Daryl Spencer was a reliable defensive player who was known for hitting in the clutch, but did you know that he also contributed to changing the game in Japan? From an excellent biography at the SABR project by Bob Rives:
"When I first went over there, I learned you couldn't tell them how to do things. You had to show them and prove it. They wouldn't even try to break up a double play at second base. They'd usually take a right turn when they got close to second on a potential double play grounder. That really irritated me.Below are complete scans of every page from Daryl Spencer's 1961 Union Oil Dodger Family Booklet. Click any pic to embiggen.
"We're playing one day, the score is 0-0 and it's the bottom of the eighth. They walked me to get to our clean-up hitter and I told Gordon Windhorn, my teammate who is on second, "If this batter hits a groundball, don"t stop on third. I'm gonna take out the guy at second."
"Two pitches later he hits a ball to short, they threw it to second and I knock the second baseman down pretty good and he drops the ball. Windhorn comes around and scores. They call a time-out and argued for 30 minutes. In Japan it was customary for the umpires to get together and make a joint decision. They finally decided there was nothing illegal about my slide and we won the game 1-0.
"The next day, one of our guys slides and knocks down the second baseman and all of sudden the whole style of play is changed in Japan.
"Then I knocked down a catcher a few days later and won a ballgame and our guys started sliding like that. Even with all the home runs I hit, I'm more famous in Japan for my sliding," he remembers.
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