Although Larry Doby, paid $24,000 to play half a season for the Chunichi Dragons, has been released (a fast-ball hitter, Doby saw nothing but curves from the Japanese pitchers), the Dragons' Newcombe will be back next spring. The Dragons also have signed journeyman Jim Marshall (on loan from Pittsburgh) and hope to acquire either Billy Goodman of Houston or Gil Hodges of the Mets (Japanese teams are limited to three foreigners). The Nishitetsu Lions, meanwhile, have signed Outfielder George Wilson, a minor leaguer who played briefly in the majors, and they have a scout prowling the U.S. for another outfielder and a strong-arm pitcher.
Pitcher Joe Stanka of Nankai (SI, June 25), a hero in 1961 with 15 wins, won only eight games this year, and Taiyo's Al Grunwald had a dismal 2-8 record. American pitchers have a hard time measuring up to Japanese pinpoint standards, and they need too much rest to suit Japanese managers, who are accustomed to wringing 350 innings or more out of a pitcher in a 130-game schedule. Moreover, they throw too many fast balls—fatal in Japan's relatively shallow outfields.
The Dragons didn't even consider Newcombe as a pitcher. Miserably out of pitching shape at 270 pounds and long removed from the time when he could blow his hard one past hitters, Big Don was hired for his hitting potential and stationed in left field.
Hitters, on the other hand, once they learn to cope with the Japanese strike zone, which ranges, as Larry Doby puts it, "from armpits to knees and a few inches either side of the plate," can become valuable property. Infielder Jack Bloomfield, who came to the Kintetsu Buffaloes three seasons ago after two fairly good seasons in the Texas and Pacific Coast leagues, sets a good example for perplexed newcomers. "I hit about .070 my first month here," says Bloom-field, "because, like most Americans, I waited for the fast balls that never came. Then I got smart." This year, wised up, Bloomfield hit .374 to win the batting title and was unanimous choice as the league's all-star second baseman.