The first time, in 1957 someone named Willie Schmidt was pitching. Then there was Herman Wehmeier, Moe Drabowsky, Ernie Johnson, Art Schroll and Jim Brewer. Naturally there was Roger Craig. And Glen Hobbie, Barney Schultz, Lindy McDaniel, Joe Moeller, Jack Sanford and Lou Burdette. In July it was McDaniel again, and last week it was McDaniel for the third time. The game between the Pirates and the Cubs was in the ninth inning. The score was tied, the count 3 and 1. A fast ball came across the letters, and Pittsburgh's Jerry Lynch hit the 15th pinch home run of his career. The blast broke George Crowe's record and also won the game. But then five of Lynch's 15 big hits have won games—pretty fair clutch hitting. In 1961 he hit .404 in the pinch, driving in 25 runs on 19 hits. He is five for 11 this year with seven RBIs, including a two-run single last week. Four days before, to remind everyone he wasn't born in the ninth inning, he hit a homer as a starter.
Milwaukee Manager Bobby Bragan was feeling frisky. His club was in the midst of a surge that brought 10 victories in 12 games, moving the Braves into the first division for the first time since mid-May. Poking fun at one of the most belabored clichés in baseball, Bragan said, "I've got a bright idea, maybe even brilliant. We'll play them one at a time and just see what happens." What happened was that the Braves continued to win, beating the Dodgers twice. Warren Spahn picked up two of the week's five victories. The day he was to start against LA, Spahn warmed up by portraying a German sergeant in a television episode of Combat. An onlooking Brave offered him this advice: "Pull the pin out of the grenade before you heave it, dumbkopf." That night Spahn, as smart as they come when it is time to throw a baseball, subdued the Dodgers 6-1. In Milwaukee people were talking. A survey showed that while the Braves were striving to catch their attention, the men of Milwaukee were talking first about taxes, second the racial situation and third about the Braves. To Bragan, not long removed from eighth place in the NL, a third-place finish anywhere seemed encouraging.
On his way to first base after being hit by one of Gary Bell's pitches, Joe Pepitone of the Yankees said a few choice words to the Indian pitcher. Bell retaliated, calling Pepitone by a name not listed on the roster. Pepitone headed for Bell, only to be grabbed by Cleveland First Baseman Fred Whitfield. In a matter of of seconds Pepitone had flipped Whitfield to the ground and had delivered at least one good punch. Later in the clubhouse, Mickey Mantle, playing the role of the frightened servant, waited on Pepitone hand and foot, bringing him a beer, then offering to shine his shoes. Through it all, Pepitone did not neglect his baseball. During the week he banged out 15 hits and had eight RBIs. Once he ranged far down the right-field line for a foul ball, spinning around at the last instant to make the catch. By the end of the week Bell was not the only pitcher calling Pepitone names, though others learned to speak softly unless they carried a big first baseman.
The Tigers were last in May, and still so bad in June that they got Manager Bob Scheffing fired. In his place they got Charlie Dressen, and Charlie got the Tigers moving. Last week, Detroit won five of six, making it 18-7 for August and 37-30 for Charlie. The whole thing made Dressen bubble over, and he was already making wait-till-next-year noises. He celebrated wins by cooking and serving his own recipe for chili or bean soup, and his office was filled with 46 crates of fruits and vegetables that he had brought from LA. Visitors were provided with bags to help themselves to anything but the avocadoes—Dressen hid them in a corner. While the avocadoes were ripening, Hank Aguirre opened a home stand by pitching a two-hitter. Then the hitters made 23 runs to sweep a doubleheader. Al Kaline came back to action after missing three games because of a strained ligament, and took right after Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski's batting lead with three hits, the last of which beat Kansas City in 13 innings. With Kaline hot, the talk was of fifth, which would salvage something of the dismal season. It was enough, anyway, for Dressen to break out the avocadoes.