Frank Howard, my room-mate, said, "God, he must really hate your guts, Hawk. He knows how badly you wanted to play today."
When Hodges started me the second game of the season and kept me in almost every day after that, I knew he had benched me Opening Day just to hurt me. Any guy capable of pulling that dirty a trick was not for me. I was fed up with Gil Hodges. I had had all I could take of the man. I was so eager to get out from under him that I told the Washington writers for publication that I wanted to be traded.
Even Hodges didn't want that kind of publicity. In New York he called me into his office and said, "Do you want to play for me?"
"I want to play baseball," I said.
"Why didn't you take batting practice that first day in Washington?" he asked.
"I'll tell you why," I said. "I led the club in hitting and home runs just playing the last couple of weeks of spring training. I had a better spring than anyone else on the club. I should have started Opening Day. When I saw I wasn't going to, I was too disappointed to take batting practice."
"I know you should have started," Hodges said.
"Well, why didn't I?"
"Stottlemyre was pitching. Dick's a lefty and a low-ball hitter."
" Stottlemyre's a great pitcher," I said, "but I've always hit him pretty well—and you know it."