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Phillies Top Pirates, 4-1, as Rojas Earns His Paycheck

June 10, 1964 - Success won’t spoil Cookie Rojas (pictured). He got his first standing ovation today, and he got a bloody leg. He played shortstop for five innings and left field for four, and the Phillies beat the Pirates, 4-1, to come within a half-game of the league-leading Giants.

Rojas is hitting .388, more than Bobby Wine and Ruben Amaro combined, which is why he started at shortstop tonight. He has been on base 30 times in the last 57 at-bats, and he ought to be hammering on general manager John Quinn’s door asking for a raise, but he isn’t.

“I believe that Cookie Rojas believes in himself so much,” Gene Mauch said tonight, “that he would take a $5,000 cut for a chance to play regularly.”

Well, Mauch has been giving Rojas a chance to play regularly. Not in one spot, but regularly. Rojas played second base Saturday, center field Sunday, left field Tuesday, and shortstop today, for the first time since 1957.

“And even then, it was only five or six games,” Rojas recalled, ignoring a gash on his right leg that was oozing blood.

“The thing about this is you don’t know where you’re going to play until you get to the park. If he says play center field, I try to do my best. If he says play shortstop, I just try not to worry.”

“I worked out at shortstop in spring training,” Cookie continued. “I feel a little out of place, and I have to throw overhand instead of three-quarters. I have to cheat a little too because I don’t have the arm that Wine and Ruben have.”

He had three chances at shortstop, and then he went to left. “I try to think of what I’m going to do with the ball if it’s hit to me.”

Well, Roberto Clemente hit one to his left, and he rushed over, whirled, and threw a strike to second base to hold Clemente to a single.

Gene Freese was the next hitter, and he lofted a high foul ball near the box seat railing. Rojas pursued it, and the wind played tricks with it. Rojas had to make a diving, tumbling catch, and he ripped his leg on a gate.

That’s what got him the ovation when the inning ended. “I never got cheered like that in the big leagues,” he said. “Anybody feels great when they get a hand.”

The Phils got a couple of shaggy runs off loser Bob Friend in the second, then got two legitimate ones in the fourth on a double by Tony Gonzalez and a mammoth homer by Johnny Herrnstein.

It was Herrnstein’s first homer in Connie Mack Stadium and his first in five weeks.

“I haven’t even been hitting them out of here in batting practice,” Herrnstein confessed. “I thought maybe I didn’t have the stroke. I was worried because if it takes five weeks between homers, that’s no good.”


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