"I HATE EVERY HITTER"
As a former magazine editor, I love browsing through old magazines. Holding a garage sale and have a box of crusty old magazines you want to get rid of? I'll take 'em. I came across some old sports magazines from the early 1960s and discovered this wonderful hard-edged essay by Warren Spahn, who The New York Times described in his 2003 obituary as a "left-handed craftsman of the baseball mound."
The first two grafs:
"Every hitter is my enemy. I hate all hitters. Stan Musial is this nicest guy in the world but when he's up there at the plate and I'm out there on the mound, I hate him--that is, until after he cracks a hit off me, or I get him out. Then I stop hating him--until he comes up to bat again and I start hating him all over again.
"Does that make sense? You bet it does. Big Frank Howard of the Dodgers is one of the strongest men I've ever seen. He's got power, make no mistake about that. When that guy hits the ball solid, sawdust comes out of his bat. What kind of mood am I supposed to be when I face a slugger like that? He's out to knock my brains out. Sure I hate him. He's my enemy. All batters are a pitcher's enemy. I wouldn't give my son Greg a good pitch if he got up there in the batter's box. It's got to be that way if you're going to survive. There are only a handful of pitchers who can overpower the hitters. The rest of us have got to try to fool them."
And the last paragraph:
"How long will I go on? as long as I get a kick out of it. Guys who pitch strictly for the money are crazy. I mean if you can't enjoy it, you got a lousy job. Baseball is not only my bread and butter, it's my life. What is life, after all, but a challenge between men? By the same token, what better challenge can there be in baseball than the one between the pitcher and the hitter? Stripped down to its bare essentials, that basically is baseball--the never-ending duel between the pitcher and hitter. That's why I'm a pitcher. I live on competition. And as long as I'm out there on the mound, I'll never give a hitter an inch. And I won't be afraid of him. I may respect him, but I won't fear him. All a pitcher has to do is remember he's one human being pitted against another."