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Roger Williams
September 05, 1960
In six long games in three long days, New York won five times to lengthen its lead in the American League race
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September 05, 1960

The Yankees Find A Weekend

In six long games in three long days, New York won five times to lengthen its lead in the American League race

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Between games on Saturday, Moose Skowron was honored by the Loyal Order of Moose. Between games the night before he had been honored by the Polish-American Falcons. This combination, ventured the New York Post's Leonard Koppett, made Skowron "without doubt the outstanding athletic Polish Moose of all time." Moose bore the palm with solemn dignity, and that night dragged Gil McDougald and Yogi Berra off to an Order of Moose dinner in Boonton, New Jersey.

Most of the Yankees left the Stadium quickly, bound for late dinners and early bedtimes. Twenty minutes after the game the clubhouse was half empty. Yogi, carefully drying his toes, announced that a nice Martini—on the rocks—would come in handy about now. In a small lounge off the locker room a half dozen nudes and seminudes sprawled in easy chairs, lost in an early '30s gangster movie. A knot of pitchers sat around Coach Ed Lopat's locker and talked quietly. The biggest worry anyone had was the brand of beer he was drinking. "This stuff is the worst we ever had," moaned one player as he drained a can. "It ain't my fault," said a clubhouse man. "I can only put in a few Budweisers. Weiss's orders. Argue with him, not me."

On Sunday there were two games with Detroit. Stengel had called off batting practice for the second straight day and told his men they could come to the park whenever they wished. Most came at their regular times; they sat around reading the papers, fiddling with their equipment or just puffing on the cigars handed out by new fathers Bob Cerv and Maris, whose children were born a day apart in Kansas City (No. 8 for Cerv, No. 3 for Maris). Hector Lopez came in happy after a night at home. Unwilling to face an hour-and-15-minute subway ride back to Brooklyn, he spent Friday night at the nearby Concourse Plaza Hotel. It was comfortable, he said, but not like home.

Dizzy Dean, now a telecaster, wandered into the locker room, and pretty soon Stengel arrived. Casey filled the next half hour with a generous selection of animated stories. After each story he appealed to Dean for corroboration, and Dean said, "That's the honest truth" or "That's right, boys." Everyone, except the easy-chair loungers, watched and listened to Stengel, from Lopat and Berra down through young Stafford. For Casey, and by extension for his players, it was just another day in the world of baseball. There was little talk of the day's work.

Most of the players were tired but few showed it. Terry and Stafford, the pitchers in the previous day's stifling heat, raced flat out from third base to the Yankee dugout. Stengel sat in the shade and spoke of bygone days.

The Yanks could win but one of the Detroit games. Five unearned runs off Grba in the first inning of the opener proved too much to overcome, though Coates and Maas again pitched well in relief. The Yankees lost 6-2. In the second game, home runs by Berra, Dale Long, Mickey Mantle and John Blanchard flattened an early Detroit lead. And when Ditmar gave way to a pinch hitter in the sixth, Stengel was ready to play his hole card—Reliefer Bobby Shantz, who hadn't thrown a pitch all weekend. Shantz slipped only once—a homer to Steve Bilko in the ninth—and the Yankees won 8-5.

Fifty-four hours and 56 innings after he'd left home Friday afternoon, Cletis Boyer sat in front of his locker. Yes, he'd have to admit he was tired. His legs were O.K. but the zip was gone from his arm. "But I'll tell you one thing," he said, propounding the Boyer Theory. "I'd be a lot more tired if we'd lost five of those games. When you win, it's fun."

In the manager's office, Casey Stengel was resolutely unimpressed. He had seen too many pennant races over the years to start making claims about this one. Besides, his boys should have had that first game today. They just couldn't hit with men on the bases. Was he happy winning five out of six? "No. You can't win a pennant that way. You have to expect to win every day and start worrying if you don't."

Casey's worries, for all his grumping, were at low tide. For his Yankees had not only survived their lost-and-found weekend, they had managed to enjoy it.

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