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A side-door entrance to the major leagues
Leonard Shecter
July 17, 1967
Dave Baldwin of Washington was a study in futility until the day he developed a peculiar sidearm delivery. Since then he has been a superspecialist, a right-handed reliever who pitches only to right-handed batters
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July 17, 1967

A Side-door Entrance To The Major Leagues

Dave Baldwin of Washington was a study in futility until the day he developed a peculiar sidearm delivery. Since then he has been a superspecialist, a right-handed reliever who pitches only to right-handed batters

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At this point a lot of people would have packed it in and have headed for home. It isn't as though Baldwin had nothing else to turn to. Going to college and majoring in physical education had done a strange thing to him. It had turned him on to academics—anthropology, zoology. He has now earned two B.S. degrees and has a consuming, if somewhat obscure, interest in population genetics. This, he says, is the study of "the physical evolution of man in conjunction with social evolution." His long-range aim—and he still goes to school in the off-season—is to get a Ph.D. "I want to be a scientist," he says, "but I'm in no hurry."

He was in a hurry, though, at mid-season of 1964, to get a baseball job. He tried everything. He called everybody he knew in baseball, including a league president, two umpires and more farm directors than he wants to think about. His wife, Diane, an elfin, blue-eyed redhead, with a wit that matches her looks, says, "He must have spent $50 on phone calls. That's a lot of money when you don't have it."

When Baldwin was released from Durham in 1964 he and his wife did what countless couples have done in similar circumstances—they set out to visit his wife's family near Williamsport. That's where they had met. She worked for the team physician. "All the players came through the doctor's office," Diane Baldwin says. "You picked out the one you wanted and went after him."

While Dave drove toward Williamsport, Diane studied The Sporting News. "We've had a lot of experience looking for jobs," Baldwin says. "What you do is go through The Sporting News and look to see who's in last place. That's the team that needs help the most."

It was Diane who noticed that York was in last place in the Eastern League and would, besides, be playing in Williamsport when they arrived there. "I was lucky," Baldwin says. " Jim Lemon was the manager at York. I'd pitched a good game against them and he remembered. He was short of pitching and gave me a job."

The salary was $500 a month, or just enough to stay one step ahead of the welfare department. But not only were the Baldwins able to live on his salary, they were able to save, so that in the winter, when Dave went back to school and Diane to work as an X-ray technician, there was enough to pay tuition and living expenses.

"It was easy," she says, "but you have to like hamburger."

There are other tricks. "Don't buy any more for this week than you need," she says. "You might not be here next week. Besides, you learn to do without."

Doing without means taking an inexpensive apartment. In Durham this meant killing a centipede a day. "You had to really kill it," she recalls. "If you got half of it the other half walked away."

Doing without also means studying the newspaper ads and hitting four supermarkets to pick up the specials. It means lugging around a sewing machine and sewing your own clothes. Finally, it means skipping a movie and going for a walk instead. Or reading books. Novels. Short stories. In the little world of baseball, this alone sets them apart from the rest of the crowd.

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