They fill their cheeks with chewing gum to simulate tobacco, spit on hands, hitch trousers, tug at caps and dig in at the plate like the real item. Studying his hero, Duke Snider, on a TV screen in Portland, made 14-year-old Outfielder Merton White a regular on his regional championship team. "The best thing I learned from watching him," says Merton, "was to keep my back elbow up high [a Snider trademark]. It lets me level into the pitch better." Last week, as baseball's junior leagues ended their seasons with world-title playoffs, other youngsters had the same explanation as Merton for their remarkable skills (see below).
In Williamsport, Pa. the team representing Roswell, N. Mex. defeated Delaware Township, N.J. to win the championship of the Little League (boys 12 and under), with Tom Jordan Jr., son of a former major league catcher, pitching a two-hitter and hitting a homer to clinch the victory 3-1. In the Pony League (boys 13 and 14) playoff at Washington, Pa., Joliet of Illinois beat Hamtramck, Mich. 9-1 for the title after Hamtramck's Jim Bradley had pitched a no-hitter to put his team in the finals. Gloucester City, N.J. became the new champion of the V.F.W. Teener League at Hershey, Pa., while Evanston, Ill. took the Colt League title at Comiskey Park, Chicago. In the Babe Ruth League (boys 13 to 15), Trenton, N.J. beat Huntington Park, Calif. (in dugout, left) 1-0 for the championship. All in all, more than a half million boys in the U.S. and Canada participated in the tournaments. For a Hall of Fame member's views on baseball's future stars, turn the page.
Al Rosen is hero, model of Trenton's 15-year-old Jerry Krecicki. "I watched Rosen on television and then went out and practiced just the same way. It worked."
Stan Musial's coiled stance inspired fine batting style of Tulsa's first baseman, Charley Apperson. Charley's comment is: "Yeah, I notice he bats just like I do."
Robin Roberts' two specialties, superb control and a sharp curve, are duplicated by Pensacola's Dennis Aust, whose delivery is a dead ringer for Philly pitcher's.
Bench-Jockeying big-league style comes from the Huntington bench in game with Chicago. Sample: "Hear you've got a stockyard in Chicago—sure can smell it!"
Bob Feller's style is copied by Huntington Park's Jim Wolfsberger. "I studied slow-motion pictures of Feller," he says, "to pick up his kick and follow-through."
Marty Marion was seldom still, constantly shifted position and pawed at the dirt. Pensacola's Donald Gates plays infield the same way, resembles Marion physically.
Del Ennis' batting style is model for Pensacola's Charles Williams. At first, he resembles Gil Hodges, not purposely. "We're both right-handed—maybe that's why."