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BASEBALL'S WEEK

July 17, 1961
July 17, 1961

Table of Contents
July 17, 1961

First Blood
Power Versus Perfection
Sonny Liston
Harness Racing
Two Hearted River
Acknowledgments
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

BASEBALL'S WEEK

At mid-point the season was full of surprises. The NL's consensus pick for sixth place, the Cincinnati Reds, threatened to run away from the field. The Detroit Tigers, relegated to the depths of the expanded AL in preseason estimates, grimly hung on to the Yankees. Washington and Los Angeles had a couple of teams beneath them, and both were close to 40 wins—their forecast quota for the full season. Minnesota, Kansas City and St. Louis floundered. As a result, Cookie Lavagetto, Joe Gordon and Solly Hemus were out. In came Sam Mele, Hank Bauer and Johnny Keane—with little noticeable improvement. The Cubs played without a manager but cut their head-coaching staff to one, El Tappe, and remained in seventh. Yankee Whitey Ford, who has never won 20 games, already had 16, has a chance for 30. Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers, who owns the NL record of 18 strikeouts in one game, was averaging a strikeout an inning and had as many wins (11) in half a season as he ever had in a full one. Norm Cash of the Tigers and George Altman of the Cubs were 100 points over their lifetime batting averages. Cash, with .355, 24 homers and 70 RBIs, was a candidate for the Triple Crown, last won by Mickey Mantle in 1956. Mantle and Roger Maris hit home runs (29 for Mantle, 33 for Maris) in 10 parks and had the purists arguing: would 61 homers in 162 games supersede Babe Ruth's 60 in a 154-game schedule? At least a good bet for extinction was the two-man homer mark of Ruth and Lou Gehrig (107) set in 1927.

This is an article from the July 17, 1961 issue Original Layout

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Old pitcher Fred Hutchinson, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, allowed the Los Angeles Dodgers to batter his young pitcher Ken Hunt (22) for three runs in the first inning of the series between the two top teams. Hunt, responding to Hutchinson's patience, then settled down and won. The Reds took the second game behind Bob Purkey and stretched their streak to eight games before Johnny Podres' tantalizing changeup stopped them. Vernon Law of the Pirates took his sore shoulder, his 3-4 record and his 4.73 ERA home to Boise, Idaho. The pitching staff struggled along with help from rookie Al McBean and Bob Friend's second nine-inning performance since April 19, but the Beat 'em Bucs still could only win three games. The San Francisco Giants fell to fourth after five straight losses. Cast-offs Sherman Jones of the Reds and Don Taussig of the Cards had the Giants squirming. Jones beat them 3-2, and Taussig turned a game around with a triple in the ninth inning. Under new manager Johnny Keane, St. Louis won twice. The Braves won three games, but Warren Spahn lost another—his fourth in a row. "Even when I make good pitches they beat me," said Spahn, who is only four short of 300 victories. "I've got the feeling that once I get to 297, I'll be all right." The Chicago Cubs got to 34 wins on Barney Schultz's hitless relief pitching. El Tappe sent left-hander Dick Ellsworth to the Cubs' depleted bullpen with instructions to add a new pitch. "I'm a screwball man," says Tappe. The hapless Phillies crashed into each other under fly balls, gave up 41 runs in seven games and won only once.

AMERICAN LEAGUE
The potent young pitching staff of the Orioles began to show why Baltimore—not Detroit—is the real threat to the Yankees. The Orioles allowed only six runs and 29 hits in seven games, winning six. Washington's pitching was almost as tough, yielding 10 runs in six games. The new Senators beat the old Senators two straight, led the Twins by five games and were a game and a half out of the first division. Zorro Versalles jumped the Minnesota club and prepared to return to Cuba, saying he was tired of baseball and missed his 17-year-old wife. After three losses to the Twins early in the week, the hot-and-cold Chicago White Sox were in trouble again. Two weeks ago they were seven and a half games out of first and in fourth place. Now 14 games back, the Sox were in danger of returning to the second division. Barry Latman and Jim Grant of the Indians pitched Cleveland out of a four-game skid. The victories couldn't halt the "Jimmie must go" rumors as Manager Dykes received the traditional kiss of death: a vote of confidence. The largest New York crowd in 14 years (74,246) saw the Yankees and Tigers split the July 4th double-header. When the day was over Detroit was in first place on Frank Lary's squeeze bunt and Chico Fernandez' steal of home with Rocky Colavito at bat. "If I don't make it, I'm in Denver," said Chico. But the Yankees made it back to first place three days later. The Los Angeles Angels climbed to eighth on the inspired hitting of retreads Steve Bilko (.308) and Rocky Bridges (first homer in two seasons). Said Bridges: "It really wasn't dramatic. No little boy in the hospital asked me to hit one. I didn't promise it to my kid for his birthday, and my wife will be too shocked to appreciate it." The A's were a little shocked, too. Golden Boy Lew Krausse was bombed twice (he's 1-4), the club lost seven of eight and KC faded to 10th. The powerless Boston Red Sox (58 homers compared to the Yankees' 118) lost six of seven. Manager Mike Higgins looked for a good second half from Jackie Jensen (337 RBIs in three seasons, only 33 this year).

View this article in the original magazine

TWO PHOTOSBATTING LEADERS at midseason were Outfielder George Altman (.357) of the Cubs and Elston Howard (.363) of NY, both unexpected.

TEAM LEADERS: BATTING

BA

TB

SB

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Cin

Pinson

.320

Robinson

178

Pinson

13

LA

Moon

.338

Moon

137

Wills

10

Pitt

Clemente

.355

Clemente

170

Clemente

2

SF

Mays

.324

Mays

190

Mays

11

Mil

Aaron

.333

Aaron

182

Aaron

12

StL

Boyer

.318

Boyer

151

2 with

3

Chi

Altman

.357

Altman

154

3 with

3

Phil

Gonzalez

.303

Herrera

120

Callison

7

AMERICAN LEAGUE

NY

Howard

.363

Maris

189

Mantle

7

Dot

Cash

.356

Cash

189

Wood

12

Clev

Piersall

.343

Romano

148

Temple

6

Balt

Brandt

.344

Gentile

153

Brandt

6

Chi

Sievers

.309

Sievers

164

Aparicio

26

Bos

Runnels

.383

Jensen

109

2 with

5

Wash

Green

.313

Tasby

140

Hinton

10

LA

Pearson

.305

Hunt

149

2 with

3

Minn

Killebrew

.333

Killebrew

182

Versalles

13

KC

Sullivan

.281

Siebern

128

Howser

23

TEAM LEADERS: PITCHING

IP

SO

ERA

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Cin

Purkey

133

Jay

80

Jay

2.63

LA

Koufax

131

Koufax

139

Podres

2.90

Pitt

Friend

128

Gibbon

79

Gibbon

3.67

SF

McCormic

119

McCormick

74

McCormick

3.10

Mil

Spahn

138

Spahn

55

Spahn

3.59

StL

Sadecki

112

Gibson

86

Simmons

3.06

Chi

Hobbie

145

Hobbie

77

Hobbie

3.91

Phil

Mahaffey

125

Mahaffey

94

Mahaffey

3.53

AMERICAN LEAGUE

NY

Ford

160

Ford

122

Sheldon

2.54

Det

Lary

139

Bunning

92

Mossi

2.74

Clev

Grant

130

Bell

91

Latman

2.89

Balt

Barber

116

Barber

82

Wilhelm

1.96

Chi

Herbert

123

Pierce

58

Wynn

3.60

Bos

Monbouquette

111

Monbouquette

76

Monbouquette

3.16

Wash

McClain

121

Hobaugh

42

Donovan

2.81

LA

McBride

128

McBride

81

McBride

2.95

Minn

Kralick

141

Pascual

99

Kralick

3.57

KC

Shaw

111

Archer

49

Archer

3.70

Boxed statistics through Saturday, July 8