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S.F. Manager Alvin Dark: Opposing Pitchers “Picking Off Our Men, One by One”

July 14, 1963 - Alvin Dark (pictured with Willie Mays) said today he would risk life suspension from baseball rather than not order retaliatory knockdowns on pitchers who hit his players. The San Francisco Giant manager made clear his sentiment after Willie McCovey was hit and Willie Mays low-bridged by Ryne Duren in yesterday’s game in Philadelphia. “The opposing pitchers are picking our men off one by one, and it must stop,” Dark declared. “I’ve made repeated protests to the umpires, and they have done nothing. If the umpires won’t protect our players, I will — even if I’m suspended for life.” Dark said he would order his pitchers to throw at opposing hurlers who throw at any of his Giants. Dark was ejected from yesterday’s game after complaining to the plate umpire, Shag Crawford, when McCovey was hit and when Mays hit the dirt. “Crawford said Duren wasn’t throwing at Mays because it was a breaking pitch,” Dark said. “That’s a lot of baloney. They’ve been throwing hard sliders at Mays and some of our other players and knocking them down just as effectively as if they’d thrown a fastball. I’m fed up with it. Last Sunday we lost a third baseman, rookie Jim Hart, when he was hit in St. Louis, and yet the umpires said they could nothing about it. When we play good ball and get beat, I don’t mind, but when we have to this other stuff, I’m going to do something about it. Crawford, in my opinion, is one of the best umpires in the league — he’s always hustling out there — but he handled this thing like an amateur, and he’s too good an umpire to do that.” As for Duren, he denied the charge. “Throwing at a hitter is not part of the game and never was,” Duren said. “Sure, I was trying to pitch low and inside to McCovey because he stands right up on the plate, but I wasn’t trying to hit him. And the pitch to Mays was a slider that got away from me. You don’t throw sliders if you are throwing at someone. I could not throw at a hitter and live with myself if I caved his head in, and I don’t believe any other pitcher tries to either. I don’t think you try to hurt anybody to stay in this game. The good pitchers never hit anyone, but I’m not blessed with their control.”


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