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October 1964

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Published by Ballantine Books on 1995-04-11
Paperback: $17.00
HISTORY, REFERENCE, SPORTS and RECREATION


THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * THE BEST SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR

“October 1964 should be a hit with old-time baseball fans, who’ll relish the opportunity to relive that year’s to-die-for World Series, when the dynastic but aging New York Yankees squared off against the upstart St. Louis Cardinals. It should be a hit with younger students of the game, who’ll eat up the vivid portrayals of legends like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris of the Yankees and Bob Gibson and Lou Brock of the Cardinals. Most of all, however, David Halberstam’s new book should be a hit with anyone interested in understanding the important interplay between sports and society.”
–The Boston Globe

“Compelling…1964 is a chronicle of the end of a great dynasty and of a game, like the country, on the cusp of enormous change.”
–Newsweek

“Halberstam’s latest gives us the feeling of actually being there–in another time, in the locker rooms and in the minds of baseball legends. His time and effort researching the book result in a fluency with his topic and a fluidity of writing that make the reading almost effortless….Absorbing.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

“Wonderful…Memorable…Halberstam describes the final game of the 1964 series accurately and so dramatically, I almost thought I had forgotten the ending.”
–The Washington Post Book World

“Superb reporting…Incisive analysis…You know from the start that Halberstam is going to focus on a large human canvas…One of the many joys of this book is the humanity with which Halberstam explores the characters as well as the talents of the players, coaches and managers. These are not demigods of summer but flawed, believable human beings who on occasion can rise to peaks of heroism.”
–Chicago Sun-Times


(Paperback (Reprint), 1995-04-11)
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More praise for October 1964 Splendid What were they putting in the water in 1964 to pro duce players of this kind Halberstam answers the question with what was in the air questions of race in the wake of civil rights victo ries the anxiety following the death ofJ F K the increased liberal ism of American society the escalating war in Vietnam Halberstam doesn't belabor any of these points but shows how the changes in baseball reflected changes in America —Los Angeles Times Book Review Each chapter examines a player or topic in depth Halberstam then weaves the whole picture together deftly setting it out as it really happened against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and other events of the times —San Francisco Chronicle The riveting story of how two very different baseball teams reflec tive of the times in America got to the 1964 World Series A powerful and entertaining examination of the forces transforming baseball and the country in a pivotal period in the history of Amer ica and its national pastime —Kirkus Reviews starred We are introduced to the great names Yankees Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris two powerful and moody sluggers Cardinals Bob Gibson Bill White and Lou Brock all of them black proud and beyond reproach both professionally and personally two wiley southpaws New York's Whitey Ford and St Louis's Curt Sim mons An exciting baseball read —Publishers Weekly boxed review A snapshot of the country in the tumultuous early 1960s October 1964 concerns the country's coming of age set in the microcosm of the clubhouse in the raising of Tim McCarver's consciousness in the fierceness of Bob Gibson and Bill White's determination —The Riverfront Times A watershed year for baseball October 1964 is a worthy successor to Summer of '49 —Gannett Suburban Newspapers

ALSO BY DAVID HALBERSTAM The Noblest Roman The Making of a Quagmire One Very Hot Day The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy Ho The Best and the Brightest The Powers That Be The Breaks of the Game The Amateurs The Reckoning Summer of '49 The Next Century The Fifties War in a Time of Peace Firehouse

OCTOBER 1964

OCTOBER 1964 David Halberstam FAWCETT BOOKS NEW YORK

Fawcett Book Published by The Random House Publishing Group Copyright © 1994 1995 by The Amateurs Limited All rights reserved Published in the United States by Fawcett Books an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group a division of Random House Inc New York and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited Toronto This edition published by arrangement with Villard Books a division of Random House Inc Villard Books is a registered trademark of Random House Inc Fawcett is a registered trademark and the Fawcett colophon is a trademark of Random House Inc www ballantinebooks com Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 94 90789 ISBN 0 449 98367 6 Cover art by Will Hillenbrand Manufactured in the United States of America First Ballantine Books Edition May 1995 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11

For Bill Euler and Andy Oates

'There is nothing more vulnerable than entrenched success —GEORGE ROMNEY speaking to the author about the fate of General Motors in the 1980s

In the spring of 1964 the young Chicago Cub outfielder rejoining his team in Arizona was determined that this season he would fi nally make his breakthrough It was his third full year in the major leagues and he was approaching a critical point in his career His employers were no longer confident of his abilities—and with good reason for he had played well below his potential so far The men who ran baseball he believed gave you three years to prove your self and in hisfirsttwo years he had ended up right on the margin he hadnotfieldedwell andhadproved to be only a 250 260 singles hitter To their eyes that made him at best a journeyman in an age when baseball teams didnot keep blackjourneymen around on their benches Still Lou Brock child of rural Southern sharecroppers was con fident that he had the talent to play in the big leagues The Cubs intrigued by his promise as a college player and particularly by his great speed had paid a handsome bonus to sign him a great deal more than mostyoung blackplayerswere getting atthe time But so far he had given only the slightest hint of the skills that they and the representatives of competing organizations had seen One Chicago sportswriter Bob Smith of the Daily News had written brutally about his playing—not always unfairly Lou Brock later thought After one playinwhich Brockhadbeen thrown out trying to takean extra base Smith wrote that he had pulled a Rock as in Brock

xu PROLOGUE Then in the 1963 season Smith announced If you have watched all the Cub home games thus faryou probably had come to the con clusion that Lou Brockis the worst outfielder in baseball history He really isn't but he hasn't done much to prove it Brock was about to turn twenty five He was aware that the other young Cub players his own age were just hitting their strides and beginning to move ahead of him his friend Billy Williams a year older than Brock had hit 25 home runs and knocked in 95 runs in the 1963 season Ron Santo a year younger than Brock had hit 25 home runs as well knocking in 99 runs Perhaps Brock thought 1964 would be his turn Some of his teammates thought him with drawn and they found it hard to gauge his emotional state Some in the press and in the stands considered him too casual about his job but thatwas a misperception In fact he was driven not merely bya desire but by a rage to succeed He was determined to show the people who owned the Cubs the sportswriters on the Chicago pa pers and most of all his fellow players in the National League that he would not be merely a good major league player but a great one Those disappointed by his performance during those first two years would have been surprised to learn that in his need to leave behind the memories of a sharecropper's life and seize on this rare chance to be a major league ballplayer he had wound himself so tight that he was unable to utilize his great natural abilities If some people in Chicago thought Brock not motivated enough his Cub roommate Ernie Banks thought him too motivated to the point that he had lost that most critical of athletic abilities to relax andjust play In fact Brockwas so tense thathe had trouble sleeping and eating Banks who recognized Brock's fierce ambition told his friend again and again to relax that he was blocking his baseball abilities Unlike mostyoung ballplayers Brock kept records of every game he played in—which pitchers he had faced what pitches they had thrown him and how well he had done against them Bankshad never seen a player so determined or goal oriented Before a road trip Brock would write down how many hits he should get and how many runs he should drive in He talked all the time about how he had to make it as a major league star about how it would mean a life

PROLOGUE xϋi of success and affluence whereas failing would send him back tothe extreme poverty from which he had come I've got to make it here Brockwould sayagain and again I just can'tgo back toLou isiana and Arkansas I've been there and I know what's there I am here to play baseball Banks would think but Lou is here to fight a war Banks worried that Brock was getting no pleasure from the game he was sure that the more pleasure you got the more natu rally and the better you played Brock faced an additional early handicap The Cubs played him in right field which in Wrigley Field was the sunfield a truly murder ous place for young outfielders Because Brock's minor league ca reer had been sobrief—one season in ClassC ball in Minnesota—he had never learned how to play a sun field He had arrived in major league baseball as a promising rookie and yet no one had ever taught him how to flip down his sunglasses when a ball went into sun As such he not only kept losing balls in the sun but worse even when he did catch one it appeared to be something of a life and death struggle Playing on the road did not bother him nor did playing on cloudy days in Chicago but the mere thought of playing sunny day games at Wrigley would make him break into a sweat If he misplayed a ball the Cubs manager and coaches would have someone hit balls to him early the next morning but somehow no one had yet figured out that the missing piece for him was how to handle the sun Brock had yet another worry as he arrived at spring training that season The coaches saw him as a leadoff hitter but like most hit ters he believed himself a power hitter when he first reached the major leagues—for he had hit in the middle of the order in college and in the minor leagues Suddenly he was supposed to hit atthetop of the order and the whole purpose of each at bat changed he was to get on base rather than fo drive tl£e ball Some of the Cubs coaches were trying to moldjhim into becoming like Richie Ash burn a classic leadoff hitter who knew how to hit to the opposite field and how to take a lot of pitches and drawwalksfrompitchers— on four occasions Ashburn had led the league in walks But thatwas not Brock's style He did things that Ashburn could not do he had

xiv PROLOGUE more power and speed than Ashburn and he did not want to be made into a black Ashburn He hoped the coaches would not try to mess with him anymore that they would just let him hit He feared that the Cub management might send him back to the minor leagues for more seasoning That thought terrified him

OCTOBER 1964

The Yankees arrived at spring training as confident as ever Their marquee names—Maris Mantle Ford—still inspired awe and fear among opponents Most Yankee players as well as their fans re mained confident about the coming season which promised to mark the fifteenth year of a Yankee dynasty that had started with the ar rival of Casey Stengel since 1949 the team had won the pennant thirteen times and the World Series nine times Yankee fans ex pected now that their team would always manage to win the pen nant In those years the Yankees were a spectacular finely honed machine They depended on a deep farm system so skillfully run that when critical parts of the team wore down new and perhaps even better parts were always found If by some chance the farm system failed to deliver it was so rich in other parts that a three for one trade could be worked out with some hapless have not fran chise This was the case with Roger Maris the right fielder who with his short compact swing appeared to have been born to play in Yankee Stadium and who only three years earlier had not only beaten out Mickey Mantle for the annual home run title but also broken Babe Ruth's record for home runs in a single season as well The Yankee players themselves had come to believe in their in vincibility They were not merely the best they were the toughest players as well they almost always won the big games and because they had played in so many big games they were therefore better

David Halberstam prepared for the terrible pressures of a pennant race or a World Se ries It was simply part of being a Yankee All the best young players it was presumed wanted to play for this the most celebrated sports franchise in America not only because of the pride of playing with the best but also because of the lure of so many World Series bonus checks In 1963 after Steve Hamilton joined the Yankees as a relief pitcher Clete Boyer the third baseman showed him his World Se ries ring As Hamilton admired it Boyer said Listen Steve the good thing about the Yankees is that you don't just get a ring for yourself You get yours the first year then you get one the next year for your wife and the year after that for your oldest kid and after that for your other kids Boyer himself already had four World Se ries rings Just as Boyer predicted Steve Hamilton got his first ring that year The rings along with the World Series checks were built into the expectations of being a Yankee in those years It was part of the lore of the team that Charlie Silvera the Yankee backup catcher for much of that period cashed seven World Series checks for some $50 000 the actual total was $46 337 45 —a huge amount of money in that era particularly for someone who had played in only one World Series game Silvera would come to refer to the lovely house he bought in suburban San Francisco as the house that Yogi built after the Yankee catcher whom he had played behind all those years Even in the matter of signing baseballs the Yankees were set apart by their fame and success Players on other teams might sign at best six boxes of a dozen balls a week but the Yankees because of their promotional commitments had to sign ten or twelve boxes ofa dozen balls a day That was a daily chore few players liked and there was a competition among the players to see who could sign the balls in the shortest amount of time Whitey Ford was good at it having shortened his autograph name to Ed Ford in order to expedite the process saving four letters a ball or forty eight letters a box As in all things Tony Kubek was efficient and businesslike at signing helped by the advantage of so short a name Steve Hamilton thought Kubek could do twenty balls in a minute which was something of a Yankee record Hamilton himself was always slower due to his long last name but he could usually do fifteen in a minute The most

OCTOBER 1964 5 conscientious in terms of ball signing appeared to be Mickey Man tle the team's great star Hamilton liked to come to the park early to get such routine chores as baseball signing out of the way But no matter how early he came in Mantle had somehow already signed the requisite number of balls For a long time Hamilton was im pressed by Mantle's diligence and then it struck him that in fact Mantle was never the first to arrive that Hamilton was always there before Mantle Since Mantle most assuredly did not do his signing at night after a long game Hamilton even suspected that Pete Pre vite the clubhouse boy came in every morning and signed Mantle's baseballs for him—although he could find no proof of this Still by this time there was considerable evidence that the team was wearing down physically and that the other American League teams were now being run by richer smarter people who were less willing to have their best players culled by the Yankees At the end of the coming season for the first time major league baseball would move to a draft for new players signing their first contracts a change specifically designed by other owners to limit the huge bonuses being paid to untried green players—but also weakening the power of both the Yankees and the Dodgers In addition by 1964 the Yan kee farm system was not the majestic organization that had existed at the beginning of the dynasty for it had been severely cut back because of economic constraints There was one great new talent pool that of young black players but it was well known that the Yankees had moved slowly in this direction Sure of their success sure of their past and sure of their own racial attitudes they had essentially sat on the sidelines in the fifties as a number of National League teams had signed the best of these young supremely gifted and determined athletes In fact most astute baseball observers be lieved now that the entire American League was inferior to the Na tional League because it had lagged behind in signing black players The owners even began to suspect that this difference in the talent was showing up in the attendance figures and that the American League was in trouble in part because the Yankees had dominated it for a generation and in part because the National League players were far more exciting to watch

David Halberstam There were already tangible signs that the Yankees were in the early stages of their decline They had beaten the Giants by the nar rowest of margins in a great seven game World Series in 1962 a series decided only on the last out Then in 1963 the Los Angeles Dodgers powered primarily by two great pitchers had swept the Yankees in four games Though the Yankees appeared to have a number of talented young pitchers justbeginning to come into their own they had not yet come up with a single sure big game winner to replace Whitey Ford who was by the spring of 1964 already thirty five years old and increasingly dependent upon his shrewd ness and courage In his first thirteen World Series decisions Ford had been 9 4 in his last four he was 1 3 Some of the Yankee players were aware that time was catching up with their once virtually un beatable team The previous October the Yankees had lost theirfirsttwo World Series games to the Dodgers in New York and on the dayoff asthe Series shifted to Los Angeles Ralph Terry one of the best Yankee pitchers had gone to the racetrack with Hal Reniff a Yankee relief pitcher Reniff was a true aficionado of the horse races a man who loved to figure the odds at the track and other sporting events and in honor of his talents his teammates had obligingly nicknamed him Clocker Dan On this day as he was going over the odds with Terry Reniff asked Terry what he thought the odds were that the Dodgers would sweep the Yankees in four games Itwas a long shot answered Terry A sweep of an ordinary team in a World Serieswas one thing but a sweep of the Yankees was another But Reniff con tinued to muse Itwasn't really that long a shot ifyou thought about it Reniff said In fact it was a real possibility Look at the quality of the Dodger pitching with Koufax and Drysdale both set to pitch in LosAngeles Asfor the Yankees themselves theyseemed to be domi nating on paper but a lot of the top Yankee players were either hurt or coming off subpar seasons Mans had been hurt andmissed much of the season he would come up only five times in the Series and Mantle was clearly wearing down—he had come to bat only 172 times in the 1963 season and was not swinging well The Yankees Reniff said with the cool eye of a racetrack tout were not really in

OCTOBER 1964 7 very good shape Teπy listened carefully hearing something he had not yet been willing to admit to himself The odds on a sweep of the mighty Yankees had to be at least 50 1 and maybe 100 1 Reniff said If Terry and Reniff were really smart and unscrupulous they would eachvery quietly put down five hundred dollars on it You know Reniff finally said the Dodgers could really sweep our asses That of course was exactly what happened Drysdale and Koufax who were having astonishingyears with 557strikeoutsbe tween them both won in Los Angeles Still most of the Yankee players went home feeling thattheyhad had the better team but the edge had gone to the Dodgers because of their magnificent pitch ing In the spring of 1964there were other signs that the team was wearing down Jerry Coleman the former Yankee secondbaseman by then a broadcaster was struck ashe watched spring training that this was somehow not as tough and as disciplined a team as he had witnessed in the past It was hard to tell about the talent level be cause some of the players were young but Coleman was suresome thing was missing perhaps some depth Justafter his retirementfive years earlier Coleman had worked in the farm system and as the economics of baseball had changed he had been charged with the melancholy task of getting rid of both a Double A and a Triple A farm team That was a sign that the Yankee high command wascut ting back in a major way and it meant that the Yankees would em ploy half the number of players that they once did in the de facto staging area for the major league club There was a ripple effect in this if there were fewer clubs at the top level in the farm system there would soon be fewer signings as well In the brief time that Coleman was working in the player personnel department he had been sent out to Kearney Nebraska to check out how much talent the Yankees had on their rookie team there Roy Hamey briefly the team's general manager called Coleman in upon his return and asked what he had seen We have one pitcher who might make Triple A Coleman said That irritated Hamey who immediately sent Coleman's superior Bill Skiff out to Kearney Soon Skiff re turned Well Bill how much have we got out there Hamey

David Halberstam asked Jerry's right he answered Almost nothing Now some five years later the Yankees still had young talent but not as much as in the past As Coleman watched spring practice in 1964 he thought a differ ent kind of player was beginning to come up In the past the Yan kees had always signed the toughest kids often for less money than they were offered elsewhere For many of them and Coleman had felt this way himself being a Yankee was almost a religion Now Coleman thought the younger players were not so singularly focused on baseball as those of his generation had been Going out for dinner with his broadcasting partner Red Barber Coleman said You know Red I don't think the Yankees are going to win it this year And Barber answered I think you're right The center of attention at the Yankee camp was the new manager who was in fact the old catcher Yogi Berra The Yankee front office was in a state of flux In 1960 general manager George Weiss the efficient if not entirely lovable architect of much of the previous decade's Yankee success had been told by his employers that his services were no longer needed Roy Hamey had come over from Milwaukee and briefly replaced Weiss a fleeting moment when there was a good deal more interest in signing black players but Hamey soon wanted out and Ralph Houk was promoted to general manager after the 1963 season Houk had managed the Yankees for the previous three seasons and had won the pennant all three times Houk was known as a player's manager which meant that he could not have been more different in his approach than Casey Stengel whom he had replaced Not only did Stengel show little personal interest in his players except insofar as what they might do for him on the field he seemed loath even to learn their names Born in 1890 Stengel came from an era in American life when very little emphasis was placed on being nice or kind to employees and hewas in fact rarely kind or nice to his players He was often caustic fre quently making fun of them and putting them down to his beloved sportswriters Stengel might be standing near the batting cage when a young player such asJerry Lumpe was taking his swings and hit ting the ball sharply to all fields If a writer mentioned the lovely

OCTOBER 1964 9 quality of Lumpe's swing to Stengel the old man would say Yes he looks like the greatest hitter in the world until you play him Stengel had his eye not merely on winning pennants which he certainly wanted to do but on history as well and as far as his play ers were concerned he seemed to be interested chiefly in courting writers As far as Stengel was concerned the writers were the critical link to history and in return they glorified his professional skills The writers had always been important to him and he always basked in their attention many seemed as interested in him as they were in the game itself and their interest was seductive On one of the rare occasions that his Yankees did not win the pennant—in 1954 when Cleveland beat them—Stengel was stunned to find the New York writers abandoning him and his team to follow the Indi ans as they moved on to the World Series Jesus he told one re porter Γm losing my writers Many of the writers remembered him from his leaner years of bad teams and second division finishes nine seasons of managing and only one team that finished above 500 when he became the great est manager in the game of baseball the legitimate heir to the great John McGraw it was all the sweeter After all he represented not just the present in baseball but the past as well and the writers were interested in the past as the players were not Once when Mantle was young and the Yankees were going to play the Dodgers in the World Series Stengel took Mantle out on the field in Ebbetts Field and tried to explain to him how he had played this particularly treacherous right field wall You mean you actually played here asked the astonished Mantle Later Stengel gathered his writers around him told the story and shook his head He thinks when I was born I was already sixty years old and had a wooden leg and came here to manage Stengel said Later in his career with the Yankees Stengel became even more drawn to the writers and if anything more protective of them Aware that some of his players were less than hospitable to certain of the more irreverent journalists Stengel often went out of his way to make sure that the shunned writers were taken care of After more than a decade of Casey Stengel the writers worshiped him but the

10 David Halberstam players had come to look upon him as a rather cold blooded albeit wealthy grandfather who still controlled the family will and who turned on his very considerable charm only for outsiders Ralph Houk changed that overnight His loyalty was to the players They were not just his players they were his pals or in the vernacular he used his pardners He was an extremely political man and he had a shrewd sense of the mood in the clubhouse and the resentments that had festered under Stengel despite all those years of winning Houk was very much aware that Mantle had come to resent Sten gel's treatment of him and Stengel's thinly veiled criticism which tended to show up in the stories of various New York writers Sten gel always seemed to imply that no matter how much Mantle did and how well he played he might somehow achieve even more and play at an even higher level that he somehow never quite lived up to his potential and worse that he was not a particularly smart base ball player There was even a standing joke in the Yankee locker room among the players Mickey a player would ask Mantle when are you going to live up to your potential The relationship between Mantle and Stengel had evolved over the years Stengel had been a mediocre ballplayer himself and for much of his career he had managed ballplayers even more mediocre than himself when he finally got the Yankee job late in his career he had been uneasy with Joe DiMaggio who was at the end of his career and who was an icon beyond the reach of a rookie manager But Mantle had come to him as a boy the greatest player Stengel had ever seen—all that power all that speed My God said Sten gel the first time he saw Mantle play the boy runs faster than Cobb Stengel had eagerly anticipated the chance to mold Mantle to add to that magnificent body a mind filled with all the baseball knowledge and lore he had accumulated over four decades Man tle as the sportswriter Milton Gross wrote at the time was to be the monument the old gent wanted to leave behind Casey wanted his own name written in the record books as manager but he also wanted a creation that was completely his own on the field every day doing things that no other ballplayer ever did rewriting all the records But Mantle frustrated him he remained pure Mantle not

OCTOBER 1964 11 a hybrid of Mantle Stengel It was then that Stengel tried to reach him by criticism often meted out through the sportswriters Again and again the player rejected Stengel's advice He would play hard drive himself relentlessly in his own way and on his own terms but he would not be Stengel's creation There was already enough pressure on Mantle as it was—the pressure of playing in New York the pressure of replacing the great DiMaggio and above all the pressure of living up to his father's Mutt Mantle's high expectations for him He needed no additional pressure no more lessons what he needed was a means of escaping the pressure It took everything he had to get through each day and the last thing he wanted was a father figure as boss If his and Sten gel's was to be a father son relationship it was as the writer Robert Creamer noted that of an angry father and a stubborn son Over the years the relationship continued to deteriorate Telling Mantle something is like telling him nothing Stengel once told reporters summing up his attitude toward his greatest player To Stengel Mantle was someone who had fallen short of his own true greatness and to Mantle his manager was more and more just a querulous old man who was never satisfied It seemed even to the other players that Stengel sawnot so much what Mantle did aswhat he did not do To some degree Stengel's attitude colored the attitude not only of the New York writers but of the New York fans as well The glory that should so readily have been Mantle's the acclamation by the New York fans of his greatness and of his ability to carry the team year after year came only after a decade of play and only when Roger Mans challenged him in the 1961 home run derby Then the fans somehow decided that it was Mantle's prerogative to challenge Ruth not Maris's Only then did they begin to cheer Mantle as they jeered Mans Hearing them boo Mans Mantle noted with some de gree of amusement Roger has stolen my fans Ralph Houk knew that this was Mantle's team and the first thing he did as manager was to go to the center fielder and tell him what he knew that Mantle was the leader of the team and therefore now the captain of it That moment symbolized a significant change Houk would cater almost exclusively to the players often at the ex

12 David Halberstam pense of the writers whom he did not so much shun as treat as a necessary evil In place of the brilliant press conference soliloquies by Stengel which some reporters thought worthy of Mark Twain Houk gave the press a measure of bromides reflecting both his eter nal optimism and a shrewd awareness that his players would read his praise of them in the next day's newspapers With Houk the writers sensed a bunker mentality a them against us attitude If Stengel had his eye always fixed on history as recorded by the sportswriters Houk was content merely to win pennants and world champion ships No one appreciated that more than Mantle The Houkyears were largely happy ones for the players and frequently less happy for the writers The younger players who often played with considerable anxiety and insecurity found Houk reassuring a sort of surrogate father He had been an average ballplayer himself a backup catcher during the Berra years During World War Π he distinguished him self in the Battle of the Bulge and ended the war as a major Some of the older writers still called him Major which irritated the younger more iconoclastic writers to no small degree He pos sessed an intuitive sense of how to get the most out of his players whether they were stars or journeymen and he was very good at walking the delicate line between being their pal and knowing ex actly when to draw the line He gave the players a perfect example of that in the 1963 season when the Yankees went into Boston for a two admission day night doubleheader As the Yankees arrived one of the Boston papers printed an interview with Mantle in which the star discussed how much he loved to play for Houk and how if Houk asked him to go through a brick wall he would ask only where the wall was On the day of the doubleheader the two teams were barely able to finish the first game for it began to rain heavily during the late innings As they waited for the rain to stop and the second game to start the players became restless and bored anxious to get on with it one way or another—eitherto go back to the hotel or to play In the dugout Mantle was passing the time by telling country boy stories including one about carnal relations with farm animals When Houk walked by Mantle asked Hey Ralph you ever done

OCTOBER 1964 13 it with a sheep The atmosphere suddenly became tense and the other players realized that Mantle had crossed a line Houk good guy abiding friend and pardner of the players was not to be asked ribald questions not by anyone not even a star His authority as manager was suddenly at stake Houk called Mantle over and then as if he were speaking privately to him but at the same time in a voice that everyone could hear he thanked Mantle for the generous things he had said about him in the Boston paper Those are really kind words Mickey and I want to tell you they mean a lot to a man ager That's okay Ralph I meant every word Mantle answered Then Houk continued Mickey can you play in the second game if I need you Mantle shrugged and asked Houk to look at the field where the rain was still pouring down Yeah I know Mickey but with the field in that crappy condition I figure I may need you be cause Fm thinking I don't want to take a chance on getting any of my regulars hurt It was a masterful response thought the players Houk had held on to his authority and defused the situation had even turned it to his advantage by using Mantle as his straight man and yet in no way had he wounded the ego of the team's best and most beloved player Houk constantly told each player how good he was how critical he was to the team's success no matter how small his role Every player talked to Ralph Houk and managed to hear what he had wanted to hear If he did not seem to be entirely on their side in their negotiations with management for larger salaries then at least he did not seem to be against them in such negotiations either—that is until Houk was made general manager in time for the 1964 season Suddenly the nature of his job changed dramatically In an organiza tion famed for its reluctance to pay top salaries and in which World Series checks were traditionally counted by management as part of a player's salary instead of as a bonus Houk went overnight from player's man to company man Some of the players suspected that he did it too readily and too completely and that like his predecessor George Weiss he received a bonus based on how much he held down the team payroll The previous fall after the Dodgers swept the Yankees in the World Series Steve Hamilton a young relief

14 David Halberstam pitcher who hadhad a goodyear asked Houk for a raise He founda very different Houk than the one who had just managed the team and who had always told Hamilton how important he was to the team's success You know Hammy Fd love to give you a better contract but I can't The Series you know only went four games and we didn't make any money Houk said The former manager had gone overnight Hamilton who still admired Houk said later from blowing smoke to blowing acidrain Houk's replacement asmanager was a surprise to the team and to the media Yogi Berra the longtime star catcher Berra was chosen it was believed by those who knew the front office well partly to compete with the upstart team in the New York area the Mets who were now managed by none other than the indefatigable Charles Dillon Stengel soon to be seventy four Brilliant and verbal live* and in color a nonstop one man media show Stengel could be safely called many things but no one ever called him boring The combination of the Mets' virtually pristine incompetence and Sten gel's singular charm made the Mets a major draw to the surprise of the Yankee ownership which valued winning over fim The more talented of the young New York sportswriters preferred covering the lowly Mets rather than the dynastic Yankees The Yankees under George Weiss didnot thinkin modern terms about the enter tainment dollar and the general manager had not wanted to broad cast the games on television thinking that it was giving his product away for free He had even been reluctant to sell the paraphernalia of modern baseball including Yankee shirts Yankee caps andYan kee jackets He did not want every kid in New York going around wearing a Yankee cap he said for it demeaned the Yankee uniform The Mets were the reverse of this andindeed partof their success in the earlieryears happened because they successfully blurred the line between player and fan The Mets were perceived as inept but lov able by a new generation of fans while the Yankees were coming to be seen as the athletic equivalent of General Motors or U S Steel Something profound was taking place in the larger culture and it was extremelytroubling to the Yankee high command In 1963Yan kee attendance slipped again the second year in a row in which that

OCTOBER 1964 15 had happened it had surged to more than 1 7 million in 1961 the year Mans and Mantle had chased Ruth's record but fell by more than 200 000 a year in the twoyears after In 1963 the Yankees drew only about 220 000 more fans than the Mets and it seemed likely that in 1964 when the Mets moved into their handsome new home at Shea Stadium they might well outdraw the Yankees which in fact they did with 1 7 million customers or nearly half a million more than the first place Yankees Mypark said Stengel survey ing Shea for the first time is lovelier than my team In a somewhat misguided effort to become more popular the Yankees decided to make Yogi Berra their manager Over the years the New York media had viewed Berra as something of a cartoon figure funny awkward but lovable much given to inelegant but ultimately wise aphorisms Some of the famous Yogiisms were gen uine but a good many were manufactured by the writers and the real Yogi Berra was quite different from the one that had been in vented by the press He was shy and wary with strangers particu larly the media because of their jokes about his looks his wife Carmen smart and extremely capable hated those jokes and about his lack of education In the beginning the jokes were more than a little cruel butYogi was shrewd enough to go alongwith them had he resisted the jokes would have taken on a longer life But it still did not mean he liked them Nor was he the easiest of interviews Why do I have to talk to all these guys who make six thousand dollars a year when I make forty thousand dollars a year he once asked inwhatwasto become a rallying cryfor thousands of ballplay ers yet unborn The truthwas that the Yankees hadmade a serious miscalculation if they hired Berra because he was good with the media Rather the media was good with him—inventing a cuddly wise witty figure who didnot in fact exist Itwasno surprise that asthe Yankee play ers arrived for theirfirstworkout that spring there was a cartoon on the New York Daily News sports page entitled A Few Words Before the Season which showed a grinning Berra in baseball uni form with a tiny cartoonist armedwith pen and sketchbook standing on his arm and saying A cartoonist's dream With that mug of

16 David Halberstam yours I hope y' stick aroun' forever As a player Yogi had been surprisingly quick and nimble in a body that did not look particu larly athletic and he was a very dangerous late inning hitter A rather strange fellow of very remarkable abilities Stengel once said of him His new assignment was going to be difficult he was replac ing a popular manager who was still close to the players and who was now his boss Moreover he was going to be managing his former teammates who respected him as a player but who had frequently joked about him and who thought him among other things un commonly close with a dollar Yogi was not a man who by his very presence inspired the respect of his teammates asMantle Ford and even Elston Howard the catcher did though it was too early for anyone in baseball to think of a black man like Howard as a man ager When his friend and teammate Mickey Mantle was asked how the team would do now that Berra had replaced Houk Mantle an swered I think we can win in spite of it Berra was aware of the reservations of his teammates and he was determined to get off to a good start with them Before his first team meeting he stopped by to see Bobby Richardson the veteran second baseman in order to give a dry run of his first speech to the team as its new manager Okay he was going to say this is a new season We'll put 1963 behind us We're going to have new rules no swim ming no tennis no golf no fishing Then he would pause and say I'm kidding We'll play hard we'll play together we'll be relaxed and we'll win Richardson thought it a fine way to start the season particularly for a manager addressing former teammates But during the actual speech when he got to the list of fake new rules Mantle said very loudly I quit and the speech had been ruined It was not a good start

That spring Bing Devine knew his job was on the line He had been general manager of the Cardinals since 1957 but he had not yet produced a pennant winner and Cardinals owner Gussie Buschwas hardly the most patient of men Busch was the Budweiser tycoon accustomed to having his every whim fulfilled Since he was im mensely successful in the beer business he assumed that he would be equally successful in the world of baseball about which he knew almost nothing Busch was an extroverted zestful man a booze and broads kind of guy in the words of Harry Caray the team's announcer who by his own word was also a booze and broads guy and a close pal of Busch's until he got too close Busch was a gener ous man albeit generous on his own terms He had to win at every thing most notably at card games He did not like to be alone and he tended to be followed by an entourage of cronies Being truly claustrophobic he did not like to fly on airplanes so he traveled either in a massive custom built and custom outfitted bus or in his own luxuriously outfitted railroad car On either of these vehicles there were likely to be a lot of drinking cards and attractive young women It was the rare Busch crony who did not believe in his heart that he was a baseball expert Therefore being a baseball manager or a general manager for Gussie Busch was a high risk occupation To makemattersworse the tycoon thought himself a man of the people

18 David Halberstam and was prepared to listen to this endless parade of self styled base ball experts he ran into every day He was also readily accessible to local reporters often it turned out after he already had a head start drinking either his own product or that of other alcohol manufac turers If the team went on a losing streak as it often did and if a reporter reached Busch at home to ask if he was happy with the way the team was going he was likely to say no he goddamn well was not happy That had happened when Eddie Stanky was managing and the team was on an eight game losing streak When the words were in print the next day it was clear that time was running out for Stanky Every day of August Busch's life Bing Devine thought rue fully years later there had to be any number of people telling him Hey Gussie you made a winner out of Bud how come you can't make a winner out of the Cards At the tail end of the 1963 season the Cardinals had launched a furious if belated drive for the pennant winning nineteen of twenty games and that had whetted everyone's appetite for what was going to happen in 1964 Whether the 1964 team was as good as it had been in that miraculous almost flawless three week stretch was by no means a certainty Devine had spent his entire life in the Cardinal organization apprenticing from the bottom up and there was no job so insignificant that he had not performed it Back in the thirties when Branch Rickey ran the organization there were some thirty teams in the farm system and Bing Devine made sixty five dollars a month for the most menial of tasks He began every day by collect ing the telegrams from all the general managers of the different Cardinal farm clubs reporting what their team had done the previ ous day Then Devine went to the various blackboards that listed each league and each Cardinal team erased the old standings and wrote in the new ones He was therefore an expert on how a seem ingly unbeatable team could unravel almost overnight based on an injury or two he knew how two star players could have unexpect edly bad seasons at the same time and cripple a team and he knew how the combination of these—an injury and an individual bad sea son—could end a team's chance as a pennant contender Devine was well aware that Busch was not a baseball man but a

OCTOBER 1964 19 sportsman accustomed to winning His explosive temper was fueled not merely by a fondness for his own product which was never beer but always a Bud there was a fine at Gussie Busch's ongoing card game for anyone who asked for a beer not a Bud but even more so for what he called silver bullets —very very dry martinis In those days a sportsman meant a rich man with a passion for hunting fish ing and horse racing a man who would shoot at the best lodges in the nation and fish distant waters for giant billfish but who rarely knew about baseball which was essentially a blue collar sport As a Budweiser executive Busch was an unqualified success His knowl edge of the beer business was exceptional and he had brought Bud weiser to a position of dominance in the industry after World War Π But knowledge and expertise in one field did not travel lightly to another as he had found after trying to purchase his first black player Tom Alston from the minor leagues Busch was irate when he found out that instead of being twenty three years old as he had been told Alston was actually twenty five Busch was accustomed to buying machinery rather than human be ings and thereafter depreciating his machinery according to the wear on it Since the average baseball player's career was ten years as Busch had been told and since Alston was two years older than had been claimed then roughly 20 percent of his career was clearly gone so Busch demanded twenty thousand dollars back on the price That he did not get it was a sign of how difficult doing busi ness was going to be with a rather worn down baseball franchise On another occasion he pushed for the signing of the son of a well known former player named Dixie Walker When his scouts and player personnel people dissented saying that they did not consider the younger Walker major league potential Busch became an noyed He did not know baseball he said but he knew horses and in the world of horses you always went with the bloodlines and the gene pool—why not in baseball as well The Cardinals' previous owner Sam Breadon had come to base ball after owning an auto dealership in St Louis during the years when Branch Rickey was the general manager Breadon was if any thing cheaper than Rickey a legendary skinflint in 1942 when the

20 David Halberstam young Musialhad come in third in the National League batting race in his first big season Breadon offered him the magnificent raise of $1 000 for his good work With Rickey gone tαBrooklyn as general manager the Cardinals still managed to win regularly throughout the forties But getting older and fighting cancer Breadon began in the mid forties to sell or trade many of the team's better ballplayers There was a ceiling on what a Cardinal ballplayer could make in those days and it was $13 500 Only MartyMarion as good a sales man as he was a shortstop it was said had been able to breach the 13 5 ceiling he received $15 000 because he was a favorite of man agement and because in 1944 he was also the Most Valuable Player in the National League Generally when a player reached $13 500 it was as good as buying a train ticket out of St Louis At one point angered by the demands of the Cooper brothers for salaries as large as Marion's Breadon essentially sold both of them off getting $60 000 plus another ballplayer for Mort Cooper in 1945 from the Boston Braves and a few months later selling Walker Cooper to the Giants for $175 000 then a record price Breadon also allowed Branch Rickey's great farm system which in the thirties and forties had fed so many great players into the team to atrophy The last hurrah for the old Cardinals came in 1949 when they dueled the Dodgers in a momentous pennant race Up two games with only five games to play they blew that lead at the end On the train back to St Louis late that season Bob Broeg of the Post Dispatch asked Eddie Dyer the Cardinals' manager when he thought the Cardi nals might challenge for the pennant again Dyer said Funny Bob I was just asking my wife the same thing Then Dyer pondered the question for a moment Not for a long time he said for the farm system was gone and Branch Rickey who had built it up was gone to archenemy Brooklyn and there were not that many good young players coming up The era of the Cooper brothers Whitey Kurowski Terry Moore and Howie Polletwas over Soon only Musialand RedSchoendienst remained from the glory years After the 1949season Breadon sold the team to new owners headed by a man named Fred Saigh Saigh's role as a principal Cardinal owner was a cameo as he was

OCTOBER 1964 21 soon sentenced to a federal penitentiary for income tax evasion He was ordered to wind up his affairs before May 1953 which meant among other things getting rid of the Cardinals Saigh wanted to sell the team locally but surprisingly not a lot of buyerswere inter ested Saigh's main act of civic duty came when he sold it to The Brewery for $3 75 million or an estimated half a million dollars less than he could have gotten from buyers in Milwaukee That did not mean that Saigh came out of the deal badly for as part of the trans action according to Bob Broeg he got anestimated $600 000 worth of Anheuser Busch stock which some forty years later Broeg es timated was worth about $60 million But Gussie Busch it turned out had bought a name a logo and little else The Cardinals did not even have their own ball park playinginricketyold Sportsman's Park which belonged to the lowly Browns The first lesson Gussie Busch learned was a painful one he could not buy success overnight in baseball What worked in the world of beer—hiring if need be the best men available—did not work in baseball Great players were not for sale no matter what the price In his first season Busch asked Eddie Stanky his manager what it would take to create a championship team Stanky answered that if he got a first baseman andathird basemanhe would have a contend ing team Which would you rather have Busch asked a first baseman or a third baseman Stanky thought about it for a bit A first baseman he answered Did Stanky have anyone in mind Busch asked Sure he answered and I think he'll play for me Gil Hodges Hodges he explained had just come off a bad World Series in Brooklyn and might want a change of venue No prob lem said Busch Let's go and get Hodges So quite excited Gussie Busch went the next day to visit with Walter O'Malley in order to buy Gil Hodges He came back in shock What happened Gussie aides asked him O'Malley wanted six hundred thousand dollars for Hodges and then he said even if I had the money he wouldn't sell him anyway because he was one of the most popular players on the Dodgers and he'd be run out of Brooklyn if he sold him What kind of business is this anyway he asked rather plain tively where theywant sixhundred thousand dollars for one player

22 David Halberstam and even if you have the money they won't sell him A few years later he made another try at buying a player this time Ernie Banks the talented shortstop of the Cubs Busch authorized Frank Lane then his general manager to go as high as $500 000 for him But Lane returned empty handed How high did you go Busch asked Five hundred thousand answered Lane And you couldn't buy him asked an incredulous Busch Mr Busch I was politely reminded that Mr Wrigley needs half a million just about as much as you do Lane said That was one trouble with being a sportsman there were all those other sportsmen to deal with and they were every bit as rich Clearly building a team was going to take time and cost a great deal of money Neither spending nor waiting came easily for Busch and one of his favorite retorts to the St Louis writers when they told him what he ought to do which trades he might make or which deals he could pull off to strengthen the farm system was to say Pal you're really good at spending other people's money A decade after Busch purchased the team Bing Devine still had his job as general manager cut out for him to rebuild the farm sys tem on a smaller scale in a new and more expensive era while trying to jump start the existing club Busch was still looking for his first pennant He had bought the franchise in part because he was a good citizen of St Louis and there was talk until the last minute when he entered the bidding that the team might leave St Louis and relocate in Milwaukee a rival midwestern city and worse a rival center of beer brewing If Gussie Busch did not entirely understand baseball he did understand that baseball could help sell beer He presided over Budweiser at the precise moment of dramatic change in the industry brought about by modern communications most notably televised advertising Local breweries were on the way out not be cause their beer was not as good as that of the giants but because they could not compete with them in terms of advertising dollars spent on national television As with many aspects of American life during that postwar era the big companies became bigger and richer with new handsome regional satellite plants and the smaller ones withered away Beer more than most products lent itself to

OCTOBER 1964 23 national advertising and it was part of Busch's genius that as his company expanded relentlessly in the fifties he knew enough to in crease the percentage of the corporate budget reserved for advertis ing—this was the means with which he could crush the competition Busch realized that baseball was an effective and relatively inexpen sive advertising vehicle for beer and it was not entirely by accident that Bud's resurgence as the nation's best selling beer coincided with The Brewery's purchase of the Cardinals in 1953 From 1949 to 1955 Schlitz was the best selling beer in the nation but in 1955 Budweiser soared past Schlitz Indeed when Busch bought the Cardinals he also bought Sports man's Park dilapidated though it was and refurbished it Ever the beer salesman he tried to call his new ball park Budweiser Park but was talked out of it by aides who said that you could not name a park after a beer Phil Wrigley they pointed out had not named his sta dium Spearmint Park after his chewing gum Forced to choose be tween ego and advertising Busch conceded in Chicago it was Wrigley Field and in St Louis it would be Busch Stadium not Bud weiser Park Baseball turned out to have an added unexpected advantage for Gussie Busch owning a baseball team made him a celebrity Before as a beer magnate his face might have been known to a fair number of people in St Louis and to avid readers of Fortune magazine When he called a press conference to announce the opening of a new regional multimillion dollar brewery though there was little media interest But now as the owner of a major sports franchise everything that Busch said was news People coveted his friendship and he loved it He seemed to have little patience for watching his own team play and his interest quickly waned during the games In fact his closest friends doubted that he had followed baseball at all before he bought the Cardinals To manage his team he tended to hire small feisty overachievers men who were considered strict disciplinarians Two of his first three managers Eddie Stanky whom he liked and Solly Hemus were cut from that cloth Their very manner seemed to promise the owner that they would keep his young athletes in line

24 David Halberstam after all the players were being paid toplay a game and might there fore easily relax and exploit the essentially benign nature of the owner sportsman Stanky Hemus and Fred Hutchinson who served a tour as man ager in the fifties had either grown up in a tougher harsher Amer ica or had apprenticed under men who had They were not always supple in dealing with younger men who often had greater natural gifts than those once possessed by their managers The Depression was a thing of the past the country was dramatically more affluent than it had been and such gifted athletes as Ray Sadecki Tim McCarver and Mel Stottlemyre often had other options in life whether it was college or jobs in other fields The nature of author ity was slowly beginning to change As for the black players treating them with a harsh authoritarian hand had even more ominous im plications and was likely to produce even less positive results as Solly Hemus's handling of Bob Gibson and other players would soon show Young baseball players white or black could no longer be treated as if they were recruits at a marine drill camp In the past a manager intimidated his players Stanky was the prototype of that breed a tough little man whose nickname was The Brat As a player and a manager he was always engaged in some kind of confrontation Stanky knew a great deal about baseball and later turned out to be an exceptional scout and a valuable in structor within the Cardinal organization but he was having trouble adjusting to a changing America The time had come when he began to look at altogether too many young men and was unable to see a reflection of himself During one game he told a young player named Tom Burgess who had hit 346 in the International League the year before Get out of here and go down to the bullpen Fm sick of looking at you Stanky's technique had worked with limited success when he first began to manage the club But the more tal ented and sophisticated his ballplayers became the less effective the technique Perhaps the moment that signaled the end of his effec tiveness came one day at a team meeting when the manager was chewing out his players There was nothing new in that but while the tirade was going on Stu Miller one of the Cardinal pitchers sat

OCTOBER 1964 25 in the back reading The Sporting News Stanky continued to lecture all the while becoming angrier and angrier Finally he yelled at his pitcher Miller that'll cost you a hundred dollars Miller never looked up He simply turned to Butch Yatkeman the clubhouse at tendant and said Butch can you go down to my locker and get a hundred dollars out of my wallet and give it to him Hemus the third of Busch's managers saw himself as a Stanky disciple Perhaps nothing reflected Hemus's attitude better than his way of rewarding a player who had had an unusually good day He would reach into his pocket and give the player one hundred dollars in cash and tell him to take another player to dinner That waswhat Hemus had seen managers do when he was coming up it was the way big timers operated Hemus had got the job in part the Cardi nal players believed bywriting Busch a fawning letterwhen he him self had been tradedfromthe Cardinals in 1956 the letter many of the players felt went far beyond the call of duty particularly as it was addressed to an owner whose team had just sent him to another team The contrast between his reverence for his superiors and the roughness with which he treated the players who worked for him did not increase his popularitywith the players Like Stanky hewas a prisoner of his own baseball experience and he seemed to lack the capacity to treat different players in different ways His blunt man ner and words especially bothered some of the black players who considered him racist In 1956 after some twentyyears in the Cardinal organization and sixyears as general manager of its Triple A team in Rochester Bing Devine was brought back to St Louis having been told that he was now going to be named general manager of the big league club But a man named Taylor Spink editor of The Sporting News a baseball weekly published in St Louis suggested to the owner that he hire FrankLane a professional baseball manknown for his propensity to trade players Egocentric profane and voluble Lane was far better known than Devine at the time and Busch hired him Unfortu nately Lane was a man who traded not so much to build a better team but almost out of psychological need an irresistible impulse driving him to move players around There was no particular grand

26 David Halberstam scheme to Lane's trades and it appeared likely that given the chance he would continue to trade as an end in itself thereby inevi tably destabilizing his own team The very act of trading seemed to feed his ego a general manager who traded all the time became bet ter known than all but the most famous of his players Frank Lane's incessant trading in the end made Frank Lane the center of media attention rather than his players In that sense he was not unlike George Steinbrenner the owner of the Yankees who went about furiously hiring and firing managers some thirty years later— thereby guaranteeing himself endless coverage on the back pages of New York's tabloid press Lane became known as Trader Lane It was also true that the more important a ballplayer was to the team the more seemingly inviolable his position within the Cardinals the more irresistible was Frank Lane's urge to trade him Thus Red Schoendienst the great Cardinal second baseman and a cherished link to the glory years of the forties was dispatched for Alvin Dark and the only rea son that Lane did not trade Stan Musial who was to most Cardinals fans the living embodiment of the team was because MusiaFs res taurant partner learned of a proposed trade and managed to go pub lic with it just in time thereby stopping Lane Had Musial not been a restaurateur aswell as a great baseball player he would have ended his career with the Philadelphia Phillies From then on all major trades had to be cleared with Gussie Busch In a way the attempt to trade Musial for the great Robin Roberts marked the high water mark of the Lane era and the beginning of his decline That became clear in the spring of 1957 when Gussie Busch went to a preseason sporting dinner in St Louis under the impression that he did not have to make a speech He was relaxed and in a good mood and he enjoyed several bottles of beer and several Scotches Just as he was beginning to really enjoy the evening he was called to the rostrum to speak He was not pleased by the request and his mood quickly darkened He got up and gave a brief speech saying that Frank Lane had better bring back a championship this coming year or he was going to be out on his ass Lane happened to be in the audience and instead of letting the remarks go—in the eyes of the

OCTOBER 1964 27 St Louis sporting establishment this was simply Gussie being Gus sie—he got up and jokingly explained to the audience that they had just witnessed the perfect illustration of why baseball executives did not dare send their laundry out—because they were not sure they would be there when it came back An expert on dealing with Busch when he was in his cups would have let the matter go right then and there But Lane perhaps knowing he was on his way out anyway drove out of town on his way to Florida the next day and sent Busch a three page telegram detailing a considerable list of demands— principal among them his insistence on a three year contract Nothing thatLane had achieved so farin anywayseemed towarrant such a demand and Busch's response was typical He ordered a tele gram sent to Lane saying KISS MYASS It was not long after that that Bing Devine became the general manager of the Cardinals Lane was soon gone to Cleveland where among other things he was noted for trading away the young talented Roger Mans to Kansas City before Mans could reach his full potential It would have been hard to find a better human being in baseball at that time or a man more grounded in all its aspects than Bing Devine He was a lifer in the best sense He had played baseball in college at Washington University of St Louis and had been good but not good enough for the professional game though many times in his long career in the minor leagues if on occasion a team was short a player he would dress and place himself on the roster De vine had learned a lot about trading under Frank Lane in particular thatyou could not let one bad trade inhibit you and that no matter how shrewd and knowledgeable you were certain trades were not going to work out At the same time he understood that you could not trade as an end in itself you had to have purpose and method to your moves Devine envisioned a certain kind of baseball team and traded systematically for it He wanted speed good defense and above all balance Speed was important because if your players had it you not only improved your offense but your defense aswell He differed from most general managers in one important way he would trade talented pitchers not he thought supertalented ones but quality ones fifteen game winners for everyday ballplayers His

28 David Halberstam theory was that pitchers were the easiest players to scout because a scout was likely to see far more of them on a given day than players at regular positions Within months of taking over from Lane Devine began the pro cess of building the team that would come together in the mid six ties His first important decision was not to trade a player—a young third baseman outfielder named Ken Boyer who had come up through the Cardinal organization As far as Devine was concerned Boyer would be the keystone of the next generation He had played both infield and outfield in his first three seasons and there were signs that he might be a budding star He had both power and speed Several teams coveted him and Lane had been on the verge of trad ing him to Pittsburgh but the trade was stopped Then the Phillies made a strong offer for Boyer they offered Richie Ashburn a tal ented speedy center fielder with more range and less power than Boyer as well as Harvey Haddix a former Cardinal coming to the end of his prime at thirty two Boyer was an adequate center fielder but Devine suspected that he was out of position there What distin guished him was not so much his speed as the quickness of his re flexes a vital trait at third base Having a third baseman who could field and who also added power to the lineup gave a team an edge So Devine turned down the Phillies I'll bankwhat little reputation I have that Boyer will be a star and at third base he said at the time But that meant Devine went to the winter meetings at Colorado Springs in December 1957 without a center fielder Day after day passed as the other baseball men made deals and seemed to be im proving their teams and yet Bing Devine the newest member of this club had yet to make a deal He began to think this was some thing of a black mark against him especially since his team was not that good If he had learned anything from Frank Lane he decided it was not only thatyou could trade too much but thatyou could also trade too little It was part of the culture of baseball that you were supposed to leave those meetings with someone new so that at the very least the fans would be optimistic about the coming season On the last night of the meeting when there was supposed to be a din

OCTOBER 1964 29 ner Gabe Paul of the Reds sought out Devine Look you haven't made a trade andwe haven't made a trade Let's skip the dinner and sit down and make one So they met in Gabe Paul's room Paul accompanied by Birdie Tebbetts his manager and Devine by Fred Hutchinson his manager at the time They went back and forth for more than three hours and late in the session one of the Reds' offi cials buoyed by the fact that they had a number of talented young outfielders coming up in their farm system including Vada Pinson suggested trading Curt Flood a young black outfielder in their minor league system to the Cardinals Flood hadthe potential to be a great player he was not yet twenty he had played two full seasons in the minor leagues and he had excelled both years In his first season in the Carolina League playing under adverse conditions he had led the league in five categories including hitting with a 340 batting average The next year he had again had a remarkable sea son this time with Savannah in the Sally League Mostly playing third base he had hit 299 with 14home runs and 82 runs batted in Hutchinson had heard of Flood checked around among his friends and liked what he had heard that Flood was a good hitter a good fielder better in the outfield than the infield and a tough kid who hadwithstood a lot of pressure in a hostile environment Devine was uneasy because it was his first deal and because he had not only never seen the player but he had no sense of him either But Hutch seemed confident of Flood's ability and Devine had a good deal of faith in Hutchinson's ability to judge talent The Cardinals were of fering one undistinguished big league pitcher and two minor league pitchers for Flood and while none of the three was important in the Cardinal plans if one of them blossomed later it could be embarrassing After a lot of palavering both sides decided to recess Devine Hutchinson and Dick Meyer who was The Brewery's man on baseball because it turned out he had once played baseball at a Lutheran seminary caucused briefly in one bedroom Well said Meyer you're the baseball people you make the call Devine still felt uneasy about the trade What saved the moment Devine thought was Fred Hutchinson's decisiveness Make the deal We'll fit him in somewhere We think he can hit

30 David Halberstam We know he can run Maybe he can play center field for us Hutch said Bolstered by his manager Devine made his first deal The Reds were willing to make the trade virtually giving Flood away because they already had Frank Robinson as a budding star in their outfield where he had hit 67 home runs in his first two seasons and because Pinson was a potential star in their farm system having hit 367 with 20 home runs 20 triples and 40 doubles with their Visalia team in the California League Pinson was bigger and stronger than Flood and Flood himself always suspected they were not enamored of hav ing an outfield of three black players So Devine left Colorado Springs with two key pieces in place one by taking a risk and listen ing to a manager he trusted and one bynotmaking a trade For their part the Reds lost the chance to have an outfield of Vada Pinson Frank Robinson and Curt Flood Slowly and steadily Devine continued to put together the right kind of team The level of the team's speed and talent was going up constantly There was the beginning of the right blend of veteran players and younger players As the team began to emerge in the early sixties almost everyone on the team could run including the two power hitters Bill White and Boyer But then in 1962 there was a dangerous move against Devine A man named Bob Cobb who ran the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles and who had in the days before expansion run Los Angeles's Triple A club spent an evening with Busch and sympathized with the plight of so wealthy a man who was so frustrated by the vagaries of baseball Cobb suggested that Busch get the greatest baseball man of all time to help run his club or atthe very least to advise him Who was that Busch asked Branch Rickey of course Cobb answered the man who had created the Cardinals' farm system in their glory years then had helped create the great Dodger teams of the fifties and who was most notably revered in baseball history as the man who had signed Jackie Robinson to a Dodger contract and thereby bro ken the color line So it was that fifty eight years after he first began as a player in St Louis fifty years after he first managed a big league team and

OCTOBER 1964 31 thirty eight years after hefirstbecame general manager of the Car dinals Branch Rickey returned to St Louis principally it seemed at the expense of Bing Devine Rickey joined the organization with the title of Special Consultant to Gussie Busch and from the start he set out to take over the team Rickeywas then in his eighties and his health wasbeginning to fail If the world of baseball had changed substantially bythe mid sixtiesfromthe one that he had helped cre atein the thirties andthen dominated in the forties andfifties none theless he was still an eminence and no less ambitious than in the past Rickey did not think of himself asold ashe hadnot thought of himself asyoung when he wasyoung and he was eager to remaina player in the front office and to pull off one more miracle He seemed to have little respect for Bing Devine whom he remem bered from Devine's days as a lowly clerk even if most of Devine's peers saw him by then as one of the most subtle and skillful front office men around From the start Rickey made it clear to Devine that he did not intend to sit on the sidelines as a mere consultant After their first day in the office together he asked Devine to drive him home Why do you think I'm here he asked the younger man Because Mr Busch wants your counsel and advice Devine said hoping to put a positive spin on anuntenable situation That's not why I'm here Rickey said I'm here to make the final deci sions on this ball club Then Rickey asked Who do you think is going to run the ball club Devine answered that he intended to Then we have a problem Rickey said Indeed I think we do said Devine Branch Rickey was arguably the single most important front office figure in modern baseball history He had helped create the idea of the modern farm organization By 1949 based on his amaz ing success in both the Cardinals and the Dodgers asJules Tygiel has pointed out in Baseball's Great Experiment an estimated three out of eight major leaguers had been developed in one of Rickey's two farm systems His courage and foresight in challenging base ball's policy of segregation and in sensingJackie Robinson's great ness and selecting him as the instrument of his policy guaranteed him a place inAmerica's history books But byreputation he was in

32 David Halberstam the words of Leo Durocher one of the men who managed for him the worst operator in professional baseball— the cheapest the shrewdest and the most hardhearted of men He was a Victorian man born in and shaped by another century much given to bloated rhetoric at once shrewd and pious honor able and duplicitous quick to cover his base moves with high minded speeches and on occasion his more high minded moves with primitive explanations He had promised his mother that he would never play on Sunday and he kept that promise never even as an executive going to the ball park on that day either Some writers could not decide whether he was the most religious man of his era in baseball or simply the greatest con man The room where he held press conferences was known by reporters as The Cave of the Winds At one Rickey press conference John Drebinger of the The New York Times asked a question and Rickey took off on a twenty minute soliloquy Does that answer your question John he asked at the end I've forgotten the question Drebinger answered When he talked of his motivation in making a particular move he often seemed to give the impression that the one person he had con sulted was God The Mahatma the sportswriter Tom Meany called him a nickname that stuck it came of course from Gandhi It was the name given the Indian leader by his people meaning the great one After all John Gunther the great journalist of the era had described Gandhi as a combination of God your father and Tammany Hall To the sportswriters of the day that certainly sounded like Branch Rickey Someone once laid down the basic rules for negotiating with Rickey Don't drink the night before keep your mouth shut and your hands in your pocket El Cheapo Jimmy Powers the sports columnist called him for his Calvinist view of society clearly forbade paying too much to a player too much money might corrupt a player and under no cir cumstances did Branch Rickey want to corrupt a young man Better that the money should stay in his own coffers In fact the classic Rickey move with a gifted player was to wait until he had reached the apex of his career and his salary was beginning to reach its apex as well and then trade him for a younger less expensive but equally

OCTOBER 1964 33 talented player on another team That way he constantly kept the level of talent up but kept his payroll down in the process The abil ity to get something for as little as possible was a trademark of his technique and even when he signed Robinson he had not deigned to pay the Kansas City Monarchs anything for Robinson's contract He knew that no black baseball official would dare block Robinson's chances for success in the white baseball world Certainly by the custom of the day Rickey owed the Monarchs something and had Robinson been a white player from a white team Rickey would cer tainly have observed the amenities and paid the team something even if Robinson had technically not been under contract As criti cism of the Robinson deal mounted within baseball circles Rickey became quite self righteous Black baseball which was in fact rea sonably well organized was nothing but a booking agent's para dise he said They are not leagues and have no right to expect organized baseball to respect them he added That Rickey did not recognize the changed world of baseball quickly became clear to Devine and other people in the Cardinal front office His style of trading was premised on the luxury of an extremely deep farm system that allowed him maximum leverage in all deals that is both with other clubs and with his own players By the late fifties and early sixties that kind of wealth was being swept away by the rising costs of baseball the rising costs of minor league teams and the impact of television which offered fans in small towns the chance to watch major league games instead of their local Class B C and D games Rickey's response to these changes did not seem very realistic to Devine Aware that the price of players was going up because of the search for bonus babies he devised an ex tremely curious new plan for major league baseball which he de manded that Devine sell to the other baseball owners It was a detailed and oddly Utopian plan which called for the major leagues themselves to draft all the players and then for the players to be divided up among the existing teams Devine did not believe in it himself nor did he think it had the slightest chance to be picked up by the other owners and general managers There was clearly no room for the two of them Getting around

34 David Halberstam slowly on a cane or not Rickey remained a powerful presence He wore Devine down making everything he did harder making every dayatthe office more contentious andmaking him argue harderfor trades which meant that if Devine finally got a trade the expecta tions on the partof the ownerwere higher Devine wasworking ever harder just to stay afloat it was not an enviable situation In the fall of 1962 Devine decided that St Louis badly needed a solid veteran shortstop The Cardinals had played a rookie named Julio Gotay there in much of 1962 and they became dubious that Gotay would ever show the talent he had on occasion flashed in the minor leagues Otherwise the infield was strong Ken Boyer atthird and Bill White at first were virtual all stars andJulianJavier at sec ond was young but showing certain signs of greatness Devine wanted a mature shortstop to play alongside Javier and help bring him along Dick Groat only two years earlier the Most Valuable Player in the National League was available the Pirates having become disenchanted with him Groat was an unusual player He was one of the smartest athletes in the game a manwho had towork exceptionally hard to maximize his abilities and overcome his physi cal limitations No one in any major professional sport was ever a better illustra tion of the difference between being fast and being quick In terms of leg speed Dick Groatwas slow but in terms of his reflexes hewas exceptionally quick He had been a college all American as a basket ball player and a professional basketball player aswell He had great hand to eye coordination and deft hands But he also had minimal range No one studied pitchers his own as well as opposing ones more closely than Dick Groat because he had to know how to play each hitter since he lacked the natural speed to compensate for being even the slightest bit out of position He loved playing behind veteran pitchers for he felt that the more experienced a pitcherwas the better he could position himself to make the plays if the pitcher threwwhere he was supposed to then Groat had a very good chance of making the play He was also an exceptional hitter almost always around 300 He had great bat control rarely struck out and was very good on the hit and run He had been a professional shortstop

OCTOBER 1964 35 for eleven years counting time spent in the service and had never played in the minor leagues At the time that Devine wanted to make the trade Groat was thirty two The Cardinal scouts headed by Eddie Stanky believed that it was a good trade that Groat was in great shape was highly professional still had several good seasons ahead of him and was not likely to lose speed since he had never had it Rather he would be a good influence on the younger players and could work alongside Javier thus anchoring what was poten tially a very good infield But Rickey hated the deal It was anathema to everything he be lieved in especially his most basic rule never trade a young player for an older player Devine tried to make the case for Groat for sev eral weeks but Rickey kept stonewalling it Stanky Harry Walker a coach and Johnny Keane by then the manager all wanted it So one day during the instructional meeting they all descended on Rickey You seem to have this meeting loaded Rickey said to De vine and he was not pleased Yes Devine answered he had loaded it up but they all wanted Groat that badly Then they made their pitch Groat was the right player for a team that was ready to con tend It would have been nice to come up with a superb young short stop in their farm system but they did not have anyone ready in the minors In the meantime Groat was available a good hitter an ab solute professional Rickey listened and the more he listened the angrier he became He knew that Devine had ambushed him bril liantly and there was no alternative solution he could offer All right he said I will tell Mr Busch that I won't stand in the way of this deal but I won't recommend it either That meant that they could get Groat but it also meant that Groat had better have a good year and had better not slip Mercifully they bet right Groat was angered over his treatment by the hometown Pirates and he was determined to show that his career was not over He decided that he would throw from shortstop overhand much like an outfielder instead of sidearm like most in fielders and he spent the off season building himself up with special weight drills to that end He also ice skated every day in order to strengthen his legs and to diminish any chance of muscle pulls He

36 David Halberstam arrived in marvelous shape and played very well for St Louis The Cardinal groundskeepers so ordered by management deliberately let the grass in the infield grow high which slowed down the ball and gave him more range The long grass pleased Groat the fielder although Groat the hitter hated the very same grass and frequently complained to his teammates because it meant that he could not drive the ball through the infield so readily In 1963 he made a solid challenge for the National League batting title at the end of the sea son and that summer all four Cardinal infielders started in the All Star Game That in itself was a sign that Devine's master plan was coming along nicely But if anything Rickey became even more resentful when the Groat deal worked out and in the spring of 1964 there was one more incident which showed that Devine was dealing from a base of limited power Tim McCarver was set in spring training as the ev eryday catcher but Johnny Keane badly wanted a new backup catcher A young player named Bob Uecker of limited experience playing behind Del Crandall Ed Bailey and now Joe Torre at Mil waukee was available having told the Milwaukee management that if he was not traded he would retire from baseball Keane wanted to make the deal for him giving up two minor players—Gary Kolb and Jimmie Coker then the backup catchers Rickey wanted no part of it if anything he seemed to like Kolb as a player But as both Keane and Devine pushed hard for the trade Rickey resisted with a vehe mence out of all proportion to the importance of the players at stake It seemed to be more about territory than about personnel Uecker was in fact a good defensive catcher with a good arm and there was an additional advantage to getting him because Uecker batted right handed while McCarver batted left handed But every time Devine pressed for Uecker Rickey used his lever age with Busch Finally just as the team was about to leave Florida Keane went to Devine one last time to ask for Uecker Bing we have to try one more time—we have to have a better backup catcher If we don't we're vulnerable there Keane said I'm sorry Johnny but I can't go back there anymore Devine said I've gone as far as I can go on that one Keane could if he wanted to Devine sug

OCTOBER 1964 37 gested go out that night and talk to Gussie Busch at his home about it himself It was a sign of how seriously Keane took the matter that he did in fact go to Busch's house near the beach sometime after ten P M Around midnight a call came for Devine from Keane He had talked to Busch and it was okay to make the Uecker trade So Devine went ahead and a few days later Bob Uecker became in his own words the first local Milwaukee boy to play for the Braves the first to be sent down to the minor leaguesby them and then thefirst to be traded away by them On his first day in the Cardinal locker room he was taken to meet the legendary Branch Rickey in the Car dinal clubhouse Mr Rickey he said extending his hand Γm Bob Uecker and I've just joined your club Yes I know said Rickey and I didn't want you I wouldn't trade a hundred Bob Ueckers for one Gary Kolb And with that warm welcome Rickey turned and walked away Itshould be noted that while Kolb came to bat 450 times in his big league career Uecker came to bat 131 in his Bing Devine knew that time was running out on him that year

Just before the Cardinals broke camp Johnny Keane sat talking with a group of sportswriters about how evenly balanced the National League was and how important a great player like Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers became in that situation Koufax he thought had stood between the Cardinals and the pennant in 1963 and he was concerned that that one pitcher would once again make the differ ence In 1963 Koufax aided by an expanded strike zone had a ca reer year winning 25 losing only 5 with an ERA of 1 88 and beating the Cardinals four times Most critically he had shut them out in the last matchup when the Cards had been the hottest team in baseball during their run at a pennant The knowledge that any challenging team would eventually have to go against the Dodgers and beat Koufax head to head was an important advantage for the Dodgers Keane said Except for that one pitcher the Cardinals might well have a better team than the Dodgers Keane continued to talk about his own team's prospects for the year He thought his team was better than lastyear but it was hardly without its weaknesses No team had great hitting and great pitch ing and no team since the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and 1958 had won back to back pennants Every year since 1958 a different team had won and it was rarely the team that looked best on paper Just a few days earlier 232 baseball writers around the country had been polled on who they thought would win the National League pen

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