You can imagine how excited Johnny Corriden must have been. He was a little too old to travel, but he watched the first playoff game on television in his living room in Indianapolis. In the middle of the game, while Sherry was mowing the Braves down one after another, Johnny's wife came into the living room and noticed that he was very quiet. "John," she said, "what's the matter with you today?" She walked over and touched him, and he was dead.
Larry was broken up about it, and so was I. Sherry sent a telegram to the widow saying he owed whatever he had to John, and now he was going to go out and finish the job that John gave him. In the Series he set a record that I'm willing to bet will never be matched. He allowed one earned run and eight hits in 12? innings, and in every one of our four wins he either saved or won the game.
Nowadays we have another old man from Indianapolis keeping his eyes on things, and I wish we had a hundred more like him. His name is Ted McGrew, he is in his 80s, and before he went into semiretirement he was one of the best scouts in baseball. To tell the truth, all we pay Ted is his expenses, but the arrangement is satisfactory to everybody. In the summertime we get him a room in a hotel in Chicago, and he sees a game every day, either the Cubs or the White Sox. There are not many men around who have as good an idea of what's going on in baseball as Ted McGrew. He is the reason we got Claude Osteen. We were looking for a good left-handed pitcher, and one day Ted calls and says, " Osteen's your man." I'd seen Osteen once or twice myself, and I liked his looks, but I'd never have dealt for him if Ted hadn't made his recommendation. And if we don't get Osteen, is there anyone in his right mind who thinks we would have won the pennant in 1965 and 1966? Everybody remembers that Sandy Koufax won 27 games for us last year and 26 the year before; nobody remembers that Osteen won 17 last year and 15 in 1965.
If ever there was a pennant deal in the whole history of baseball, it had to be the one for Wally Moon, and this one was a mixture of luck and enterprise, mainly on the part of Wally Moon himself. One day in 1958 Bing Devine called me and said the Cardinals wanted to trade Moon, a left-handed pull hitter. Now, if there is anything in the world that met the definition of useless, it was a left-handed pull hitter in the Los Angeles Coliseum. It was 440 feet to right field and your average left-handed pull hitter couldn't put one over that fence in anything less than a drive and two five-irons. If Duke Snider could barely do it, maybe twice a season, how could Wally Moon be expected to do it? Another thing: Moon had a bad elbow. So when Devine said, "Maybe you'd give us Gino Cimoli for Moon?" I said, "No."
Bing said, "What about if I throw in Phil Paine?" Paine was a promising young pitcher; I figured he could help our Spokane club, and now the pluses began going through my brain. Moon had had four good seasons before his injury, and he used to murder our pitchers. I got to thinking, maybe Moon isn't going to be worth a damn to us, but at least we'll get him off the streets and he won't be able to mug us anymore.
So I told Bing, "O.K.," and thought very little more about it. Gino Cimoli was a special friend of mine, but he was riding the bench for us and mad about it, and the trade of one bench warmer for an injured player and a minor league pitcher isn't the kind of deal I sit up nights wondering about. The most encouraging thing was Moon's comment. " Los Angeles made a hell of a deal," he said, "better than the Cards made." I liked that. I'm a sucker for a ballplayer with confidence. But I never dreamed just how valuable Moon would turn out to be. He came to Los Angeles and began to study that short screen in left field, and then he began asking our pitchers to throw him extra batting practice, and soon he was ready to go. As he explained it later: "I decided to shoot for the screen with what I call a calculated slice. It's simply a matter of bringing your hands closer to the body and slightly delaying your swing. You keep the end of the bat cocked for a split second after the hands have begun to move, and at the last possible moment you flip the end of the bat at the ball. That's all there was to it."
That makes it look pretty simple, but Wally Moon was that rare combination: a good, smart athlete with the ability to integrate his intelligence into physical actions. You have good athletes who are smart but can't get their smartness in harness with their muscles. Wally put it all together. He hit nine of his 19 home runs that season over that screen, even though it was the "wrong" field for him. He batted .302, drove in 74 runs and did as much for our ball club in one year as a single human being could possibly do. His confidence helped the whole ball club. I don't mean he was a pop-off, but he would say things like, "My idea of a picnic is to come to bat in the last of the ninth with the score tied 1 all and a man on base." He meant it, too, and pretty soon he had the whole ball club acting like pennant winners, even though they had finished next to last the year before. As if all that wasn't enough, Wally helped us with Sandy Koufax, who you will remember was a struggling kid in those years, full of promise but with very little to show for it. When Wally was on the Cardinals one of his closest pals was Alvin Dark, and that smart-guy Alvin discovered that Koufax was tipping his pitches. Sandy would bring his glove to one place on his uniform for a curve ball and another place for a fast ball.
When we traded for Wally, he told us the secret. Nobody believed him, so we had Sandy pitch a practice game in Florida and we kept score on how many times Moon could predict the pitch. He called 93 out of 96, and we had Sandy correct his motion fast.
Still, I can't honestly say that the trade for Wally was the best deal I ever made. That distinction goes to one I made strictly at the behest of a guy who brings a lump to my throat every time I think of him: Spencer Harris, our general manager at the Spokane club and before that our all-round shop foreman in spring training—"the mayor of Dodgertown," as everybody knew him. Spence died a couple of years ago, and I went up to Spokane for the funeral with Fresco Thompson and Dick Walsh. I hadn't seen ice and snow for years, and now it was up to our backsides. Here we are carrying the casket through this thick snow, and all the time I'm thinking of Spence and the thousand practical jokes we had played on each other, and then I almost slipped and fell, the snow was so deep. So just before we got to the church I started to laugh. I couldn't help it. Fresco gave me a look; he knew what I was thinking. I was thinking that Spence must be having the biggest laugh of all at this scene. Here was the ultimate in practical jokes, making us carry his casket through the snow. I could hear him chortling to himself, "Boy, I got even with this guy! Boy, did I get even!"
Spencer Harris could watch a kid comb his hair and tell you if the kid would ever make the major leagues. One day, when I was general manager at Montreal, Spence called me and he said: "Buzzie, I just found out the Baltimore Elite Giants need money. Call them right away and get two of their players, Joe Black and Jim Gilliam. Get them no matter what they cost!"