In the '40s, Billy [Martin] went to Berkeley High School, and I went to a little school
that produced Norm Van Brocklin, the great quarterback, called Acalenes High
School. Billy was a senior and I was a junior, and I was a big phenom in the
Bay area. So my coach and their coach were in different leagues and said,
"Well, let's see what this little guy can do against a bigger school," 'cause
we had about a thousand kids and they had about 5,000 kids, and Billy was the
So I'm in the seventh inning and I've got a no-hitter and I'm beating them
1-0, and Billy's in the on-deck circle and he's taunting me as I'm taking my
warm-ups. "I'm going to beat you single-handedly, you little son of a gun.
I'll beat you-."
So he gets a bloop single over second base, gets on first base, steals second,
taunting me the whole way. Gets on second, steals third. Gets on third, and he
steals home, but as he's almost to home plate, the batter fouled the ball off.
That would have tied the game. Billy had to go back to third base, and I
subsequently got the guy out somehow, and we won the game 1-0.
About 10 years later, in 1956, we became teammates in Cleveland. In about the
sixth, seventh inning, I got taken out of a game. Finally, Billy gets out of
the game and he comes in while I'm taking a shower. I've got soap suds all
over my head and I can't see, but I feel some warm water on my leg. I get the
soap suds out of my eyes, and I said, "What the heck are you doing?"
He said, "I'm taking a leak on you. You son of a gun, if that guy hadn't have
fouled the ball off back in 1946, I'd have beat you single-handedly."
From Tales from Baseball's Golden Age by Gene Fehler.
Copyright © 2000 by Gene Fehler. Reprinted with permission.