FanPost

HBP: from the legend of "Sal the Barber" to the present PT1


 When I was very young I often heard comparisons of pitchers who were their teams enforcers to the pitcher who defined the meanest pitcher there ever was... Sal Maglie. Sal played with several teams in his career. He was the epitome of the guy you did not want to face when you really had to get it done. His nick name " the Barber" was from all the close "shaves" he delivered. Sal ruled the game through intimidation. He defined the difference between the plunk, the drill and genuine malice.

I mentioned in the game post yesterday how Sal cowed even umpires. He had a play designed to drill the home plate umpire in the mask. If the ump was unfairly in Sal's opinion trying to influence a game; he'd get drilled. He did it just enough times in his career to put it in the Umps minds; and not enough to get thrown out of baseball for it. This sounds apocharphal but he'd actually was known to call time out and drill a batter in the on deck circle for various offences. You never crowded the plate or stood with a closed stance and dive toward the plate to cover the out side half. To do so was an invitation to eat dirt. The one warning you'd get was the "close shave" from the "chin music".

Don Drysdale was a classic enforcer; at the begining of each season he'd write a list of names in his hat of people who needed drilling from offences not recompensed from the previous season. Drysdale would show annoyance with you with the plunk. A breaking pitch designed to hit you in the elbow. It wasn't to cause lasting damage but, you were warned. Particularly late in his career when was playing hurt; Drysdale would plunk a pest who was driveing up his pitch count. "That's the price for your gift you BUM!"

Drysdale would head hunt opposing pitchers on occasion. Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson toned down somewhat when facing the Dodgers. A sort of truce was informally called at one point. Several catchers got beaned in the compromise. While Drysdale did enforce; he did it mostly to defend his teammates. Malice was only shown to those who committed it.

Bob Gibson was my generation's classic intimidator. He was a head hunter plain and simple. Mere annoyance would usually get you drilled. A fastball aimed at the ribs with intent to sit you out for awhile. Gibson would yell at you that the outside half was his and his alone. Umpires disagreed at their peril. Batters disagreed in total jeopardy. Remember this was before batting helmets. A pitch in the ear was devastating. Gibson would tell you he'd stick a pitch there and do it.

Willie Mays was so intimidated by Gibson; he'd try anything to get out of facing him. I forget which one of Willie's managers said enough; but here was how it was handled. The game was in Saint Louis in the original Busch. The Giants were down 3-2 in the eighth Saint Louis batting with a runner on second. Gibson stepped to the plate. Time was called. Willie was called to the mound from center field. The pitcher was sent to right field and one of the Alou brothers was sent to center. The manager told Willie he had a half dozen pitches to warm up and four pitches to DRILL Gibson "or else". Before collective bargaining "or else" meant your career was done. Baseball was life to Willie Mays. Gibson got drilled hard enough to miss a start. The benches cleared. Saint Louis protested the results of the game the Giants won. The NL actually banned pitchers from remaining in the game after being sent from the mound for the rest of the season.

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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