Brown is enjoying the work so much he may agree to take it on full time if it does not take too many hours away from medicine or if, as he unclinically puts it, "I don't fall on my tail doing this."
The good doctor's enthusiasm for his temporary employment may in part be attributed to friendships renewed. Martin and Coach Charlie Silvera were Yankee teammates of Brown's. Coaoh Frank Lucchesi was a high school teammate. "Brownie got straight A's," Lucchesi recalls, "but, man, could he hit."
Although he believes the new management will give the team increased local identification, Dr. Brown observes wryly, "People don't come out to watch the owners."
Until recently, what they had watched had been surprisingly adept play by the high-spirited, positive-thinking Rangers. The team won 15 of its first 24 games and was in first place from April 24 until last Thursday night when the Kansas City Royals unseated them in a game all too reminiscent of 1973, featuring, as it did, colliding outfielders and cinch double plays gone awry. The difference was that a year ago these misadventures would have been accepted as normal; this year, such play is considered anomalous.
"Billy kept telling us all winter we're gonna win," says the burly, freckle-faced Burroughs, who hit 30 home runs last season and leads the team in home runs (six) and runs batted in (29). "A lot of us were skeptical at first. Last year, this was where other teams would go out on the town because no matter how bad they felt the next day, they knew they could beat us. But not any more."
On Friday night, before 28,157, the largest crowd of the season, the Rangers lost the 8-7 game to Chicago, their sixth straight defeat after the promising start. Worse yet, Dave Nelson, the fine second baseman, and Lenny Randle, playing center field, collided while chasing what was once known as a Texas leaguer. Randle suffered a badly bruised left arm, Nelson a broken nose and a neck injury.
Martin, who urged his charges to brush off the previous evening's loss, was inconsolable after this one. "It's up to them whether they want to go back to last year or move ahead," he said, tossing a shoe angrily into his locker.
Once the Rangers' clubhouse in defeat was indistinguishable from the Rangers' clubhouse in victory. This one was like a morgue. Losing, no longer inevitable, had become intolerable.
The next evening the Rangers proved they were ready to move ahead when 19-year-old David Clyde pitched a 3-2 victory over the White Sox before 18,762 happy fans. It was Clyde's second win of the year and the second complete game in his brief career. In a way it seemed a pity that Patrolman Fort could not personally be apprised of this dramatic reversal of form. But then....