One of the most improbable pitching staffs in major league history, a Hydrocollator and some tall grass helped Houston to win its first three games. First of the pitchers was nail-chewing 36-year-old Bobby Shantz, a 150-pounder who beat the Cubs 11-2 with a fie-hitter. After each inning, Trainer Jim Ewell took a steam-heated pad from the Hydrocollator, wrapped it in a towel and placed it on Shantz's pitching arm to keep it from stiffening. In the next game Hal Woodeshick, who learned how to throw a slip pitch and, finally, at age 29, a curve, got relief help from Dick Farrell and shut out the Cubs. Then Dean Stone, whose last major league pitch was in 1959 for the Cardinals, shut out the Cubs on three hits. Chicago players hit into six double plays and blamed it in part on the extra-long infield grass. Even at home, though, the Cubs could not win. They lost twice to St. Louis, which was off to its best start in years. Stan Musial hit safely in his first four at bats, set a league record in the second game by scoring his 1,860th run, and the next day hit a home run (his 445th) and stole second base (for the second time in five years). Lindy Mc-Daniel, pitching on his 29th birthday on Friday the 13th, gave up just one run and three hits in seven innings. It was the longest relief job of his career and he was the winner. Pittsburgh got fine relief work from EIRoy Face and solid hitting from Roberto Clemente. "I know something inside me explode when things are tough," Clemente said. It exploded in the first game when he hit a grand-slam homer. Bob Friend pitched a five-hitter, Vinegar Bend Mizell looked strong and Vern Law said he was ready to test his arm. Even the defense, which made 40 errors in 20 spring games, showed 1960-like precision and the Pirates won three straight. New York lost three in a row. Commenting on why he did not remove Pitcher Ray Daviault after two wild pitches, Manager Casey Stengel mumbled, "I have a lot of faith in that kid and he has a nice family and might do me some good." One youngster who did a lot of good was 22-year-old Pete Richert, a Los Angeles lefthander who tied three major league records by striking out the first six batters he faced. Sandy Koufax beat the Reds with a masterful four-hitter, Don Drysdale struck out 11 Braves and Larry Sherry won in relief as the Dodgers took four of five. Cincinnati did not get such good pitching. In all, 22 pitchers gave up 69 hits and 52 runs and the Reds lost five of six. MVP Frank Robinson had no RBIs and hit .167, and the team as a whole batted .222. To make the collapse complete, the Reds also made 10 errors in the final three games. San Francisco, however, could do nothing wrong. The Giants got a three-hit shutout from Juan Marichal ("He's like Roberts in his prime: you can't wait to hit against him but you wind up 0 for 4," Eddie Mathews of the Braves said), Billy O'Dell provided a four-hitter and a three-hitter was served up by Billy Pierce and Stu Miller. Willie Mays hit the first pitch thrown to him this season for a home run, repeated the next day. San Francisco sportswriters noted that the last time Mays hit a homer on opening day was in 1954, when the Giants won the pennant. Milwaukee's Warren Spahn, off whom Mays hit his first NL home run, was, as usual, off to a slow start. On top of that, the hitters were not hitting and the defense, notably the outfield, was Class B. It was not until the fifth inning of the fifth game that the Braves finally led for the first time. Philadelphia did not look like a pennant winner either, but it did not look like a last-place club. For the first time in 13 years the opening day pitcher for the Phillies was not Robin Roberts. It was Art Mahaffey. Philadelphia scored six runs in the third inning and, although the "6" was blown off the scoreboard, Mahaffey beat the Reds 12-4.
Charles O. Finley, Kansas City owner, goes first class and he wants his team to do the same, even if it doesn't go first division. Last week his club sported new "Ivy look" tailored uniforms that have off-the-shoulder blouses and scarlet letters outlined in blue and which are minus the traditional baggy knees. Finley even cleaned up his vendetta with Ernest Mehl, Kansas City Star sports editor. Mehl threw out the first ball and Finley caught it. Some of the Athletics' outfielders did not have equal success with fly balls, but the team did win two of five games. Dick Howser hit .350 and stole four bases. Liveliest of the Chicago White Sox, who are geared for speed and youth again, was Sherm Lollar, the 37-year-old catcher. Lollar batted .571, and his running was equally impressive. He has what players refer to as "bad wheels," but he looked like Pepper Martin as he raced to third after a catch of a fly to medium center field and also stretched a single into a double with a headfirst dive. Juan Pizarro and rookie Joe Horlen each pitched a five-hitter and gave up one run. Pizarro, though, won 2-1, Horlen lost 1-0. Joe Bonikowski of Minnesota was the lone rookie to win a game. He allowed one run in 5‚Öî innings of relief against the Athletics. Bernie Allen, the Twins' new second baseman, batted just .056, but rookie Third Baseman Rich Rollins hit .583 and had two homers. The Twins led the league with seven home runs, one more than New York. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Bill Skowron each hit one in the opener. Some people have been accused of hitting the bottle, but in Maris' case it was just the opposite. "I got hit on the shoulder by a bottle," Maris said after a hectic game in Detroit. The Tigers won that game 5-3 behind Frank Lary, but lost two others. Cleveland also lost two of its first three, but then Manager Mel McGaha scrambled his lineup. Among other changes, he benched rookie Ty Cline (0 for 12), moved Chuck Essegian to center, inserted Gene Green in left and had Tito Francona lead off. It looked, for one inning, like a stroke of genius comparable to the old Casey Stengel moves. The Indians scored six runs in the first, but then barely held on for a 6-4 win over the Senators. It was the first loss for Washington after wins by Bennie Daniels and Pete Burnside. Bob Johnson, a former Tiger farmhand, helped beat Detroit with a two-run homer. Carroll Hardy hit a grand slam with two out in the 12th to enable Boston to defeat the Indians. Those were the Red Sox' only runs in 30 innings. A ninth-inning home run by Leon Wagner, plus four-hit pitching by Ken Mc-Bride, gave Los Angeles its first victory. Rookie Bob Rodgers' five RBIs in the next game helped the Angels finish the week with a 2-1 record. Baltimore played just twice. Manager Billy Hitchcock, a one-time Auburn halfback, was thinking almost as much about football as baseball. After losing to the Yankees 7-6 he said, "The extra point'll beat you a lot of times." And, to help his players slosh through the wet outfield, Hitchcock had his outfielders wear special shoes with football cleats when they were on defense. P.S.: The Orioles won that game 3-0 on a field goal.