The Reds, who lack only pitching to look good at every position, will be tough, too, and there are days when the Cardinals and Cubs and Phillies can beat anybody. Last year Philadelphia finished 23 games out of first place, which is the second closest eighth-place finish in the history of baseball.
Both leagues will be fun in 1959 because of the presence of some new faces; not brand-new, exactly, but new enough that they will be watched very closely by everyone for the first time. Excluding those still-young but proven athletes like Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks and Henry Aaron, who are already in the superstar class, the list of outstanding young players is a long one. The American League has only Rocky Colavito, who could be one of the game's great power hitters, and perhaps the new Yankee catcher, Elston Howard. But the National League is loaded with youngsters who have played enough to establish themselves as the big stars of the future. Some of these are Bob Skinner and Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates, Harry Anderson of the Phils, Orlando Cepeda of the Giants, Ken Boyer and Joe Cunningham of the Cardinals and Wes Covington of the Braves.
There are some old faces that are about to disappear, too. Neither Ted Williams nor Stan Musial looks too good this spring and perhaps this is the last we will see of these two great hitters as regulars in the lineup. Sal Maglie is apparently through. Yogi Berra has lost his job and will be a part-time player. Virgil Trucks is unwanted. Larry Doby is a question mark. Vic Wertz has come back before but he is older now and it will be tough. It is always sad to see the truly good ones fade away.
Since spring training began and the ballplayers took some of the type away from the front offices, there has been less talk than before in the councils of the mighty about three leagues or two 10-team leagues. But cities like Minneapolis and Houston and Toronto—and New York—are still talking, incessantly, and the talk will grow louder as the minor leagues lose fans, more and more, to the telecasts of major league games. Expansion is coming and the season of 1959 may show that it should come right now.
It is time for a new season, and 1959 should be a good season. The National League could have a pennant race that baseball fans will talk about for years to come. They will talk about the American League pennant race even longer—if someone can just beat the Yankees. Maybe they will. It's a funny game—and a good one. They call it baseball.