Philadelphia, July 28: Temperature 83, humidity 73. This is a day to remember. We won a double-header. And only used two pitchers. One percentage point out of first place....
Young Mike McCormick slept late. Bill Rigney had told him the night before that he would start the first game of the makeup double-header with the Phillies. Gomez would go the second. "You two are it," said Rig, "there aren't any more, just you two and the old man [Grissom]. So stick in there." Mike dressed and shaved and walked out into the de-pressingly muggy Philadelphia heat. He looked tentatively up and down 17th Street before heading uptown. Boredom is a baseball player's most troublesome problem on the road. When you are due to pitch it's worse.
Mike decided on a movie—Kings Go Forth. This took care of two hours. Another hour was spent buying a short-sleeved, lightweight white shirt (McCormick is a compulsive shopper, buys something in each town). Lunch at a baseball players' hangout called the "1614," near the Warwick, took an hour. Between then and game time Mike watched television in his room.
Connie Mack Stadium was filled—with America's most irascible fans. At Pittsburgh they had something to boo about when the Giants were there (the May riot involving Gomez and Cepeda). In Philly they need no motivation. For volume, technique and persistency their melancholy booing is unsurpassed in either league. It has been told, and it must be true, that the newborn in Philadelphia must learn the word boo before they can go on to more intimate and less dispassionate expressions. Later, too, they say, a small ring is placed in the child's mouth to form it permanently into a perfect circle for booing. The training culminates with a pre-teen-age tryout as Little League fans, then on to Connie Mack Stadium to join the chorus of discontent.
Mike McCormick went into the ninth inning with a one-run lead. It was obvious in the seventh and eighth that 19-year-old Mike had lost the fast one, his only real weapon. And he had to face Ashburn, Hemus and Anderson. Mike looked toward the bullpen. Old Man Gris wasn't up. He got Ashburn on a fly to right, then threw two balls to Solly Hemus, both pushed up to the plate. Grissom got up to work and Rigney shot to the mound. "I guess you're through, Mike. You're not throwing the ball, you're aiming it. What's the matter? Tired?" Rigney glanced nervously toward the bullpen, and Mike said: "I'm all right; I'll throw." Rig believed him.
From somewhere down deep the gutty kid drew strength. He lost Hemus, but he threw hard to Anderson and Bouchee and got them both on harmless flies to the outfield.
Ruben Gomez matched McCormick's win in the second game. You'd have thought it was a World Series victory by the glorious sounds in the Giants' dressing room.
After the game, Ruben Gomez dropped in for a beer at the "1614." The world looked good again to the proud, temperamental Puerto Rican who hadn't won a game for two months and was being used, sparingly, as a middle-inning reliefer.
The walls of the small room were covered with pictures of baseball players. Wes Westrum came in. He spotted Ruben, made a circle with his thumb and first finger and said, "Magnificent." Ruben looked highly pleased, raised his beer glass and said, "Salud." He started talking, letting the last two months' troubles come out: "I like to work. Work hard. I don't like to make my living sitting down. For 11 years I've been pitching—winter and summer. They lost confidence in me. I only start today because it's the second game of a double-header, and there's no one else. Maybe it will be different now."
Cincinnati, July 29: The Giants' chartered DC-6 flew over the green Ohio farmland on its way to a three-game series with the Reds. And important games, too; but already the players' minds were on Milwaukee and the four big weekend games. They should tell the story: Were the Giants really making a run for the pennant or would the kids fold, as predicted?