And finally there are teams which need leaders but can't find them. This was Milwaukee until Schoendienst arrived.
It is all a bit intangible, however, and even today the Braves aren't sure they were ever led. "Yeah, Red inspired this ball club," says Haney. "Right out there at second base. He never said a word and he never gave any pep talks around here. All he did was hit .300 and make all the plays in the field and show people how a big league second baseman was supposed to play. You can call it whatever you like."
Anyway, Schoendienst supplied it, and the Braves won two pennants. Now he is gone—but still the Braves win. Apparently something has taken his place.
Something has. Confidence and maturity among the other players. Even those old Dodgers had trouble getting started in the beginning, and now the Braves have passed through that stage. If they lose, it will be because someone outhits and outpitches and outfields them, not because they are unsure of themselves. Now they know how it is done and they can count on each other.
The best example of this on the Braves is not Aaron, who was fated to be a great player no matter what uniform he wore, nor Mathews, who hit 47 home runs his second season in the league. The young old pro who has made himself into an outstanding ballplayer after years of hard work is Del Crandall, the catcher.
Part of the trouble Del had in living up to expectations was his own fault. He should never have looked so good to begin with. On the day he reported to the Braves in June of 1949 he was only 19 years old but stood almost 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighed a tough, rangy 170 pounds, had a bazooka for an arm and could hit the ball a mile. He didn't drink or smoke or cuss or chew and he went to church on Sunday. He had straw-colored hair, light-blue eyes and a friendly, happy smile. And he loved to play ball. Sort of a Jack Armstrong in shin guards.
THE CAN'T-MISS KID
Manager Billy Southworth, who had won a pennant for the Braves in '48 but a year later could only sit back and watch the patchwork champions come apart before his eyes, was overjoyed. He took one look at this kid from the Three-I League, sold aging Phil Masi to Pittsburgh and popped Crandall right into the lineup.
"Greatest catching prospect I've ever seen," said Southworth.
"On the first day," said Joe Taylor, the Braves' equipment manager, "everybody was standing around with their mouths open, wondering how this kid from Class B could do the things he did."