Two daring managerial gambles on the same night, both involving the dilemma: "to walk, or not to walk..." had totally different endings last week.
The intentional base on balls is used to bypass dangerous hitters or to set up possible force or double plays. Today with runners on second and third, and a Mantle, Williams, Kluszewski or Snider at the plate, an intentional walk is almost Holy Writ.
Last week at Ebbets Field, Manager Mayo Smith of Philadelphia gave the maneuver a reverse twist. With the Phils leading 3-2 in the last of the ninth, the Dodgers, with two out, pushed runners to second and third against Harvey Haddix. As Dodger Captain Pee Wee Reese made his way to the plate, Manager Smith made a risky but well-calculated decision. He ordered Reese, a .260 hitter, walked so that left-hander Haddix could pitch to left-handed batter Duke Snider, the National League's home run leader.
With two stikes on the Duke, the three runners leading away from their bases like hound dogs straining at the leash, and 16,000 fans pleading for a game-winning hit, Snider thrashed at a Haddix curve ball and missed, ending the game and making Mayo Smith a very clever manager. Explained Smith calmly: "Just a percentage play. A left-handed pitcher against a left-handed batter. Just percentage."
That same night in Yankee Stadium, Baltimore and New York were tied in the ninth, 4-4. With Martin on third, two out, and Mickey Mantle at bat, the Orioles' manager, Paul Richards, surprised many fans by letting his pitcher, Billy Loes, face the league's leading home run hitter. Again, percentages were responsible for the decision. " Loes had struck him out in the seventh," Richards said later, "and Mantle's record against Baltimore pitching was poor."
This time Mantle drove Loes' third pitch into the center-field seats on a hop for the ball game, making Paul Richards look considerably less clever than Mayo Smith.—W.B.