Only The Game Has Changed

May 09, 1971

Phenoms and franchises come and go, but baseball has a constant: the coaches. They impart the fundamentals (Have a Good Idea of the Target; Don't Overthrow the Cutoff Man; Swing from the Inside Out). They also relay signs, steal signs, recognize omens, wave runners around, scoop up foul grounders, throw batting practice, hand down legends, watchdog the ball bag, superintend the bullpen, hit fungoes, drink beer, maintain weight charts, stay in the background and get fired regularly—yet endure. At a time when players run together (in fans' minds if not on the field), coaches become local characters. They have the faces of cowboys, Maine lobstermen and country sheriffs. Many are full-bellied and surely a clear majority chew tobacco. As a group they hearken back to days when a magazine like "Street & Smith's Sport Story" could reduce American tensions to "Whack! Brent's effort was a blazing liner to the pitcher's right. A sure hit, unless————"

Long before 1933, when "Street & Smith's" cover of a catcher pursuing a pop-up hit the stands, coaches were perfecting the techniques of their trade. One of today's perfectionists, Senators' Coach Nellie Fox, demonstrates signal-camouflaging and chaw-nursing. His colleague George Susce shows how to wear a hat backwards.

Quiet Kerby Farrell once managed the Indians, now after 40 years in the game stands united with Alvin Dark's regime.

Ted Kluszewski's arms bulge as much as when he busted fences. Today he leans on batting cages and helps the young.

Rocky Bridges is bowlegged, chews and says, "The main quality a great third-base coach must have is a fast runner."

Frankie Crosetti keeps his chaw stuck to his cap while fungoing. He wore the same size baggy pants when he played.

The Phillies' George Myatt has a foghorn voice and never gets caught in his spray. He has been fired six times.

That dashing bunter was called "The $20,000 Beauty." Coaches make $20,000 today and are beautiful—at batting practice, like the Mets' Rube Walker; or fraternizing, like the Orioles' Billy Hunter; or eyeing a pitcher, like the Twins' Marv Grissom.

FIFTEEN PHOTOSJAMES DRAKE ILLUSTRATION

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)