All Body Parts Are Connected

Injuries to one part of the body generally cause weakness to another.  This can be either in a specific organ or to the body as a whole.  The human body has all parts interconnected.   As an impressionable 13 year old,  I realized this in the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.   This involved a great pitcher and a third string catcher who was in only 22 games. This catcher was great on defense but an automatic out when he came to the plate.

In 1960 Vernon Law had a 20-9 record; received the Cy Young award; started the 1960 All Star Game;  pitched three perfect innings; and was the winning pitcher.  His year in 1960, together with an 18-9 mark in 1959, firmly established Law as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.  Pittsburgh had  two four game losing streaks in 1960.  On both occasions,  it was Law who snapped them.  He made sure that losing did not mean a collapse.

The catcher, Bob Oldis, had a value that went beyond measurement.  He was the court jester who kept the team loose.  A prankster with a purpose, Oldis wanted the team to win as much as any other player.  At same time,  he knew that  players  seldom perform well tightly tying themselves in knots.  Some tension is desirable as teams compete to win games.  The Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960 won the World Series 4 games to 3.  That year Bob Oldis, through the strength of his personality, help loosen tension whenever it was required.


However, at year end Bob Oldis let his antics get out of hand.  On the next to last weekend of the season, the Pirates lost to the Milwaukee Braves.  This was on a Sunday,  the last game of a three game set.  On the same day, the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field defeated the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched first place in the National League.

There was a wild and raucous time on the airplane from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh.  The the team really cut loose. Vernon was an ordained minister of the Mormon Church.  While  never pompous or self righteous, Law was not given to any wild celebrations.  Nevertheless, Bob Oldis did not let Law alone.  He foolishly grabbed Law’s foot and twisted his legs, back, and arms. Law started three games in the World Series, winning two and going six innings in the final game.  Law favored his left leg while pitching.  This put undo pressure on his right arm.  Vernon  tore and pulled his muscles.  The right arm though was the key.

Vernon was in and out of the pitching rotation over the next four years.  He was a courageous and determined athlete.   Late in 1964, Law began showing flashes of brilliance that reminded older fans of his Cy Young year in 1960.  Everything finally paid off in the streaky season of 1965.   He won the Comeback of the Year Award despite some early problems.  Lost the first five decisions 0-5; won eight in a row 8-5;  lost four in a row 8-9; won nine in a row 17-9.

That was a up and down but still great season.  It reminded me of an electrocardiogram.   His season showed his efforts over the years over really paid off.  Nevertheless,  that airplane injury may have cost him a place the The Baseball Hall of Fame.





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