Ralph Houk once said that only one thing could stop Whitey Ford from winning an important game--another superb pitcher. Over the past two years only a supreme pitching effort has been able to defeat Harvard's Paul Del Rossi, and that has only happened twice in 19 decisions.
Bob Kelly of Yale is one of the two men who hold victories over Del Rossi, and he will be eager to make it two when the Crimson faces the Blue in Kindlestick Park this afternoon before an expected 5,000 Class Day fans.
Because Harvard's game with Yale during the regular season was rained out, today's match has added significance. Both teams enter the game with 4-4 records in the Eastern Baseball League, and the winner will earn a place in the first division.
Although the field will be damp from thundershowers that are expected to continue into the early morning, clearing skies and temperatures of 70 degrees are predicted for game time.
If Harvard plays up to its potential, alumni will have a chance to see one of the finest Crimson teams in recent years. But the Crimson has acted in peculiar fashion this season. After winning its first six games, it booted one to Penn, was handcuffed by Columbia and Brown, and quickly dropped out of the Eastern League pennant picture.
Despite slump tendencies, though, the club did compile a worthy 15-6 record, and came on with finesse in May to capture the Greater Boston League crown for the second successive year. The insertion of sophomore Mike Patrick into the lineup apparently provided the needed tonic.
Del Rossi rarely slumps. A tricky left-hander who effectively uses curves and change-ups to embellish his fast ball, he has struck out 65 this year in 73 1/3 innings, and maintained a 2.20 ERA. Should a Yalie reach first, watch Del Rossi closely for his pick-off play, thought by many to be better than that of most major leaguers.
The majority of Crimson hits this year have begun off the bats of second baseman Terry Bartolet (.351), center-fielder Gavin Gilmor (.338) and shortstop Tom Bilodeau (.302). Lead-off hitter Curly Combs (.299) has had some big games, and considerable power resides in the wrists of first baseman Tom Stephenson (.288), and speedy, All-America hopeful catcher Dick Diehl.
Regular third-baseman Lee Sargent will miss today's game, and his place will probably be filled by glove specialist Bobby St. George.