It was a home run, and the Giants won in the 10th 7-5. "What impressed me," Spahn said, "was the way he went for the home run each time. A guy might settle for a base hit, but he was trying to tie it up. One of the fouls was a foul home run, a real screamer. The way he did it makes me wonder how good he could be if every time was a crisis. He might hit .400."
Willie Mays is thinking lately about situations. In the first 13 games of the streak he hit .315, which is a bit below his average, and slugged .722, which is a bit above everybody's average. He hit seven home runs and batted in 16 runs. And he stole two bases, one in the first game of the streak and one in the 13th, the last he played before taking a day off.
The situation was the thing. The first time he stole, he was the runner at first with two out, the classic steal situation. The second time, he was at first with one out, but the Giants led Houston only 1-0 in the fourth and Robin Roberts looked as if he would not give many more runs. That was steal No. 6 this year for a man who had once stolen 40 bases in a season.
"I couldn't steal that many now," Mays said. "I don't think I've slowed up that much, but we have a different kind of ball club. With the Dodgers I might have to run, but with this team I have guys behind me who can hit it out of the park. There's no need to run.
"Besides," Mays added, "that wears you out. I want to play five or six more years."
Mays also does not shag balls in the outfield during batting practice or pick up balls at shortstop the way he used to. "I do when I feel like it," he said. Was this, like his new nonrunning policy, a program for the conservation of Willie Mays? "I didn't say that," he said. "You guys ask one question and you want three answers, and whatever I say it comes out some other way. I understand. If you wrote just what I said, it would be dull."
Mays's press relations were at their best in 1957, his last year in New York. But the going-over he got the first few years in San Francisco from reporters and fans for failing to produce daily miracles gave him a new wariness that may endure the rest of his playing days.
And then? Somebody, presumably, has to be the first Negro manager. "Not for me," Willie said. "That's too tough a job. No, I wouldn't want to be a coach either. Coaches have no security."
And Willie Mays has no area of achievement outside baseball. "I want to stay in baseball," he said. "There's a lot of things I can do in baseball." Like what? "Well, what's Musial doing?" Musial is a vice-president of the Cardinals. "O.K.," Willie Mays said.
He is not yet vice-president of the Giants, but Captain Mays is doing much more than carrying the lineup card up to home plate, and much more than playing the best game of baseball that has been played since—and maybe including—DiMaggio.