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Original Issue

Chicago streaks for nice-guy Durocher

Chicago's hitters again were having a hot spring and it seemed like last year all over again—except for the amiable Leo, who with his team in first place was bubbling over with the milk of human kindness

Ten games at home in the Friendly Confines, and the Chicago Cubs had won ten straight, their longest streak since 1953. The Cubs were averaging nearly seven runs per game, and they were still undefeated at Wrigley Field. Picture-swinger Billy Williams, 0 for 16, stepped out of his oval frame and went 18 for 37, including six home runs and 22 RBIs. Johnny Callison, who had been under .200, bounced up to .308. Jim Hickman was batting .355 when Houston decided to walk him three times in one game. Ernie Banks began an 11-5 demolishment of the Astros with his 498th career homer. Bill Hands won his third game without a defeat, and Ken Holtzman was 3-1.

Chicago's first game with St. Louis (previously on a rip of its own) told the bare tale. At the seventh-inning stretch, the Cubs had done nothing since the first inning, Bob Gibson was scything them down, superb Catcher Randy Hundley had just been badly hurt and the Cards had gotten three runs in the top of the seventh. Then relentless chip-chip-chip hitters Don Kessinger and Glenn Beckert sneaked aboard, Gibson let slip one good pitch and Williams splintered the right-field bleachers. Callison unwrinkled a slider with Santo on, Gibson got one of his rare early showers and the Cubs ambled to a 7-4 win, munching Crackerjack and snapping their Spearmint. Until then, St. Louis pitchers had not yielded a home run. Red Schoendienst was philosophical. "Boom, boom," he said. ' "We all know the Cubs can do that at any time."

Leo Durocher, whose job hangs in the balance this year, was mellowed by the Cubs' good fortunes. Normally the last guy to finish nice, Durocher was congratulating players, talking to people for free and being kind to umpires. Schoendienst was out there kicking dirt on home plate; the Lip was in the dugout, smiling winningly. Of course, the lower Lip did tremble once on his radio talk show. Caller: You blew the pennant, fella. Why are you on this show? To make up for the pay cut you're taking? Leo: How much money do you make? Caller: About $50 a week. Leo: Listen, I can get a tin can and pencil and make that much. Caller: That's probably what you'll be doing next year. Moderator: You're listening to a reenactment of World War II.