker room door.
Coach Rudy York paused beside Jackie Jensen. "Who's that warming up? Sherman Jones? Man, he's got lots of junk."
"Junk?" said Jensen. "No, sir. I've been watching him throw—fast balls, curves, maybe even some sliders. You're thinking of Stu Miller."
"Miller," York said. "That's the guy. He changes up on his changeups."
THE FRONT OFFICE
Millionaire Tom Yawkey, whose foster father once owned Detroit Tigers, bought Red Sox in 1933, immediately spent $1 million modernizing ball park. Fire then ruined part of new bleachers. This was typical Yawkey luck. He spent much money buying established stars (Jimmy Foxx, Lefty Grove, Joe Cronin, etc.), much more on bonus players, so far has had only a pauper's return (one pennant, in 1946). Yawkey this winter finally shook up front office. Vice-Presidents Bucky Harris and John Murphy were dismissed, Business Manager Dick O'Connell moved up to executive vice-president. O'Connell will handle most of the general manager's chores, aided to considerable extent by Field Manager Mike Higgins. Ex-players Ted Williams and Milt Boiling are listed as "executive assistants."
THE BALL PARK
Fenway Park (33,900 capacity) remodeled slightly this year. Capacity cut almost 1,000, but box seats more than doubled to 6,500, and roughly half of 16,000-capacity bleacher benches converted into individual seats. Skyline boxes flank rooftop press box, but most seats are on one sprawling, far-reaching grandstand level. One of best-maintained parks in majors. No advertising on fences. Organ music installed last year. Ushers are not tipped. Fenway Park—named for swampy fens that once dominated area—is in city's Back Bay section, a short drive from downtown Boston. Parking is inadequate, traffic awful when large crowds turn out. The MTA transit system (subject of an oddball hit song a couple of years ago) is the best way to go to the ball game in Boston. Regular spectators come from all six New England states to cheer for Red Sox.
1960 TEAM PERFORMANCE
1960 INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES
RUNS BATTED IN