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IN THE LAND OF THE GIANTS
Leo Durocher
April 21, 1975
Durocher bears witness to miracles at Coogan's Bluff: Bobby Thomson, Willie Mays, Dusty Rhodes
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April 21, 1975

In The Land Of The Giants

Durocher bears witness to miracles at Coogan's Bluff: Bobby Thomson, Willie Mays, Dusty Rhodes

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Willie led the league by hitting .345. He hit 41 home runs. He knocked in 110 runs. He won the Most Valuable Player Award. He fielded like only Willie Mays could field.

Take that great catch off Vic Wertz in the first game of World Series. When the ball was hit, I hollered, "Stay in the park, he'll catch it." He caught it over his head, like a ballet dancer. The hardest catch in the world, even for an infielder. When the ball game was over, Frank Gibbons of the Cleveland Press said to me, "Leo, that was some great catch."

"Routine," I said.

The sportswriters gathered around me couldn't believe they'd heard me right.

"Yeah, routine. I've seen him make so many catches better than that I knew he had it all the way."

Aw, come on, they said. It's got to be the best catch you ever saw. It was the ball game.

I hadn't said it wasn't a great catch. I hadn't said it wasn't the ball game. All I'd said was that it was a routine catch for Willie Mays. "Look," I said, when they kept hammering at me, "what are you asking me for? I didn't catch it. There's Mays right over there. Why don't you ask him?"

Now, Willie wasn't highly educated, but I wish I could have thought to say what he said. "Willie," they asked, "how do you compare this catch with other catches you've made?"

"I don't compare 'em," Willie said. "I catch 'em."

In 1955, halfway through my last game as manager of the Giants, I motioned for Willie to come into the little toilet we had at the far end of the dugout. Two men could barely squeeze in, so we were standing nose to nose. "Now, son," I said, "I want to tell you something. You're just great. You're the best ballplayer I've ever looked at."

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