Take Me Out to the Games Machine

Jerry Loomis writes fantastic stories. Let’s have more from him.

Marilyn McMeen Miller Provo, Utah

Congratulations on the fine story “Take Me Out to the Games Machine” by Jerry Loomis. As interesting as the story was, it did contain two errors. Roger Maris did in fact play with St. Louis of the National League for a short time; however, he spent most of his time with the New York Yankees. It was while with the Yankees that Maris hit his record 61 home runs. The second error was Mr. Loomis’ description of Musial’s slide into first base ahead of Mantle’s throw. First base is overrun by all players as it has proven to be faster and more effective than sliding.

Thanks again for a most enjoyable story.

Forrest C. Allred Aberdeen, South Dakota

The Games Machine computer put in quite a bit of computer time on the dilemma of Roger Maris. Where do you place a man who hits a record 61 home runs in a season for one team, then moves to a team in the other league and plays the greatest World Series of his career?

Roger Maris played seven years for the New York Yankees of the American League (1960–1966), and the Yankees won five pennants and two World Series in those seven years. He hit his record 61 home runs in 1961.

But his record was not enough to win a permanent place for him in the hearts of the New York fans. In the end they turned against him, ridiculing him mercilessly even as he played the game for their own team. As a result, his great career with the New York Yankees came to a tragic ending. He was finally traded all the way out of the American League.

The Saint Louis Cardinals of the National League received him gladly. The fans welcomed him and treated him as a hero. He played two years for Saint Louis before he retired, and though he set no home run records for them, he helped them win the pennant both years.

The climax came in the 1967 World Series when the Cardinals went up against the Boston Red Sox and the mighty Carl Yastrzemski, winner of the American League triple crown in batting for the year (batting average, home runs, and runs batted in). In that Series, Roger Maris pounded out ten hits, with a batting average of .385 and a slugging average of .538, struck out only once, and drove seven runs across the plate. Each one of these feats was his all-time best performance in any World Series. He produced a total of ten runs, including the runs he scored himself and the runs he batted in, which beat triple crown winner Yastrzemski and everyone else in the Series.

Roger Maris played the greatest World Series of his life in 1967 for the Saint Louis Cardinals, repaying the fans and players who had shown faith in him after the New York fans had rejected him.

The Cardinals won the Series four games to three. For the record, Bob Gibson was the Cardinal pitching hero for that Series, winning three games and losing none. He pitched every inning of the three games, scored 26 strikeouts, and pitched his way to a 1.00 earned-run average.

When the Games Machine computer was trying to compute where to place Roger Maris, it finally decided to put him where it thought he would be happiest—playing in a Saint Louis Cardinal uniform beside his old teammate Bob Gibson.

Even a Games Machine computer has a heart.

Brother Allred is on the ball! First base is normally overrun—except sometimes. And Stan Musial’s slide into first is one of those times.

Here is the action from “Take Me Out to the Games Machine”:

“Young looked at Robinson, then wheeled and fired a fast pitch to Musial; Musial met it with the bat and laced it over the first baseman’s head and on into short right field. Mickey Mantle fielded it on one hop and threw to Lou Gehrig at first; Musial slid in just ahead of the throw.

“And Jackie Robinson rounded third base and pounded down the line for home!”

When the action is fast and furious, a writer must imply some things rather than slow down the reader with too much description. No mention is made of the fact that the first baseman leaped for the ball as it went over his head, but does anyone think that Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, didn’t jump for that ball just as high as he could? When he came down from his leap, he had to do two things: catch Mantle’s throw from the outfield, and then either touch the bag with his foot or tag Stan Musial with the ball, whichever would be faster. This would depend upon his position with regard to the bag and to Musial, and also his momentum as he moved to catch Mantle’s throw.

Musial would know all this, and so would the first-base coach. If Gehrig’s best play would be to go for the bag, then Musial’s best play would be to overrun the bag. But if Gehrig’s best move would be to try for a tag, and if the play was going to be close, Stan’s best play would be to slide for the bag, trying to avoid the tag.

The very fact that Stan did slide in at first implies just how close the play was and shows the speed, skill, and daring needed for Jackie Robinson to round third base and try for a score. Stan’s slide was no accident; it was used deliberately to show what a great baserunner Jackie Robinson was.

But with Stan Musial sliding into first base and Jackie Robinson pounding down the line for home, this is no place to halt the action in order to discuss the fine points of first-base running and sliding techniques. Any writer who tries such a trick may receive some letters similar to one received by the author of a book on penguins, who received the following feedback from a little girl:

Dear Madam:

Your book tells more about penguins than I want to know.

Jerry Emerson Loomis

I was “chairbound”

Last night I picked up the New Era—I kept on reading, and read the entire magazine without moving from my chair. It is a great magazine.

After spending last week in Provo attending Education Week at BYU, where I would have enjoyed hearing from you, I returned home filled with enthusiasm and additional zest for life. Reading your choice magazine was like a continuation of Education Week.

Edythe C. Johnson Salt Lake City, Utah