Franks doesn't use the Stengelian expression "my writers," but he admits to being parochial in his dealings with the press. "My responsibility is to the San Francisco people," he says. "I make sure they know everything they need to know." He made sure before he began managing. During the winter he would call San Francisco newspapermen for briefings or bull sessions. They like him.
Much more important, so do the players. "You have to remember," says Schofield, "that he took over a situation. I wasn't here, so I don't know how bad it really was. All I know is that I haven't noticed any cliques since I've been here. I go out to eat with my roomies. I don't go with Mays, but not because I don't like him. I figure he's got things he wants to do."
It wasn't really that bad. Much of the alleged factionalism on the Giants was a reflection of the presumptions of Alvin Dark, who attended Louisiana State University and believes that Negroes are superior athletes because "they have different muscles."
Dark did Franks a favor last year when he made Mays, whose muscles are different from everybody else's, the captain of the team. This mature, 34-year-old Willie is helping to run the team in more ways than Franks knows or Mays will admit. Willie likes Franks as a manager and, despite the necessary distractions of greatness, he is as happy as any member of the happy house. But Herman could walk across Salt Lake and still not replace Leo Durocher, the first manager Willie ever had and the only one who ever gave him what he needed—at the only time he ever needed anything. This is a far different kind of Willie—and he keeps emphasizing that fact—from the kid who came to the Polo Grounds in 1951 without a care in the world.
"I was only 20," Mays says now. "They didn't understand me."
Everybody matures, more or less, but the maturation of Mays in the past few years is striking. He was asked if he knew in what period it occurred. He didn't. "But you could ask Leo," he said. "He would know."
There is one clue. When Mays came into Shea Stadium in New York for the first time on May 29, 1964, he came as the captain.
"Because he's the team's leader," Dark explained that night. "I wanted to make him the captain in 1962." But he didn't. "I didn't think he was ready," Dark said, "or that baseball was ready." The national pastime, in other words, was not prepared for a Negro captain? "You can interpret that any way you want to," Dark said.
Now Mays is ready for almost anything. There is a saying in baseball that you never fully appreciate a man's merits, or demerits, until you play on the same team with him, day after day. Spahn is currently finding a new appreciation of Willie Mays. He has known him since he served him his first home run—and first big-league hit—in May 1951.
"He's always been great," Spahn said, "but what he did in Houston really impressed me." The Giants were losing 5-3, when Mays came to bat with two out and a runner at first in the ninth. With right-hander Claude Raymond pitching, the count went to 3 and 2 and Willie fouled off four pitches. "He got a little piece of each one," Spahn said, "and then he creamed one."