Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Maglie and Drysdale, linked in today's History and the Intimidation Factor

Sal Maglie, a Brooklyn Dodger in 1956-57

So the last time the Dodgers pulled off consecutive shutouts of the Giants on the road was July 1-2, 1957 at the Polo Grounds in New York.  Who did it?  Sal Maglie and Don Drysdale.  Coincidently, a few months ago I began to prepare a historical piece on Maglie and how he mentored young Don Drysdale as his career started.  The fact is, Maglie was instrumental in teaching Drysdale the intimidation factor that he used for so many years to dominate hitters during his Hall of Fame career.
Sal Magle is remembered as a New York Giant.  He was hated in Brooklyn for years.  The mortal enemy.  The dirty pitcher that dared throw at our hitters.  He was a Dodger killer, having defeated them 23 times over the course of his career.  His beanball wars and knockdown mentality had made him the most hated of the hated ones. But in 1956, he suddenly became one of the boys from Flatbush.  An unfathomable proposition it seemed.
Sal Maglie was traded to the Dodgers  from the Cleveland Indians on May 15, 1956 after team captain Pee Wee Reese consulted with the players and gave the okay, Buzzie Bavazi made the deal.  “I’m glad he’s with us,” said Jackie Robinson on the day of his arrival.  “He is still a good pitcher and you know what a great competitor he is.”  Robinson was interviewed by the Brooklyn Eagle on the day of the trade.   Jackie had brawled with Maglie many times in the past, but he was ready to let bygones be bygones and embrace him as a teammate.   The Giants Promotional Director, Garry Schumacher joked saying “I wonder who they’ll pick for a roomie for Sal when they go on the road?”  (Source: Brooklyn Eagle, May 16, 1956)
Maglie was a Dodger from May 15, 1956 until August 31, 1957.  His presence on the Dodger staff was so impactful, that he finished second in Cy Young Award voting to teammate Don Newcombe during his first year as a Dodger.  Magle finished the 1956 year at 13-5 with a 2.95 ERA.  He won his only World Series Game as a Dodger, winning game one 6-3.  He also was the hardluck loser in Don Larson’s perfect game later in the series.

This youtube clip is of Maglie's appearance on the game show "What's My Line?"  Sal appeared on the show the day before he lost to Don Larsen in game 6 of the 1956 World Series.  It was the only  perfect game ever thrown in World Series history.
Sal “the Barber” Maglie is known as his ferociousness as a Giant starter that wasn’t immune to throwing the brushback pitch.  His chin music earned him his nickname.   After his retirement from the game, Magle had this to say about his pitching philosophy:
“You’ll find in almost all cases that pitchers will not deliberately throw at a batter to injure him.  If you go out on the mound to deliberately throw at a batter, you won’t last long.  A fight will break out and you’ll be gone.  But a pitcher has to throw in tight as protection.  With a lot of hitters, like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, I had to throw in tight.  If you didn’t, you took a chance of them hitting one out on you.  I guess the whole secret is to let the batter think you’re going to throw at him.  Give him all the body motions and all, and you’ll have him thinking so much about getting hit that he’ll lose his concentration on hitting the ball.  It really works.  I should know.” (Source: Randy Shultz , Baseball Digest)
What few have recognized is the fact that in Maglie’s 16 months as a Dodger he had a lasting impact that defined the career as an intimidator to a young Dodger rookie and future Hall of Famer, Don Drysdale. Maglie worked with the young 6 foot 6 inch, 215 lb. fireballer.  Telling him to use his size and power to intimidate hitters inside.  Don would later say: "What being around [Sal] Maglie did for me was to confirm this idea in my mind and refine it. It was part of the game. I watched Maglie, I listened to Maglie, and it all sunk in. It just sort of clicked."
Roy Campanella and a young Don Drysdale carry Maglie off the field on September 25, 1956.  He had just pitched a no-hitter against Philadelphia.
Drysdale later used what Maglie showed him as a psychological advantage the rest of his career.  It wasn’t that he was throwing at hitters, he just let them think he was.  Of course his quotes fueled the fires of controversy:
"I hate all hitters. I start a game mad and I stay that way until it's over."
"My own little rule was two for one. If one of my teammates got knocked down, then I knocked down two on the other team."
"The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid, and if he is timid, he has to remind the hitter he's timid."
And Don’s opponents believed the quotes and feared his reputation.  Former Cardinal Mike Shannon said, “Don Drysdale would consider an intentional walk a waste of three pitches. If he wants to put you on base, he can hit you with one pitch." 
So today, as the Dodgers completed a historical feat by shutting out the Giants for two consecutive days on the road, a visit back in history links Billingsley and Kershaw to Drysdale and Maglie in 1957.  Pitching styles of each duo couldn't be more different.  Results in the two games were quite similar though.  

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