There are those who maintain that Sain is too independent, too protective of his pitchers. Sain flies his own airplane, and cynics say that John eventually wants his own air force, made up entirely of pitchers. Yet the record that the Minnesota staff compiled under Sain is ample evidence of his ability to teach. He does have that knack of taking over a staff and getting the utmost in performance and loyalty from it. Early in January he had a talk with Aguirre, whose record of 14-10 in 1965 slid to 3-9 last season. "He's got me doing things with a ball that I never did before," Aguirre says. "To me, the remarkable thing is that he will go out to the mound and actually throw, so that you see right there that what he is teaching works."
Many of the Tiger pitchers have already picked up Sain's hard curve. "I didn't know if I could learn it or not," Joe Sparma said. "I met Sain in Puerto Rico, where I was pitching winter ball, and he said, 'I've got a pitch I'd like you to think about. You don't have to use it. It's up to you.' " Sparma used it, and over the last 49 innings in winter ball he gave up only two earned runs. After his impressive performance last week against Baltimore, Sparma tried to explain what pitching for Sain was like and how it felt to have the Sain hard curve work so successfully.
"Just imagine," he said, "that you were in college and you noticed day after day that one of your professors gave a special look to girls in class. When it came time to write the term paper you'd sure enough try to get something about love in it, wouldn't you? You'd know he was interested in that, and so are you. It's the same way with Sain and that pitch. We are watching this professor." Smith, Sain, Cuccinello, Moses, Naragon and that little bit of love may just make the American League go round this year.