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"Our white players," says one Giant official, "unfortunately have neither the ability to inspire others by their performance nor the personality to pick up this team and demand that it put out. The same thing was true of the Braves until they got Red Schoendienst; now that he is unable to play regularly, they are having that trouble again. So are the Reds."
From this vacuum the Giants have wandered off in all directions. Mays, held in great respect by black and white teammates alike for his remarkable baseball skills, is a loner off the field. Strangely enough, Mays will show more friendliness toward another star, a Mickey Mantle, a Yogi Berra, a Stan Musial, from another team, than to a fellow Giant. This year at the All-Star Game he put his arm around Eddie Mathews' shoulder. "I was amazed," said one of the Giants. "Willie wouldn't think of doing that with one of his white teammates here."
Cepeda may have been touched by the star complex, too; in any event, this big, likable, happy-go-lucky kid from Puerto Rico prefers his own company while living it up in San Francisco. He seldom buddies even with the other Latin Americans, Alou and Marichal, who are from the Dominican Republic and, perhaps for this reason, stick closer together than most. When McCovey came up last year, Kirkland and Leon Wagner took the hulking youngster under their wings, but Wagner was traded to the Cardinals during the winter and Kirkland has found McCovey too much of a load to carry alone. Rodgers, a Bahamian, fits in with neither the American nor Latin Negroes; the Giants realize that simple loneliness has been one of his big problems for three years. Sam Jones is a stranger to everyone off the field.
To a lesser extent, the white players are separated, too. There are college men and boys off the farm; some are old, some are young; some received big bonuses to sign a baseball contract, others have been scratching out a bare living in the game for years. Billy Loes has never been one to develop deep friendships with other ballplayers. Blasingame is well liked, but he is still new to the team, and he has a new bride. Bressoud, after a tragic accident which took his first wife and left him to raise two children, remarried last year, but he has had many adjustments to make. The only really close group of Giants—Johnny Antonelli, Mike McCormick, Stu Miller and Davenport—live in San Mateo, near Hank Sauer, who is part coach, part scout, part mother hen. If there is a clique on the Giant ball club, this is it.
AN INTERESTING CONTRAST
There is no rule in baseball, however, which says that a member of a team must take a blood-brother oath in order to play winning baseball once he pulls on his spikes. This year's Pirates are a case in point. Their interests and backgrounds vary almost as much as those of the Giants; socially, they break up into small, rather exclusive groups. Yet on the field the Pirates fit together like parts of a beautiful watch; the Giants do not fit together at all.
One might suppose that a team this badly divided would explode occasionally in dressing room fights or arguments. The Giants don't ever do that. High-stake card games, some of which lasted all night and left the losers grumbling unhappily during batting practice next day, were finally banned by Sheehan in the one positive action he seems to have taken since becoming manager of the team. Mike McCormick has at times been an angry young man because teammates failed to back up some of his more dazzling pitching performances with batting support. But the Giants do not ordinarily go around snarling at each other; instead, each seems to play as if the others did not exist.
"This is a team of individuals," one of the Giants told Pittsburgh's Bill Mazeroski, after standing on second base and watching three teammates swing futilely for the fences one day. "Nobody is willing to sacrifice himself to push a runner along."
"Of course, that's one of their big troubles," says Dick Groat. "They're individuals. Big swingers. They refuse to adapt to this ball park."
"I think it would be wrong to say that this ball club quit," says Maury Wills of the Dodgers. "Ballplayers don't quit; they all want to win. It's more like they don't know how to play together. Each one tries to do the thing he does best, and it doesn't quite fit."