Be still! Do not interrupt the man sitting on the green bench. He is Frank Lane, general manager of the Cleveland Indians, and he is busy reading the nation's newspapers. He is reading what they say about his team, what they say about the other teams and what they say about Frank Lane.
This is what they said last spring: that Cleveland would be lucky to finish fourth, that the Yankees would win again and that Frank Lane was foolish if he thought otherwise. But one afternoon last week, as Cleveland prepared to play New York in Yankee Stadium, it was they who were in first place and the Yankees who were in fourth. And Frank Lane, who in the spring had told the world he had a good team, was looking not so foolish.
When Cleveland plays in Yankee Stadium, seat 1 in box 70-A of section 16 is reserved for Lane. It is located beside the Indians' dugout, within easy shouting distance of the players. On this muggy, overcast afternoon, however, as the starting pitchers warmed up, the seat was empty. The lineups were announced to the large weekday crowd. The National Anthem was played. The game began. Seat 1 remained empty.
The first three Indians had gone out and the Yankees were preparing to bat when Frank Lane appeared. He was dressed in a black suit, with black shoes and socks. He wore sunglasses. Over one arm he carried a tan raincoat. Under the other arm was a pile of newspapers. He placed his raincoat and newspapers on the roof of the dugout and sat down. He greeted a plump Stadium guard who sat on a wooden chair beside him.
"I don't know why we bother to bat in the first inning," he said. "We've only scored 10 times in the first inning all season."
Two Yankees went out. Mickey Mantle got up. "This guy's hurt," the guard told Lane.
"I know," Lane replied. "But even on one leg he scares you." Mantle singled to center. Lane stroked his chin. "We're in trouble," he said.
Yogi Berra walked on four pitches. "Now we're in real trouble," Lane said. But Hector Lopez grounded out and the first inning was over.
As the teams changed sides, the guard mentioned the game played two nights before. The Yankees had beaten the Indians 1-0. "We gave it away," Lane told him. "If Held doesn't hesitate before coming home, we score. If Score doesn't walk Ford, they don't score."
Tito Francona led off the second inning with a single. Up came Rocky Colavito, Cleveland's home run hitter. There were many cheers from the crowd.