Bill White, former Cardinals first baseman, broadcaster and former President of the National League, has a new autobiography coming out called “Uppity: My Untold Story About The Games People Play.” He sat for an interview with the Cardinals blog Retro Simba. It’s a neat interview, with additional parts to come. My favorite Q&A in the first segment:
Q: In May 1960, you set a career high with 6 RBI in a game at the L.A. Coliseum, hitting two home runs, both off Don Drysdale. Your career batting average against Drysdale was .326 with seven home runs. Why were you so successful against him?
Bill White: Because he threw spitballs. It actually was oil he kept on the back of his hair. And when you loaded the ball up, it sunk. And I was a low-ball hitter. He was throwing to my strength.
That Drysdale threw a spitter is not new information — I’ve read it a bunch of places before — but it’s fun to hear that kind of stuff anyway. Oh, and remember when Drysdale showed up at Greg Brady’s house and told him he could be a bonus baby? And how Greg let it go to his head and even considers dropping out of school? Yeah, that whole thing could have worked if Drysdale showed Greg the secrets of the spitball.
Anyway, while that may be my favorite answer, White’s comments about segregation in the Cardinals’ spring training home of the early 60s and in St. Louis is more significant reading. Check it out.
Major League Baseball just announced that there will be a pitch clock for spring training. It will be a 20-second pitch clock, phased in like so:
- In the first Spring Training games, the 20-second timer will operate without enforcement so as to make players and umpires familiar with the new system;
- Early next week, umpires will issue reminders to pitchers and hitters who violate the rule, but no ball-strike penalties will be assessed. Between innings, umpires are expected to inform the club’s field staff (manager, pitching coach or hitting coach) of any violations; and
- Later in Spring Training, and depending on the status of the negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association, umpires will be instructed to begin assessing ball-strike penalties for violations.
As is the case in the minors, the batter will have to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with at least five seconds remaining on the timer; and the pitcher needs only to begin his windup before the 20-second timer expires, as opposed to having thrown the pitch. The timer will not be used on the first pitch of any at-bat. Rather, it begins running prior to the second pitch once the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher.
The league has not decided if the pitch clock will be used in the regular season yet. It can do so unilaterally, without union approval, for one year if it chooses to since it first introduced the idea last year.
There will likely be a lot of complaining about this, but as someone who has been to several minor league games with the clock in place, it’s pretty seamless and not noticeable. Minor leaguers had few if any complaints about its implementation.