Jim Brosnan's debut as a pro ballplayer came in 1947 with the Class D Elizabethton ( Tenn.) team; his debut as a writer came in 1958 with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (Rookie Psychiatrist, July 21). Since then the Cincinnati pitcher has moved ahead on both fronts. After a successful book, The Long Season, he checked in last year with 10 wins, four defeats and a 3.04 ERA. The following is taken from his new book, a collection of observations of the 1961 season, to be published in May by Harper & Brothers ($3.95)
As we rode the bus to Busch Stadium for our first road game of the season, Jay Hook, his attitude anxiously sincere, asked me, "What do you think of the academic quality of the engineering school at the University of Cincinnati?" I no more knew the answer to that question than a girl hopscotch player would know how to handle Warren Spahn's curve, so I paused, pseudosagely, and said, "One of the best in the country."
Hook nodded, saying, "I've got to start a lab project somewhere. My whole summer is just about wasted, don't you see. Researchwise, that is."
"Sorry baseball's interfering with your career," I mumbled.
Hook, who has earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering and intends to pitch in the major leagues each summer while studying winters for his master's and his doctorate, was scheduled to start against the St. Louis Cardinals in their home opener. In four years as a professional, Hook had shown the kind of ability that brands young pitchers as "potentially great."
"How about researching 27 hitters for tonight's game?" I thought to ask, but held my tongue, forgoing such mundane matters. Maybe Hook relaxes before a game by planning his future.
Nearly 10,000 fans decided to miss the game and its festivities, which included five pretty girls smiling in convertibles as they rode around the park. Not a princess in the bunch.
Hook ignored the parade. As it passed by, he tightened his belt, fingered the ball and walked out to warm up. His first 50 pitches were thrown sidearm instead of overhand. "Somebody better tell him to get on top of the ball," I said to The Fox [Relief Pitcher Marshall Bridges, now with the Yankees] as we sat down in the bullpen.
No one told him.
"He'll walk five men in the first three innings," I predicted. "He's got to get on top of his pitches to have good stuff."