FORECAST ON SWINGERS
The American League expansion of last year was, according to Mike Higgins, who is poised prettily for his eighth season as manager of the Boston Red Sox, the sweetest "cousin" batters have had in baseball history. Next year, though, it will be different, he says, sounding just a bit like an old Dodger fan. Take warning, Roger Maris.
"Expansion was a good break for the hitters," Mike explained. "To be honest about it, there were too many pitchers up there who didn't figure to be there under the old setup. When there wasn't too much pitching talent to begin with and you spread it over two additional teams—well, there was an awful lot of mediocre pitching.
"And, you know, you can take some mediocre hitters who will never touch good pitching but they'll wear those soft touches out. They'll get four for four off that kind of pitching and when they run across a good pitcher they'll get the collar.
"I think you'll see the same thing in the other league [that would be the National League] this year." But in the American League, he went on, the hitters are due for a rougher time.
"For one thing," Mike said, "those pitchers who were starting for the first time last year—they weren't used to pitching in the big leagues. They'll have more experience. And some of the young ones who might not have been ready for the big leagues, they'll have a year's experience."
He pointed out that the Los Angeles Angels will move out of their bandbox into the more spacious stadium of Chavez Ravine.
"Man, in that old Wrigley Field," he sighed, "you needed about 15 runs to win. Balls flew outa there like birds. I think there were more hits out of there than anywhere in the league."
In other words, Higgins figures that no one in the American League will be getting as many cheap hits in 1962 as in the free-swinging season of 1961. That, he believes, should make for an interesting season and he can hardly wait for it to start. Neither can we.
PRESCRIPTION FOR GREATNESS