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Jim Brosnan
March 07, 1960
That's what St. Louis Manager Solly Hemus said (often) at the 1959 training camp. In a rare insider's diary of camp life, Pitcher Jim Brosnan (now with the Redlegs) tells what Solly meant
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March 07, 1960

You Can Consider It Came From Me

That's what St. Louis Manager Solly Hemus said (often) at the 1959 training camp. In a rare insider's diary of camp life, Pitcher Jim Brosnan (now with the Redlegs) tells what Solly meant

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Augie Busch cheered this loyal devotion to the Cardinal cause. He praised the speechmaking of Hemus, Devine and Bauman. " Anheuser-Busch must get back up on top again!" he cried. "The Cardinals give us a great deal of pleasure when we win, and they cause plenty of cussing and crying when you lose."

Verbal Instruction was the first order of the day. Johnny Keane and Hemus ("What I say you can consider as coming from him," said Solly) and fifty players gathered at the mound. Keane raised his fungo bat (all coaches religiously carry fungo bats in the spring to ward off suggestions that they aren't working), cleared his throat and said, "Today we are going to teach you how to run bases."

Since we presumably knew how to get on base, How to Run Bases was the logical sequel.

"Fundamentals are important," said Keane. "Without fundamentals you can't get to first base in this game. We're going to go over things that you should know, because I...and Solly would have, too...learned more coaching runners than we—or rather I—ever learned running...."

Hemus interrupted to say that he had never been a coach, but that whatever Keane said you could consider came from him—Solly. "And be aggressive on those bases, whatever John has to say," he added. "Go ahead, John."

Keane pounded a point into the dirt in front of the mound with his fungo bat. "Don't keep your eyes on the ball, boys."

My ears pointed, twanged and came to attention. Don't keep your eyes on the ball! Why, for 12 years I'd been warned that bodily harm was imminent for the ballplayer who didn't keep his eye glued to the ball, be it thrown, batted or lying in the outfield grass.

The suddenly awakened players gathered more closely around the heretical coach. "What I mean is," said Keane, pleased with the attention he was finally receiving, "don't watch the ball after you hit. Just watch it till it hits the bat, then forget it. The bat will do the rest. Your job is to get out of the batter's box and down to first base as fast as you can. You might even get to second base if the ball actually is a base hit. And let me point out something right now, that it isn't the beautiful slide into second or your blazing speed going from first to second that turns a single into a double and gives you that extra base any time. No, sir! Believe me, I've seen it a thousand times. If you can just concentrate on running as soon as you hit the ball you can get all the extra jump you need in the first four steps you take away from the plate. By the time you get 12 feet up the line to first you should be going as fast as you can go, and don't stop till you have to. Round that bag.

"Now, we got you on first base and we tell you, 'One man out.' Please nod your head or something. We know that you know there is only one out, but we want to be sure. We want you to be friendly with us, and talk to us down at first. So when we say, 'One man out' it is our little way of getting to know you better.

"You're on first base now, and the next hitter hits a ball in the air between the outfielders. We don't want you to stand halfway down to second, admiring the scenery and waiting until the outfielder catches the ball. We want you down at second ready to tag that bag when he drops the ball or can't get to it. It would be smart, boys, to know what the outfielder's name is, and how well he throws the ball from the outfield, and even what he eats for breakfast, and how much he had to drink the night before, because if he can't get the good jump on the ball the next day you can take that extra base on him every time and that is what wins ball games, boys. This is your business, boys, and instead of studying the stock market you ought to be studying the fielding statistics of the outfielder who might not be able to throw you out if only you knew he had a bad arm."

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