In lieu of actual baseball, I’ll be posting snippets that were cut from The Baseball Codes as a way of amusing myself and, hopefully, you. Today’s theme: intimidation.
In 1962, Don Drysdale, on first base, steamed into second on what turned out to be a foul grounder by Maury Wills, and took out Cardinals second baseman Julian Javier with a hook slide to break up what he thought would be a double play. That made Javier angry.
On the following pitch, Wills hit a ball to shortstop Dal Maxvill, who fed Javier for the force. Drysdale, out by too much to even think about repeating his slide, veered out of the baseline to avoid the throw, which didn’t much matter to Javier.
“He aimed the ball directly at me,” said Drysdale. “I was well on the outside of the basepath, knowing I was already out, and Javier’s throw wound up hitting the auxiliary scoreboard in short right field—eighty feet from the bag, and in foul territory. He’d had no idea whatsoever of throwing to first base. He wanted to hit me in the head, and if I hadn’t ducked, he would have.” Without a word, Drysdale returned to the dugout. His turn would come.
The next time Javier stepped to the plate, Drysdale aimed a fastball at his chin. “He went down like he’d been shot out of a cannon,” wrote Drysdale in Once a Bum, Always a Dodger, “his helmet flying one way, his glasses going up in the air. When he got up, it looked like he’d been in a flour sack. He was filthy.” The Cardinals complained vociferously about what they felt was a bad slide, compounded by Drysdale’s decking of their player.
That was the game Drysdale played, though. He welcomed all shots, with the clear understanding that the final word would eventually be his. In this instance, the Cardinals didn’t tempt him further. They knew too well what might happen if they did.