A Ballplayer's Life
The Elites had only a fair season in 1947. We were better than.500 but not much. I hit the ball pretty well that season -- hit pretty well my whole career. I didn't hit like Josh or Buck Leonard, not too many guys did, but I hit for a good average and helped my team. There were some pitchers I hit very well, like Henry Miller of the Philadelphia Stars and Alex Newkirk of the New York Cubans. As a matter of fact I hit most lefthanders good but old man Tiant. Anybody that threw overhanded like this was easy for me to hit. I'd see it all the way. But if you come kind of sidearm, it's kind of hard to pick up the ball. That's why I always had a little trouble out of old man Tiant -- that's Luis Tiant, Sr. -- the daddy of Luis, Jr., who pitched for the Indians and Red Sox. Daddy threw a changeup all the time. And he threw a screwball. Old man Tiant's screwball was the best I saw in our league. That was his bread and butter pitch. He'd throw you a screwball just to get you set up. He could get you going for that screwball, get you looking. Then he'd throw a fastball down the middle of the plate and you wouldn't be ready for it. He gave me a lot of trouble. That's the only left-hander I know of gave me trouble like that. He could get you out. His boy was just like him with that herky-jerky delivery and junk he'd throw. That really frustrates a batter. So I had trouble with him for a while. Another guy that threw that screwball was Verdell Mathis of the Memphis Red Sox. I played against him quite a bit. He was a left-hander and a good pitcher all-around. He'd use that screwball on right-handed batters and, just like Tiant, it'd keep you off stride. The other thing that Mathis did that reminded me of Tiant was fool runners with a very tricky pickoff move.