"Bobby Mattick—he signed Robinson and Curt Flood, who is with the Cards now, and a bunch more boys around that area—told me I should be an outfielder. So mostly I've played in the outfield. I pitched one game at the end of my second year in pro ball. Lost it in relief. I don't care about pitching any more."
BARGAIN DAY FOR THE REDS
"The Reds were the only team after me big. Some others talked to me, but Cincinnati was the only one offered me any money. And I liked Mattick, the way he treated me, and Robinson was with Cincinnati; so when I graduated I signed up with the Reds." They gave him $2,000.
"I've been very fortunate. Wally Moses has helped me a lot, and my old high school coach, George Powles, helped me most of all. He still works with me in the off season. That's about all I do all year round is work on baseball. You know, bunting and things like that. I just go up and knock on his door and say 'Hey, Coach,' and he comes out and helps me. Always been like that."
In the off season, Pinson, an only child, lives with his family back in Oakland, where his father is a stevedore. "I guess that's where I get my strength," he says, the muscles rippling across his chest and back and up and down his powerful arms. "But I don't go looking for those home runs. I just try to hit the ball where it's pitched. If it goes out, fine. If not, I'll take what I can get."
Vada Pinson won't get to be Rookie of the Year because of a rule. He won't win the batting championship because of Henry Aaron. He won't win a Most Valuable Player award this year, either, because the Reds are going nowhere. But all Vada Pinson has to do is keep on swinging and running. First thing you know he'll have a trophy case full of batting championship and Most Valuable Player awards, and one day Vada Pinson will discover that he has been turned into a plaque on the wall at Cooperstown, the first left-handed trumpet player in Baseball's Hall of Fame.
How can you stop a guy who outruns his mistakes?