When Sutton hurt his arm, Dodger doctors ordered him to undergo the same treatment that has preserved the mighty wing of Sandy Koufax. The arm is encased in a long section of inner tube and dunked into a bath of ice water and ice, a Chinese torture that Koufax bears with typical equanimity. Not so the young Sutton. Taking one of his first treatments, he began inching his arm slowly out of the water until little more than the tip of the elbow was immersed. Koufax walked into the medical room, saw what was happening and gave Sutton's arm a full dunk. "Do it right!" Koufax said, winking sideways at an observer.
"Who's doing this, you or me?" Sutton asked.
"I've got more experience than you," Sandy barked, shoving the arm down again.
"Yes, sir," said a bemused Sutton, and began inching his arm out of the water the second Koufax was out of sight.
Sandy's own arm remains the great X factor, not only for this season but for the Dodgers' future years as contenders. Every time he throws a ball, teammates wince and arthritis sufferers all over the country share his pain. "It's become a frightening thing," said a longtime press-box habitu�. "We know what's gonna happen; we know it's got to happen, and we all live in some kind of quiet terror about it. One of these nights the best pitcher that ever lived is gonna throw that left arm all the way up to the plate. That's gonna be it. Finished. The end."
Koufax still gets all kinds of medical advice, solicited and otherwise. The letters trickle in: "Dear Sandy. If you will rub a mixture of oil of cloves and paragoric on your elbow you will be cured like I was. I had arthuritis for years and now this remedy has helped me plus my doctor. God bless you Sandy." Koufax lives on a regimen of guts and Butazolidin, the pain-killing drug that sometimes is used on horses. Often the pain is so severe that spectators in the last rows can see him wince. His lips draw up in a tight line, and the cords on his neck stand out. And when you ask him about it, he keeps to his steady line: "No, it didn't hurt any more than usual." It never hurts any more than usual, to hear Sandy tell it, and one suspects that it never hurts any less than usual, either. The profile in courage that is Sanford Koufax goes right on taking steady turns, complaining about nothing except getting undercut in gin.
But all the team spirit and raw courage in the world only add up to what the gamblers call "zip," nothing, a dead sparrow and piece of string, unless they can be translated into wins on the playing field. Everybody knew that the Dodgers were winning a lot of one-run games (32 wins and 16 losses through last week), and one-run wins are a good test of spirit, but it remained for some enterprising statisticians to show the firmest correlation between the intangible of emotion and the fact of winning. The Dodgers, it developed, have scored the winning run in their last time at bat in 26 of their games, or roughly one out of every three wins, a record that was brought to the public's attention by the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in a chart appropriately named DODGER LAST GASP-O-METER. In seven of the last 11 such victories the key run has been knocked in or scored by Junior Gilliam, the Dodgers' contribution to sartorial and gerontological splendor. Gilliam was simply going up to the plate in the last inning in his usual businesslike style, looking for what he calls "sock-me-outs," a term which puzzled certain Dodgers. One day he returned to the bench and told Fairly, "He threw me one of those sock-me-outs."
"What the hell is a sock-me-out?" Fairly asked.
"Well, you know, when the pitcher gets a little tired and he throws one down the middle? That's a sock-me-out." It was not the first time Gilliam had enriched the language and added to the gaiety of the nations. On a sultry night long ago in backwoods Florida, he walked into a country pool hall, laid down a $20 bill and announced to the house: "Who wants some of the devil's action?" Since then he has been known to the Dodgers as "Devil." For equally sound reasons, Phil Regan is known as "the Vulture." "He goes out there in the late innings of those tie ball games and pounces on the wins like a vulture," Koufax explains. Maury Wills is "the Mouse" and sawed-off Jim Barbieri is "the Rat" or "Jockey" or "Runt." Willie Davis is "Three Dog," a name that derives from a night at the greyhound races during spring training. Ron Perranoski is "Nonchalanski," for obvious reasons; Claude Osteen is "Gomer," for his resemblance to television's Gomer Pyle; Tommy Davis is "T.D.," and John Roseboro, a solid bastion and unsung team leader, has been honored by five nicknames: "Rosey," "Gabby," "Dad," "Old Folk" and "Rosenberg."
Last week, in a memorable game of the 1966 pennant race, Sandy and the Mouse and Old Folk and Devil and Sweet Lou and Three Dog and the whole jolly cast of characters went out to engage the San Francisco Giants before 54,993, the largest regular-season crowd in Dodger Stadium history, and just to prove that they are not a bunch of laughing machines, the Dodgers did everything wrong, even in the spirit department. Players failed to give themselves up for the team; three errors were committed; 13 were left on base; and the man from Mars, Willie Mays, was given the opportunity to steal the ball game by going from first to home on a routine single, topping off this Cobbesque maneuver by kicking the ball out of the glove of that famous immovable object, John Roseboro, or Rosenberg, or Old Folk, or whatever his name is. To add another imperfect touch to an imperfect night, the gay abandon on the Dodger bench evaporated in a near fist-fight between two old friends and neighbors, Maury Wills and Tommy Davis. In the 10th inning, with the game tied and tense and the Giants at bat, Captain Wills held up the old two-finger signal to remind Left Fielder Davis that there were two outs. When Davis came into the dugout, the Mouse said, "How come you didn't acknowledge me out there?"