One of the important men in the St. Louis attempt at a comeback is Torre. He hit a strong .289 last year, driving home 101 runs. He will switch from first base to catcher, where he replaces Tim McCarver, now with the Phils. "I'm working harder this spring than I ever have before," he said the other day. "Last year was my first with this organization, and McCarver was the team leader. Tim-my is a remarkable guy and a great agitator. Every club needs a guy like that. You can say that some of the things that inspire and lift ballplayers are strictly high-school. So what? I've always felt that the catcher is the man who should lead the team, because everyone is looking in at him all the time. Gibson and I haven't sat down and talked about leadership, but each of us knows what must be done.
"I've read most of the things about Richie Allen. I have known and liked Rich for a long time, and just wait and see what he will do over here. He will have some kind of a year!"
As the Cardinals approach the end of spring training they are still an enigma to some. The Cardinals are a running team with power, and there have not been many of those around in recent seasons. But they are also a drastically changed club that will be playing its home games on a changed field. Busch Stadium will be AstroTurfed by the time the season opens.
"AstroTurf," said Brock, "will change the style of baseball eventually, but I'm not sure it will until it is in all the ball parks. Anyway, I am not going to change my style of play because of Astro Turf. The advantage to it from a hitter's point of view is that ground balls get through the infielders and outfielders fast. The disadvantage is that it is also very difficult lo bunt on AstroTurf because the ball gets to the fielder quickly. The best way to beat that is with a slap bunt that will go by the infielders. I have always worked on that.
"Look," he continued, "we had a bad year last year. We seemed to be in every game we played until the eighth or ninth inning and then we would lose. That puts the pressure on you because you take the games home with you and worry about them. Players say they don't do that but they certainly do. It's a lot better to be beaten 10-2 than 2-1 because you have the feeling you will bounce back after a 10-2 loss, but those close games you lose keep getting to you. That's what happened to us in 1969. We will hit more this year."
With their hive of explosive and temperamental personalities and with so many perilous obstacles ahead, the Cards obviously will be an interesting team to watch early in the season. Allen can make or break them in 1970, and it has been suggested that getting into a Cardinal uniform after his difficult years in Philadelphia will bring out the best in him, just as a potion transformed the discouraging Mr. Hyde. If it does, and the team catches fire, there could be a world of difference in Gussie Busch's state of mind. He might even learn to love Steve Carlton again.