On the "hyper" scale, House is off the charts. "I can't help it," he says. "I'm just a very excitable person. When I get into a game my voice goes up four octaves. Between innings I used to jump around and yell in the dugout. But this season I've learned to control myself a little bit." Measurably so, says Frisella. "When the phone rang in the bullpen last season," he says, "Tommy would jump a foot and a half. Now he only goes up six inches."
House received the same cool treatment as Capra on his way up. Appalled at the shabbiness of the minor leagues, he went back to USC last year to get his master's in marketing, partly so he could write a thesis foretelling "the demise of the farm system as we know it."
After years of anonymity, both Capra and House quite literally, if briefly, leaped into prominence. Buzz, so-called because of the frantic way he swung a bat as a child, was one of the most spirited combatants in last year's playoff brawl between the Reds and Mets, trading punches "to show that a little guy can take care of himself." Nicknamed Puma because of the catlike way he pounces on grounds balls, House is the fellow who caught Aaron's 715th home run ball and then sprinted it in to Henry at home plate. "Ever since I caught that ball," he says, hinting at things magical, "everything has been going good for me."
Before the season opened neither House nor Capra was very confident about his future. House, in fact, went job hunting during the winter as a hedge against being cut from the team. And Capra says that "no matter how they counted it, I was the 11th man on the Mets' 10-man staff." He did not know how fortunate that position was until Braves General Manager Eddie Robinson bought him for $35,000 during spring training and told him, "You're going to see some action in Atlanta, son."
Going into the Braves' big mid-May winning streak, Capra was 0-2 and a reliever and House had pitched only 17 innings, those without undue distinction. But as the momentum gathered, the diminutive pair became the Braves' one-two punch. By last weekend, Capra had won nine straight games, including four shutouts, and had a 1.32 earned run average, the lowest among National League starters. House was 1-1 with six saves and an almost equally impressive 1.76 ERA.
No one is prouder of their performances than Herm Starrette, the Braves' new pitching coach. House, who reveres Starrette as a father figure, says, "Herm keeps telling me to think great thoughts, and it's a thrilling feeling."
Though the Braves are not yet ready to start thinking pennant, Capra does have one great notion in mind for Met Manager Yogi Berra, the man who ignored him all those long months. "What I'd like to do," he says, "is make Yogi pick me for the All-Star team."