It was exactly the situation in which rival managers for half a dozen years have been ordering Brooklyn's Roy Campanella purposely put on base: the winning runs were on second and third, with first base empty. Moreover, after Campanella in the batting order came the pitcher. But at 32, and with an injured left hand, Campanella was hitting only .199, was no longer the Most Valuable Player in the National League. From Leo
, Giants manager, came the signal: don't walk him?pitch to him.
A proud man, Dodger Campanella ground his spikes into the batter's box, sent a private signal of his own and faced the pitcher. Then he hit a rippler into center field, a hit that scored two runs and beat Leo Durocher.
As Roy Campanella crossed first, the Dodger coach heard him finish his private signal. "Thank you, Heavenly Father," said Roy Campanella.
The New York Yankees held another of those "old-timer" affairs at the Yankee Stadium last Saturday, this one a Hall of Fame party and something rather special. The 50,000 spectators included a good many young boys who must have come at the insistence of fathers and uncles who did not want them to miss this chance to see some "real ballplayers."
They saw them. They saw Lefty Grove and Carl Hubbell, two decades past their prime but still poised and graceful on the mound. They saw Charlie Gehringer, 51 and out of baseball for 12 years, slither to his left for a ground ball and field it with an ease and simplicity that was almost unbelievable. They saw dour Bill Terry, now 55 and genial, lift a home run into the right field stands and grin as he ran slowly around the bases. They saw Joe DiMaggio clout one high and far into the crowd for a home run. They saw some "real ballplayers."
But in the Yankee dugout, where the old-time players gathered before the game, there was another star. In the dugout he was the only star. His name was Mack.
Connie Mack is very old now?91?and as fragile and delicate as a cloisonne vase. He sees and he hears, but sometimes not so quickly as he did years ago when the Philadelphia Athletics were a baseball team and he managed them to nine pennants and five world championships.
He came into the dugout long after the rest of the old-timers and sat down alone on the dugout bench, his hard straw hat in his lap. The old-timers were posing for pictures along the front of the dugout, their big meaty backs to the old man. He sat all alone, very old and all alone.