It was 2:30 a.m. when Bo Belinsky of Los Angeles called his father in Trenton, N.J. to tell him he had defeated the Athletics 3-2. "How come you were awake?" Belinsky asked. "Oh, you figured I'd call. Crazy. Send me those yokel clippings from back home; I want to laugh. What did they say on the radio? Are you serious? Ah, I'm no Whitey Ford yet. Hey, go over to Jake's and have one on me." A day later Belinsky went to a car dealer and bought a Thunderbird. The other Angels did not fare as well, but they were still tied for third with Baltimore. Superb pitching by Steve Barber, Milt Pappas and Hoyt Wilhelm buoyed the Orioles. Barber beat the Red Sox 5-1, then hustled back to Fort Bragg, N.C. Pappas told a reporter the only way to beat the Yankees was to pitch a shutout and hit a homer. So he did—hit a home run and, with aid from Wilhelm, shut out the Yankees. New York then took over first place with successive 3-1 wins over the Orioles and Indians. Roger Maris batted .692 in the autograph league (that's how many books he inscribed during a department store sales campaign), but overall he had a .167 BA. At exactly the same time last season he was hitting .167 and then went on to prove that his bat was mightier than his pen. Last year at this time Dick Radatz of Boston was in the minors. Last week Radatz, who is 6 feet 5, helped save wins for 6-foot-6 Don Schwall and 6-foot-8 Gene Conley. Coach Rudy York mistakenly pasted the lineup card upside down on the dugout wall before a game with the Orioles. Boston won; so York continued the ritual. "Why not?" shrugged York. Manager Mickey Vernon must have felt as though someone had hung his Washington hitters upside down. They batted a scant .203, lost four straight and dropped from second place to 10th. Cleveland has had only one home run all season, that by Gene Green in a loss to the Yankees. One player who was not having trouble hitting homers was Minnesota's Rich Rollins, who had hit only four in the minors in 1961. Rollins so successfully learned the art of pulling the ball this spring that he had hit four out of the park and was leading the AL with a .486 BA. Jim Landis hit four homers and his teammates another three as Chicago won four in a row. Then the pitchers gave up 16 runs in the next two games, the hitters got just one home run and the White Sox lost twice to Kansas City. Jerry Lumpe batted .407 and Norm Siebern began getting extra base hits. That was just enough to keep the Athletics in front of eighth-place Detroit, which had the worst fielding average in the league.
Don Davidson, Milwaukee public relations man, could hardly wait to use the Braves' new scoreboard. Finally, he had a chance to order his first fan-a-gram: EDDIE MATHEWS NOW HAS 372 CAREER HOME RUNS. He had difficulty, though, explaining to the scoreboard operator how to spell "has" and that it was Eddie and not Neddie Mathews. Two innings later the message appeared. The next fan-a-gram did not take as long, but it read, BEDELL HAS HIT SAFELY IN EIGHT STRAIGHT GAMES YOU. Then a reporter said, "Don, there's something wrong. They've got San Francisco with 25 hits." Milwaukee players made errors, too, five to be exact, and the Braves could not get out of eighth place. Chicago did even worse, but after seven losses finally won. Eight of the Cubs' nine defeats have been to left-handers. This prompted '.he club to hire southpaw Chuck Lindquist, who until then had been exercising his arm as a left-handed carpenter, as a batting practice pitcher. St. Louis treated almost every pitcher as though he were a Chuck Lindquist and ran its unbeaten streak to seven. Five players were injured, but one of them—Curt Flood—hit better than ever. Flood went 6 for 8, and his .526 BA was the best in the majors. In four games the Cardinals batted .367 and averaged 11 runs. Even blowing a six-run lead in the first inning did not deter them. Ernie Broglio came in from the bullpen, held the Phillies to four hits in the final 8‚Öì innings and was the winner. San Francisco also got good relief work from Don Larsen. He retired three Reds in a row to continue his excellent relief and gain his second win. Felipe Alou, the Bible-carrying outfielder, hit .480 and drove in 10 runs. One Dodger fan sent a poetic telegram: ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE, WE'LL GIVE OUR TEAM FOR FELIPE ALOU. Still, the Giants could only split six games. Los Angeles had the same record, looking alternately good (4-1 win over the Braves) and horrendous (19-8 and 14-0 losses to the Giants and Reds). Pittsburgh looked bad just once, and then it didn't matter. It all happened when Harvey Haddix fielded a double-play ball in a game against the Mets. Haddix threw late to Second Baseman Bill Mazeroski, whose relay caromed off the first base stands. After a long run, Dick Stuart got the ball, then threw it all the way to the third base boxes. Haddix retrieved the ball and made a wild throw past the catcher. Don Hoak, backing up the play, slipped and wound up sitting in the mud behind home plate. Two runs scored, but the game was called because of snow and rain. With this type of good fortune, plus at least one homer in every game last week, the Pirates had a 9-0 record after two weeks. Houston had neither luck nor hitting. Although the Colt .45s outscored their opponents 31-16, they lost four of their first nine games. Still, it kept them ahead of sixth-place Philadelphia, which did not have a home run all week, and seventh-place Cincinnati, which won three and then lost its last two. Even worse was New York, still winless after eight tries. Nothing went right for the Mets, who kept on losing despite three homers by Frank Thomas. Manager Casey Stengel was chastised for participating in uniform in beer advertisements. These woes accentuated a remark Stengel made while yet in Florida: "What difference does it make if the monuments they built for you when you are a king lean a little bit after you've gone?"
Boxed statistics through Saturday, April 21
CONSISTENT PITCHERS were Dean Stone of Houston and Dick Donovan of Cleveland. Each turned in second shutout win.