The retirement of Willie Mays and the recollection in SCORECARD (Oct. 1) of Willie's first home run for the New York Giants 22 years ago against Warren Spahn brought other memories. There was a game 12 years later when the San Francisco Giants faced the Milwaukee Braves in Candlestick Park on the night of July 2, 1963. Some 22 or 23 players participated, but the unfolding drama involved only three: Spahn, Juan Marichal and Mays. In this game all of the other ballplayers were merely window dressing, part of the blurred, windswept background.
Everyone has heard about the penetrating winds and biting cold that used to prevail in Candlestick Park on San Francisco Bay. Well, that evening's weather has to rank with the most penetrating and biting in which baseball ever was played. It was too cold for football. It was too cold for hockey or even sled racing, for that matter. We were forewarned, and brought every hotel blanket we could get our hands on. Life-saving firewater was freely imbibed.
The game itself produced one of the greatest pitching duels in history—the veteran southpaw Spahn against the younger but already established Marichal. It was a scoreless performance for 15� innings. There were thrills aplenty along the way, of course, including some patented running breadbasket catches and line throws to the infield by Mays. The fielding of wind-buffeted flyballs and the competition with blown paper were spectacles in themselves.
The Braves went out in order in the top of the 16th inning. Spahn retired the first batter in the bottom half, bringing up Mays. On the second pitch Willie sent the ball on a line to left center. It cleared the fence by a considerable margin. Spahn walked slowly off the mound, head down, shoulders hunched, once more Mays' victim as Willie circled the bases for the only run of the game.
ALEX H. WINSBERG
The best defenseman in the history of pro football was discovered purely by accident. It happened during the reign of a 6'8", 405-pound offensive guard called (for unknown reasons) Yellow Fingers. Coaches tried to beat him with every defensive stunt in the book, using such greats as Alex Karras, Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith, but to no avail. Well, as the story continues, it was the 10th game of the season and the Minnesota Vikings were the week's underdogs. The conservative Viking coach, Bud Grant, decided against risking his regular defensive tackle and replaced him with the fast, then unknown, average-sized Alan Page. Surprisingly enough, on the first play of the game Page walked right through Yellow Fingers and made the tackle. This continued throughout most of the game, which ended in a Viking victory. After the game, while talking to some reporters, Grant commented, "The way to beat this team is to let your Page do the walking through Yellow Fingers."