By Larry Granillo
Special to Mystery Ball ’58
It’s a hot day in San Francisco, but you’re at Seals Stadium anyway. Any chance you get to see the Say Hey Kid you take, especially on a sunny day like today, heat-be-damned. Besides, you’re hoping that today might be the day that you finally see your old pal Snappy Drake again. The bleacher seats just aren’t the same without him around.
As you wait out the long break between batting practice and gametime, you pull out your brand new copy of Popular Science. Long ago you decided that sitting in the bleachers reading a magazine and enjoying the breeze was the best way to spend this downtime. The stadium never felt more intimate than at these moments, as if the grandstand and the bleachers were in your own backyard. This issue of Popular Science—August 1958—promised you hints on when to sell your car (as if that Packard is ever going to die!) and a look at the new two-piece television. Whatever. Something’s bound to be interesting inside.
Flipping the magazine open, you’re drawn, as always, to the magazine’s middle pages: the “Picture News”. As you scan through the photos, something perfectly appropriate pops up:
The home plate that hears?! Imagine that. Listening to a game on the old transistor and getting to hear what Willie Mays says to Johnny Roseboro as he faces Drysdale? That’s an exciting thought. You knew you read this magazine for a reason.
After reading about supersonic missiles and bulletproof robots, you flip back to the beginning of the magazine and start reading more closely. As the bleachers begin to get a little more full and you start to think about putting the magazine away, something catches your eye:
“Electronics in the baseball dugout. Which is the better baseball strategist – a Casey Stengel or an electronic computer? Arthur D. Little Co., research consultants, set up an IBM computer for a game. All the (electronic) team members had equal athletic ability. Given 25 different situations in play, the computer had to come up with manager-type decisions.
The computer’s advice: Shoot the works. A manager shouldn’t bother with trivialities such as bunting or base-stealing. Instead, he should tell his players to hit the ball out of the park, or at least to the outfield. That way, says the computer, you’re likely to win more games. But scoffing fans will inevitably claim that Stengel (or Haney) has known this all along.”
That doesn’t sit right with you. Computer guys, eh? Probably some Stanford kid stuck in one of those giant computer barns. Poindexters. Where’s the bunting? The double-switches? Stealing home? And what is the author talking about, trying to say that’s how Stengel and Haney play the game? Can’t be. Those two are great managers. They know how to do all the little things. Hmm. Maybe Aaron and Mantle and Matthews and all those sluggers are making them a bit lazy, though. Could be.
The players start to take the field, so you put down your magazine, pick up your scorecard, and vow to pay a little more attention to what Haney does the next time the Braves are in town. Stengel will have to wait until the World Series.
Time for some baseball.
Larry Granillo, guest manager of the ’58 Braves and creator of the Tater Trot Tracker, writes his popular Wezen-Ball column for Baseball Prospectus.
BATTING LEADERS THROUGH APRIL
AVG: Groat-PIT .448, Ashburn-PHL .440, Dark,-STL .393, Furillo- LA .368, Mays,-SF .368
OPS (whatever that is): Mathews- MIL 1.330, Jones- PHL 1.142, Covington-MIL 1.129, Groat- PIT 1.122
HRS: Mathews- MIL 8, Covington- MIL 8, Robinson-CIN 6, Zimmer-LA 6
RBI: Mathews-MIL 19, Covington-MIL 16, Robinson-CIN 15, Zimmer-LA 13
AVG: Williams-BOS .559, Zernial-DET .404, Chiti-KC .404, Wilson-DET .373, Jensen-BOS .373
OPS: Williams-BOS 1.696, Colavito-CLE 1.170, Zernial-DET 1.131, Lollar-CHX 1.093
HRS: Lollar-CHX 8, Triandos-BAL 6
RBI: Lollar-CHX 19, Zernial-DET 17, Berra, NY 15
TEAM RUN DIFFERENTIALS
Red Sox +18
White Sox +3