The big push has started. The training camps are breaking up and the baseball boys are off on their annual cross-country barnstorming trips. Daily the rookies who failed to make the grade are dropping out at each port of call that the big league teams make in their swing around the ball parks of the nation.
Before the Giants’ trip started, Terry named the tentative first team line-up. Nowhere on the list are the names of Phil Weintraub, outfielder, or Harry Danning, catcher, to be found.
Both of these Jewish players came to Miami with high hopes ## that they had what it ## to become major leaguers. Yet they can leave with something less than chagrin. Although they didn’t come up to scratch form, these two boys have performed so consistently and admirably that Terry is worried whether to drop them now or to hold on to their contracts for a while. He still has a month, until May 15, before it becomes necessary to cut the Giants’ squad to the required twenty-three player limit. Notwithstanding their remarkable record in camp, the experts and dopesters around the training parks figure that one more year of seasoning in the minor leagues will assure these Jewish baseballers a steady berth with the Terry-men.
HARD FOR WEINTRAUB
This is particularly unfortunate for Weintraub. In the first place, Phil is no longer a youngster. He is twenty-seven and for a rookie this is an advanced age to try to crash the major circuit. Then again, he has been beaning the ball for extra-base hits ever since he landed in camp. His record at Miami is a long series of hits and doubles that came when they were needed.
Also, everybody from the batboy to the manager, has been commenting on the great spirit of this Jewish player. It’s different from the boastful elan shown by Blondy Ryan, and Terry is convinced that such a spirit on a ball club can do a great deal to help his team repeat in their battle for the pennant. Thinking about all these things is making an old-timer of this youthful manager.
Nevertheless, according to the way the wind is blowing up from the southlands, Weintraub will most likely spend the summer in Nashville, Tennessee.
AGAIN IN OUTFIELD
Phil, as you remember, tried out for a position in the Giants’ outfield. Previously he had been with the Birmingham club where he had been playing in the asparagus beds. Last year he wasn’t nearly as good in the outfield as he was at the plate with a bat in hand.
Terry, however, loaded with outfielders from the beginning, tried Phil at first. base. Evidently, the Giants’ pilot remembered that Phil had held down the first sack position both in the semi-pro and Central league ball clubs. He used Phil as a sub for himself at first, and though the latter was a bit awkward in this position he soon got back into form.
Weintraub didn’t perform any miracles at this infield post but kept coming along in such grand style that there was talk of selling Grantham down the river.
However, Leiber’s erratic performances in the daisy fields caused Terry to send Weintraub back to the fence position. The leader of the champions is firmly convinced that he can make an A-1 outfielder of Weintraub. Phil hasn’t made one error in fielding the ball, but he is too slow on the getaway and lacks the experience necessary for a major leaguer.
THE ‘FARM’ SITUATION
The Giants’ en route to New Orleans, where they will begin a series with the Cleveland Indians are stopping off at Donthan, Alabama. It is here that the Nashville outfit of the Southern Association, a class A ball team, is holding spring practice. This club is one of the Giants’ farms and is managed by Charlie Dressen.
If Weintraub and Danning show up with their Miami form they will be sent on ahead to New Orleans. Most likely they will not be released until May 15.
Terry has let his own batting average go to pot while he has been figuring on the possibilities of keeping Phil or Hank “Ach Du” Leiber as outfielders. Hank is a right-handed hitter and Weintraub swings from the left side of the plate. Inasmuch as Terry does not need a southpaw hitter, Leiber is slated to become fifth man in the Giants’ outfield.
Mel Ott, George Moore, and George Watkins, who has recently been traded to the Giants, make up the regular outfield. Lefty O’Doul is also on the reserve list which Phil had to buck up against. unless the Jewish fielder has a little more of the old shellac on his fielding technique he must be relegated to the minors for another year.
As long as Phil and Harry are with Giants’ farms, they needn’t worry. They are in very good company. However, it’s our belief that if Terry leaves these two players down in Nashville he will be doing them both an injustice.
“Weintraub has to improve his fielding,” says Terry. “Then why,” we ask, “place him in the Nashville ball park where the short right field fence will prevent him from developing his skill on line drives and ground balls?” He has never played any position other than right field. He has no faults as a fielder that practice won’t eliminate and this boy is willing to learn
HARD HITTING HARRY
Harry Danning, one of the best backstops in the minors last year, was recruited from the Buffalo Bisons. He too, along with Phil and Fresco Thompson, is slated to go back to the sticks and the bush leagues for one more season.
This is by no means a disgrace. To play in the minors is one of the best things for a youngster. There one develops the savoir-faire and the use of the skull that is essential for big time activity. Also, one gains experience and learns how to play ball.
With Gus Mancuso convalescing and destined not to cover the plate for at least another four weeks, Paul Richards, Frankie Healey, and Danning have been backing up the home sector with a dexterity that can be found only on championship ball clubs.
The first two players are better catchers than Danning. On the other hand, Danning is the slugger. In a pinch he can come through better than Paul Richards. Last year, with the Bisons, Harry cracked out a 349 batting average. Therefore, it would seem foolhardy to us were Terry to ship him to the Vols with Weintraub. The Tennessee team is only in the Class A circuit.
Rather than let this happen we feel that the manager of the Giants will let him go back to the Buffalo club which has an AA rating. Danning is much better than the Southern Association calls for. He belongs in speedier company where the pace calls for a man of Harry’s catching and hitting ability. Then again the Bisons in their International League fight this year certainly can use Danning to their advantage.
MCGRAW WAS RIGHT
If the Phil Weintraub-Hank Leiber decision is a tough hut for Terry to crack, the Healy-Richards-Danning embroglio is even more so. All three of these fellows have been standing each other off since the training campaign opened. Of course Mancuso will settle this dispute.
Richards has had the most experience of the three catchers, and uses his head when quick skull decisions are needed. Healy is just a good all-round ball player. Harry Danning is a fine catcher but by far the hardest hitter.
In the final pay-off hitting is the thing that counts. Therefore we are convinced that Weintraub and Danning will be in the big Ieague stadiums in one year. These baseballers have proved time and again to Terry that McGraw was right when he said, “What I need on the New York Giants is a hard hitting Jew.”