He has fast feet, long fingers, wears glasses and has thoughts of someday being a bookkeeper. But right now Julian Javier is the second baseman for St. Louis. It might be that he is a trifle embarrassed because he is the only infield regular on the club not named to the All-Star Team. First Baseman Bill White (.423 average last week), Third Baseman Ken Boyer (.476) and Shortstop Dick Groat (.333) all made the squad. None of them could match Javier's recent performance, however. Forsaking costly habits of going after first pitches and bad balls, Javier hit and scored in 11 straight games. During that stretch he batted .439. Javier developed his speed, which makes him the widest-ranging second baseman in the league, by running to and from school in his native Dominican Republic. Of his fingers, which resemble those of a concert pianist, Javier merely says, "They help me in typing." They also help him around second base, where he is a virtuoso in his own right.
There are few stronger tonics than victory, and no one knows this better than Walter Alston. Two months ago the Dodgers were reportedly wracked by dissension, disorganization, discontent. The cure, some said, would come only when Alston was fired as manager, a move daily imminent. Alston, however, remains employed, and his once sickly and seventh-place Dodgers have had the healthiest record (32 victories, 20 losses, .615) in either league for the past two months. The Dodgers who wilted in April bloomed in May and June, cutting their errors by almost 25% while increasing their double plays at a similar rate. And, like General Motors stock, the team batting average went up, up, up. Last week the Dodgers continued their progress, climbing from fourth place to second by winning five games, three by one run. In four of the games Jim Gilliam drove in the winning run, once with a homer against the Cardinals, followed on successive days by doubles that stalled the Reds' surge. Finally, against the Braves, Gilliam homered and then, in the 11th inning, beat out a bunt single that pushed a run across. No one has said a word lately about Walter Alston losing his job.
Like the boy on the burning deck, Bob Johnson stood as a solace to his captain, Oriole Manager Billy Hitchcock. Hitchcock's ship was sinking: his players were criticizing him, the team's dissolute 1962 attitude had returned, his job was threatened. Tn the midst of it all, Infielder Johnson—who is not advertised in Baltimore's so-called $6 million infield—came off the bench and hit .476. In one stretch he rattled off eight hits in a row to help raise his average to .315. Though always a good hitter, Johnson has gained greater fame as the best hotfoot man in the big leagues. He once crawled under a dugout bench on his belly to put matches to foot, and one year, says Johnson, "everyone took off his shoes the minute I got in the clubhouse." Temporarily retired from hotfoots, Johnson thought only about hitting during his streak. Poor Orioles. Three days later a pitched ball smacked Johnson in the ribs and Billy Hitchcock had to put his only .300 hitter on the bench.
The fact that Minnesota hit .291 for the week and had five regulars batting over .300 was purely incidental. "Home runs," moaned Detroit Manager Charley Dressen in summation, "they kill you. Allison hits two. Battey hits another. They break your back." The Twins kept right on slugging opponents to death. They hit 10 homers last week, and a third of the lineup was fighting for the league home run lead. In the last six weeks Bob Allison has hit a mere 11 singles but exactly twice as many extra-base hits. As for Harmon Killebrew, since the Twins surged up again on June 18 he has had 21 hits (.412 BA),and 12 of them were for extra bases—a slugging average of .922. The cleanup hitter in this menagerie of monsters, however, was rookie Jimmy Hall (.318), who also found time to play a beautiful center field. In fact, the booming Bloomingtons were getting help from everywhere. Bill Pleis had pitched only 21 innings; he got a starting chance and went the distance to win. Lee Stange, back from the minors, won his second straight with a shutout. The Twins could not miss. In a one-punch fight with Detroit's Phil Regan, Vic Power got the punch in. Nearly everybody hits on the Twins.