AND ON THE 10th DAY THEY PLAYED BALL - Sports Illustrated Vault |
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The strike settled, baseball opened the 1972 season last weekend 10 days late, and it might take longer to put players and game back together again. Rain and cold weather held down some crowds, but many of the fans who did show up were bitter. In New York, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn (below) was resoundingly booed at the Met opener, but Manager Yogi Berra and his players were rousingly cheered. In Chicago, a disappointing 17,401 fans were depressed as the Phillies' Steve Carlton (left), sporting a colorful new double-knit uniform, beat the Cubs 4-2 thanks to a dropped fly ball by Jose Cardenal with two out in the ninth. In February, Carlton was traded by the Cardinals after contract trouble, and St. Louis Owner August Busch last week dealt off another economic dissident, Pitcher Jerry Reuss, to Houston for two minor-leaguers. Busch himself was absent from his box as the Cards drew a tiny crowd of 7,808, the third smallest since his Stadium opened in 1966. Busch further showed his displeasure by having his front office announce that players would no longer have the luxury of rooming alone on the road, but would double up to save the club $10,000. Vocal fans sided with Busch. As Bob Gibson struggled through the first inning against Montreal, one yelled, "Hurry up, I've got to go to a union meeting," and when Jose Cruz misplayed a single another shouted, "Put a dollar sign on it!"

Pitchers were generally ahead of hitters, who were clearly ahead of fielders. Mickey Lolich, an ahead pitcher who never looks like he's in shape anyway, threw a complete game for the Tigers, retiring the last 17 Red Sox. Out West, the Padres beat the Braves 6-5, and Rightfielder Larry Stahl said happily, "It's the first time we've ever been in first place this late in the year."