ENTER THE OREGON SLAMMERS
When Harmon Killebrew of the Minnesota Twins dislocated his left elbow on August 2 many of us assumed that the Twins would have a struggle to stay atop the American League without him. Since that afternoon, Minnesota's lead has gone from six games to nine, and the Twins now appear an easy bet to play in the World Series.
Minnesota, however, needs Killebrew back for the series because his home run power is such that it can break any game wide open. Recently he has been taking batting practice and working out at third base, but the workouts still pain his elbow slightly. Manager Sam Mele can only wait for Killebrew to say when he is ready to play and hopes it is by September 21, when the Twins meet Baltimore. This would give Harmon 10 playing days before the Series begins.
Though injured, Killebrew may have helped the Twins by introducing them to a new kind of bat called Oregon Slammers. The Slammers are brown and, from the stands, look almost like soft-ball bats. They are made of hard Oregon maple, and the Twins have found it virtually impossible to break them. Handles are reinforced with fiber glass and a chemical is used to form a corklike grip.
Since most players do not like to change bats during the middle of a season—particularly a season as good as the Twins are having—very few Slammers have been used. Pitcher Jim Kaat tried one out two weeks ago. He got five hits in 10 at bats, including a 400-foot double. "That was the hardest I have ever hit a ball in my life," Kaat says. The Slammers are perfectly legal. Killebrew, who owns 7�% of the company that makes them, says, "These hard bats just might be the answer to everything."
When Buddy Parker, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, packed up and left last week his departure was characteristically noisy. He had been brooding bitterly after watching his team plod through its fourth straight exhibition defeat. He worked himself into a monumental fury, told Dan Rooney, son of Steelers owner Art Rooney, that he was quitting and stomped off to give his players a fluent piece of his mind, though they were fast asleep in their Kingston, R.I. training camp dorm.
Parker and his assistant, Bobby Layne, raged through the corridors bellowing at their bewildered mesomorphs. Jim Bradshaw, defensive back, balked at getting out of bed. "If I get out of this bed," he said, "I'll kill you."
It was pure Parker. His wife, Jane, once said of him:
"When the team loses, Buddy has a routine that never varies. He flops on an ottoman in the living room and pulls out a pocket knife he's been carrying for 35 years. He slowly raises the knife to his throat and cuts his tie at the knot. Until I hear the material rip I'm never sure it's the tie, not his throat, that he's cutting. He then bends down and slashes his shoelaces. Then he literally tears his shirt off his back without unbuttoning it."