"Hey, Notty," yelled the Phillies' Wes Covington last Saturday, "I hear you went to the bank this morning." Indeed, Donald Edward Nottebart had gone to the bank—to deposit a $1,000 check awarded the Houston Colt pitcher by Oilman-Owner Bob Smith. What Nottebart had done the night before was pitch a no-hitter against the Phillies. Though Nottebart gave up an unearned run and did not throw a single curve, he threw 109 assorted sliders, sinkers and slip pitches so effectively that only Tony Gonzalez hit one with any zip and that straight to a waiting outfielder. Catcher John Bateman did not even know, until the ninth inning, that his battery mate was working on a no-hitter; then Bateman became so nervous he could hardly give the signs. "You'll never make it," Phillie Manager Gene Mauch yelled over to Nottebart in the seventh. "You'll never make it," he yelled over again in the eighth. "You'll never—" Covington popped up for out No. 27.
Houston, beaten 20 times in 22 futility-ridden games against Philadelphia, decided to be prepared when the Phillies came to town last week. The Colt .45s called upon Two Shillelagh O'Sullivan and Knobnose O'Callahan, local sorcerers of a sort—who fortunately did not count against the 25-man roster—to put the whammy on the Phillies. Philadelphia won 5-2. Now if O'Sullivan and O'Callahan are unable to win for you, nothing can. That—nothing—is precisely what Don (Notahit) Nottebart gave the Phillies the next day (see above). With the spell broken, Houston beat the Phillies a second time when Ken Aspromonte hit a ninth-inning sacrifice fly—the same Aspromonte who earlier in the week had kept a six-game winning streak alive with a 10th-inning homer against the Cubs. More than anything, though, it was superb pitching that enabled Houston to win eight of 10 games and move out of last place. During one stretch, Colt pitchers threw a two-hitter, a three-hitter, a four-hitter and three five-hitters, most of this uncellarlike pitching being produced by Dick Farrell, Hal Woodeshick, Dick Drott, Bob Bruce, Jim Umbricht, Ken Johnson and Nottebart.
"I love to play the Yankees because I figure the best way to the top is through the top," said Leon Wagner of Los Angeles. Wagner hit two homers against the Yankees one night last week, but still the Angels lost. And although the Angels have been losing more often than winning, this has hardly been Wagner's fault. He leads the league in both average (.358) and home runs (10). If Wagner has any fault it is that he sometimes gropes for fly balls. After being fitted for glasses he said, "With one set of 'focals I saw two ants kissin' on a telephone pole a mile away." But it was the fans, watching Wagner's long home runs last week, who really needed glasses. He hit one against the White Sox to celebrate his 29th birthday (May 13), another against Boston and two against the Yankees. None were the result of corrective lenses; Wagner discovered right away that he could still see pitchers at 60 feet 6 inches with the naked eye even if he couldn't spot ants at a mile.
Neither Las Vegas, where the interest in baseball is strictly financial, nor Boston, where it is emotional, were quite prepared for developments in the American League this year. Both, however, were quick to react to a New England phenomenon that hasn't been seen since 1952, namely, the Red Sox in first place in May. The Vegas crowd generously offered 300 to 1 in March against the possibility that the Red Sox might win a pennant. Last week they glanced at the standings and suddenly decided that 15 to 1 was more like it. And Boston fans, who have always professed undying love for their Sox, switched off their TV sets and came whooping and booing back to Fenway Park. It was Dave Morehead, Earl Wilson, Frank Malzone and Lou Clinton who got the whoops, and it was Dick Stuart who got the boos, but all were big men in Boston's five wins last week. Morehead threw a one-hitter, and Wilson a two-hitter. Malzone ruined the Senators with two home runs. And Stuart, taking dead aim on that left-field wall, hit a grand-slam home run and a three-run homer in a doubleheader sweep of the Angels. Clinton, nursing a hitless streak (0 for 19), suddenly went berserk with 9 for 14.