San Francisco, which had never seen Leo Durocher manage, did not know quite what to do with the famous Lip. On Opening Day when he was introduced to the crowd Leo took two steps forward from the line of Chicago Cubs and doffed his cap, and the people applauded him. This is contrary to what one is supposed to do on sighting Durocher.
But three days later his Cubs met the Dodgers in Los Angeles, a town that has seen a lot of Leo, and when he made his first appearance on the field, this time in the middle of the game (he went out to the mound to talk to his pitcher), Leo got what he has come to expect. Brother, did he get it. He was barely out of the dugout when it began, and the crowd brought their boos up from the toes. When he made a second appearance later in the game, they booed him again. It was fun. Leo was back.
Durocher was funny, sad, charming and lousy during his first week back as a baseball manager. The day before the season opened he had fun with Willie Mays in Candlestick Park:
Leo: You had one of those great springs, Willie.
Willie (modestly): Not too bad, Leo, not too bad.
Leo: Don't give me that. You hit .383 and you had nine home runs.
Willie: Man, I don't even know that. I didn't see no figures. How do you know everything, Leo?
Leo: Willie, this is me you're talking to. Don't know what kind of figures you had—no way. You keep 'em written on the inside of your shoes.
On Opening Day Leo smiled and let photographers take countless pictures, handled the TV and radio interviews gracefully and slowly walked back into the clubhouse to rest before the game began. It was an impressive performance by the new Leo.
The old Leo reemerged later in the day. Hal Lanier of the Giants hit a line drive that smacked Bill Faul, a Cub relief pitcher, in the rear end. Faul retrieved the ball and threw Lanier out, but the next batter, Len Gabrielson, got a home run. Mays was next up, and Faul's first pitch was a fast ball in the neighborhood of Mays's head. Knockdown pitches are an unpleasant but accepted part of baseball, but not, in the curious ethic of the game, when the score is 7-1, which it was at the time. An angry Mays took three steps toward the mound before stopping, and when the next pitch also leaned Willie back there was irate language from the Giant bench.