The Dodger fans would go crazy. The Giant fans loved it, especially if I put the horse collar on Jackie Robinson. But Campy was my special project. I always started him high and inside, and then I'd set him up to hit the breaking ball, which he couldn't hit. I had pit hed against Campy before he was in organized ball. That was in Welland, Ont.—when he was with the Baltimore Elite Giants—and I struck him out four times. When I came back to the Giants I said to him, "Hey, remember me?"' He said, "Sure do. Welland, Ontario."
I threw Carl Furillo breaking stuff. Gil Hodges, too. Duke Snider just got those low curveballs in the dirt, and that was the end of him. Too bad he didn't know the strike zone.
For Robinson, I had to use the change-up and mix up the pitches. I think he would have been a better hitter had he gone to the opposite field against me. Robinson held his arms high. When I wanted to move him back I'd throw at his left elbow instead of aiming under his chin, as I did with most batters. I think he batted the way he did because he couldn't hit the inside pitch. When he was rambunctious or lively—stepping out of the box, asking to see the ball—you had to fight him, move him back. But if he was quiet, well, I say let a sleeping dog lie.
One way for a hitter to bat against a pitcher like me is to shorten up and punch the ball to the opposite field. Pee Wee Reese, who gave me a bit of trouble, would do that. That's what the Red Sox should have done against Bob Gibson. You can't go up swinging for the fences against a Gibson. You have to punch the ball. Also, they should have bunted. Gibson's a good fielder, but he's way over to one side and not set for the bunt when he finishes his follow-through. I was always ready.
In August we were 13� games behind the Dodgers, and I was having a tough time winning ball games. Leo called me to his office. "Sal," he said, "the front office says you're not bearing down." I resented that. "We got a chance to win second place," Leo said. Oh, really. Well, we won 16 straight games right after that, and we began to think of first place. I remember I was 9 and 2, and I was in Philadelphia clowning with Larry Jansen. "You catch up to me and we'll win the pennant," I said. We both won 23, Jansen getting his 23rd game when he relieved me in the playoff.
I won my 23rd on the next to last day, shutting out the Braves. We ended in a tie with the Dodgers the final day, and the playoff started Monday. Jim Hearn won the first game for us, Clem Labine won the second 10-0 for the Dodgers and I started the final game on Wednesday. The score was 1-1 going into the eighth, but the Dodgers got to me for three runs. I went out for a pinch hitter and Jansen relieved. I was up in the clubhouse with Horace Stoneham, the Giant owner. He told me, "Sal, you had a hell of a year. The game's not over yet. Have a beer." When Ralph Branca came in to relieve and Thomson hit the ball, the first thing that struck me was that the score was tied. I didn't think it was a homer. But it was. I picked up Stoneham and we danced around. He weighed more than 200 pounds.
In the World Series it looked as though we had the Yankees on the run. We won the first and third games. I was all set to pitch the fourth game, and I felt great. Then it rained. That rain not only threw me off stride—I was the sort of pitcher who had to go every fourth day like it was clockwork—but it gave me a chance to do a very foolish thing. The night before the game I loaded up on spaghetti and macaroni at an Italian restaurant, and when I went to pitch the next day against Allie Reynolds I was plain heavy. I couldn't establish my rhythm, and DiMaggio hit a hung curve off me for a homer. I gave up four runs in five innings to lose the game. The Yankees went on to take the next two. I hate to admit it, but to this day I believe I ate us out of that Series.
In 1952 it looked as if the Giants were going to go places, but we didn't. I wound up with an 18-8 record, which sounds good. But it wasn't what it could have been because I struggled through that season with a bad back. I started off great. I had nine wins in May. Then, in a game against the Cardinals, Wilmer Mizell hit me in the left elbow. Later, in the fifth inning, I heard something snap in my back. I left the game and went to the hospital, where I found that my left leg was three-quarters of an inch longer than the right one. I had gotten hurt when I put too much strain on my back near the right hip. They put me in traction for five days and later gave me a lift for my left shoe. I had trouble with the back for the rest of the year and for all of 1953.
In 1954, however, my back was all right, and I found I was getting to be an even better pitcher as I hated more and more to give up hits. We had a good year, and I pitched the pennant clincher against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. I remember that game for two reasons. Before it Leo said, "Sal, you got anything to say to the boys?" "Yeah, Campanella's going down on the first pitch." He did. The other reason is that for the first time in my life I shaved before a game. I wanted to look nice. When I walked into the clubhouse Leo, who was very superstitious, was beside himself. "What the hell did you do that for?" he yelled at me. After I had won the game a photographer came to take my picture and I figured, great, at last the papers are going to get a decent picture of me. But this guy caught me in a dark light, with the whites of the eyes showing and a scowl on my face. I really looked sinister. The s.o.b. won a prize for that picture.
In the Series we met the Cleveland Indians, who were supposed to have one of the great ball clubs of all time. They had won 111 games, a record for an American League season. We beat them four straight. All except the last game were close. I started the second game against Bob Lemon. In the eighth, with the score 2-2, I was relieved by Don Liddle with men on first and second. Vic Wertz smacked the ball to deep center, but Willie Mays, the greatest player I have ever seen, made that historic catch and saved the game.