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Robert Creamer
March 11, 1957
From Florida to Arizona the rookies sweat while veterans enjoy some preseason fun
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March 11, 1957

Nor Heat Nor Rain Stays Spring Practice

From Florida to Arizona the rookies sweat while veterans enjoy some preseason fun

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At a little after 11 it began to rain. The writers on the bench just looked at each other and shrugged. "What can you do?" one said and got up to follow Casey's No. 37 into the clubhouse. The rest sat there for a minute and then they went along, too. What could you do?

Arizona sun

The P.A. announcer of an intrasquad game at the Indians' spring training camp in Tucson departed suddenly from his lineup announcements. "The Tigers' training camp in Florida has been beset by rain. The Dodgers' workouts have been cut short by rain in Florida." He paused and went on. "There are absolutely no prospects of rain in Tucson."

It was the same at the other three spring training camps in Arizona. The mid-winter temperature was always in the 70s, and the clear, sun-filled sky had a bearing on everything that was done.

After three or four hours under the sun during their workouts, nearly all of the ballplayers spent their afternoons back outside again. Some went swimming or horseback riding or headed for the race track, but most of them played golf. Oriole Manager Paul Richards, the best golfer among the managers in Arizona, unwound enough from his baseball worries one afternoon to beat Giant Manager Bill Rigney by six strokes, 76 to 82.

Besides warming winter bones, the sun played strange tricks during games at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. Because the park was built so that the sun comes into home plate from center field in the afternoon, the catcher's shadow is cast behind him. Whenever he squatted to give a sign to the pitcher, the shadow of his fingers signaling the pitch was visible to everyone in the stands.

If the afternoons during the first few weeks of spring training were like an idyllic vacation in the sun for the ballplayers, the mornings were far from it. Then the players worked hard at what really brought them to Arizona in the first place—getting into condition to play a grueling season of major league baseball.

Spring training warmup varied little from camp to camp as everyone went through a mild bout of calisthenics, plenty of pepper games, some running and throwing, a lot of bunting and batting practice and, finally, intrasquad games. All camps worked the pitchers hardest of all. They had to do an endless drill in which each pitcher broke fast from the mound and either fielded a ball and threw quickly to third or ran to first for a lob from the first baseman. "You have to give the pitchers plenty to do before the exhibition games start," Chicago Manager Bob Scheffing summed up. "The other players can play themselves into shape, but the pitchers don't get that much work during games."

In Phoenix, Willie Mays, among other things the most exciting pepper-game player in baseball, added a colorful spark to a not-too-cheerful Giant camp as he worked hard with a joy for playing ball that highlighted everything he did.

The booming voices of Cub Manager Bob Scheffing and Coach George Myatt resounded over Rendezvous Park in Mesa, as Scheffing, the most relaxed manager in Arizona, and his aide gave advice to the younger players or kidded with the veterans. Kerby Farrell, the new Indian manager, fidgeted from one end of the field in Tucson to the other, while in the locker room before practice, bald-headed Vic Wertz got all the laughs he could from a comic fur toupee stuck jauntily on his head.

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