The All-Star break can't come too soon. During a restless week there were charges of beanballs and "roughed-up" balls; there were fights, ejections, angry players and furious managers. But nothing quite matched the flap at Milwaukee's County Stadium.
Some 40 feet atop the center-field fence sits a character named Bernie Brewer. Dressed in Bavarian lederhosen, he slides down a chute into a fake beer stein every time a Milwaukee Brewer homers. Harmless? Texas Manager Whitey Herzog believed something else was brewing out there. En route to a doubleheader defeat, Herzog thought he saw someone helping Brewer, and the Brewers, with binoculars. Herzog swore that every time a Texas pitcher was about to throw a breaking ball, Brewer would clap with his white gloves. The "accomplice," working behind Brewer, was removed.
"Maybe we should put a giant Texas Ranger in our center-field bleachers," said Herzog. "Then every time he'd see a sign for a curve ball, he'd fire a gun." Brewer, whose real name is Dan McCarthy, protested, "It's really absurd. I played in the Little League and the Babe Ruth Leagues, but I can't tell one sign from another."
The White Sox claimed New York's Fritz Peterson was scratching the baseballs when he beat them 2-1. Actually, Mel Stottlemyre and Bobby Murcer did the most damage to opponents as the Yankees bounced in and out of first, and in again. Stottlemyre, who has allowed just one run, that unearned, in 27 innings, won twice; Murcer hit three homers to account for all the scoring in a 5-0 win over Kansas City.
Boston, Detroit and Baltimore were close behind. Hub-fever rose about a 5-3 week that included a Luis Tiant two-hitter, and Detroit took five in a row as some of Billy Martin's better platooning paid off. Dick Sharon had four hits in a one-run win over Texas, and his alternate, Jim Northrup, drove in eight runs the next night.
Gaylord Perry said Cleveland's young players didn't hustle enough and young Rusty Torres said it was harder playing for a loser than a pennant contender, but then Dick Tidrow four-hit the Minnesota Twins and they looked better. "This is the club we saw in spring training," said Manager Ken Aspromonte. "Solid hitting, some pitching, aggressive base running." It all added up to a .500 week, cause for joy in Cleveland.
NY 51-42 BOST 47-40 BALT 45-39 DET 48-42 MIL 44-45 CLEV 33-58
Mike Andrews became the second Chicago player in two weeks to leave the club after a salary hassle ( Rick Reichardt preceded him), and he was missed. Joe Keough, the minor-leaguer who replaced Andrews, was picked off second in one game and against the Orioles he grounded into a game-ending double play. Still, the Sox managed to split six consecutive one-run games and move into third when Wilbur Wood got back on track and pitched two complete-game victories.