Picking up a second towel, he stepped away from the locker. "Excuse me," he said, "back in a minute." He came back carrying a bottle of orange soda, which he finished in three hard swallows. The visitor asked about Red Sox prospects.
"Oh, we're much better this year," Williams replied with an air of simple truth. " Jensen's back and we have two good kids stepping in." Was one of the kids, Carl Yastrzemski, ready to play left field? "Oh, he's ready, all right," said the man who had played left field for 19 seasons. "No doubt about it." Yastrzemski, he explained, was adequate as a fielder, thrower and runner, and he could hit that ball. The other kid. Schilling, looked fine around second. "He can punch out the hits too," Williams said, wristing an outside pitch to the opposite field.
What do young players most often do wrong? "Two things," said Williams without hesitation. "They swing too hard and try to pull the ball. Maybe they're all taught to pull from the start, but they shouldn't be. Damn few of the great high-average hitters have been pull hitters. Cobb, Speaker, Hornsby—they all knew how to hit to the opposite field." It seemed indiscreet to mention a big left fielder who had always pulled the ball and had hit for an average of .344.
"Ted, what do you have in mind for the long run?" Williams showed the annoyance of a man who has just started one job and finds his friends anxious to talk about a better one. "I mean, do you plan on staying in baseball indefinitely?" Williams stretched over to tie a shoe and said, almost solemnly, "I'd like to stay in baseball all my life."
He pulled on a white polo shirt, straightened a pair of fawn-colored boots in the bottom of his locker and combed his shower-rumpled hair. "Say," he said, suddenly looking past the visitor, "I got to go."
With a parting slap on the shoulder he hurried out the locker room door.
Coach Rudy York paused beside Jackie Jensen. "Who's that warming up? Sherman Jones? Man, he's got lots of junk."
"Junk?" said Jensen. "No, sir. I've been watching him throw—fast balls, curves, maybe even some sliders. You're thinking of Stu Miller."
"Miller," York said. "That's the guy. He changes up on his changeups."
THE FRONT OFFICE
Millionaire Tom Yawkey, whose foster father once owned Detroit Tigers, bought Red Sox in 1933, immediately spent $1 million modernizing ball park. Fire then ruined part of new bleachers. This was typical Yawkey luck. He spent much money buying established stars ( Jimmy Foxx, Lefty Grove, Joe Cronin, etc.), much more on bonus players, so far has had only a pauper's return (one pennant, in 1946). Yawkey this winter finally shook up front office. Vice-Presidents Bucky Harris and John Murphy were dismissed, Business Manager Dick O'Connell moved up to executive vice-president. O'Connell will handle most of the general manager's chores, aided to considerable extent by Field Manager Mike Higgins. Ex-players Ted Williams and Milt Boiling are listed as "executive assistants."