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Of course, good as Roth and Griffin are, the players help, too. So far this season several men who had comparatively little to do with last year's pennant glory have been the big heroes.
Foremost is Pitcher Stan Williams, who has won 11 and lost only four (and those by scores of 2-0, 2-1, 3-0 and 3-1). Williams is 23 and huge. (Dodger pitchers, walking through a hotel lobby, look like a visiting basketball team. Both Williams and Don Drysdale are 6 feet 5 inches, Roger Craig is 6 feet 4 inches and Larry Sherry and Ed Roebuck are 6 feet 2 inches.) Last year Williams was undistinguished until he pitched the final three innings of the last playoff game against Milwaukee, blanking the Braves and getting credit for the win.
"We threw nothing but fast balls that day," recalls Joe Pignatano, his catcher.
This year Williams has added a respectable curve to what Pignatano calls the best fast ball in the league, and he is now the most effective starter on the staff.
The most effective relief pitcher—on the staff and in the league—is 29-year-old Ed Roebuck, who wasn't even with the club last year. When the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, Roebuck put in several seasons as a good relief man, although he was overshadowed by Clem Labine. Then Roebuck developed arm trouble, which is par for relief pitchers, and he drifted off to the minors. Now his arm feels fine again and his money pitch, the sinker, is working. Roebuck has won eight games and his earned run average is the best in the league.
A major share of the Dodgers' hitting support has come from 24-year-old Frank Howard, the 6-foot-6-inch, 240-pound giant from Ohio State. Few young players have received the fanfare Howard did when he turned professional. His tape-measure home runs in the minors and in spring training made good copy, and he was soon labeled as the man who would someday break Babe Ruth's home run record. After false starts in the majors in both 1958 and 1959, Howard was brought up quietly this May, after the season began. Despite this late start, he leads the team in home runs and runs batted in. Howard is still an unfinished product and often strikes out on terrible pitches, but no one doubts that experience will cure the habit. In right field he is ungainly but competent and his arm is strong enough to keep runners alert.
"Seen Essegian?" Howard asked.
The reporters replied that they had not and as they walked away one said to the other, "You have just had an interview with Frank Howard."
The two other Dodgers who have helped the team most this year are Norm Larker and Maury Wills. Larker, filling in at first base for the slumping Gil Hodges, has been among the league's leading hitters all season. "We would not be in contention without him," Walter Alston has said.