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After a moment of silence, Frank Lane turned to the Cardinal owner. "Mr. Busch," he said, "that man is worth a million dollars to you, because he always tells you the truth."
Such nicknames as "Sphinx-Face," "The Moose" and "The Bear" have been applied to Hutchinson, but none have quite stuck. "The Bear" is currently popular in St. Louis, and curiously fitting. During games, Hutchinson, a square-set man of 6 feet 2, weighing 200 pounds, paces restlessly in the pine-green dugout of Busch Stadium, hunched slightly forward, his huge hands nervously rattling a few white pebbles that line the outer rim of the field.
Frequently, the frustration of losing a close game touches off wild, demonstrative rages. He has broken water coolers, stools, light bulbs, and once-last year in Cincinnati—he hammered his own fists against a board-covered concrete wall until his knuckles were bloody and swollen. But his rages are rarely directed at an individual player; knowing his own temper, Hutchinson makes it a private rule to wait until the next day to chew out a player for his mistake. Sarcasm, the goading tool of many baseball managers, is no part of Hutchinson's nature. His bluntness is deceptively simple.
"When I first came here," he once said, "I kept hearing about how this pitcher couldn't pitch in Brooklyn, that pitcher couldn't pitch in Philadelphia and how somebody else was effective at home. One guy couldn't hit against a certain background and somebody else got a bellyache in Chicago. The hell with that. I want men. I want big leaguers, guys who grind and fight until somebody gives in, guys who can play every day under all kinds of conditions."
One of the arts in managing a modern major league baseball team over a long, crisis-ridden season is the art of patience—and patience is Hutchinson's paradox. The man of a short-fused temper has an amazing reservoir of restraint with young players and a deep compassion for ballplayers as a group. The answer may be that Hutchinson, who brought to baseball pitching no blazing natural equipment, understands the degree of difficulty baseball presents. Of the loud-talking grandstand critics, he has only contempt. "They've never been there," he says. "Never crossed those white lines. What do they know? Do they know what it's like to hit against Newcombe, or bunt against him with Hodges coming down your throat? Hell, anybody can play ball in a saloon!"
If you will examine the esprit de corps of the Cardinals, it must be done among the men who play for Hutchinson. They dress a few yards away from the Busch Stadium executive offices, in a long, immaculate, blue-tiled dressing room, complete with a hi-fi record player. Musial sits in front of locker No. 6, sorting his usually large stack of mail. Dressing next to Musial is Del Ennis, a broad, heavy man who is built for all the world like one of Anheuser-Busch's famed Clydesdales. At one end of the narrow room a group of the younger players listen to some hillbilly songs (the words composed by Catcher Hal Smith). At the other end is Doc Bauman's glistening white training room, where Sam Jones, the resurrected curve-ball artist, is getting a shoulder rub.
Musial, holding his box of mail across his bare legs, talks slowly, choosing his words carefully. "Essentially," he says, "this team will stand or fall on its young players. Hutchinson is patient with them, knows how to use them. You'll never hear him taking credit. He never does that. But he brings out the best in us, because everything's out on the table with him."
Musial paused, shuffled through his stack of mail for perhaps 30 seconds, then added: "Let's put it this way: If I ever hear a player say he can't play for Hutch, then I'll know he can't play for anybody."
Doc Bauman, who has trained both the Browns and the Cardinals, working under all types of managers, sat on the black-surfaced rubbing table. A sensitive, intelligent man, Bauman spoke with emotion.