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BASEBALL'S WEEK
Herman Weiskopf
September 18, 1961
Baseball fans can't cut a major league season down the middle like a watermelon and pick the half that looks better. But if they could they would find some interesting differences in the standings, and perhaps more reason to cheer the home team. Suppose the season started on July 13, two days after the first All-Star Game. New York has played .733 ball (44-16) since then, by far the best. Baltimore (38-23) would be second in the AL, six and a half games behind. Then would come Chicago (36-22), Detroit (32-25), Boston (29-31) and, surprisingly, Los Angeles (27-29). In the last four places would be Minnesota (26-30), Cleveland (24-33), Kansas City (21-37) and Washington (14-45). In the National League, Milwaukee (38-21), and not Cincinnati (fifth with 30-26), would be in front. St. Louis (34-23) would be three games back in second, with Los Angeles (29-21) third. San Francisco (28-23) would be fourth, Pittsburgh (24-33) sixth and Chicago (23-34) seventh. And no matter where you slice the season, Philadelphia (17-42) would still be last.
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September 18, 1961

Baseball's Week

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TEAM LEADERS: BATTING

   

Hits

 

RBIs

 

BA

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Cin

Pinson

190

F. Robinson

118

Pinson

.340

LA

Wills

154

Moon

73

Moon

.323

Mil

Aaron

174

Aaron

110

Aaron

.328

SF

Mays-Cepeda

157

Cepeda

124

Mays

.310

StL

Boyer

169

Boyer

81

Boyer

.324

Pitt

Clemente

189

Stuart

96

Clemente

.361

Chi

Santo

154

Altman

86

Altman

.302

Phil

Gonzalez

108

Demeter

59

Gonzalez

.281

AMERICAN LEAGUE

NY

Richardson

158

Maris

130

Howard

.362

Det

Kaline

170

Colavito

125

Cash

.360

Balt

B. Robinson

171

Gentile

129

Gentile

.314

Chi

Aparicio

159

Smith-Sievers

81

F. Robinson

.313

Clev

Francona

158

Kirkland

85

Piersall

.326

Bos

Schilling

147

Malzone

81

Jensen

.268

LA

L. Thomas

111

Hunt

75

L. Thomas

.295

Minn

Green

155

Killebrew

108

Battey

.302

KC

Lumpe

148

Siebern

87

Siebern

.293

Wash

O'Connell

117

Green-Tasby

59

Woodling

.312

Baseball fans can't cut a major league season down the middle like a watermelon and pick the half that looks better. But if they could they would find some interesting differences in the standings, and perhaps more reason to cheer the home team. Suppose the season started on July 13, two days after the first All-Star Game. New York has played .733 ball (44-16) since then, by far the best. Baltimore (38-23) would be second in the AL, six and a half games behind. Then would come Chicago (36-22), Detroit (32-25), Boston (29-31) and, surprisingly, Los Angeles (27-29). In the last four places would be Minnesota (26-30), Cleveland (24-33), Kansas City (21-37) and Washington (14-45). In the National League, Milwaukee (38-21), and not Cincinnati (fifth with 30-26), would be in front. St. Louis (34-23) would be three games back in second, with Los Angeles (29-21) third. San Francisco (28-23) would be fourth, Pittsburgh (24-33) sixth and Chicago (23-34) seventh. And no matter where you slice the season, Philadelphia (17-42) would still be last.

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Nothing stopped the New York Yankees. They were not fooled by the hidden-ball trick, which was tried twice, nor did they find a 7-4 deficit in the ninth insurmountable. Yankee pitchers held their opponents to five homers, 22 runs and a .213 BA. New York hitters produced 19 home runs. 54 runs and hit .299. So the Yankee winning streak reached 10. This only partly explains, however, how they built their lead over Detroit from three and a half games to 10. The rest of the answer lies in the Tigers' utter collapse. They hit just .213 and lost eight straight before winning again. Baltimore won seven in a row, three of them against the Tigers. Oriole players admitted they were "happier and looser" playing for Manager Luman Harris than they had been under Paul Richards. Chicago , too, was hot. Juan Pizarro and Billy Pierce each won twice, and the White Sox took six of eight. Cleveland slumped, and after the Indians' 17th consecutive loss at Yankee Stadium over a two-year span. Manager Jimmie Dykes said, "I hope I get out of here alive." Boston took advantage of Cleveland's losses and climbed to within three games of the first division, with Rookie Carl Yastrzemski hitting .424. Another rookie, Lee Thomas of Los Angeles , also had a big week, hitting .483. Still, the Angels lost four of six, including a double-header in which Thomas went 9 for 11 and had three homers. Minnesota 's Harmon Killebrew hit four home runs. Even this was not enough to offset the Twins' errors as they lost three games because of unearned runs. Kansas City won four games for the first time in 14 weeks and, after nine weeks in the cellar, moved wondrously up to ninth. Washington made this possible by running its losing streak to 10, and 24 of 25, before Bennie Daniels' seven-hitter and Bud Zipfel's four RBIs beat the Orioles 6-2.

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Cincinnati stumbled, but it was Los Angeles that fell (see page 20). The Dodgers got to within one game of first place as the Reds lost three of their first five. Then the Reds came from behind to win two one-run games, giving them a 31-14 record in this category, and took a three-game lead as the Dodgers lost twice. Frank Robinson of the Reds was hampered by injuries to elbow, knee and foot, but good relief pitching by Bill Henry and Jim Brosnan saved the light-hitting Reds. Los Angeles pitchers had one major fault: they gave up nine homers. Even more relevant, 18-game winner Johnny Podres came up with a sore arm. Milwaukee 's Warren Spahn, who claims he has never had a sore arm, pitched his second straight shutout. By not allowing an earned run in his past 34 innings, the 40-year-old Spahn cut his ERA to 2.75, the best among those who have enough innings 'o qualify for the title. New Manager Birdie Tebbetts, who was told by his doctor to lose 35 pounds, had a hard time finding a uniform that would cover his bulge, and barely made it to the dugout in time for his first game. San Francisco also had a close call as its lead over St. Louis dwindled to one game. But Bill White of the Cardinals had hay fever (though his grand slam homer was nothing to sneeze at), there were few timely Cardinal hits and at week's end the Giants were safely in fourth. Pittsburgh , despite two wins by Bob Friend, was still two games below the .500 mark, thanks to such things as four errors in one inning and 11 during the week. Chicago , which has played better than .500 ball in the past four weeks (15-14), split eight games in spite of a dozen errors. Bobby Malkmus, in the field for Philadelphia in a game against the Braves, was described by Tebbetts as "the greatest I've ever seen." He played both third and short and did everything but make the game-saving play. This he could not do because the Phillies lost. After losing 17 straight games against the Reds, the Phillies finally beat them. It was enough to make a man drop his teeth—and that is just what Catcher Clay Dalrymple did. Dalrymple, waiting for a possible play at the plate, called to Pitcher Art Mahaffey to cut off the throw from the outfield. "That's when it happened," Dalrymple explained with embarrassment. "When I yelled to Mahaffey, my plate fell out."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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