Waiting for Lefty?
One of the most enthusiastic voices to cry "Wagons Ho!" in the recent westward march of big league baseball was that of San Francisco's ebullient Mayor George Christopher. Last week, on a visit to Moscow, the mayor was suggesting an even longer trek for the national game.
Basking in the assurance from Nikita Khrushchev, his guest of last year, that San Francisco was "the best city in the whole United States," Christopher suggested to his Russian hosts that he and they get together more often and in various ways. Exchanges of rare animals between their respective zoos, a transpolar airline route directly between Moscow and San Francisco, a greater Russian consumption of California's wines were all part of the mayor's long-term plan of betrothal. But the idea that raised the most overarching vistas was certainly Christopher's suggestion that Premier Khrushchev agree to let Lefty O'Doul, a great slugger for the Giants in the days before they went west and a onetime manager of the old San Francisco Seals, come to Moscow with a trunk full of equipment and teach the Russians how to play ball.
"Who is this Leftist O'Doul?" we can imagine Khrushchev asking with kindling eye. Mayor Christopher is for a home-and-home series between Moscow and San Francisco. Well, they laughed at first at the idea of big league ball on the Coast, too.
Men and Machines
From the South came word of the fresh advance of automation. At Miami Stadium a mechanical throwing machine named Eddie Everready pitched both ends of an intrasquad double-header for the Baltimore Orioles, performing impartially for both sides. The first game was a 3-3 tie in nine innings, the second a tight little 2-1 affair. Two days later, his pitching rack fresh as ever, Eddie didn't allow a hit for six innings, but he finally outpitched himself 2-0. Over 54 half innings he had walked only one batter and got himself a 1.67 earned run average (compared to the league leader, Baltimore's own Hoyt Wilhelm, 2.19 last season).
Oriole Manager Paul Richards, recognized in diamond circles as a wizard with pitchers, picked up his new rookie for the catalogue price of only $360, f.o.b. Kansas City.
"People have used these things for a long time," said Richards, "but as far as I know nobody ever tried one in a regular game before. The last one we had shot the ball at you like a cannon. And when it threw spitballs it leaked oil. But Eddie's fine. He has a good fast ball, a little dipsy-doodle of a curve and great control."
If Richards was fascinated, his batters weren't. Veteran Jim Finigan paid the machine the compliment all batters use when they can't hit a pitcher they think they should. "The louse is sneaky fast," he said.
Eddie had one attribute, though, which might earn him much favor with baseball fans. Unlike his flesh-and-blood counterparts, he doesn't rub up the ball, warm up, tug at his hat, upbraid the umpire, paw at the ground, sulk, pout, shout or shake off the catcher's signal. (Indeed there was no catcher, and bunting and base stealing were out.) He just pitches. Under these circumstances, the Orioles played their full double-header in two hours and 25 minutes.