SI Vault
September 01, 1958
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September 01, 1958

Events & Discoveries

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Outlook none too good anywhere. Evidence of tick disease at Altyre and Dallas, and on Deeside, birds are very small.

The news not completely bad, of course. In East Lothian, Lord Whitburgh, with six guns, shot at Mayshiels and took 52½ brace.

A chap was saying he had never seen the weather quite so bad. He blamed submarines churning up waters under the North Pole. Another chap took the view that the subseas craft had nothing to do with it. "In any case," he added, "mustn't grouse, you know."

Homers in the Heat

This has been one of the hottest summers in history in Phoenix, Ariz. and, through some mysterious interaction of heat and baseball, the league-leading Phoenix Giants are breaking the Pacific Coast League record in hitting home runs. One theory is that the heat makes the ball livelier. The veteran Dusty Rhodes, who has hit 23 homers so far, thinks the dry air handicaps pitchers. "They try to get their curves low," Rhodes says, "but they don't break so well here. They stay a little higher, and we hit the hell out of them." Hollis Thurston, the Chicago White Sox scout, while timing runners to first, made the astonishing discovery that fly balls stay aloft longer in Arizona. They seem to hover in the dry, windless air, in the hot nights of a region that has cloudy skies only 30 times a year.

Whatever the meteorological explanation, the Phoenix batters have been lofting them toward the desert stars. The Municipal Stadium out beyond the high school is big, the center field fence 430 feet from home, and the lights, moved from the Polo Grounds in New York, are the best in the minors, but the fences do not belly out between the foul lines and center, so that left and right field fences are only about 340 feet. Phoenix homers soar over everything, often heading for spaces over the fence on a line and then beginning a gradual rise just past the fence. It has been that way ever since the hot weather began last May. Except for three days when it dropped to 99°, 97° and 90°, the temperature has gone over 100° every day since June 14. In Phoenix, visiting teams and the Giants have hit more than 200 homers, less than half that many in the home parks of the visitors. On August 6, 7 and 8, when the temperature ranged from 102° to 104°, there were 10 homers in three games at Phoenix, and, in addition, a bat slipped from Relief Pitcher Joe Shipley as he was batting and sailed 125 feet, slightly injuring a spectator.

Back in 1923 Salt Lake set the record with 204 homers for a 199-game season; at the present rate the Phoenix team should wind up with about 216 for a 154-game season. The Phoenix record would be higher, except that Leon Wagner, Felipe Alou and Willie Kirkland, who put in hitches this year with Phoenix, were called up to the parent San Francisco Giants just as they were going strong, Wagner and Alou having 30 homers between them at the time.


He crawled into his sleeping bag
And dreamed the beasts were tame;
Before the morning sun was up
The bag was in the game.
— Robert Fitch

Fish 'n' Ships

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