MARIS GRAND SLAM—FIRST OF '57—BEATS TIGERS IN 11 INNINGS
CIMOLI, FLOP OF '56, SMASH HIT AS DODGERS WIN OPENER
ROOKIE SMITH SLUGS CARDS TO RUNAWAY VICTORY OVER REDLEGS
It is one of the sad truths of baseball that the youngster who buds in the spring frequently never blossoms at all. Sometimes he just wilts. But this year's crop began to break out all over once the major league season got under way. It is still far too early for complete returns, of course, but first results would indicate that the 1957 harvest of young ballplayers could be the best in years.
The Cleveland Indians, for example, can't help but be pleased over the major league debut of Roger Maris. A crew-cut blond with the build and movements of an All-America halfback, Maris came up from Indianapolis, was handed a glove and told to go to work in left field. Batting against Chicago's Billy Pierce—one of the best left-handed pitchers in a league replete with good left-handed pitchers—the left-hand hitting Maris singled three times in the opening game and scored a run. In the 11th inning of the next game, against Detroit, Maris delivered the first bases-loaded home run of the 1957 major league season, and the Indians won 8-3.
For years Brooklyn has been known as the only city of 3 million people in the world without a mayor, a daily newspaper or a left fielder. Now Brooklyn has a left fielder, and after the opening victory over Philadelphia he might have won a few votes for mayor, too. His name is Gino Cimoli. Last year, up with the Dodgers for the first time, he stayed around all season in a rather inactive capacity, playing an occasional late inning on defense because of his fielding ability and great arm but seldom getting a chance to hit. In fact all season Gino had only four hits. In his first two 1957 games he equaled that milestone. After first hitting two singles, Cimoli beat the Phils in the 12th inning with a home run; two days later he singled his first time up and scored as the Dodgers went on to beat the Pirates 6-1.
St. Louis hoped it might patch up a glaring deficiency in center field with 22-year-old Bobby Gene Smith. In the opener against Cincinnati, Smith hit a two-run homer and a single as the Cards won 13-4. On Thursday they lost to the Cubs (10-2 on a four-hitter by Chicago's 21-year-old sophomore, Moe Drabowsky) but Smith got the only extra-base hit, a double, and scored one of the runs.
The Phillies lost their first two but it wasn't the fault of Bob Bowman; a rookie right fielder, he had five hits. It was the fault of Rookie First Baseman Ed Bouchee, however, that the Phillies finally won their third. The husky young slugger, after warming up with a double and a triple in the two opening losses, sparked a 6-5 victory over the Giants with two singles, a double and a home run in four at bats. What beat the Phils in the second game was a three-run homer by Gail Harris, a springtime wonder for three years whom the Giants finally decided to give a real chance at first base.
There were others. Jim Landis, for example, has taken over an outfield spot for the White Sox with authority; he batted .400 as the Sox swept their first three games. Carl Powis, a rookie right fielder for the Orioles, drove in the winning run to beat Washington 7-6 in 11 innings on opening day. And all around the league the youngsters were playing good baseball—all of them, that is, except the young man who may be the best of the lot. His name was Tony Kubek and he wasn't playing for anybody. He was sitting on the Yankee bench.
There is little doubt in anyone's mind, however, that Anthony Christopher Kubek Jr. of the Milwaukee Kubeks will play a lot of baseball before the 1957 season is over. He will play for the simple reason that he is too good to ride anyone's bench, even the Yankees'. Where the others have won jobs because their ball clubs needed someone to fill those jobs, Tony Kubek has won a job where there was really none to start with.