SPORTS ILLUSTRATED asked National League players which team they thought would finally win the pennant (with the stipulation that they could not pick their own club). The votes of the 172 players who answered were divided as follows:
CINCINNATI REDS 64
MILWAUKEE BRAVES 43
LOS ANGELES DODGERS 29
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS 5
PITTSBURGH PIRATES 3
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES 1
ED MATHEWS, BRAVES
Either Cincinnati or the Dodgers. The Dodgers have stayed up there, but Cincinnati has the good pitching and good hitting. A lot of luck is involved. The Phils have the good schedule. The Reds, Braves, Giants and Dodgers play each other at the end of the year. That means somebody else could sneak in.
SAMMY ELLIS, REDS
Milwaukee. They have the best-hitting club, outside of ours. I can't see the Giants being better than Milwaukee, and I can't see the Dodgers hanging in there. Of course, we've been saying that all year, and they're still there.
ROGER CRAIG, REDS
The Dodgers. All year long people have been saying they would fold, but they haven't. I have to pick them because they have Drysdale, Koufax and Wills. I think Wills is by far the most valuable player in the league. Pitchers pitch differently and catchers catch differently because of him. If he were hurt, they'd be an average club.
WILLIE MAYS, GIANTS
Los Angeles has surprised me the most, especially after they lost Tommy Davis. If pitching is 75% of the game, then it is 85% or 90% with them.
TUG McGRAW, METS
The Dodgers have been lucky. I don't think their luck can hold out. I like the Braves.
GENE OLIVER, BRAVES
Cincinnati. I have to like them because they've beaten us all year. I don't like the Dodgers down the stretch. As a dark horse I like Philadelphia.
JOE MORGAN, ASTROS
I'll take the Giants because they haven't been doing a thing, and they're still right in it. I think the hitting will be the most important thing the last week. By that time most of the pitchers will be tired.
TITO FRANCONA, CARDINALS
Pittsburgh has what it takes to win.