Bill Salkeld's house is full of memorabilia of his dad, who died of cancer in 1967 when he was 50. In the living room is a framed charcoal sketch of William Franklin "Bill" Salkeld in his catcher's gear. Bill Salkeld brings out two finely finished bats, one his father used during his eight-year big league career with the Pirates, Boston Braves and White Sox. The other is a commemorative bat signed by the 1948 National League champion Braves. Bill Salkeld's signature is near the Louisville Slugger label, right beside Johnny Sain's.
"Warren Spahn would not let anyone else catch him except my dad," Bill Salkeld says, eagerly fumbling through a box of scrapbooks.
Other mementos include two baseball cards that were sold in cigarette cartons and the elder Bill Salkeld's diamond World Series ring.
The final memento is on videocassette. It is a PBS program from the 1970s called "The Way it Was," in which surviving members of the '48 Series reminisce between film clips. Bill Salkeld advances the tape to the fifth game. Cleveland Hall of Famer Bob Feller is on the mound:
\o7 The Braves' sixth inning, one out, nobody on. Billy Salkeld at bat and Feller's first pitch. . . . Salkeld hits a drive to right field. . . . going back. . . . it's over the wall for a home run. Home run, Salkeld.
\f7 Roger Salkeld watches the tape, slipping his grandfather's ring on and off the pink and tender fingers of his left hand. He wears his grandfather's No. 15 and his bedroom wall is covered with photographs of him.
"It's something I can remember him by because I never knew him," he says. "His accomplishments--that he did what he did--it means a lot for me and for the family."
The elder Bill Salkeld signed with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League in 1933 when he was 16. But a knee injury delayed him from reaching the major leagues until 1945. Salkeld was spiked in 1934 and his knee developed gangrene.
"Just before he got spiked, he had an offer from the New York Yankees," Bill Salkeld says. "After that, they let the contract go and he wound up later with the Boston Braves."
The younger Bill Salkeld, 40, also was a catching prospect when he was 16. But he also fell victim to a freakish accident and it ended his major league dreams.
"I broke my hand falling off a skateboard," he says, laughing. "After that my hand couldn't take the beating any more and I was only a .200 hitter, so . . ."
Roger Salkeld likes to tell about how his dad once received a big league try out. Bill Salkeld says that's not exactly accurate.
"After he retired, my dad was considering taking a job as a hitting instructor for the Chicago White Sox," he says. "He and Al Lopez, the manager, came down to San Pedro to look at six guys. That was the first time I ever really got looked at.
"I used to throw really hard. Al Lopez said I was able to change the ball from my glove to my hand faster than anybody he'd seen. I had everything going for me. But he said, 'We can't do anything with your damn hand. We can work on your hitting, but we can't do anything with your hand.' My dad knew it and they were right. I still have trouble catching Roger."
Like father, like son. Like grandson?
"I don't even want to think about what would have happened if it were my right hand," Roger Salkeld said. "It wasn't and that's all there is to it. I won't go near the band saw now."
The word on Salkeld is that he has improved markedly since last season, when he was 9-4 with 86 strikeouts and a 2.10 ERA in 76 innings.
"He's a different kid on the mound, more intense," Worley said.
"You can see it," catcher Jared Snyder said. "He's more confident and he has better control. He can put a pitch on the black if I ask for it. And his fastball feels like 4-5 miles per hour faster."
Salkeld, who also throws a curve, changeup and sinker, attributes his improvement to playing with the Cardinals and working briefly with Blyleven. "He showed me how to get different spin on the seams," he said. "I could have learned more if I had more time."
Salkeld does have time. He plans on playing with the Cardinals again this winter. Then he will prepare for a scouting blitz in his senior year.
Elaine Salkeld would like her son to go to college, at least before he signs a professional contract. Bill Salkeld would like to see his son play professionally, provided he goes to college if things don't work out.
Roger Salkeld just wants to remain a kid for now. "I'm still too young," he said. "I'm not going to make any decisions yet."
Bill Salkeld, however, admits that he longs to see the family name back in baseball. And he hopes that his son's performance in the Colonial tournament will attract the attention of more than just a few scouts.
"I've always wanted to call up Warren Spahn and just say 'Hey,' " he said. "I'm just hoping that somewhere, after Roger plays in Florida, Warren Spahn will see the name in a paper and remember."