Two of the finest hitters I ever saw, Tommy Davis and Bob Watson, graced the grounds of Scottsdale Stadium on Thursday. Spring training is all about the rekindling of a sporting romance, and in such close quarters, fans have a pretty fair chance to connect with a vision of their past.
This was a particularly fine day for nostalgia, with Willie Mays, Vida Blue and Gaylord Perry also roaming about. But I was particularly struck by Davis, the Dodgers' supremely clutch hitter of the 1960s, and Watson, five times a .300-plus hitter in his prime with the Houston Astros, for what they once represented - and what has become a vanishing breed in the Giants' dugout.
In their latter years, Davis and Watson became feared pinch-hitters, the type of veteran employed specifically for driving home a late-inning run. Dating back to the early 1950s and the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Johnny Mize, this type of hitter was long a staple in big-league dugouts: Jerry Lynch, Smoky Burgess, Wes Covington, Gates Brown, Manny Mota, Hal McRae, Rusty Staub, Harold Baines, Cliff Johnson.
When Charlie Finley owned the A's, he had a particular fondness for aging hitters with glowing track records. Over the years, he employed Davis, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Vic Davalillo, Rico Carty, Manny Sanguillen, Dick Allen and all three Alou brothers - and for fans who knew their history, it was always worth sticking around the ballpark to get a look.
There was a time when well-crafted teams could get through a World Series using only five or six pitchers (you could look it up), but the pitch-count era - throwing managers and executives into a panic - changed everything. Gradually, staffs began to grow: 10 pitchers, 11, and now 12 for the Giants and many other teams. Do the math for a 25-man roster, and that leaves five men on the bench.


Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/giants/jenkins/article/Fearsome-pinch-hitters-are-all-too-rare-4318983.php#ixzz2MIxe5Clg