"No-no, ah, whatever it is, but the other way you get that good hard overspin on a ground ball, and when it goes through the infield it has something on it, and if you hit it solid, boy, it goes. Anyway, he started hitting, and he hit the longest ball he ever hit at the stadium, way up in the upper deck. And I'll tell you, I wouldn't be surprised if he was even better this year.
"After a while, you could see them all coming around, getting the message, thinking about what they were doing. Some of them started squeezing rubber balls and lifting heavy weights, doing things to improve their strength.
"Listen, did you zip up your side of the tent?" Williams asked. "I don't want any snakes in here. When it comes to snakes I am no hero." Before it was the bugs that worried him. He would put up such a fog of bug spray that it would settle wet on one's forehead for hours.
"What about Brinkman? Surely you worked a miracle there."
"I didn't tell Brinkman a lot. When I first saw him in the batting cage all eager and alive, I said if he was a .180 hitter I'd eat an alligator. It didn't take a genius to see that. He had already picked out the bottle bat. He'd already choked up on it in the spring, and they were things I was given credit for and deserved absolutely none. He did ask me what I thought, and I said, 'Well, it's all right,' but I thought to myself as far up as he was choking that bat I hope to God he wouldn't hit himself in the belly with it." He laughed, imagining such a thing.
"The only thing I tried to impress on Brinkman was to be quicker with the bat, especially when he was hitting to the opposite field."
"To hit with authority to right field?"
"Why authority? His best shot isn't going out, so why with authority? The tendency to the opposite field is to be late, and when you're late you're under it and you pop up. It didn't do Brinkman any good to hit the ball in the air. It was important for him to hit the ball on the ground. Hit a ball on the ground and it's a tougher play, things can happen. Brinkman worked at it and, I wanta tell you, that little guy got big hits all year for us. Sonofagun.
"He had National Guard duty most of the time. Had to be there at 6 in the morning, be there all day, get to the park at 4:30, eyes all bloodshot, and he'd nap for two hours. Then we'd wake him up—'C'mon Eddie, game's starting'—and he wouldn't even get hitting practice. He played even when he was hurt. Some guy slid into him, really ripped him, and he had a wrenched knee, all swollen up. I'd say, 'Eddie, why don't you just take a day or two and rest, pick yourself up a little.' 'Naw, I wanna play!'