"See that little tiny plate? That's nothing. How you going to get that ball past a big guy like Kluszewski, with those big arms? The game is getting out of balance. Everything is for the batter. The ball's as live as a rabbit. They sneak the fences in on you a few more feet every year. They used to have a bigger strike zone than now and they keep speeding up the pitcher. The hitters got all the time they please.
"And look at the batters. They can put anything they want on the bats. Molasses and soda. And nobody says nothing, but we're supposed to pitch a brand-new ball all the time.
"Conscience? Hell, it never bothered me none throwing a spitter. If nobody is going to help the pitcher in this game, he's got to help himself. With Brooklyn I must of made around $100,000 and you know I couldn't have made all that kind of money not throwing my wet one."
Some time passed. Then The Preach said: "I'm not trying to fool anybody. No matter how good a pitcher is he ain't gonna win as many games as I did without that defense back of him. Say in the piece I want to thank Billy [ Cox] and Pee Wee [Reese] and Jackie Robinson and Hodges for all the help they gave me. And there ain't two better guys than Snider and Furillo to go and get them in the outfield. And Campy [ Roy Campanella]. I couldn't have got far without all those fellows.
"I'll tell you another little secret. I wasn't always the one to load up the spitter. Once in a while, after the ball had been tossed around the infield, Pee Wee or my buddy, Cox, would come up to the mound, drop the ball easy in my glove, and say: 'There it is if you want it.'
"That meant they already had the ball wet for me. If I wanted to throw it, I could. If not, I'd just wipe it off. Sometimes Pee Wee would hand me the ball and say:
" 'Gimme that one good pitch now.' "I knew then what he wanted. He wanted my 'wet curve.'
"I reckon it wasn't the best-kept secret in the world, the fact that I would wet one up occasionally. Some of the players suspicioned it, but they never could catch me at it.
"The first time I knew anybody was on to me was after my first year with the Dodgers. I was pretty crude then and hadn't gotten cute like later. Every time I was going to throw my wetter, I'd rub my glove down on my pants. I did pretty good that year. I went home feeling pretty proud. Then one day I went out hunting birds with Walker Cooper. We were moseying along toward the field when Coop said: 'Hey, Bird Dog, you been throwin' a wet one?'
"That's what he always called me, Bird Dog. I tried not to act surprised.