Hammaker's sharp control comes in large measure from the smoothness of his delivery and from his ability to concentrate so hard that even the noisy Candlestick cries of "At-lee! At-lee!" go unheard. But for all his intensity, while throwing the ball he looks as if he's more interested in checking for crabgrass on the mound. Hammaker will get the sign from his catcher, go into his windup and then, horrors, look straight down at the ground. "I just don't feel natural looking anywhere else," he explains. "I'll look at the spot where I'm supposed to throw the ball and then look down. But just as I release the ball I'll look up again and see the same spot. They tried to change this habit in Kansas City, to convert me into looking at the plate, but when I did it I felt my balance go all out of whack."
With the Giants, however, everything seems to be in whack. Says Starrette, "There are times I'll be watching him out there when I'll swear I'm seeing Steve Carlton pitch." There can be no higher commendation—for Carlton.