Walker was not the only manager who messed with Wynn. Leo Durocher did not so much reconstruct the Wynn swing as he did relocate the swinger in the batting order. Impressed by the success the Giants had enjoyed employing power-and-speed man Bobby Bonds at leadoff, Durocher concluded that Wynn was the logical person to hit there for him. Wynn was opposed to the move, reasoning that it would reduce his runs batted in, but, good soldier that he is, he agreed. The experiment proved a failure and Wynn suffered through a sorry season, complicated this time by a serious illness to his second wife.
Along with all these problems, Wynn felt he was playing out of position his last few seasons in Houston. He is much more comfortable in center field than in right or left, but the Astros had the young superstar, Cesar Cedeno, in that spot, and Wynn could not move him out.
Ah, but there is nothing quite like a new suit of clothes. After the trade with Houston for Claude Osteen, Alston advised Wynn that he could bat third, play center field, swing at the ball any way he damn well pleased as long as he hit it from time to time, and have complete freedom on the bases. And just about the first Dodger he encountered was Harry Walker's brother, Dixie.
"He came up to me and told me he knew I'd had some problems with his brother," Wynn recalls. "He told me I needn't worry about him. I appreciated that and I told him the problems I had with Harry had been greatly exaggerated." Dixie is not only the "People's Cherce," he is now Jim Wynn's; the two are frequent golfing partners.
Freed of overmanaging, domestic strife and hostile spectators, Wynn has blossomed in the Southern California sunshine. If there remained any doubt about his potentiality, it was dispelled in a four-game series with San Diego earlier this month. In those games Wynn had 13 hits in 18 at bats, including a double, a triple and four home runs. He scored eight runs and batted in eight more. "That is the best series I've ever seen any player have," said Alston.
Wynn's homecoming last week was reminiscent of Lindbergh's. His every move on the field merited a standing ovation, and when he positioned himself in the outfield, the pavilion fans accorded him the equivalent of locomotive yells.
Wynn did not ignore these huzzas; he responded with hearty waves and shouts of encouragement. After Buckner's circus catch, he pointed to his teammate and led the cheering in his behalf. His own play scarcely cooled. Even in defeat on Friday he got three hits, including a double and a triple, and two RBIs.
"There are only two uniforms that spell magic to me," Wynn said later, "this one and the one the Yankees wear. But I've always wanted to be a Dodger. I can't tell you how good it feels to be in this uniform."
Or as old Henry Ward Beecher, the American clergyman, put it, conceding some ground to the Babylonians, "Clothes...do not make the man, but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance."
Jim Wynn would appear to have it made.