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FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE
Jack McCallum
May 02, 1983
Whom teams have joined together as roommates, no man shall put asunder—but sometimes it happens
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May 02, 1983

For Better, For Worse

Whom teams have joined together as roommates, no man shall put asunder—but sometimes it happens

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This was another Sewell-Gehrig type of pairing. Neither did much drinking or carousing, neither was a television junkie, and neither was a spendthrift, though Ritger admits he was a little tighter with a buck. "I was the kind of guy that if we'd each owe $1.78 on a bill and Wayne would give me $2, I'd make sure he'd get his 220 back," says Ritger.

Only twice in their 15 years together did they both make it to the top five head-to-head spots in a TV tournament final, and even then they didn't face each other. There was a reason, Ritger says. He was a soft stroker and Zahn was more of a power bowler, so they tended to do well on contrasting types of alleys.

•Another set of famous roommates, Australians Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle, were sharing a flat when they met for the Wimbledon title in 1965. Stolle and Emerson frequently roomed together in those days. Their custom was to trade off cooking breakfast. On the morning of the final, it was Emerson's turn. The newspapers snapped pictures of Emerson with an apron, Stolle with the morning newspaper. First, Emerson scrambled the eggs, and then he went out and scrambled Stolle, winning in straight sets.

•For 13 years (1951-63) on the Boston and Milwaukee Braves it was "Spahn and Burdette, a roommate set." On the road they hung out with another noted pair, Third Baseman Eddie Mathews and Pitcher Bob Buhl, who were also longtime roomies.

Despite their superstar status, neither Spahn nor Burdette ever considered getting a single room. "We had a slogan," says Spahn. "It was 'Anything you can do, I can do better.' That's the type of relationship we had. Very competitive, but it never meant we were professionally jealous."

Burdette was instrumental in getting Spahn to throw the screwball, a pitch that undoubtedly helped extend his career until 1965, when he was 44. But he could never master his roomie's favorite, the spitter. "I had a helluva spitter in the bullpen, but I just couldn't throw it right in the games," Spahn says.

Spahn always felt there was something special about their relationship. "You know, I never threw a no-hitter until I was 39 years old," he says. "It came against the Phillies [on Sept. 15, 1960], and a month earlier Lou had thrown his first [and only] one against the same club. I always felt I would never have gotten mine if he hadn't done it first."

"Well," he says, "if I can't play no more I want to go to sleep, and you fellers will have to get out o' this room."

Did you ever hear o' nerve like that? This was the first night he'd came in before twelve and he orders the bunch out so's he can sleep! We politely suggested to him to go to Brooklyn.

SOME SNIPPETS FROM ROOMMATE LIFE

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