1962: Craft Pulled Out No Rabbits

The headline portion of John Daily’s column
New York Times
April 17, 1962


New York Times News Services, 4/17/1962:

Craft Pulled Out No Rabbits


New York Times News Services

NEW YORK (April 17, 1962) – Harry Craft, a novice gunslinger in the rowdy frontierland of the National League, already has three notches on his Colt .45s. The Cubs were shot down three times in a row and sent squirming into the dust with lefthanded salvos.

But Casey Stengel, once the fastest gun in the west, has yet to draw his six-shooter from the holster. His Mets have been picked by everyone to draw a bead on them. The big showdown will take place at the Polo Grounds Tuesday. Craft and Stengel will shoot it out at 90 feet.

Can’t Always Buck Percentages

The Colts and the Mets are the newcomers in the expanded National League. They don’t have much ammunition. That’s why it was such a stunning surprise when three lefties from Houston – Bobby Shantz, Hal Woodeshick and Dean Stone – drilled holes in the Cubs on the first three days of the season. Few were more astonished than Stengel.

* * *

“I don’t understand it,” the Ol’ Perfesser was saying the other day. “It ain’t the same thing but I kin remember one year when the Pirates was loaded with lefty hitters. Let’s see. There was Vaughan, Suhr, Big Waner, Little Waner, the Ketcher and the second baseman whose name escapes me but he lives in Phoenix and sells insurance. As near as I can figger out Pie Traynor was the only righty hitter. Everyone said: lefties will murder ‘em. So thirteen lefties went in against the Pirates which knocked out twelve of ‘em. Ya never know.”

* * *

The Stengel observation was offered Monday to Craft.

“It doesn’t apply to the Cubs,” said Harry. “They have only three lefthanded hitters. Altman, Williams and Brock. You’ve probably forgotten but I was one of the rotating managers of the Cubs and I know all about them. I didn’t pull any rabbits out of hats.

Craft Likes Rotating Managers

“I just went along with the percentages and baseball percentages are the same as gambling percentages. If you persist in bucking them, you go home in a barrel. The record of the Cubs is clear. They lost 33 games to lefties last year and beat only 16. We had three lefties ready. We used them. It’s as simple as that.

“When I was on the Chicago staff, I noticed that the lefties were using us as stepping stones, especially kid pitchers like O’Toole and Sadecki or comeback veterans like Simmons and Mizell. Guys like Spahn you just take for granted. They win against any team.”

Perhaps it was a loaded question but did Craft agree with most baseball experts that Phil Wrigley’s system of running a ball club was inherently unsound? In the Cub scheme of things there is no manager but a rotating squad of coaches, shuttling from the post of head coach to minor league assignments.

* * *

“No,” said the Houston manager emphatically. “I like it. I rotated twice last year to the minors, for two weeks at San Antonio in May and for six weeks to Houston at the end of the season. This makes the kids in the minors feel that the big club is interested in them.

“I’m sure it’s sped up the development of a lot of players. Lou Brock and Ken Hubbs are rookies now but they can’t miss being great stars, even though they’ve leaped all the way from Class B and C. Wait and see.”

~ New York Times News Services, 4/17/1962


Another subject resource column contribution from researcher Darrell Pittman.

Thanks, as always, Darrell!


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas



One Response to “1962: Craft Pulled Out No Rabbits”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    Very perceptive on that Lou Brock kid! Hubbs was an up and comer till his untimely death.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: