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HIGH ABOVE BIG KLU
On a May afternoon in St. Louis the Cardinals' Stan Musial, uncoiling from his frightening crouch, pounded five home runs during a double-header with the Giants. On a September day in Brooklyn, Ted Kluszewski, his shirtsleeves cut off at the shoulders and his biceps casting a shadow over the mound, hit just one. It was his 49th of the season.
High in the stands when the Reds' Kluszewski homered, when Maglie pitched, sat an official scorer. Nobody took his picture or marveled at whatever biceps he had. No one fought to shake his hand or to get his autograph. As usual over the scheduled 1,232 games of the 1954 season, the scorer just sat and kept score. But at the end of the season last Sunday the scorer's books told stories, too.
After 11 years, after 12 years, after 13 years, the figures said, three of the biggest stars in baseball had grown dim. With Yankee Shortstop Phil Rizzuto, 36, it was a case of slower reflexes, a higher arc on his throw to first base and finally, near the end of the season, eyeglasses. Rizzuto's batting average sagged to .194, lowest of any major league regular.
With Preacher Roe, 36, the Dodgers' best left-handed pitcher, it was a curve ball breaking less sharply, a slider forgetting to slide. Three years ago Roe won 22, lost three. In 1952 he won 11, lost two. Last year he won 11, lost three. In 1954, the scorebook reported impersonally, Preacher Roe won three, lost four.
The scorebook told more subtly of Allie Reynolds, 36-year-old Yankee right-hander. Reynolds' back gave out but the records showed that he still won 11 and lost four for the year. The records showed, too, that Reynolds, once a man annoyed because he could not pitch every day, won only three games after July.
Some of the figures in the scorebook will help when it comes time to pick baseball's Most Valuable Players. They showed that Willie Mays had won the National League batting championship in his first full season with a mark of .345. They showed that Mays was third in runs scored with 119, first in triples with 13, second in total bases with 377 and first in slugging percentage with .667.
They revealed that Kluszewski's 49 home runs made him the first Cincinnati player to lead the majors in home runs since a worthy named Fred Odwell hit nine in 1905. And they showed that Kluszewski's 49 were only three homers less than the entire roster of Baltimore Orioles hit all year.
The Dodgers' Duke Snider fulfilled his long-predicted promise by hitting .341 with 40 home runs. Stan Musial continued to surpass reasonable promise by batting .330, fourth best in the league. In his 12 full seasons, Musial has always been among his league's six top hitters, with six firsts, two seconds, two thirds, a fourth and a sixth in 1947 when he was suffering from chronic appendicitis.
LAST ON MERIT