NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
The Pirates' Roberto Clemente got his 3,000th hit, a leadoff double in the fourth inning of a game with the Mets, and joined the immortals. But Clemente thought he should have been in that august company the night before when the official scorer ruled that his high bouncer over the mound led to an error by New York's Ken Boswell, not an infield single. "All my life," complained Clemente, "they [the scorers] have been stealing hits from me."
The Cubs' Billy Williams is still a few hits shy of 3,000 (he has 2,229), but he did have a shot at the league's triple crown. He led in hitting by a comfortable margin and trailed the Red's Johnny Bench by four home runs and one RBI.
On the day Clemente stroked No. 3,000, Lou Brock of the Cardinals hit his 2,000th against the Cubs, the same team, as fate would have it, that traded him away eight years ago. Montreal's Gene Mauch had his contract extended. "It's quite obvious that I'm pleased," said Mauch. "And it's quite obvious that we have a lot of work to do." Another team in the same fix, obviously, is the Phillies—except when it comes to Pitcher Steve Carlton, who managed to win 26 games for a last-place team. "He'll be our first $100,000 player," conceded General Manager Paul Owens.
PITT 95-57 CHI 83-68 NY 78-72 ST.L 74-79 MONT 68-82 PHIL 57-95
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Dental science is gambling that a tooth extraction will cure the pains—oral and armwise—of Cincinnati pitching star Gary Nolan in time for the playoffs with Pittsburgh. Manager Sparky Anderson is assuming as much, predicting that Nolan will pitch the third game. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone, the Reds' Clay Carroll set a major league record for the most saves by a relief pitcher in a single season. He has 36.
"I want a catcher who can call a good game, throw and stop the other team from running," said Houston's Leo Durocher, echoing a familiar managerial aspiration. But second-string Astro Catcher Larry Howard disagreed. "You keep reading in the papers that we need a left-handed relief pitcher and a catcher," said he wearily. "What they ought to do is concentrate on getting the left-handed relief pitcher and forget about the catcher. I think our catching is well taken care of."
The Atlanta Braves are also talking trade, but two who definitely are not on the block are Henry Aaron and young Dusty Baker. Trading Aaron would be like giving away Peachtree Street, and as for Baker, Manager Eddie Mathews says, "He has super tools. The best way I can help him is to stay away from him."
The Giants' Jim Barr is a forward thinker. "I am going to spring training thinking of myself as a starter all the way," he said. And with cause. At one point in this dismal San Francisco season, Barr retired 41 batters in a row over two games.