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Bill White on Don Drysdale: “he threw spitballs”

Mar 28, 2011, 10:33 AM EDT

Cardinals' Bill White Posing with Bat

Bill White, former Cardinals first baseman, broadcaster and former President of the National League, has a new autobiography coming out called “Uppity: My Untold Story About The Games People Play.”  He sat for an interview with the Cardinals blog Retro Simba. It’s a neat interview, with additional parts to come. My favorite Q&A in the first segment:

Q: In May 1960, you set a career high with 6 RBI in a game at the L.A. Coliseum, hitting two home runs, both off Don Drysdale. Your career batting average against Drysdale was .326 with seven home runs. Why were you so successful against him?

Bill White: Because he threw spitballs. It actually was oil he kept on the back of his hair. And when you loaded the ball up, it sunk. And I was a low-ball hitter. He was throwing to my strength.

That Drysdale threw a spitter is not new information — I’ve read it a bunch of places before — but it’s fun to hear that kind of stuff anyway. Oh, and remember when Drysdale showed up at Greg Brady’s house and told him he could be a bonus baby? And how Greg let it go to his head and even considers dropping out of school? Yeah, that whole thing could have worked if Drysdale showed Greg the secrets of the spitball.

Anyway, while that may be my favorite answer, White’s comments about segregation in the Cardinals’ spring training home of the early 60s and in St. Louis is more significant reading. Check it out.

(via BTF)

  1. BC - Mar 28, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Drysdale would also take your head off if he had the chance. He and Gibson were just plain scary to dig in against.

    • hep3 - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      It would have been interesting to see a Barry Bonds, Sosa, Reggie Jackson, pose after a homerun off Drysdale or Gibson. I have to believe they would be tasting horsehide and shortly after that eating through a straw. It is the posing part that would have sent Drysdale and Gibson to the dark side.

  2. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    In August of ’59, I was in SF with my grandparents. The Cardinals were staying in the same hotel that we were. I was in heaven. I got autographs from several players. I remember getting autographs from Curt Flood and Bob Gibson. One player in particular wouldn’t give me an autograph, Bill White. He said he wasn’t a ball player and the his name was “Willie Woods”. I remember getting into the elevator with Curt, Gibby, and “Willie Woods” and trying to get his autograph. Curt and Gibby were chuckling the whole ride up. It is one of my foadest memories, being teased by my big league heroes.

    Bill White was always one of my favorites growing up. He was a classic streak hitter. When he was going bad I could have throw the ball unhand and got him out. When he was hot, it didn’t matter if it was Koufax on the mound, White would rip the ball.

    One more memory from that trip. Early on the Sunday morning Lindy McDaniel. He gave me his autograph and I ask him where the rest of the player were. He told me they were all asleep and that he was only one to get and go to church. If I remember right, Lindy was a deacon in his church.

  3. mplsjoe - Mar 28, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    Shouldn’t we kick Drysdale out of the Hall of Fame for cheating? We won’t let in people we suspect with no proof might have used PEDs because if they did use steroids – which we don’t know – they would have been gaining an artificial advantage (even though it wasn’t against the rules for most of the years at issue). But when a HOFer actually cheats, we smile and nod and look the other way.

    I’ll be a happy man the day someone convincingly explains to me why throwing spitballs isn’t cheating but using PEDs is.

    • jm1012 - Mar 29, 2011 at 12:32 AM

      Throwing spitballs is illegal, just like scuffing the ball or using a corked bat. The difference is that, unlike PEDs, doctored balls can be detected by the umpires during the game.

      That “wasn’t against the rules” argument is really tired. Does something that’s against the law have to be spelled out in the baseball rules? I don’t think there’s an MLB rule that says you can’t kick the opposing catcher in the ‘nads on a play at the plate, but you still can’t do it.

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