As if a choir director had given the signal, optimistic managers burst forth in song during the All-Star break, each voicing high hopes for a pennant. Hank Bauer of BALTIMORE (2-3), Joe Adcock of CLEVELAND (2-4) and Mayo Smith of DETROIT (0-5) all sang songs that went, "This race isn't over yet, and we can still win it." Then along came BOSTON (4-1), NEW YORK (3-2) and WASHINGTON (5-0), all with no appreciation for music. The Red Sox took three of four from the Orioles, the Yankees did the same to the Indians and the Senators swept four from the Tigers. Dave McNally pitched a shutout for the Orioles, but the rest of the staff was pummeled for 20 runs in three losses. A former Oriole, Steve Barber of the Yankees, pitched a four-hitter against the Indians, and Al Downing and Fritz Peterson added five-hitters. Another ex-Oriole, Mike Epstein, drove in six runs as the Senators took a doubleheader from the Tigers. The Senators ran their winning streak to seven games, their longest since 1963. "Hitting," explained Epstein obscurely, "is an inherent thing, a learned response. I am now reacting to pitching in an instinctive way." Epstein's batting average, .150 a month ago, was up to .234. Meanwhile, the infighting for first place became furious. CHICAGO (3-4) retained its slim lead, due largely to shutouts by Joe Horlen and Gary Peters (with help from 44-year-old Hoyt Wilhelm). The White Sox' position became even more perilous, though, when Tom McCraw and Tommy John left for two weeks of military duty. On top of that, there was a revival of the old charge that the secret to Chicago's success was frozen baseballs. CALIFORNIA (2-4) tested a ball brought from Anaheim with a ball obtained in Chicago, and the Angels felt they were on to something when their own ball bounced three inches higher on a cement floor. Bill Skowron, who was traded from the White Sox to the Angels earlier this season, said, "There's something funny about the ball. But I don't want to get into this." Alvin Dark of KANSAS CITY (2-3) thought he had solved his biggest problem. Fourteen of his team's last 18 losses were attributable to home runs. When he had a 2-1 lead in the ninth against the Twins he brought in Jack Aker to pitch. After all, Aker had allowed just two homers in 60‚Öî innings. So Harmon Killebrew of MINNESOTA (4-1) led off the ninth with a home run (his fourth of the week), and on the very next pitch Tony Oliva hit another. At week's end the Twins were within half a game of the White Sox.
Standings: Chi 50-37, Minn 49-37, Det 45-40, Bos 45-40, Cal 47-44. Clev 42-46, Ball 41-46, Wash 41-47, NY 39-47, KC 37-52
St. Louis (2-4), which had lost 12 of 21 games over a three-week period, clung to first place only because its closest pursuers were also faltering. But with Bob Gibson (broken leg) and Curt Flood (bad shoulder) on the disabled list, the Cardinals were relying more than ever on the hitting of Orlando Cepeda and Tim McCarver (page 18). Willie Mays of SAN FRANCISCO (2-3) was hospitalized and placed in the care of a neurosurgeon, who said, "Mays is recovering from a severe influenza attack. He needs a complete rest." Juan Marichal was hit hard for the second time in a row, and in his past two starts (against the light-hitting Mets and Astros) had given up 24 hits and 15 runs in 10‚Öì innings. Taking up the slack were Jim Hart and Mike McCormick. Hart has hit .417 in 16 games since switching from third base to left field. McCormick won his eighth straight game and 12th of the year. Leo Durocher of CHICAGO (3-2) said that if he won the pennant he would "turn somersaults all over Chicago, then jump off the Wrigley Tower." The Cubs put a damper on such acrobatics by extending their number of games without a homer to nine. Then they hit three home runs and won a doubleheader from the Giants. Maury Wills and Jerry May of PITTSBURGH (2-3) ended long hitting slumps, yet the vaunted Pirate offense remained bogged down. Thus, when Tommie Sisk pitched a three-hitter against the Cardinals, the lowest number of hits allowed by a Pirate since mid-April, he lost 2-1. CINCINNATI (3-2) was bolstered by the shutout pitching of Gary Nolan and the clutch hitting of Tony Perez (below). Nolan picked up his fourth shutout, raised his strikeout total to 123 in 122 innings and brought his ERA down to 2.29, the second best in the league. PHILADELPHIA (1-2) Manager Gene Mauch summed up some lusty hitting and snappy fielding by ATLANTA (3-0) by saying, "They got the footage on their wood and the inches on their gloves. That's the best defense they've ever played against us." Don Drysdale of LOS ANGELES (2-3), who had lost seven of his last nine games, stopped the Cubs on five hits. Dave Giusti of HOUSTON (3-2), 0-5 on May 20, brought his record to 6-8 with the aid of Eddie Mathews' 500th homer. Jack Fisher of NEW YORK (3-3) pitched superbly against the Reds but botched up a chance to win when, with the bases loaded and one out, he missed a squeeze-play sign, and two Mets, running with the pitch, wound up on third base. Ed Kranepool's five RBIs led the Mets to 2-1 and 8-5 wins over the sagging Cardinals.
Standings: StL 51-36, Chi 49-38, Cin 49-41, Atl 45-39, SF 47-41, Pitt 42-41. Phil 41-42, LA 36-50, Hou 36-52. NY 34-50
Pituka Perez was so excited when her husband Tony was named to the National League All-Star team that she insisted on flying with him from Cincinnati to California. She also decided to take along their 14-month-old son, Victor. The Perez family caught a plane that landed in Los Angeles late at night. Arriving at the hotel where the All-Star players were quartered, Perez was told that his room had already been taken, but after some scurrying about the management came up with the last remaining space—the $58-a-night presidential suite. Perez got it for $11. The next day Pituka and little Victor sat in the stands while for three hours Tony sat on the bench. By that time the game was in the 11th inning, a 1-1 tie as the result of home runs by the two third basemen, Richie Allen of the Phillies and Brooks Robinson of the Orioles. Then Third Baseman Perez got his chance. The first time up he struck out to join a who's who list of major league sluggers who set a record for All-Star Game strikeouts—30. But in the 15th inning Perez put an end to the longest All-Star Game ever by hitting a home run. By that time it was 7:45 p.m. in Anaheim—10:45 o'clock Cincinnati time—and Victor Perez was asleep in his mother's arms.
Three nights later Tony Perez broke up another extra-inning game. The Reds and Mets were tied 0-0 in the 10th inning when Cincinnati put runners on second and third with two out. The Mets intentionally walked Pete Rose and took their chances with the All-Star hero. Perez lined the first pitch for a single. It wasn't quite as glamorous as the All-Star Game, but this one counted in the standings.