A Giant Flop
A season that opened with such promise is fast slipping away from the Giants. Manager Leo Durocher's team won 50 of its last 72 games in 1950, making it the favorite to win the National League pennant this year. But the New Yorkers have never fully recovered from losing 11 consecutive games in April (though they did finally get above .500 on May 27). Their title hopes all but died over the Fourth of July when the league-leading Dodgers swept them in a three-game series at Ebbets Field, dropping the Giants 7� games back. "We knocked them out," said Brooklyn manager Chuck Dressen. "They'll never bother us again."
Durocher, who refers to his players as "my boys," says he hasn't given up. But the chances for a comeback don't look good. Outfielder Bobby Thomson is hitting .240 and has lost his centerfield job to 20-year-old rookie Willie Mays, who batted .477 in 35 games in the American Association and then was called up by New York on May 24. On May 21 Durocher moved first baseman Monte Irvin to left-field and leftfielder Whitey Lockman to first. The move hasn't worked. Little has.
Meanwhile the Dodgers show no signs of weakness. Brooklyn has been sparked by catcher Roy Campanella, who is enjoying his best year, with a .326 average at the break. Outfielder Andy Pafko, acquired in a trade with the Cubs in May, has given the Dodgers another hitter for their potent lineup, which includes first baseman Gil Hodges (28 home runs) and centerfielder Duke Snider (18 homers and 59 RBIs). The pitching has been brilliant, led by Preacher Roe, who won his first 10 decisions this year, lost on June 26 and then beat the Braves on July 2 for an 11-1 record. There might be no stopping the Dodgers.
On July 15 the Yankees sent their 19-year-old right-fielder, Mickey Mantle, to the minor leagues (Triple A Kansas City Blues) and added pitcher Art Schallock, 27, to the active roster. Mantle had stirred high hopes in spring training when he batted .387 with eight homers and 28 RBIs, but in the regular season he was hitting .260. It was a difficult decision for manager Casey Stengel, who still considers Mantle a top prospect and hopes he can be the Bombers' centerfielder next year after the great Joe DiMaggio retires.
"The kid just couldn't hit a slider," Stengel said of Mantle. "When he sees enough of those damned sliders down in Kansas City, he'll come back up here and belt a few of them down the pitcher's throat, and they'll have to try something else on him."
Mantle, a shortstop last year at Class C Joplin (Mo.), has also had some trouble adjusting to rightfield. He recently told one New York sportswriter about working last winter in the lead and zinc mines in and around his hometown of Commerce, Okla. "I was down there 400 feet below the ground as an electrical assistant," said Mantle. "Got $1.40 an hour. I liked it lots better in rightfield at the Stadium."
Bill Veeck has pulled some crazy stunts in his colorful career, but his purchase of the floundering St. Louis Browns on July 5 may be the most preposterous thing he has ever done. The 37-year-old Veeck says it cost around $2 million to buy the team from Bill and Charley DeWitt, and he says he now plans to go head-to-head with the mighty Cardinals for the city's baseball interest. Bill, Bill, yon don't have a chance. The Cards have outdrawn the Browns 4 to 1 in St. Louis over the last five seasons. And you have said yourself that the Browns were so bad that they were "unable to beat their way out of a paper bag with a crowbar."