There are a couple of hitters in the league I'm willing to admit there are times I'm not gonna pitch to 'em. If you can avoid a .350 hitter for the .250 hitter.... Sometimes you're going to work very carefully to a good hitter and sometimes you even may wind up walking him. It isn't exactly an intentional pass, but you're not giving him anything good. Or sometimes you'll get behind a hitter like that and then try to come back, because that may be the best way to pitch to him, to throw what you're not expected to throw from behind. There are times to be careful, and times when you say, "Here, hit it!" You challenge the hitter. You just say, "This is my best pitch. Here, take your best shot at it." Say there are two out in the ninth inning and you've got a two-run lead and nobody on. You can't let the hitter get on if you can help it. You don't want the tying run to come to the plate. Now maybe it's three and one or three and two on the hitter. You can't walk him. You've got to make him hit it. He's liable to hit it as hard as he can and harelip somebody but maybe they'll pick it up and throw him out for you and you've been lucky. And that tying run never comes to the plate. That's a time you challenge the batter. And even if he hits it out of the park I'd still rather pitch to the next man from a windup than have a man on base and the batter still be the tying run.
How did you do against the real good hitters this year?
It's a strange thing. One year you can't get a hitter out. Next year it's easy. Two years ago I had so much trouble with Roberto Clemente it was unbelievable. And I'd gotten him out fairly well before that. Now this year I got him out fairly well, but next year he'll probably beat my brains out again. But your good hitters are going to hit you. They're not the guys you've got to get out to win. The good hitters are going to get their hits. Maybe there's two of them on a ball club and they're going to get two hits apiece. But that's only four hits! If you can keep the other men from getting on base, what the hell have you done? You've given up four hits! If you give up only three or four hits to the other batters, if you can spread them out, you've given only seven or eight hits in the ball game and generally you'll win. So it's not the real good hitters you've got to get out. It's the others. They're the ones that'll beat you.
What kind of games do you get the biggest kick out of winning?
The biggest thrill is the game where you give up one or two or three runs when you don't have anything, when you have no right even being out there, no reason to be out there. Those games are the difference between having a .500 year and a really great year. You figure, if you go out there 30 times, 15 times you're going to have great stuff and 15 times you're going to have mediocre stuff. If you can win a fair percentage of the games when you're mediocre, you're going to have a good year.
How did those oldtimers win 30 and 40 games a year?
The game's entirely different today. You can't even compare it with the game of 30, 40, 50 years ago. There's absolutely no way anybody's going to win 40-odd games these days. The biggest difference in pitching now and then is this: in those days the ball got the batter out, and nowadays the pitcher gets him out. I don't know how many balls they used in a game in those days, but I'll guarantee it wasn't more than one dozen. Today you go through seven, eight, nine dozen baseballs. You can't even get one dirty and it's gone. In the old days they used to cut 'em, use emery paper on 'em....
And they were deader to begin with.
Deader to begin with, and the pitcher could do anything he wanted to the ball practically. They used to cut 'em with bottle caps, or they'd have a piece of emery paper in the pocket to scrape 'em up. So a pitcher didn't have to work as hard. The ball did a lot of the work.
Also, wasn't the traveling easier in those days? All this running back and forth from coast to coast....