: I know the St. Louis fans. I see them at least four or five times a week at luncheons, speaking engagements and in the stands. Why, I'm out in the bleachers every Sunday, and there'll be a group of 20 or so fans around me asking all sorts of questions. We have regular debates going on. There'll be some on the perimeter of the crowd who can't hear what I'm saying, and they'll shout to me, "Hey Frank, what are you doing to the Cards?" I yell right back at them, "I'll be up to see you in a minute," and then I move on and talk to them.
The fans are tolerant of teams that might not be too artistic on the field if they feel you're trying to improve. But they're not damn fools. Don't try to cram a humpty dumpty down their throats. The fans around St. Louis tell me they were ready to draw and quarter me when I got rid of Schoendienst, but they've seen Dark play now and know we got a real pro. But those synthetic fans...
Why, I remember last week there was a desolate-looking gal in the stands a couple of rows behind me. She was saying things about me all through the first few innings. Then I heard her husband caution her, "Better be careful, he'll hear you." She snapped back, "But I want him to hear me." So I turned around and shouted to her, "You're coming through fine." Then I went up and talked to her. Oh, she was mad at me. She was from out of town and claimed to be a Cardinal rooter all her life. Another synthetic rooter. She kept saying, "But how could you trade Red away for Dark?" It's funny—in New York they couldn't understand how the Giants could trade Dark for Red.
LW: Well, what about that Dark-Schoendienst trade?
: If we didn't make the Dark deal, we're a last-place ball club. We knew Blasingame was Schoendienst's eventual successor at second base and the sooner we could get him there the better. If young Blasingame had been a shortstop, we would never have traded Schoendienst in a million years. But the kid couldn't play short.
Sure, the phones were loaded with outraged protest, but the fans saw Dark play at short and Blasingame look great at second. The thing that turns the tide is winning. In addition to his abilities, Dark gives you great intangibles. We have been playing two second basemen, but now we have a proved shortstop. Red is a helluva ballplayer and a wonderful kid, but he wasn't the take-charge guy Dark is.
LW: But what about the rest of the players in the deal? Here you had a great young prospect in Jackie Brandt and traded him off
: We didn't want to get rid of Brandt. But the Giants needed him in the deal. They were looking for a good hitting outfielder to bat behind Mays. They took Brandt in the hope of trading him to the Phils for Del Ennis. Brandt wasn't a necessity for the Cards. Sure, he might have helped eventually, and he might come back to haunt us. But we have awfully good-looking youngsters playing the outfield in the minors, and they'll be up.
LW: And Virdon?
: I would say that that could be the one deal that might make us look bad at the end of the year. There's going to be a comparison of Del Greco and Virdon. It's not the old ballplayers that can make you look bad but the young ones who will be around for years to haunt you. The old ones may go away and have a big year but you know it won't last.