From the S&S archives: Giants' drill, Leo's antics delight fans
October 16, 1953
TOKYO — The New York Giants went through their first workouts at Korakuen Stadium yesterday afternoon before some 5,000 delighted Japanese baseball fans.
Leo Durocher put his men through all the paces — hitting, running, fielding and pitching — in a brisk two-hour workout that had the Giants sweating freely under a warm October sun. Batting eyes which were slightly dull sharpened up after a trip or two to the plate, and by the end of the practice session the Giants were denting the fences with stinging line drives, despite the somewhat dead Japanese ball being used. Third Baseman Hank Thompson lifted two shots high up into the right held stands and Center Fielder Dusty Rhodes parked another clout in the same spot.
Each of the Giants' six pitchers — Jim Hearn, Al Corwin, Monte Kennedy, Hoyt Wilhelm, Al Worthington and Marv Grissom — put in a stint on the mound hurling batting practice. None of the pitchers threw hard; loosening up was the order of the day.
The Giant infield made themselves right at home on the Korakuen diamond. While most of the players expressed surprise over the fact that infield was "skinned" — dirt covered instead of grass — it didn't hinder them a bit. All of them believed that the diamond, which was wet down for yesterday's workout, would be very fast once it dried out. The keystone combination — Second baseman Davey Williams and Shortstop Daryl Spencer — looked very sharp.
Durocher provided a field day for the Japanese. His antics while hitting fungoes to the infield drew round after round of applause. The use, and misuse, of the Japanese language Leo has picked up kept the fans laughing. And on the fungo bunt, which the catcher is supposed to handle, Durocher ran clear out to the mound, blocked Backstops Wes Westrum and Sam Calderone and otherwise generally made life tough several times.
Underlying the humor however, Durocher maintained a strictly businesslike attitude. He barked commands in a brisk tone and there was no mistaking the idea behind them. Leo kept the team hustling every minute, with brief breaks for photos and questions from the press.
The Giants were scheduled for another practice drill this afternoon, their final workout before tangling with the Tokyo Giants tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. in the first game of their 14-game Japan tour.