Early Wynn won his first major league game in 1941 and his 299th last September. Seven times after that he tried for his 300th, a number only 13 other pitchers have reached. Each time he pitched well and each time he came close, yet he never won. When he finally did achieve his goal last week, at the age of 43, it came on a day when he pitched his worst. Wynn gave up four runs to the Athletics but, thanks to some uncommonly lusty hitting by his Cleveland teammates, he held a 5-4 lead when he departed after five innings, exhausted. He watched two innings from the dugout, then showered and sat nervously in the radio booth during the final inning. Then Wynn went to the clubhouse, where the team gave him a standing ovation. Wynn beamed and sought out Jerry Walker, who had pitched four shutout innings to save the victory for him. "Roomie," Wynn said, "you and I are going out tonight." Wynn had not pitched well, but no one cared. It was time he had a little luck.
When most people think of Johnny Pesky they remember that October afternoon in 1946 when, holding the ball, he stood transfixed in short center field while Enos Slaughter raced home with the run that beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Now Pesky is manager of the Red Sox, and Boston fans are beginning to forget his lapse. The Red Sox are winning as they have not won in years—since 1951, as a matter of fact—and last week they were in second place, a tremendous improvement on last year's eighth-place finish. While most Boston rooters are applauding Pesky, he himself is quick to give the credit to his players. Carl Yastrzemski (.334) and Frank Malzone (.324) are the No. 1 and No. 3 hitters in the league; Dick Radatz has the best winning percentage (10-1, .909) and the lowest ERA (1.30) in the major leagues; and Bill Monbouquette has a dozen victories. Last week Radatz gave up two hits in seven innings and picked up two wins. After the first one, in which he yielded only one scratch single in three innings, he was almost apologetic. "I don't want to alibi," Radatz said, "but I had a stiff neck and didn't have my good stuff at all." It was an alarming thought.
There occurred in San Francisco recently an incident of such public interest that within minutes the switchboards of newspapers and Candlestick Park were flooded with irate calls. Manager Alvin Dark had had the audacity to put in a pinch hitter (who struck out) for Willie McCovey, simply because a left-hander, Bobby Shantz, was pitching. McCovey, the leading home run hitter in the major leagues, has been driving all pitchers, lefties and righties, to cover. Hitting in 17 straight games, McCovey blasted 12 home runs and batted in 21 runs. Still, Manager Dark had the nerve to say Big Willie could not hit "some" left-handers. "I can't hit 'em if they don't let me get up to bat," said Willie. The next day Dark let Willie bat against lefthander Ray Sadecki of the Cards. To the delight of everybody in San Francisco, and especially the group of ball-hungry youngsters who gather beyond the right field fence whenever he bats, McCovey drove Sadecki's fast ball for a home run.
Remember the good old days in the National League when there were as many as five teams fighting for first place? That was back in June of 1963. But now it is July, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, by winning 11 out of 12 games, have jumped six games ahead of the other contenders. The one Dodger loss was due to a pop fly that Jim Gilliam lost in the sun—excusable, perhaps, because the Dodgers play mostly night games. During their rush to the top the Dodgers got phenomenal pitching. While the hitters averaged only four runs a game, batting a meager .244, the pitchers threw six shutouts and eight complete games and permitted only 17 runs over the 12-game stretch. The big man on the staff was Sandy Koufax, who threw three straight shutouts, giving him nine for the season. The Dodger management could not have been more pleased. About 15,000 more people than usual show up at Chavez Ravine every time Koufax pitches at home and, helped by this, attendance was up to 1,275,051, almost as good as last year's record pace. Walter O'Malley was smiling. The pennant just slipped through his fingers last year, but it is beginning to look as though that will not happen again.
*through Saturday, July 13