"I didn't like doing that stuff, but you had to survive. And, in a way, I think it was the best thing that happened to me, because it made me realize I had a quality of Leadership [No. 9]. I mean, when I did something, guys would follow me. We had this officer, a real good man, but he was a little slow making a Decision [No. 7]. I was only a Pfc all the way, but sometimes I'd have to tell him: 'We can't stay here; we got to get the hell out.' I'm glad I was an athlete, because I think it helped me to get out of a lot of spots. We were mechanized, but you had to move quick sometimes."
Harry never had doubts about his leadership until May 1965, his first year as manager of the Pirates. His only big-league managing experience had been in 1955 when he inherited the shambles Eddie Stanky left in St. Louis, but he had won two pennants in the International League and one in the Texas League, and the Pirates weren't a bad team. Yet they lost 24 of their first 33 games, were in last place and strange things were happening.
"We didn't understand what he was talking about," Pagliaroni says. "He never shut up, and he was on us all the time about mistakes, but we didn't know what he wanted us to do. There was one time when Mazeroski made an error, and he hollered: 'There, see? He didn't get down on that ball.' Bill Virdon said, 'Harry, he's the best second baseman in baseball.' Later we understood what he meant: that even though Maz was the best, he could still make that kind of mistake, and he wanted us to learn from it.
"We were in Wrigley Field when Bob Friend called the meeting. He said we ought to get together and try to understand the guy, because we had to play for him. Bob said he might not be going about it the right way, but he was really trying to help us."
When the players hold a clubhouse meeting from which the manager is excluded, he has to realize they're trying to tell him something. So that day Harry Walker managed his team from the bullpen, a respectable distance away, so that he wouldn't bother anybody too much, and during the next two rotations of the earth he endured his worst period of self-doubt.
When the Pirates got to Cincinnati, another meeting was held, and Walker was included. "We talked everything over," Pagliaroni says, "and that was when we began to understand each other. And that was when we went on the 12-game winning streak."
From then on, the Pirates played .627 baseball, 28 points better than the percentage with which the Dodgers won the pennant. That, of course, proved little, because the Pirates were like a late-running horse that gets rolling after the race has been won. This season the Pirates got out of the gate along with everybody else, and the valid race was on. Walker had proven personnel, few of whom liked him, some of whom admired him, many of whom respected him and all of whom understood him.
In addition, his Expression (quality No. 11) was, finally, effective; the Pirates began to believe him when he said they were better than people thought. The all-for-one bullpen, applauding one another as they marched into the fray, was picking up a ragged starting staff, confident that the hitters would wait on the pitch and make everything all right.
In the nearest thing to a crisis the Pirates had known all year—two defeats by the Mets followed by an 11-inning tail-twister by the Cubs—Walker neither winced nor cried aloud. No, he wouldn't have a meeting the next day. "It's not time to jack them up yet," he said.
How, Walker was asked, would he jack them up? He delivered a lengthy oration on the subject, only one section of which is memorable. "Sometimes you have to get them mad at you," he said, "so they forget about them."