Top of the ninth at Baltimore. The Labor Day night fireworks on hold as the Seattle Mariners mount a rally that threatens to steal a ball game from the Orioles. Tying run on second base. Left-hander Tippy Martinez summoned by Earl Weaver to relieve Tim Stoddard.
Rookie skipper Maury Wills counters with a call for a right-handed pinch hitter for lefty-swinging Joe Simpson. Wills wants Juan Beniquez.
Beniquez does not respond. He ignores the request. Wills sends up Bill Stein instead. Grounds out to short. Next batter flies out. Mariners lose, 5-4.
And Wills declares he will suspend Beniquez the rest of the season without pay.
"I have talked to him like a brother, like a father, like a friend," says the manager. "I can't do any more."
Thursday in New York, Beniquez was lifted for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning. He took off -- but returned to the club the next day and had a great game -- three hits, threw a runner out at home from center field. But on Saturday, the man the Yanks traded for Ruppert Jones last offseason, a swap of injury-snakebit center fielders, was awful in Yankee Stadium. Beniquez dropped two fly balls, made two base-running blunders, threw to a wrong base and in general drove Wills up the wall. And Juan to the bench.
Beniquez countered, "I'm tired of it. He is trying to make me look like a troublemaker.I'm supposed to play every day, but I make one mistake and I don't play."
Said Wills, at last: "I don't want him on this club. I can't go further with him or I'll lose the rest of the club." Well, almost at last. The Mariners reduced the sentence to five days without pay. Lucky Juan. After Monday night's game, while the rest of the Mariners dressed in the locker room, Beniquez stayed in the dugout and watched the fireworks.