To a pitcher,
Forbes Field is related less to Pittsburgh than to Paradise. It is a huge ball
park where baseballs driven 400 feet fall happily into the gloves of
outfielders instead of into the stands, and pitchers fortunate enough to be
traded to the Pirates—as Boston's Don Schwall and the Cardinals' Don Cardwell
were last fall—immediately envision happy days ahead.
But it seems that
Paradise, if not lost, has a long waiting list, and this year Pirate pitchers
are finding it difficult to pitch in Forbes Field. The trouble is that they
cannot get to the mound. There are too many of them, good ones, in line. The
Pirates could use a few runs but they would hardly know what to do with another
pitcher if someone should leave him on the doorstep.
combination of quality and depth, I've never seen the likes of this pitching
staff," says Smoky Burgess, a National League catcher for more than 12
years. And Harvey Kuenn, who spent nine seasons in the American League before
joining the Giants in 1961, says that he has seen only one staff as deep as
Pittsburgh's. " Cleveland in 1954," Kuenn says. "They had Bob
Feller, Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia, Early Wynn, Art Houtteman, Don Mossi, Ray
Narleski and Hal Newhouser. I've probably missed one or two, but you can look
The Pirate names,
with the exception of Bob Friend, Roy Face (see cover), Harvey Haddix and
Vernon Law, are hardly as familiar as those of the old Indians, at least to the
public. There is not a man on the staff who won 20 games in 1962. But by the
middle of June, with the season one-third gone, the Pirate earned run average
was down to a remarkable 2.67 a game, and it was pretty evident that Bob Friend
was not pitching every day. Around the National League no one asks, for
example, "Who is Alvin O'Neal McBean?"
McBean is the
jazzy string bean signed in the Virgin Islands in 1957 who caused a stir the
first day he appeared in the Pirates' minor league camp. Seated among two dozen
pitchers on the infield grass and wearing muttonchop sideburns, McBean listened
to a pitching coach deliver a lecture. "Talk, talk, talk, talk," McBean
said. Soon his head began to droop. He leaned back on his elbows. In a matter
of minutes he lay flat on his back, sound asleep.
bellowed the pitching coach.
McBean awoke; threw his arms to the side and kicked his right leg into the air.
"Just practicing my slide, coach!" he cried.
McBean won 15
games in his second big league season last year and, according to San
Francisco's Orlando Cepeda, has more stuff than any other Pirate pitcher. One
day this spring he walked four men in one inning, but he dismissed his
wild-ness as a lapse no more frequent than presidential elections. "I am
wild once every four years," he explained. Alvin McBean has a 2.74 ERA this
season and, when not starting, has been superb in relief, yielding only two
earned runs in 15 innings.
Francis, from Slab Fork, W. Va., had a so-so 9-8 record as a sophomore last
year. But four of his defeats were by one run. Tn September alone he beat the
Dodgers on four hits, the Giants on four hits and the Cincinnati Reds on two
hits. "Slab Fork," Francis tells you, "is where a flood came down
through the hills and washed out a little gully, so they put a few houses
there. It's between four hills—Slab Fork Mountain to the south, Tipple Hill to
the east, Five Hill to the west and a trash dump to the north. The trash dump
is called 'Trash Dump.' "
Don Schwall is so
handsome that his teammates call him Tyrone and sometimes Gregory. As he steps
into the batting cage for his practice swings, a falsetto voice calls out to
Manager Danny Murtaugh: "Hey, how come Donnie has to wear a helmet?" To
such barbs Schwall turns a magnificent profile and says, "Eat your heart