"Ten, 9, 8, 7...the pitcher starts his wind-up...6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...contact!" DETROIT (6-2) players tried to have the countdown, aimed at rattling the pitcher, reach "contact" just as Willie Horton hit the ball. Willie usually obliged. In a five-game stretch, the 22-year-old graduate of Detroit's Northwestern High School went 15 for 22 hit six home runs and had 16 RBIs. "The good Lord willing," said Horton, "I hope to keep it up until October 15." The regular season ends October 3, so Horton must entertain World Series plans for the Tigers, who had a good week until Sunday, when they dropped another doubleheader to Boston. Mickey Lolich started and won twice, also worked in relief. Manager Charley Dressen rejoined the club as a "spectator." And Horton climbed to the batting lead with a .403 average. Willie was given $50,000—one of the largest bonuses ever awarded a Negro ballplayer—to sign with Detroit. He had two great years in the minors, was recalled in September of 1963 and hit a pinch two-run homer in his first major league at bat. A flop last season, he was sent back down, but now he seems to have won the left-field job for good. "Willie walks, talks and stands up to the plate just like Roy Campanella," said Dressen. And, like Campy, Willie has a weight problem. Dressen ordered him to lose 22 pounds last year, then gave him a 22-pound ham to "show you how much you've lost." Willie now plays with 202 pounds on a 5-foot 11-inch frame. The youngest of 14 children, he lost both his parents in an auto accident this past winter. Horton and Carl Yastrzemski of BOSTON (5-3) staged a tremendous hitting duel one night last week. Horton had four hits—including two homers—and five RBIs. Yastrzemski had five hits—a single, double, triple and two homers—and five RBIs. Yaz batted .444 for the week, hit six homers and had 14 RBIs. Bill Monbouquette won twice, and Dave Morehead went nine innings to beat New York. "I had an off night," grinned Morehead. "I was around the plate." Jerry Kindall, of all players, kept MINNESOTA (5-3) moving. Despite a .198 average, Kindall started two winning rallies, helped beat Dean Chance of Los Angeles with a home run and homered and singled to edge Kansas City 2-0. Said Manager Sam Mele, "We're the club to beat now. We're winning the kind of games we lost last year." CHICAGO (7-1) continued to get fine pitching all around, and Pete Ward started to hit. Milt Pappas of BALTIMORE (4-3) won the 100th game of his career. After four straight wins, Robin Roberts lost twice as the Orioles struggled without the injured Brooks Robinson. Mickey Mantle returned to the NEW YORK (3-4) lineup and hit two home runs against Boston, but the Yankees still dropped three of four to the Red Sox. A Yankee player consoled Pedro Gonzalez, traded to Cleveland for Ray Barker, with: "It could have been worse. We might have kept you." Dean Chance lost twice and failed to last an inning against the White Sox as LOS ANGELES (1-5) slumped against the top two teams. CLEVELAND's (1-5) Sam McDowell struck out 12 Senators, gave up only five hits. "McDowell has everything Sandy Koufax has," complimented Frank Howard. WASHINGTON (2-4) Catcher Mike Brumley dropped what should have been an inning-ending third strike, and Chuck Hinton of Cleveland followed with a grand-slam home run. Haywood Sullivan replaced Mel McGaha as KANSAS CITY (2-5) manager. "Mel didn't make all those errors and bad pitches," admitted Athletics General Manager Hank Peters. Rookie Catcher Rene Lachemann went 4 for 5, powered a double-header sweep of the Twins in Sullivan's debut.
Los Angeles (5-3) lengthened its first-place lead to 3½ games with some hair-raising baseball. The Dodgers got only one hit off Chicago's Dick Ellsworth, but the hit was a pinch three-run homer by Al Ferrara that beat the Cubs 3-1. Two Chicago misplays preceded Ferrara's homer, only the second of his major league career. Sandy Koufax whiffed 13 while shutting out Houston, and Ron Fairly won two more games with singles. In eight games Dodger pitchers allowed only 16 runs. Alston even used Lou Johnson, up from Spokane, in the cleanup spot. Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Jim Ray Hart slammed decisive home runs for SAN FRANCISCO (6-1). Hart broke up a battle between Gaylord Perry and Houston's Ken Johnson with a ninth-inning homer. Thanks to Pittsburgh, ST. LOUIS (5-2) jumped into the first division. The Cardinals swept four more from the Pirates, now have won 16 straight from them. Last year's championship infield—Bill White, Julian Javier, Dick Groat and Ken Boyer—finally was reunited after injury problems. Bob Gibson ran his record to 7-0 by winning twice. NEW YORK (4-2) swept a doubleheader from Cincinnati to complete a 7-4 homestand against top opposition. Roy McMillan (11 for 23) and Jack Fisher (wins over St. Louis and Cincinnati) were standouts. Dick Stuart helped win two games for PHILADELPHIA (4-3) with home runs, but he still was booed constantly. "Ah, these Philadelphia fans are still amateurs in the booing department, compared to those in Pittsburgh," said Stuart. Art Mahaffey pitched superbly again. Joe Torre helped win two games for MILWAUKEE (3-3), but the Braves used 21 pitchers in six games. CINCINNATI's (3-4) relievers performed miserably against the Mets. Said Manager Dick Sisler, "I wish Sammy Ellis were still in the bullpen and not a starter." So Ellis started against the Mets, didn't last an inning and lost his first after five wins. HOUSTON (1-7) lost six straight. Dave Giusti—"Remember, it's not coffee, it's just tea," he said, explaining the correct pronunciation of his last name—finally lost after winning his first six. Dick Bertell of CHICAGO (3-4) was fined $500 for being five pounds overweight. PITTSBURGH (1-6) continued to slump and had lost 20 of 24. The Pirates scored only five runs in Vernon Law's five losses.
TEAM LEADERS: PITCHING
Boxed statistics through Saturday, May 15