In Houston, Clubhouse Man Norm Gerdeman and his wife Evelyn prepare the food for visiting teams. The Gerdemans feel their work reflects "the city of Houston and the state of Texas," so they were glad to see Willie McCovey of the Giants light into some Fritos with Evelyn's Special Sour Cream and some spareribs that were "direct from St. Louis," and then declare: "Man, this is the best food in the league." Willie was no less bashful at home plate, where he helped lead a San Francisco assault against the Colt .45s that took the NL champions right back to the front of the league. For the week McCovey (.438 BA) had two HRs. So did Felipe Alou (.625), Orlando Cepeda (.529) and Willie Mays. Ed Bailey hit a pinch grand slam. Jack Sanford won two games. The pace was catching. Jack Fisher came over from Baltimore with a 5.09 ERA and immediately retired all 12 men he was asked to face. Most teams, though, kept playing like last September. The first series wasn't out of the way before talk of dissension—matched by the usual "firm denials"—was oozing out of the Los Angeles camp. And also reminiscent of September was the fact—undeniable—that the powerful Dodgers weren't hitting. Though they won three games of five (all by their aces, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax), they averaged less than three runs and six hits a game. Nobody hit a homer. Maury Wills was injured in the opener, but Willie Davis picked up the slack and stole three bases in the first week. St. Louis, the team that finished the Dodgers last season with two shutouts, started this one off with three more, as Ernie Broglio—Florida's best pitcher—led the way with a two-hitter. There was also an element of familiarity about the Mets, though they had succeeded in making their usual question—"Will the Mets ever win?"—passé. Now, it was, "Will the Mets ever score?" as they rolled their first 19 innings without a run before Duke Snider homered. There remained a reassuring air of consistency about the Mets. It was not just that they made an error on the very first play of the season—which indeed they did—but also that they had made an error on the very first play of the exhibition season. Hitting .124, New York fell gracefully into 10th place, from whence it came. Cincinnati, with its highly touted rookies Pete Rose and Tom Harper hitting .071 and .143, lost to Pittsburgh (3-1 for the week) and Philadelphia (2-1) and dropped off the pace. The Phils glowed with optimism and after two games the writers were already comparing them to the 1950 pennant-winning Whiz Kids. Art Mahaffey used only five curve balls to beat the Reds on four hits. He dismissed any thoughts that he may still be giving away his pitches. "When I have the fast ball going like that," said Art, "it doesn't matter if they know it's coming." In Milwaukee, Warren Spahn won his first start—and that is 328 wins if you would like to resume counting Spahn victories this early in the season. Down Lake Michigan's cold coast, the band played Jingle Bells at the Wrigley Field opener, and Don Drysdale got his oil changed to beat the Cubs. His arm was bathed in hot oil before the game, then again midway through, when the cold started numbing his fingers. Chicago won one game of four on Dick Ellsworth's two-hitter, but this was enough for Athletic Director Bob Whitlow to start the season off with some typical Cubbian executive sweet talk. "The Dodgers are going to give us some real great advertising around the league," he said, "as they tell everybody just how tough the Cubs are."
There hadn't been so much excitement in Kansas City since that day the transcontinental railroad linked up. There was Harry Truman telling the Yankees where to go ("back to New York, where they belong"). There were 1,000 kosher dill pickles for a lucky fan. There was Yogi Berra making his debut as a first-base coach. And most of all, there were 31 Athletics, visions of loveliness in their new green-and-gold uniforms. Yankee Manager Ralph Houk could not help but blow a kiss toward his KC alter ego, Eddie Lopat. But clothes still do not make the ballplayer, and New York swept the game and the series. Baltimore, its stock literally soaring (from a low of eight near the end of last season to a high of 17 bid, 19 asked this week), moved into Yankee Stadium for the first of about 521 "crucial" series this year, and managed to beat the Yanks once when Boog Powell, who was not supposed to start against left-handers and was certainly not supposed to hit them, banged a homer off Whitey Ford. In the lineup because of an injury to Joe Gaines, Powell hit two of his first three HRs against southpaws. Gus Triandos hit a homer his first time up with Detroit. Then Triandos, who had had a chance to become the first martyr to make the Hall of Fame on account of his tribulations attempting to handle Hoyt Wilhelm's knuckle balls, had to face ex-teammate Wilhelm later in the game. With a bat or a glove, he still couldn't handle the knuckle ball. Struck out. Minnesota and Cleveland both started slowly, but at least Indian Manager Birdie Tebbetts had the ready answer for his team's problem. "These kids aren't used to playing in daylight," Tebbetts explained. The Twins were playing without Richie Rollins, who had suffered a broken jaw. In his place, strong George Banks did smash one home run and Harmon Killebrew added another to give the Twins their only win. Killebrew's homer warmed a lot of hearts, too, since it came in Metropolitan Stadium. Last year, though he hit 48 homers, he didn't hit his first at home till June 10. Pitchers finally found that Washington's spring training star, rookie Tom Brown, has a weakness: the regular season. Brown went 0 for 14 with eight strikeouts before he finally was benched. Another rookie, Dave Morehead of Boston, accounted for four of those strikeouts personally when he shut out the Senators in his first start. More-head, 19, camera in hand, then gawked on a White House visit and sent his winning game ball back home to his father. The Senators' pitching star was Tom Cheney, who pitched the best game in the majors in a week of exceptionally good pitching. Cheney threw a one-hitter to go with three two-hitters, five three-hitters, five four-hitters and 11 five-hitters. And on the West Coast, in the shadow of Hollywood, the script called—naturally enough—for the pretty little secretary from Portland, Ore. to triumph over the glamorous movie star. The latter is, of course, Mamie Van Doren, betrothed of Los Angeles Pitcher Bo Belinsky. The secretary is Margaret Huntington, fiancée of Chicago rookie Pete Ward. Both ladies were at Chavez Ravine the other night, their hearts on their sleeves, when Ward strode to the plate to face Belinsky. He smashed a 400-foot triple to start the Sox on their way to a 3-1 defeat of the Angels and Bo. And may they all live happily ever after.
PIRATE CASTAWAYS Howie Goss, Don Leppert led Colt, Senator attacks, Goss with a .364 BA, Leppert with three HRs in one game.