Fergie and Cindy and Maury Wills and his friend Jane Morris and Ivory and I hit St. Thomas one day and San Juan another, and though the schedule didn't allow us enough time ashore, the time we did have was relaxed and pleasant.
"Two very nice couples," said Ivory.
Well, yes. But the guys could play. And look at them—if you were casting a canny, loose-limbed mound mainstay and a peppy, edgy leadoff man, they would be just right. These guys are touchstones.
After Maury gave a bunting demonstration on the deck of the Norway, I got into bat handling with him. "You said you have to put bottomspin on the ball, to make it back up, but you also said to bunt the top of the ball, to keep it down," I said. "How can you put bottomspin on the top of the ball?"
And do you know what Maury Wills said to me? He said, "I've taught hundreds of major leaguers how to bunt, and you're the first person to ask me that question."
Here's the answer: "The bottomspin is in the timing, the give of the bat."
But what I'm wondering is, Is that why I'm not a legend? Because I ask the wrong questions?
Anyway, in St. Thomas we three couples tried to look up Maury's old teammate Al McBean, but there was nobody in the Hall of Records. In San Juan we saw a trolley car called El Trolley Diet Pepsi and a sign that said USE NUESTRO LAY-AWAY PLAN. Jenkins, by the way, is now a rancher in Guthrie, Okla., and Wills lives in Redondo Beach, Calif., and docs public relations for several companies. And I wasn't in an interviewing mood. The locals in San Juan could tell that Fergie was somebody, and T-shirt vendors cried, "Maury Wills—the Dodgers. Don Drysdale. Sandy Koufax. You the little guy!" And Maury, who never made $100,000 except one year in Canadian money, picked up a USA Today and spent a good deal of time reading the salaries: "The Cubs have a guy named Assenmacher who is making a million dollars," he would say.
But basically we were cruising, shopping, not competing.
Except in recollection. Maury remembered being in a Superstars competition a few years after he retired as a player and losing in the finals to Ben Davidson, the old Oakland Raider. "I was crying," Maury said. "On television. Tears running and my face all ugly."