Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to get in on is a road tryout of a new musical—a mystery. At the moment the title is The Case of the Artless Dodgers, but it may be changed to Damn Dodgers for the Broadway run. The leading characters are Inspector Buncombe of Scotland Yard, played by Jack Paar; Buzzie Bavasi, played by Oscar Levant; and Walt Alston, played by Tab Hunter. The scene is an English moor and manor house. Clumps of fog swirl around the windows. On the living room floor, alive but with a knife sticking in each body, is a group of figures in the uniforms of the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the curtain rises, the inspector speaks.
INSPECTOR. Constable, the Yard has really got the wind-up on this one. Our victims here were assaulted on the way to the National League pennant. In fact, they were really supposed to be there already, but there they lie. The knives in their backs are marked "Made in Cincinnati."
Everyone is suspect. So close the doors and don't let anyone leave till we—or they—get to the bottom of this matter. First, we'll go over the list of suspects. Clearly, this is an inside job. That fellow over there skulking behind the tapestry looks sinister. You, there! Come over here and let's get a look at you. Aha, the manager. Where were you, sir, on the night these brave lads were knocked over in the Coliseum?
Hand me my notebook, Constable. Let's get a line on this fellow: " Walt Alston, age 49, occupation, baseball manager. Habits, steady. Temperament, mild except under extreme provocation such as wild pitching with the bases loaded, theft of occupied base, strikeouts in the last of the 10th. Also dangerous after curfew."
A fair record, sir, but you make our list of suspects because of one thing: opportunity. Motive is lacking. But then, people—and teams—have been struck down before by persons who meant well. The road to the second division is paved with good intentions.
Alston, you had the weapon—platooning. Our investigation shows you have only taken to carrying it around with you lately. In the old days in Brooklyn you were clean. You used to put the same eight men on the field every day. You remember those good old days when the Dodgers looked Like a team and not a subway rush hour?
Let the record show that you, Mr. Alston, didn't begin to behave queerly until they gave you a dugout full of gems this year and you began to throw them around like a sailor on the town. Poor fellow! You're not the first nouveau riche who couldn't handle wealth sensibly. Alston, do you have anything to say for yourself?
ALSTON. Yes, sir, I didn't do it. And if you'll take the knives out of these fellows and give me some iodine we'll get to the pennant yet. Platooning had nothing to do with their falling in with bad company—the Cincinnati Reds.
Back in Ebbets Field in the days you speak of, we had no need to platoon. When you have Campanella, Reese, Snider, Hodges, Furillo and Robinson, you don't need any bench to speak of.
Now, we have seven outfielders, and I'll let you take the three you consider best and I'll keep the others, and you can't be sure who will beat who.