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Huyke walks down to the left-field bullpen where Kison is warming up. Woody stands behind Bruce and watches him throw. Kison has a small pink face covered with peach fuzz, which makes him look about 15. His teammates call him "Sweetie." Whenever they call him that in shrill, affected tones he will smile, although his face grows noticeably pinker. He is also called, on occasion, "The Stick" because he has the long limbs and small chest of a stick figure. His uniform billows at the waist like a sail and his pants billow at the calf like harem pants. At no point does his body impose any definition on the uniform he is wearing.
Now with Woody Huyke watching, Bruce is throwing much too hard and rapidly after his layoff. The ball is dipping into the dirt or flying over the head of his catcher, who must repeatedly run back to the fence to retrieve it. After each wild pitch Kison, expressionless, paws the dirt with his spikes, only to throw even harder and more rapidly. He throws with a loose-limbed, sidearm motion somewhat like those great side-arm pitchers Don Drysdale and Ewell Blackwell. It is a motion conducive to sore arms, especially on curveballs. Kison's meteoric rise through the Pirate system was halted two weeks ago by a strained muscle in his right elbow. It was strained on a curveball. This was the first sore arm of his career, and now in the Elmira bullpen Kison is throwing too hard and too rapidly to prove that his arm is no longer sore—and also to punish the arm for having let him down for the first time in his life.
After Kison's sixth wild pitch Huyke relieves the catcher. Kison throws a low fastball. Huyke scoops it expertly out of the dirt, but before returning the ball he says a few words to the previous catcher. The young pitcher takes a deep breath. Huyke returns the ball, and Kison fires it over the catcher's head. Huyke gets up from his crouch and walks slowly back to the fence. He picks up the ball and walks back to the plate and returns the ball to Kison, who by this time has taken three deep breaths. The next pitch is a strike. Huyke walks a few feet toward Kison and shakes the ball in his face, "Atta boy, Bruce. Use your head." Before long Kison is throwing fastball after fastball into Huyke's glove. Finally the catcher calls for a curveball. Kison spins one up cautiously. Huyke calls for another and studies Bruce's face for a sign. A lob. After a few more soft, halfhearted curves, Huyke shrugs and goes back to calling fastballs.
It is not the seriousness of his sore arm that is worrying Kison and the Pirate front office, but the fact that it could be the beginning of an irreversible pattern. Kison knows that if he is still to be considered a prospect he must prove that he will not be a perpetually sore-armed pitcher. That is why this second game is so important.
The game is also important to Huyke, although not in the same way. He will never play in the major leagues no matter what—he knows that—but if he can contribute to the development of a prospect like Kison, if he can guide the young ballplayer out of this sore arm by making sure he warms up properly, by calling the right pitches, by making Kison twist his elbow a little less strenuously on a curveball, then maybe someday Huyke will have a job in baseball, too.
Elwood Bernard Huyke (pronounced "high key") was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1937. When he turned 18 he wanted to sign a professional contract, but his father convinced him instead to go to college. He enrolled at Inter-American University at San Germ�n with the hopes of eventually becoming a doctor. In his junior year Huyke batted .408 in the Central American Games in Venezuela. He was offered a number of professional contracts, and finally convinced his father to let him sign with the New York Giants for $225 a month. When he left for spring training Woody promised his father he would finish school in the off season and become a doctor.
He worked out one month at Artesia, N. Mex. before being given his unconditional release. But Huyke pleaded with the Giant scout every day for a week until the man finally consented to give him a chance at Hastings, Neb. in the Rookie League.
There Huyke played third base and lived in a hotel that charged only a dollar a day and had knotted rope hanging out the window labeled "Fire Escape." Since the ball park had no locker rooms Woody had to dress in the hotel and walk through town in his uniform. When he arrived at Elmira for the first time and discovered the same conditions he said, "I thought those days were behind me."
In 1959 Huyke had one of the best hitting years of his career. He batted .311. "I thought I could hit anyone," he says. "I don't know what happened along the way, but after 12 years I don't hit so good anymore."
Huyke was assigned to Monterrey in the Mexican League in 1960. The first road trip consisted of a 28-hour bus ride to Tulsa in 110� heat. Another time, the team arrived in a town at 7 a.m. after an overnight trip, and the manager drove directly to the ball park for a workout. There were cities where the players stayed at YMCAs, sleeping on mattresses in the halls to keep cool.