BASEBALL IN THE STRETCH
Redleg fans hanged Manager Birdie Tebbets in effigy from a trestle at Granville Road and Delta Avenue in Cincinnati to celebrate their team's loss of six straight. "If I'd been there," said Birdie glumly, on getting the news, "I'd have helped them." The Chicago White Sox's unsung Bob Keegan startled everyone in Comiskey Park, not excluding himself, by pitching (see below) the season's first no-hit game.
The 1957 baseball races had a rich peppery flavor of their own as August drew to a close and the teams came laboring into the home stretch; but if tempers were rising and nerves frazzling, according to traditional pattern, the teams were not exactly jostling shoulder to shoulder as they left the final turn. The National League contest, which had been so nerve-rackingly close for so long, now seemed reasonably predictable—at least the gamblers thought so, for you could get 7 to 1 last week if you were willing to bet against Milwaukee. A bet against the Yankees, at a time when their lead was approximately the same as Milwaukee's, was priced at 10 to 1. The most exciting competition was going on further down the line: between Boston and Detroit for third in the American League and St. Louis-Brooklyn for second in the National League. And August might yet be remembered best for an individual war—timeless Ted Williams' stirring struggle (.378 and 31 home runs) with Mickey Mantle (.376 and 32 home runs) for supremacy at the plate.
In a larger sense, the most provocative development of the month—perhaps the most provocative development in many years—was major league baseball's invasion of the Far West (see page 54). When the New York Giants definitely decided to go to San Francisco, the shape of baseball changed overnight; the Giants all but scuttled the Pacific Coast League by their decision and left a vacuum which made further extension of big league baseball the speculative talk, not only of Los Angeles, but of such thriving metropolises as Seattle and Portland. Back East, Mayor Phillip I. Bayt of Indianapolis invited the Washington Senators to move to the "boom city of the Midwest," and it was hard not to wonder if there were going to be enough big league teams to go around.
The mood of innovation seeped to the dugout level too: Paul Richards, manager of the Baltimore Orioles, was teaching two of his pitchers, Righthander George Zuverink and Lefty Ken Lehman, to play first base. He had, he believed, an answer to the platoon system, for by alternating them between the mound and first he could keep both in the game for nine innings and juggle them back and forth at will.
August, in fact, was a month in which anything was beginning to seem possible. When an 88-pound Mexican boy named Angel Macias won the Little League World Series for Monterrey by pitching a perfect game at Williamsport, Pa. (thereby prompting the president of Mexico to invite the whole team to the national palace), a wonderful rumor swept Pittsburgh—that the eighth-place Pirates had immediately offered him a $50,000 bonus. Angel is 12 years old.
Robert Charles Keegan is a 36-year-old Chicagoan who is sometimes called upon to work afternoons and other times, on only fairly short notice, nights. In some people this might lead to mild occupational tension, but as a Major league pitcher Bob Keegan has come to take the uncertainty for granted. It was from the Chicago papers, one day last week, that he learned that either he or Jack Harshman would pitch for the White Sox the following night.
"I didn't know whether I was pitching or not," says Keegan. "But I went through my pitching-day routine anyway. To bed early—before midnight—and up late."
He rose about 10:30, ate a good breakfast of ham and eggs, read the morning papers, watched a soap opera on television, dipped into a paperback novel called The Barbarians. After lunch he tried to take an hour's nap, but after 15 minutes his neighbor's bulldog came in and bounced on him, so he didn't get the rest his schedule called for. "But I felt good," Keegan says, "I felt good all day."