Each week HIGHLIGHT takes a quick probing look at the most dramatic or significant baseball news:
The veteran disliked extravagant praise, but now he was rich with enthusiasm: "I sat there late, watching him on television," he said. "My wife thought I fell asleep. I watched him pitch and whoosh! I slumped down in the chair with my legs out watching him. I just knew he had them, and I wanted to watch."
The veteran was Casey Stengel, and his admiration was for another named Sal Maglie, presently of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Discarded by the New York Giants last summer and by the Cleveland Indians this spring, Maglie had shut out the formidable Milwaukee Braves with three hits. It was his first victory since last July 9, and his first shutout since April 15, 1954. It was a superb performance.
Shortstop Pee Wee Reese, no rookie himself, dreamily paid his tribute: "I stood out there and watched him pitch to each man exactly the way we had discussed it in the clubhouse. Most guys talk about it in the meeting and then go out there and do something else. This is a pitcher."
After the day which put him on the road back, the dark, saturnine Maglie was joyful. "I proved to myself I could do it," he said. "I hadn't pitched more than four innings at a time since July, and you begin to wonder after a while whether you're still able to go nine." It was over now, and he knew. That night as always after his big games, he tossed and turned sleeplessly until nearly 4 in the morning. Later in the week he pitched again and turned in seven scoreless innings against power-laden Cincinnati before Ted Kluszewski hit him for a bases-loaded home run.
His week's work—16 scoreless innings in a row—seemed enough to justify the confidence of a 39-year-old gaffer fighting to stay in the major leagues.