BASEBALL: SECONDING MOTIONS
What Baseball Needs (SI, Feb. 23) is the most sensible article ever penned.
Your article refers to a "directing brain," herein called the D.B. The D.B. is the manager, sitting on the bench, "percentage possibilities clicking in his head like the tumblers in a slot machine or portable Univac." Here in my home town of Cincinnati we have a National League baseball team now known as the Reds. It seems that the front-office personnel has become resigned to the opinion that the only way to win a pennant is to turn to the services of a D.B.
At the start of the 1958 baseball season the ball club was managed by a true D.B., a platooning marvel known to all fans as Birdie. Directing a game of who's on first and what is where for the majority of the baseball season, he found himself floundering around with a second-division team as the season drew to a close. Unable to decide who to start in center field one day, this platooning D.B. announced his retirement.
The question in the minds of many fans was, "What would become of our cherished team now?" It was answered when the front office announced that a likable chap name of Jimmy Dykes would act as interim manager. Immediately this new manager pitched the platoon system over our center field wall out onto Western Avenue and proceeded to plant certain players in certain positions. He also did the unspeakable! He permitted left-handed batters to step into the batter's box against left-handed pitchers. With such ideas, how could this man possibly be in baseball in the year 1958? What could he accomplish? He merely brought the Reds from deep in the second division, up the ladder to a first-division finish.
It now seemed to all fans that Jimmy Dykes could be the only choice of the company management for the manager's position in 1959. But this was not to be the case. The bigwigs hired a man who less than two months before had been fired as manager of a second-division club in Philadelphia. The new D.B. is Mayo Smith, and I will wager my shell-rimmed spectacles against an eye patch that the platoon system is home to stay.
G. D. SCHUMAN
I used to go to Cincinnati at least 12 times a year and Cleveland three or four. No more. No action. A great article.
SCIPIO A. MYERS
What Baseball Needs is 100% correct.
Bradley Beach, N.J.
JOSEPH J. T. VALCOURT
J. E. ROBERTS
You hit a four-bagger. Battles are not won by automatons. Bench direction for all plays lessens the sport for the player, insults his intelligence and slows down action.
F. G. DUNNICLIFF