SI Vault
Roy Terrell
October 10, 1960
One Pirate is a preacher, one an ex-pug, another a comic. All are lively, exciting ballplayers
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October 10, 1960

Seven Bold Bucs

One Pirate is a preacher, one an ex-pug, another a comic. All are lively, exciting ballplayers

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Here are personality sketches of some of the Pirates you are watching in the World Series.

VERNON LAW. One of 10 children from an Idaho family, "Deacon" Law was recommended to Pirate Stockholder Bing Crosby by the late Senator Herman Welker. A tall, angular man of 30 with a friendly smile and a drawling voice, Law is a Mormon elder (not a deacon) who preaches regularly at Sunday stops around the National League. He does not drink, smoke, curse or throw at batters—or try to impose his religion on teammates. "A man is what he is," says Law. First names of wife and three sons also begin with V. He once struck out a midget on three pitches in a high school game. Good hitter. Works as a cabinetmaker, coaches kids in winter.

BOB FRIEND. Husky, cigar-smoking National League player representative came up in '51 as 20-year-old, got big chance in '55 over objections of Branch Rickey when Manager Fred Haney slipped him into starting rotation on Sundays while religious Rickey stayed away from park. A highly intelligent athlete, Friend finished college in eight off-season semesters, joined father, five brothers and sisters as Purdue graduate (B.S., economics). Works as broker in winter, handling mutual funds. Was outstanding high school halfback, also studied piano for eight years. Extremely nervous, he is a worrier on the mound, broods when he loses.

DON HOAK. Called Tiger by his teammates, this ex-trumpet player from Roulette, Pa. is the lash that peels the skin off Pirate backs if they dare to let down. A fiery, belligerent competitor who believes that losing is man's greatest sin, Hoak supplies the vocal leadership that meshes so perfectly with the quiet inspiration of Groat, Skinner, Law and Friend. "If I'm not tired when I leave the ball park," says Hoak, "then I haven't played a good game." Joined Marine Corps at age 17, fought at Okinawa, fought professionally in the ring (27 victories in 39 fights), has been fighting ever since. Now 32, Hoak was married at home plate in Fort Worth in 1950. He is a dangerous hitter who excels in the clutch.

ROBERTO CLEMENTE. One of the most exciting of ballplayers, this trim, beautifully built athlete from Puerto Rico goes on batting rampages when no one can get him out. He swings viciously at any pitch within reach, loses his cap, runs through stop signs at third base, slides like an avalanche. Opposing ballplayers call him a hot-dog, say he can be intimidated by fast balls buzzing around his head—but pitchers have been throwing at him all year and he has hit .314, driven in almost 100 runs. Off the field Roberto is quiet, friendly, intelligent. Attended college briefly in Puerto Rico, where he threw the javelin. Something of a hypochondriac, Clemente once threatened to quit baseball because of an aching back, but has had few ailments this year. Only 26, he has been a big leaguer for six seasons, supports his father, mother, six other relatives.

EL ROY FACE. In some ways most talented of the Pirates: can remove his teeth, yodel his own lyrics to popular songs and accompany himself on the guitar. Face comes from a long line of carpenters, looks like Buster Keaton, pitches like a manager's dream. Barely 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing but 155 pounds, he was once considered too small to be a big leaguer. Won 22 straight victories in relief over two seasons, once pitched in nine consecutive games, has made the trip from bullpen 305 times in last five years. His famous "fork" ball is a slow, breaking pitch which veers in or out or down.

BOB SKINNER. Baseball players rate him one of the truly fine hitters, also one of the game's nicest guys. Smart, self-effacing, good natured, with a pleasant sense of humor, Skinner is even amused by his locker room nickname (Dog, because of his long, often sad-looking face). Spends winters in circulation department of the San Diego Union-Tribune. A left-hand hitter who is not bothered by left-hand pitching, Skinner hits line drives to all fields with a smooth, picture swing. Has been over .300 twice, and although his average dropped this year his clutch performance has been deadly, leading to personal records in home runs and runs batted in. Very tall (6 feet 4� inches), he runs bases with deceptive speed, is one of few Pirates who will steal.

WILMER MIZELL. Born "out in the country a piece"—between Vinegar Bend, Ala. and Leaksville, Miss.—Mizell has finally solved some of the control problems which blunted his great promise for years. Came to Pirates from Cardinals in late May, has since won 13, lost only five. Was called "the left-handed Dizzy Dean" early in career ("That's a perty heavy load for a boy to tote," says Vinegar Bend), but more closely resembles Preacher Roe: very friendly, with a warm smile. Scrambled out of a swimming hole to sign first baseball contract, insisted on throwing a few pitches, dripping wet, to show startled Card scout he hadn't lost his fast ball. Walks with what farm folks call "a two-furrow stride," found his greatest problem in Army was to march in ranks without stepping on somebody's heels up ahead. No longer has blazing fast ball but still throws hard with exaggerated motion in which he sticks big right foot into batter's face, brushes ground with knuckles of left hand; best pitch now, however, is slow curve which he can get over plate.