"Oh, I was
ripping them apart that day," Sheehan said in fond reminiscence, much in
the manner of an old monsignor who has caught the altar boys smoking. "You
got five months to play ball, and seven months to raise hell in. A ball club is
25 individuals, and some may not like you, but if you manage a ball club you
got to be a pain. Any manager that manages a ball club is a pain. I know one
thing—they can't have a bigger pain than me." Sheehan chortled and patted
his ample pot to point up his pun. "This is a rough game," he said,
frowning. "It's dog eat dog."
To a degree,
injuries and illness are to blame for the lack of solid Giant hitting. The
lineup has been far from set. Shortstop Ed Bressoud is out with a bad ankle,
Catcher Hobie Landrith has been banged up a couple of times and Third Baseman
Jim Davenport suffered an ulcer attack shortly after the season began.
Davenport didn't know he was afflicted until he started hemorrhaging in
Milwaukee. He is playing again, but he still is not as strong as he was before.
"To talk to, he seems real easygoing," says his wife, "but when
something gets to bothering him, he keeps it inside. That may be the reason, I
guess. Since he has been sick he is more nervous." Davenport, a magnificent
fielder, is a key to Giant success. When the team floundered last year, he was
out with a bad knee. "Little Jimmy Davenport," sighs Owner Horace
Stoneham, himself a victim of shingles. "When he goes out, we go into a
Cepeda and Right
Fielder Willie Kirkland have been producing as expected, and Willie Mays has
been superb. The National League's leading hitter, he recently went on a
19-game tear during which he hit .494 and was unbelieveable in the field.
Against the Dodgers, for instance, he made a leaping catch near the screen in
left center field to rob Gil Hodges of a homer, and the normally hostile
Coliseum fans, the most provincial in the league after Milwaukee, burst into
cheers. "He's the greatest centerfielder I ever saw," says Sheehan,
"and I saw Speaker and DiMaggio. I don't know how they could be
The pitching has
been spotty. Two starters—Mike McCormick, Billy O'Dell—have earned run averages
under 3. Jack Sanford is just over 3, with five shutouts among his eight
victories, but a Giant pitcher practically has to pitch a shutout to win. Poor
O'Dell, obtained from Baltimore, has won three, lost eight. "Most
unlucky," says Stoneham. "He pitches well, but we can't score for him.
The same as the Orioles couldn't."
pitching has been atrocious. Stu Miller shows signs of returning to form, but
even if he does he isn't strong enough to work every day. Byerly, Shipley,
Georges Maranda and Billy Loes, who accompanied O'Dell from Baltimore, have
been of scant help. Loes has an earned run average that looks like the day's
volume on the stock exchange. "I would have to say that he's been a failure
for me," says Sheehan. "Not just for me, but for the club. He's in
front in four or five games, and he's thrown the big home run ball that's
thrown us right out of the game."
hitters, to use a rather inexact term, seem to have been hypnotized by the wild
winds of Candlestick Park. It is disheartening to see a prospective home run
driven back by the daily afternoon gale. Stoneham is considering bringing in
part of the fence, but league rules prohibit a change during the season.
"That seems to be the wish of the players," he says. "The
dimensions are not what we proposed. We were thinking of 385 feet in left and
right center. Left center and right center are 397, and that arc out there
makes it impossible to hit a ball out of the park if there's any sort of
At the players'
request, Stoneham has already had the stadium wall around the infield painted
green to give the fielders a better background, but so far he has been unable
to solve the poor centerfield background for hitters. Filled-in land behind
center makes it difficult to build a solid structure of sufficient height to
serve as a screen. The solution may be to erect a screen of green cloth that
would also serve as a partial windbreak. "We're engineering that now,"
problems posed by the park, the bullpen, the injuries and illnesses and
McCovey's slump, the Giants have undergone another ordeal, a change in
managers. After dropping three straight to Pittsburgh"* in Candlestick in
mid-June, Stoneham fired Bill Rigney and appointed Sheehan, his chief scout, as
interim manager. Rigney left because the team hadn't "knit," but the
firing jolted some of the players. "It's a funny game," said Mike
McCormick. "The players make the mistakes, and the managers get
blamed." Sam Jones verged on tears. Under Rigney, Jones won 20 games for
the first time in his career. "I think they let go a hell of a good
guy," Jones said when Rigney went. "He deserves a better fate."
Jones, 10 and 8 for the season, has failed to finish his last six starts.
As a result of
the firing, the San Francisco press has been on Stoneham. Herb Caen, the
Chronicle's Winchell, calls him "Stoneheart," and Ray Haywood of the
Oakland Tribune won't let "Sir Horace" forget he dismissed an East Bay
boy ( Rigney's home town is just over the hill from Oakland). The sharpest wound
was inflicted by Dick Young of the New York Daily News who charged in a column
reprinted by the Chronicle that Sheehan, "an engaging old windbag," had
"knifed" Rigney to get the job. Not only that, wrote Young, but "it
was Sheehan who, with his second-guessing, set up the guillotine for Leo
Durocher." Says Sheehan, "That's Dick Young. And he's been a good
friend of mine. I've been in this game 48 years, and I certainly didn't have to
wait this long to double-cross people."
Last week, as if
in retort to the critics, Stoneham announced that Sheehan would
"definitely" manage the rest of the year and "if Tom does a real
good job, I'm sure he'll be back next year as manager."