Over the winter
of 1940, we had agreed that our greatest needs were a strong young pitcher to
go with our aging pitching staff and a right-handed catcher to go with Babe
Phelps. The pitcher MacPhail went after was Kirby Higbe, a strong-armed
righthander who had been able to win a respectable number of games at
Philadelphia, and the catcher was Mickey Owen, then with St. Louis. MacPhail
Late in the
training season I was able to tell Larry we had a heck of a ball club.
"This is a good ball club," I told him. "We could win the whole
thing with one other player."
And who was that,
he wanted to know.
Herman," I said.
Billy Herman of
the Cubs had been the premier second baseman in the National League for nine
years. He had become universally accepted as the classic No. 2 hitter, an
absolute master at hitting behind the runner.
About two weeks
into the season I was awakened by a call at 4 in the morning. "Are you
awake?" came the booming voice of Larry MacPhail.
bowling, Larry. I'm cruising down the Potomac on the presidential yacht. What
the hell's the matter with you?"
hello," he said, "to your new second baseman."
buddy," came the weary voice of Billy Herman. "I'll see you at the ball
park if this boss of yours will let me go back to sleep." The deal for
Billy Herman won the pennant for us.
MacPhail made one
other important acquisition before the end of the season when he picked up
Johnny Allen, a supposedly overaged, used-up pitcher, on waivers. But let me
tell you about another of our overaged, used-up pitchers, Fat Freddie