Standout Leadoff Hitters Now Rated Dime a Dozen: Outstanding Array Now Playing in American, National Leagues, Daily Racing Form, 1950-05-15


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Standout Leadoff Hitters Now Rated Dime a Dozen Outstanding Array Now Playing In American, National Leagues By MILTON RICIIMAN United Press Sports Writer NEW YORK, N. Y., May 13.— Standout leadoff hitters, who used to come* one in a thousand, today are a dime a dozen. It has been a long time since the major leagues could point with pride to such an outstanding array of leadoff men as there are in the big time today. Little Miller Huggins, who* won six pennants with the New York Yankees while piloting them from 1918 through 1929, once observed that it was virtually Impossible for a team to be successful without a first-class leadoff hitter. Max Bishop of. the Athletics, Earl Combs of the Yankees* and Joe Moore of the Giants -were among the great leadoff men of the past two decades. Each had an exceptionally good eye at the plate and each drew a goodly number of walks. Todays crop includes Fee Wee Reese of the Dodgers, Dom DiMaggio of the Red Sox, Eddie Stanky of the Giants, Phil Riz-zuto of the Yankees, Eddie Joost of the Athletics, Richie Ashburn of the Phillies and occasionally Lou Boudreau of the Indians. . Managers insist the chief function of the leadoff man is to get on base. It doesnt matter how he gets on — via a base hit, a walk or being hit by a pitch — just so long as he gets on. "If youll notice," points out Cincinnati, manager Luke Sewell, "its usually the first man up in an inning who will start a big rally." Guys like Reese, Stanky, Joost, Ashburn, Boudreau, Rizzutd and DiMaggio are masters in the art of getting on base. Rizzuto and Ashburn are specialists at beating out bunts; Stanky and Joost own an uncanny faculty for coaxing walks; Boudreau is famed for the frequency with which he is hit by a pitched ball, while Reese and DiMaggio usually break out in a rash of line singles. When Boudreau bats lower in the lineup, he delegates outfielder Dale Mitchell to the number one spot. The husky flychaser also has learned how to get on base as often as possible. There is often a tendency for managers to name the fastest player in the lineup as the leadoff hitter. The Phillies use that system with Ashburn, the Pirates with Cramer "Ted" Beard, the Reds with Bobby Adams, the White Sox with Paul Busby and the Senators with Gil Coan. The pilots figure the first man up to get on somehow, the second man up to move him to second and the cleanup hitters to do the rest. In the same vein, many managers urge their pitchers to concentrate strongest on the first man up every inning, going on the assumption that, if he is retired, little .damage can result. Many American League pitchers claim that Joost is the most difficult man to pitch to in the circuit. They add he is an excellent judge of balls and strikes. Over in the National League, Stanky gets the palm hands down. He has made a full-time career out of taking a walk.

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