As KANSAS CITY (2-3) struggled vainly to climb from its green-and-gold cellar, Owner Charlie Finley blamed everyone but his mule. He suspended Pitcher Lew Krausse and fined him $500 for alleged rowdyism on the plane carrying the A's from Boston to Kansas City three weeks ago. After the squad held a meeting and accused the club owner of undermining team morale by using go-betweens to check on the players, Finley startled everyone by firing Manager Alvin Dark and topped that by firing First Baseman Ken Harrelson after Harrelson criticized him. The newest man in the K.C. revolving door is Scout Luke Appling, the 10th Athletic manager in 11 seasons. Ed Mathews made an error on his first fielding play for DETROIT (4-3) but singled in a run on his first at bat as the Tigers defeated CLEVELAND (4-3) in a 4½-inning rain-shortened game. Winner Mickey Lolich, trying to get the game over with before the rain, swung at a third-strike pitch practically as it left the pitcher's hand. The Indians were playing better than they had played all year, and Manager Joe Adcock warned, "Wait till October." Before the Angels were to meet BOSTON (6-1), Red Sox Owner Tom Yawkey remarked to Manager Bill Rigney of CALIFORNIA (0-7) what a great pennant race they would continue to have if nobody got hurt. Four innings later, Tony Conigliaro lay on the ground, his cheekbone broken by a Jack Hamilton pitch. Conigliaro will be out for three weeks. Tommy John came off the disabled list and Rocky Colavito stroked a rare triple as CHICAGO (5-2) kept on astounding the experts. After a twi-night doubleheader had been delayed more than two hours, the White Sox and the Orioles started the second game at 11:15 p.m. MINNESOTA (5-2) hit only five home runs in the first 20 days of August, but the Twins won 14 of 18 in their surge to the top. The reason? "A five-man pitching rotation," said Manager Cal Ermer. "Because of the heat, all our starters pitch better with the extra day's rest." Jim Perry, the fifth man, has two shutouts to make Ermer look like a genius. WASHINGTON (1-4) stopped hitting and winning as Gil Hodges was bedridden with the flu. NEW YORK (3-5) played BALTIMORE (4-4) to a standoff in a comical game in which there were three wild pitches, two passed balls and 26 men left on base. The Yankees, who made six errors, lost on a balk in the 13th inning. "Halloween out here tonight," said Announcer Joe Garagiola.
Standings: Minn 67-52, Chi 66-52, Bos 66-54, Det 66-55, Cal 62-60, Wash 59-62, Clev 58-65, Balt 54-67, NY 53-67, KC 52-69
Attendance in SAN FRANCISCO (4-2) is down 100,000 from last year, and causes one and two are Willie Mays and Juan Marichal. Marichal, still declaring himself unusable because of a leg-muscle rupture, has not pitched in three weeks. Mays had his pride ruptured when, probably for the first time in his career, a batter was walked intentionally to get to him. Willie, however, responded by cracking a single past first base that scored the winning run against ATLANTA (1-5). It did not bring the great center fielder out of his shell, for he refused interviews after the game. "I'm tired of talking," said Willie. Brave Pitcher Denny Lemaster, dissatisfied with his record, was talking. "Crumbs," he said. "Fifth place is crumbs, and we don't want to settle for that on this ball club." CINCINNATI (3-3) isn't giving up either. Leo Cardenas, back in the lineup for the first time since breaking his hand in June, tripled to help the Reds in one victory, and Jim Maloney pitched a perfect game for 6 1/3 innings against the Pirates before stepping in a hole and hurting his ankle. Billy McCool finished up a 4-0 shutout for Maloney, but Jim was only partially consoled. "If anything else happens to me I'll shoot myself," he said. PITTSBURGH (5-3) might be contemplating the same thing after having lost its season series to the Mets. Only Willie Stargell was a success against NEW YORK (3-6). He became the first player to hit a ball over the right-field roof in Forbes Field twice in one year, and in another game he stole a base by mistake and scored the winning run. PHILADELPHIA (3-5) pulled a triple play and got home runs from Bill White and Richie Allen to win two 12-inning games, but the Phillies could not escape the second division. Just one of several fallen dynasties, LOS ANGELES (3-3) could be cheered by Don Drysdale's first win in a month and by Pee Wee Oliver, the monumental bust of 1966, who is hitting close to .300. Rusty Staub of HOUSTON (3-3) broke from a 3-for-16 slump to take back his batting lead, but the promotions being staged at the Astrodome (Millionth Fan Night, All-Star Button Night, Straight-A Student Night and Miss Astro contest) revealed that the team's play on the field wasn't enough. CHICAGO (3-4) continued to get brilliant one-shot performances from Private Ken Holtzman, who, on another weekend pass, won his seventh game without a loss. And ST. LOUIS (5-1) was making all the rest seem pointless anyway by winning eight games in a row and running off to hide. The magic number (now in the 30s) is already being counted down by Cardinal fans in Gaslight Square.
Standings: StL 76-45, Cin 65-57, Chi 67-59, SF 64-57, Atl 62-56, Phil 60-59, Pitt 59-63, LA 54-65, Hou 50-73, NY 49-72
Last week a refreshing breeze from the West—with gusts from the North and possibly even the East—blew into the roundhouse of the Houston Astros. He is a 23-year-old pitcher named Crash Von Hoff, which sounds like something out of The Blue Max. Crash, whose real name is Bruce, had been pitching for Amarillo in the Texas League, but when he arrived in Houston from El Paso, where his team had been playing, he had come by way of Los Angeles, Chicago and Aurora, Ill. Why had Crash flown 3,450 miles west, northeast and then south when he could have gone straight across Texas? Well, for one thing, he had an Army reserve meeting to attend in Aurora, and when his flight in that direction was overbooked the airlines had to reroute him through Los Angeles and then to Chicago. When Crash finally flew into Houston he got to sleep at 3 a.m. Naturally, he was given his first major league starting assignment that night. He pitched four-hit shutout ball for eight innings (the Astros won 2-1 in the 12th) and announced, "I didn't have my good stuff." He had less stuff a few days later in his second start, when the Cardinals bombed him in a 7-4 ball game, a performance reminiscent of the occasion in spring training when he earned his nickname. "I was driving down the road, and this car pulled into my path," says Crash. "I couldn't do anything but—well, crash. I totaled my car—$1,000 in damage—but I got out without a scratch." Jim Owens, a Houston coach who rates such things, gave Crash 99%. "Everything was torn up but the blinker," remembers Owens. "He breaks the blinker, I give him a perfect 100."