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"No," Williams assured him, "Howard doesn't do that as much anymore."
Between soup and salad that night at the New Stanley Hotel, Williams talked more about the Series. "I'll tell you what disappointed me," he said. "What I think was the key to the Series. Second game, 1-1 tie, ninth inning, Charles up for the Mets. Two out. McNally pitching. And he busted off two sharp curves, two hellacious curves, both for strikes. 'Boy,' I said to myself, 'come right back with it. Come right back with that curve.' But geez, he frogged around and frogged around and the count went to 2-2 and 3-2 and then he threw Charles a high fastball. Bow! Line drive, base hit. Then the next guy gets a blunk hit, and then Weis wins the game with a single off another high fastball. And in the last game Weis homered off the same pitch. I have to say I was disappointed the way they pitched to the Mets."
"Do you suppose," Williams was asked, "that the Episcopalians have been spreading the word about Frank Howard's bad habits?"
The Manager of the Year shook his head. "That ought to tell you how obvious it was. It was obvious the first time I saw him playing years ago with the Dodgers in a World Series. I knew then, and I knew when I took this job, exactly what I was going to say to him. The value of knowing the strike zone. The value of proper thinking at the plate. The importance of getting a good ball to hit. Of knowing when not to be too big with his swing.
"We talked whenever we had a chance, and I want to tell you Frank Howard is a wonderful guy. A great guy. We analyzed his bases on balls—only 54 last year, and 12 of those were intentional. Well, for crying out loud, the leadoff man should get 35 walks. Howard didn't know the strike zone. It was as simple as that."
"So how many times did he walk this year?"
"One hundred and two. And he cut his strikeouts by one-third, and his average was as high as ever, and he still hit more home runs, some of them out of sight. I mean he crushed the ball. I think without question the biggest, strongest guy who ever played this game."
His voice had been rising and the people at the next table, who had been folded over their meals, were now listening in and whispering behind their hands. One of them finally leaned over and offered Williams a menu.
"Would you sign this, Mr. Williams?" he said. "Never thought I'd run into you way out here. Uh, just make it out to, uh, Theodore Samuel."
"Great name," said Williams, taking the menu.