?THE CURFEW BUSTERS
?THAT DAMN WIND
This has been a
provoking and puzzling summer for proud San Franciscans. First of all, the
"booming" city's population sank 60,000 in the census. Second, the
Giants—who were expected to win the 1960 National League pennant as a penance
for blowing it in the final week last year—are playing as though they intend to
drive the population down even more.
Last week the
Giants returned to the West Coast after a wretched eastern trip during which
they won only five games, lost seven and, of all things, tied two. The horror
of it all is that they left San Francisco in June to get straightened out on
the road. They were not so much straightened out as steamrollered. And back in
California they showed no signs of revival. A week ago Tuesday night they took
the field against the Dodgers (there is the club to watch) in Los Angeles where
a horn-tooting crowd of 47,500 all but laughed at their antics. Consider the
Dodger half of the seventh, which one L.A. commentator described as "more
complicated than a set of instructions for a do-it-yourself brain-surgery
kit." Bud Byerly had come in to pitch for the Giants, who were losing 4-0.
The Dodgers' Junior Gilliam walked. Charlie Neal bunted. Giant First Baseman
Orlando Cepeda tossed the ball wild in a mixup at the bag, with Neal getting
credit for a single and Gilliam racing to third. Byerly hit Frank Howard to
load the bases. The first pitch to Gil Hodges got by Catcher Bob Schmidt for a
passed ball. Gilliam scored, and Neal and Howard each advanced a base.
Tom Sheehan, the
Giants' new 66-year-old manager, lumbered from the dugout for a conference. As
he crossed the foul line, a ball got away from the Giant bullpen, prompting the
crowd to hoot even more. Sheehan went back to the dugout, Byerly stayed in for
one more pitch, and then Sheehan, who had been stalling for time, brought in
Joe Shipley. Shipley picked up two outs, but then Wally Moon drove in a run on
a slow infield hit that Shortstop Andre Rodgers should have charged, and Pinch
Hitter Norm Larker doubled to drive in two more runs. Johnny Antonelli came
in—yes, what with three wins and five losses, yesterday's hero is now in the
bullpen—to strike out Johnny Podres, but the game was over. The Dodgers won
8-0. The Giants got only four hits off Podres, and only one runner, Willie
Mays, reached third base—and that was on an error, a wild pitch, an infield
The next night
the debacle was worse. The Giants lost again, this time 10-0, as Stan Williams
allowed them only three hits. In disgust the San Francisco Chronicle ran the
head: GIANTS PLAY DEAD AGAIN and the subhead: HOWARD, WILLIAMS HUMILIATE INEPT
afternoon the Giants returned home to Candlestick Park to play against St.
Louis. This time they did better. They scored. But they lost 7-3. The only
bright spot was Antonelli's nice relief work. "I felt I had my stuff back
again," Johnny said later. "I was around the plate with good
stuff." Tom Sheehan said: "I hope it keeps up. If he keeps pitching
this way, we've got another starter."
The next night
the Giants lost to the Cards again, 7-1. On Saturday the Giants lost their
fifth straight, this one to the last-place Cubs, 7-6 in 12 innings, and fell to
fifth place. On Sunday they broke the spell by beating the Cubs 5-3 on five
What's wrong with
the Giants? A lot. To be specific:
Willie McCovey, last year's late-blooming rose, has wilted. "The biggest
trouble with the club is that McCovey is not hitting like last year," said
Tom Sheehan one morning last week as he sat in his undershorts in his L.A.
hotel room. "Where they pitching him? They're pitching inside, outside, all
over. He's just not hitting the ball. They tried every place last year, too,
and the kid hit .354. It's just that something happened to the boy. He tells me
he never hits in the first half of the season, that that's his history. That's
our only ray of sunshine. The other day I told him, this is July 1—let's go!
Last year when he swung—whack!" Sheehan watched an imaginary ball soar
across the room and bounce off a picture. "Now," said Sheehan, "he
hasn't batted in a run in three weeks. And when he slumps at the plate, then he
slumps in the field."
McCovey, who is
still a kid new to the ways of the big city, also irked Sheehan by cutting up
in Philadelphia. He was spotted coming back to the Warwick Hotel at 3 in the
morning. Sheehan, further annoyed by a few Giants who were staying up late to
play cards, slapped a curfew on the players. No fines were imposed, but Sheehan
thundered against any more hanky-panky.