"Durocher," Willie was saying, "could do a great thing. He could give confidence to young players, and that's the best thing you can do. That's the onliest thing they need."
And now Willie Mays, who studied under Durocher, is imparting confidence to the younger players. "I ain't telling you," Mays said. "Sure, I do a lot of things for these guys. A lot of things. But they ain't going to come and talk to me if they think I'm going to brag about it. We got a lot of things going for us here, but I can't talk about them. It's a team game, and the thing is to win. No, nobody taught me that. I just always knew it."
Winning is good, even if it's tiddledy-winks against your mother, but isn't there a certain satisfaction in just being Willie Mays?
"It's two ways," Mays said. "Sure, there's a lot of guys who would like to play the game the way I'm able to play it. But it's a lonely life, too. Sometimes, especially when you lose, you'd just like to be left alone, but you can't be."
You can't be, because you're Willie Mays, who, since his return from the Army in 1954, has missed as many as five games in a season, scored as few as 101 runs, made as few as 171 hits (twice), hit as few as 29 home runs (twice), batted in only 84 runs and hit as low as .296 (twice). Lows for Willie, such statistics would increase the increment and cheer the heart of almost any baseball player.
His manager knows that. When an alien reporter asked about much-publicized reports that Willie was a de facto assistant manager, Herman characteristically answered with a question: "Why don't you guys read all those stories you've been writing about him? They're all true."