THE HOT STOVE SEASON OFFICIALLY OPENS
HOT STOVE: BROOKLYN OPENS
Knowing SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will add lots of fuel to baseball's hot stove this season, I would like to start an early fire. It is going to be a mighty chilly winter for me, owing to the fact that I am a Brooklyn Dodger diehard. Here are my suggestions for some winter trades, hoping Walter O'Malley or Buzzy Bavasi reads this.
Hodges, Jackson and Furillo to the Cardinals in return for Moon and Boyer.
Campanella, Gilliam, Erskine and Cimoli in exchange for Lopata, Simmons and Ashburn of the Phillies.
Then send Lopata to Cincinnati for Smokey Burgess.
Finally, Ashburn, Snider and Lehman in return for Friend and Virdon of Pittsburgh.
Before Mr. O'Malley puts out my fire and the owners of St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh attempt to lock me up for tampering let me explain that in each of these trades there is plenty of material for improvement to teams that have won just one pennant between them in the last 10 years.
To Walter O'Malley I say: I am as loyal and as proud of my club as is possible, even in as fanatic a town as Brooklyn is. The last 10 years of my "Dodger life" have been a period of extreme pleasure and happiness—and with a starting lineup of:
Bill Virdon, LF
Pee Wee Reese, SS
Wally Moon, RF
Ken Boyer, 3B
Jim Gentile, 1B
Don Demeter, CF
Smokey Burgess, C
Charlie Neal, 2B
And with Newcombe, Maglie, Friend, Simmons, Craig, Labine and Bessent as the pitching staff, I believe the next 10 years will be just as fruitful and happy.
•SPORTS ILLUSTRATED congratulates Mr. Saperstein for tossing out the first ember and hereby declares the Hot Stove League season officially open. From time to time during these melancholy days for fans like Mr. Saperstein and those below, who add more fuel to the season's first fire, we will keep the stove aglow with the burning yearnings of fans everywhere.—ED.
HOT STOVE: OWNER'S CHOICE
Within the past few months SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has used the word "genius" rather lightly, rather frequently and rather inaccurately in describing the manager of the New York Yankees, Mr. Casey Stengel. Mr. Stengel is a man of many talents, admitted, but he is not a genius as a baseball manager. Put it this way: if SPORTS ILLUSTRATED were to buy one of the major teams, would you offer the managerial position to Mr. Stengel?
Of course you would not. Mr. Stengel is the delight of baseball writers because reporting Stengelese verbatim fills the columns and is good for a laugh every time, and no writer has to sit down and think about what he really saw at the ball park. But Mr. Stengel the manager is a different sort of man altogether. It would not be fair to say that his success is due entirely to the great depth of his bench, the skill of his numerous pitchers, professional and otherwise, and the Yankee farm system. But anywhere except in the Yankee Stadium Mr. Stengel would be just another verbose old gent.
So I put it to you: if SPORTS ILLUSTRATED had to hire itself the best manager money could buy, say for the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Sports (nee the White Sox), who would you choose?
•We would ask Mr. Stengel to manage the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Sports; if he were otherwise occupied we would ask Birdie Tebbetts.—ED.
HOT STOVE: HIGHLIGHT REVISITED
Well, well! What do we have here? A copy of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, June 11. Let's browse again through the baseball news in it, now that the season's over. Well, well, again! American League? Phooey! by James Murray. I'm still laughing at it. All the "puny" AL could hit was 1,075 HRs, a league record. And the Series! If that wasn't a major AL victory, I don't know what is. Of course, the NL won the All-Star Game, but wait till next year! Last is HIGHLIGHT, which says: "As for the World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers, they are old and tired and just a little desperate." Ahem!
•Old? You bet. Tired? Obviously. Desperate? Not enough.—ED.
HOT STOVE: HITTERS AND HOMERS
Belatedly, may I offer some comments about your World Series issue (SI, Oct. 1) which was easily the best printed, though some conclusions proved incorrect, which is understandable in a short Series.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's analysis of the contending teams' hitting power did not at the time jibe with official figures. Your writer rated Cincinnati, Milwaukee and New York in that order, while the official figures indicate that New York was the best in offense as the figures below show.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED placed too much emphasis on the Redlegs' 221 homers and not enough on the total runs scored, which of course is the thing that counts. There were four teams in the AL which scored more runs than the Redlegs, including the powerless White Sox with 93 less home runs.
This points up the trend in modern baseball of more homers but less total runs, fewer .300 hitters and lower league and team averages. While homers have doubled since 1940 as compared with the period from 1920 to 1939, run scoring has dropped about 10% to 15% and the .300 hitters have dropped about 55% and league or team averages have dropped from about .280 to .260.
Finally it should be pointed out that the Redlegs play in a very cozy park made for home run hitting.
Park construction and its effect upon home runs is aptly proved by the Dodgers, whose right-hand hitters have hit only one homer to left field in 19 games at Yankee Stadium and two to right field, making only three in a grand total of 19 games. This makes it quite plain why they have won only five out of 19 in World Series competition at Yankee Stadium and lost five out of six championships.
LINCOLN W. UKAI
HOT STOVE: ROOKIE X-RAY
While I have faith in the ability of Frank Robinson, the Cincinnati Reds' star rookie of the past season, I should like to question one of the items credited to him in your final X-RAY (SI, Oct. 8). You have Robinson listed as having attained the highest batting average of any NL rookie during the 1956 season. What happened to Mr. Jackie Brandt? During the period between August 15 and September 12 he hit .333 with 49 hits in 147 AB's, and he closed out the season by hitting .411 during the last week.
•SPORTS ILLUSTRATED accepted the common practice of considering only those players eligible with 400 times at bat. Jackie Brandt came up only 393 times, Frank Robinson well over, with 572 times.—ED.
HOT STOVE: GEOGRAPHY LESSON
A serious argument has arisen in my rabidly baseball-minded family. You are the chosen one, and we await your word as final authority.
A friend showed my son, David, a newspaper clipping of ancient vintage which stated the preposterous information that the great Jim Thorpe had once hit three home runs in one game in Texarkana, each ball landing in a different state. The first one in Oklahoma, the second in Arkansas and the third, an inside-the-park homer, which stayed in Texas.
I set up loud howls of protest, rushed for the atlas, Rand McNally state road maps and an old map dated 1870 to prove that the boundary lines had not been changed. I was coldly informed by my sons that I was not Myrt Power. (That woman has ruined my life!) The storm has raged and been augmented by outsiders. It was finally agreed that you knew enough about baseball to be considered a suitable authority. That is a great honor in a family who has spotted numerous errors in the Official Encyclopedia of Baseball and inked in the proper corrections. Lest this prove too much for your ego, let me remind you that you are not Myrt Power, either.
My calculations regarding the three-state homers are as follows: a ball hit in Texarkana would have to travel a goodly distance to reach Arkansas (Mantle and Williams would turn green), but to reach the nearest point in Oklahoma it would have to travel a distance of approximately 30 miles, as the crow, or the baseball, flies. If the article were mistaken as to the state, it would have to be hit 28 miles to reach Louisiana. If this great feat occurred in any of the other towns near the junction of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, the closest would be New Boston, Texas. The ball would then have been hit only eight miles to reach Arkansas, but 15 miles to land on Oklahoma soil. If this game took place in DeKalb, Texas, the distance into each of the other states would be 11 miles. If the ball were hit in Foreman, Ark. instead of Texarkana as the article stated, the distance would be seven miles to each of the other states.
I shall haunt the mailbox until the word arrives. After that, I hope to gallop around the countryside collecting bets from various misguided people. Even if I am not Myrt Power.
BERNICE E. GOAD
•SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is aware that it is no Myrtle Power either, but after some deep thinking in its own isolation booth advises Mrs. Goad to start galloping.—ED.
NASHUA AND THE DANCER
Now that Nashua is through racing (SI, Oct. 22), I can still justly say that he did not prove to me to be in the same class as Native Dancer. Performance is the only thing that can prove greatness, and Nashua did not touch the Dancer in any way in performance. The Dancer was a much better 2-year-old, losing none in nine starts, while Nashua lost twice. As a 3-year-old, he lost only once by a mere head, while Nashua lost twice, once finishing third. Dancer did not have as rugged a campaign as a 4-year-old as did Nashua because an injury knocked him out, but that year he carried 130 and 137 pounds in two of his most magnificent performances. The two times that Nashua carried 130 pounds he finished out of the money. I doubt if he could have gotten very far with 137; not too many horses can.
I wish that every racing fan would get the two horses' performances together. Then I believe you will agree that the million plus Nashua earned cannot overshadow the magnificent gray horse.
Corpus Christi, Texas
•Miss Boyd's statistics are irrefutable, but nothing is gained by comparing two great horses of different periods. Both Nashua and Native Dancer were determined campaigners, both ran well over varying distances and at different weights, both were named Horse of the Year—and both lost the Derby. Unable to turn back the clock and arrange a race between Native Dancer and Nashua, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED regretfully leaves the discussion to rainy afternoon habitués of stable and clubhouse.—ED.
New York Yankees