Baseball has become in its more than century-old history the most voluminously reported of all American sports. It has also developed into what may well be the most complicated of all team games, strategically. This phase of baseball has remained comparatively unreported.
But SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has already published, in this young season, two reports on baseball strategy: Jeremiah Tax's Baseball? It's All in the Mind (SI, April 25) and Dick Young's Walter Alston's School for Boys (SI, May 2). And beginning with this issue and for the rest of the baseball season, SI will publish selections from Modern Baseball Strategy, the forthcoming book by Baltimore Oriole Manager Paul Richards, one of the game's master strategists. Clear, straightforward expositions of the intricacies of baseball play, what they tell is of equal interest to those who know the game and those who want to, those who play it and those who tell others how.
Complicated as baseball is as a game, it has also seemed to produce more than its share of complicated personalities. One of these is Branch Rickey, on whom Gerald Holland wrote his penetrating study in SI (March 7). Another is the manager of the World Champion New York Giants, Leo Durocher. Next week SI begins a three-part biography by Robert Shaplen of this enigmatic baseball figure, taking him from his pool-playing childhood in West Springfield, Mass. to his present and still controversial position at the top of the baseball ladder. To get the story Shaplen traveled from coast to coast, and interviewed at length not only Durocher but 30 to 40 other people closely associated with him during his career.
In his introduction to Paul Richards' book, Leo Durocher himself says, "It will be accepted, I am sure, as the standard for all books of this kind."
And readers of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will, I am sure, feel the same way about Robert Shaplen's story on Durocher.