Three weeks and fourteen games after the start of the season, Crimson baseball fans will finally get a look at the 1974 squad on Soldiers Field this afternoon as Harvard hosts MIT in a Greater Boston league game at 3 p.m.
While travelling from the Peach State to the Sunshine State to Chestnut Hill to the Big Apple and Philly (where a doubleheader with Penn was rained out) and out to Medford Monday, Loyal Parks's club has earned 11 wins while dropping only three contests. The record up North is a spotless 3-0 mark with wins over Boston College, Columbia, and Tufts.
But if you've been clipping out those line-ups from past contests for today's game, you might as well toss them out now. The team that will take the field today bears only a small resemblance to the one that started the season in Georgia. Coach Park has had to make quite a few moves in the early going, but so far he has found that his ball players have made the adjustments with relative ease.
"I'd have to say that this year's group has more character than any I've coached," Park said yesterday. "They're confident and mature. I really can't say enough about them."
Perhaps the biggest adjustment Park was forced to make came in the infield, where Jim Thomas made the move from the outfield to handle the hot corner. Thomas had to make the switch only a day before the squad played Columbia in New York.
The transition to third base is not an easy one (ask Carl Yastrzemski about that), but Park has full confidence in Thomas, ("he's going to be an excellent third baseman.") Despite some "first game" jitters against Columbia, Thomas came up with a game-saving defensive stab in the 12th and drove in the winning run of the contest.
In addition to the loss of Thomas in left field, Park has also had to shuffle players in right field as well. Senior Dave St. Pierre suffered a hamstring injury in only the second game of the spring, and since then John Friar, Scott Adzick, and Fran Cronin have seen service out there. St. Pierre is back in the line up, but he's still not one hundred percent healthy.
Don Driscoll and Leon Goetz joined St. Pierre in the outfield in Monday's marathon game with Tufts, which Harvard won 17-12. Driscoll filled in at left, while sophomore Leon Goetz took up his usual position in center. Goetz has moved from eighth to fourth this season in the batting order.
Driscoll, who had a rocky start pitching in the South, saw plenty of action at the plate Monday and responded with a pair of key doubles. He will be back on the mound this afternoon against MIT's Dave Yauch (2-1) trying to regain his form of last season before his injury. Driscoll, however, will not get a chance to show off his offensive talents, because the new designated hitter rule will send Joe Mackey to the plate for Harvard instead.
Mackey, who leads the squad in batting, with an average hovering around the .480 mark, came close to the modern Harvard record for most hits in a game as he went five for six at the plate. Eddie Mays holds the mark, going six for seven against Boston University on April 21, 1932.
Rounding out the starting nine for today's game, Dan Williams will handle the catching chores, Leigh Hogan will play first, Ric LaCivita will be calling the infield signals from second, and Ed Durso will be at short against the underdog Engineers. Unlike last year, however, today's contest with MIT should not be such a pushover for the Crimson.
"This is the best all-around team we've had in four to five years," Engineer Coach Fran O'Brien said yesterday, "It's a veteran ball club."
O'Brien is looking forward to the contest, and isn't quite as pessimistic about his team's chances in the GBL as most predicters are. "We are a unanimous choice to finish last (in the GBL)" he said yesterday, "So I pick us as co-favorites (with Harvard) to win it all."