"Let's face it," said Ted Bowsfield of the A's after his no-hit game was broken up Saturday. "Mediocre pitchers just aren't meant to pitch no-hitters." Historically, Bowsfield could not be more wrong—downright bums have pitched no-hitters—but for Saturday, May 11, he was absolutely right. In Los Angeles that night Sandy Koufax—who is not mediocre, because he may be the best pitcher in baseball—became the 18th man in history to pitch two no-hitters. Beating the Giants (he zeroed the Mets last year), Koufax needed just 112 pitches; 73 of them were strikes. He threw 69 fast balls, 41 curves and two change-up curves. And he quieted all fears that the shoulder spasm that had kept him out of action for two weeks would continue to trouble him as his finger did last year. With the no-hitter, his ERA dropped to 1.15. "I'm just a mediocre pitcher," Ted Bowsfield mourns. "I'm out there scuffling all the time." "I always go out to pitch a perfect game," says Koufax.
Coming as they do from a long line of winners, it is somewhat unnerving that the Cadets at West Point have developed such a love for the New York Mets. Met scores are read regularly as part of the Orders of the Day, and last week it was Seaman First Class Casey Stengel who came to West Point to read the Orders, sort of. Then his Mets played the Cadets in baseball and got shut out for six innings before they finally won. This was hardly impressive until the Mets did much the same thing against the Giants, Phils and Reds. For the first time, the Mets won five games in a row. They won two in the ninth inning, one in the eighth and they did it with a .208 batting average; only Tim Harkness (.353, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs) was a consistent threat. The real heroes were the hand-me-down Met pitchers who stopped opponents with a .206 average and gave them a mere 2.6 walks per game. The leading starter was Carlton Willey, ex-Milwaukee, who gave up only one earned run while winning two complete games. Ken MacKenzie, ex-Milwaukee and ex-Yale, now pitching for God, for country and for the Mets, led the relievers with another win. Defying all odds, he is now 8-4 as a Met.
"You can't be 21 with that head of hair," said Yogi Berra to Detroit's Bill Freehan, a young man with no future at all in the television commercial field. But premature baldness should hardly affect Bill Freehan's future in baseball. Given a chance to start his first major league game in Tiger Stadium, when Catcher Gus Triandos became ill, the SI 25,000 bonus boy drove in five runs with two home runs and a double. In the course of the week, Freehan had a dozen hits, eight for extra bases. He undid the Yankees one night with a 440-foot triple, an upper-deck home run and a double. His .571 batting average was more than noteworthy, but its most important effect was to inspire the Tigers, who snapped a losing habit that had run to four straight and 12 of 15. Freehan played end on the Michigan football team before he signed with the Tigers in 1961 after his sophomore year. He may be a balding rookie, but to the pitchers he is already a hair-raising hitter.
In Chicago's ancient civil war, a running, pitching and hitting feud between the Cubs on the North Side and the White Sox on the South, it was Manager Al Lopez's American League crew that came out on top. Both teams entered the week by challenging the league leaders, but it was the White Sox—with six wins in succession and seven in eight games—who won the skirmish for fan interest as well as first place. While the National League Cubs slumped the White Sox hit at a .284 clip, and the pitchers held their opponents to a .167 batting average. Most of the exceptional pitching was turned in by three men: Ray Herbert, one of the least-known 20-game winners in history; Juan Pizarro, a Puerto Rican who learned his English at the movies; and Gary Peters, who expected to be sent to the minors. Herbert, after pitching a four-hit shutout a week earlier, added two more runless performances, first a three-hitter, then a two-hitter. Further improvement, and people will soon be remembering what's his name's name. Pizarro blanked the Angels on three hits. Peters, with relief help from newly acquired Jim Brosnan, won twice and prepared to enjoy the summer in Chicago.