Welcome, fans, to "the year of the scorecard vendor." They used to shout that you couldn't tell the players without a scorecard, and they used to be wrong. Baseball had a constancy. Then the great chestnut blight of expansion, dilution, flux and change hit the game. This year the scorecard vendor will be the most important man in the ball park. There are new teams, new managers and new stadiums, not to mention a harvest of bushy-tailed rookies and a whole old folks' home of elderly retreads. The new teams are the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45s, created from culls and discards and sealing wax, and destined for the dark half of the National League standings. There are four new managers—Billy Hitchcock at Baltimore, Harry Craft at Houston, Mel McGaha at Cleveland and, newer than springtime, Casey Stengel at New York. The Mets, that is.
There are new stadiums in Los Angeles, Washington and Houston. The Dodgers and Angels will share the Los Angeles stadium, but they will call it by different names. The Dodgers: Dodger Stadium. The Angels: Chavez Ravine. The Senators' new park—District of Columbia Stadium—has a capacity of 43,500, which means there will be about 35,000 empty seats per game. Houston will play in Colt Stadium for one season, then—just to keep things interesting—will jump into a magnificent new domed arena a few hundred yards away. Along with the new stadiums there is an old one reopening—the Polo Grounds. It has fresh paint, fresh grass and remembrances of things past.
Some constancies remain. Like the Yankees. They are strong again, and they should win with only token resistance from the rest of the American League. The National League race will be refreshingly tight, as usual. The Reds and Cards have pitching, the Giants and Braves power, the Pirates balance. But the Dodgers have everything; the bookies think they will win, and so do we.
The game, of course, is not confined to managers, architects and owners. Some people think it could hardly go on without the players you can see in these pages.