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PITTSBURGH PIRATES

The Pirates were supposed to start their climb last year—and didn't. Now, a year wiser, they realize that half a dozen fine young players can't do it alone. But if Kluszewski can only deliver those big hits and the pitching staff somehow comes around...well, 1958 could be different
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THE MANAGER

A big league infielder for seven years and a big league manager since last August when he replaced Bobby Bragan, Danny Murtaugh has fond hopes that he can keep the Pirates moving at the same .500 gait at which they played the last two months of the '57 season. If so, he will be accomplishing something no other Pittsburgh manager has been able to do over a full season for the past 10 years. A chunky, tobacco chewing, cigar-smoking Irishman with a keen sense of humor and a genius for double talk, he wears uniform No. 40, which matches his age. Murtaugh's coaching staff is made up of Bill Burwell (41), Leonard Levy (42), Sad Sam Narron (43) and Frank Oceak (44).

ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S PIRATES

STRONG POINTS: Strangely enough, a last-place ball club can have some strong points, and the Pirates have theirs. Dick Groat at shortstop and Bill Mazeroski at second base make up one of the finest double-play combinations in the league. Groat is quick and smart and a sharp hitter, while baseball men are saying that Mazeroski, with his great hands and range and arm, is perhaps the finest young infielder in the business. Frank Thomas, a valuable and highly versatile athlete who can play first, third or the outfield, has always hit with real power, and each member of the outfield—Bill Virdon, Roberto Clemente and Bob Skinner—has been a .300 hitter at one time or another in the big leagues. In addition, the first two, playing center and right respectively, are outstanding defensively. Bob Friend ranks as one of the top pitchers in. the game, and Hank Foiles, the surprise of 1957, turned in a splendid catching job with little help. This is a young team with very good speed and surprising depth: Infielders Gene Baker, Gene Freese and Johnny O'Brien, Outfielders Roman Mejias, Paul Smith and John Powers.

WEAK SPOTS: The Pirates are well represented her°, too, and the pitching staff is a good place to begin. Behind Friend there is only Ronnie Kline and Vernon Law, who have looked good but never quite good enough, and the relief ace, Elroy Face. Don Gross, picked up in the deal with Cincinnati, may be the fourth starter—and the lefthander—the Pirates so badly need. But for a fifth man and a spot pitcher or two, the Pirates are going to have to stir up something from among a double handful of young hopefuls, semifailures and raw rookies who between them managed to win less than a dozen big league games last year. There is also little reason to believe that the catching, behind Foiles, will show much improvement; the same ones are around again who have missed before. And the Pirates, despite some good high-average hitters in the lineup, are still woefully short on power. Only Thomas has proved that he can consistently hit the ball out of vast Forbes Field.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES: The new face which looms largest on this ball club is attached to Ted Kluszewski, and every Pittsburgh official, player and fan only hopes that it may be seen an awful lot this year out on the field. The other trade acquisition was Gross, a highly promising young man for whom the Pirates were willing to part with Bob Purkey. The rookies include a pair of Coast League pitching phenoms named Bennie Daniels (a left-hander) and George Witt, who between them won 35 games and lost only 15 for Hollywood last year. Now that Dick Stuart, the home-run-hitting strikeout wonder, has been found lacking again in his attempt to switch from the outfield to first base, R. C. Stevens, another big long-ball hitter, has a good chance to be the man who will back up Klu. And Johnny Powers, a hard-hitting 28-year-old who keeps coming back each spring, may stick as a pinch hitter and as an outfield reserve.

THE BIG IFS: Perhaps the biggest if in all baseball today concerns Ted Kluszewski and his aching back. After a slow, cautious start this spring, the big slugger has been driving baseballs out of the park and seems to have regained all his old prowess. The only question now is whether he will be able to play with any great regularity. If he can, most of Pittsburgh's worries over a power shortage will immediately disappear. Virdon and Clemente, second and third in the league averages in '56, must hit like that again instead of at their .250 level of last year. And finally, if Gross does well and one or two of the other pitching hopefuls manage to become a winner, the Pirates will be pretty well set.

THE VOICES

Bob Prince (41, confident), the son of a regular Army officer, moved from one Army post to another as a youth and then from school to school (Pitt, Stanford, Oklahoma and Harvard Law). When he won announcing audition by "accident," Prince forgot family tradition and quit law school. Colorful and controversial, Prince makes no bones about rooting hard for the Pirates. His repeated "Sufferin' Catfish" and "Oh, how sweet it is" leave no doubt in listeners' ears as to how the Pirates are doing at the moment. Some say he is a show-off and too gabby but everyone concedes he has one of the finest air voices in the business. Loses 15 pounds during season, JIM WOODS (41, deep-throated) entered baseball at the tender age of 4 as mascot for the Kansas City Blues. A stint as bat boy followed and Woods's career was set. He came to the majors in 1953 to cover the Yankees and switched to the Giants in 1957. Woods brings his deep, rhythmic delivery to Pittsburgh for the first time this year.

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DICK GROAT

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BILL MAZEROSKI

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TED KLUSZEWSKI

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FRANK THOMAS

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ROBERTO CLEMENTE

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HANK FOILES

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BILL VIRDON

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BOB SKINNER

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BOB PRINCE

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BOB FRIEND

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RONNIE KLINE

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VERNON LAW

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ELROY FACE

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ILLUSTRATION

THE OUTLOOK: A young, improving ball club, the Pirates have too much talent to stay in the cellar. With such stars as Thomas, Friend, Groat, Mazeroski, Virdon, Clemente and Skinner on the roster, backed up by a good supporting cast, they should now begin to move up. Yet Friend, Kline and Law can't carry the pitching all alone, and unless Kluszewski is able to come back, Thomas is in the position of having to supply all the long ball punch by himself. The Pirates will cause a lot of trouble to teams chasing a pennant but they are still a long way from becoming a serious threat themselves.