After our nine-run, 9th inning sap to the side of the Pirates’ head yesterday, I was offered practically every non-playing job on the team other than Bill Rigney’s. I invented something called Bat Rack Custodian, which was to make sure the batboy in each park put everyone’s lumber in the right slots. The last thing I wanted to do was take Johnny Heep’s job. Our clubhouse assistant worked his tail off for us and was a great kid.
There was nothing murder-related in the Philly or Pittsburgh papers this morning. No word from Brewster on a killer-written poem in the Herald. More troubling, no peep whatsoever from Liz. And she still wasn’t answering her phones.
“Do your job, Brewster. Look for her!”
“Way ahead of you, Drake. She just left her hotel and is on her way to Connie Mack.”
Which only confused me more…
We had to wrap up our Forbes business with a double-header in swampy heat before heading to Cincy tomorrow. Lousy Mike McCormick started Game 1, and after he gave up a Frank Thomas homer in the 3rd to put us behind 3-0, the team figured it was because I hadn’t been out in the pen to warm him up. Mays in particular was chatting up the dugout, rubbing his bat handle on the side of my face before he started the 4th.
With a single, naturally. And Cepeda doubled, and Thomas booted one, and a walk, and a sac fly and a double by McCormick and a 3-run homer by Daryl Spencer later off Kline and shazam! We had six runs. Spahn would be taking the hill in Milwaukee soon. If he had a bad day we might even be in first place, and then what?
Praise the heavens for Mike McCormick. A Maz single and Hank Foiles bomb right after our big rally knocked him out. But Giel and Jones threw 5-hit shutout ball the rest of the game, and we took the opener by one run. Thankfully, the Braves got three runs against Moe Drabowsky in the 1st inning.
I reached the Connie Mack press box between games, was told Liz was there but “too busy” to come to the phone. Then Ramon Monzant took the hill for our nightcap and shut the pesky Bucs down like a butcher locking flies in his freezer. They whiffed eight times, made three errors, Mays homered after rubbing his bat handle up my backside, and we rolled them.
The club was practically petting me like a furry mascot, but all I wanted to do the whole game was keep calling Liz. I swear, somebody needs to invent a little telephone you can just walk around with in your pocket.
Spahn barely eeked out his win at County Stadium, so we tied and Braves for first, just points behind them. I did my best to seem happy about this during the steak dinner and beers that were bought for me afterwards, but it was a struggle. A drunk Jim Davenport kept whispering in my ear he was going to start a coup and get me Rigney’s job “if the old man messes up even once”.
In a beer-induced stupor around 1 a.m., I woke to a creaking floor. Sat up, eyes focused on the darkness. Was it in my room? In the hall?
It creaked again. Then there was a knock.
“Hello?” I said.
I climbed out of bed. I had no weapon, but grabbed a heavy aluminum ice bucket to cold-cock the possible intruder with. Crept my way to the door. Silently undid the latch. Curled my sweaty hand around the door handle and yanked it open.
A shaking, half-crazy Liz fell into my arms.
“You’ve GOT to go to Milwaukee with me! PLEASE!!!”
I pulled her into the room, shut the door. Shook her some more until she spoke.
“He got me alone…in the elevator…”
“At the ballpark?”
“In my hotel…Said he just killed someone…”
“Said there’d be more…lots more…”
She was clutching something in her coat pocket. I pulled out her hand. It was wrapped tightly around four sealed envelopes, marked with different days of the week.
“The next things we have to print…” She dropped them on the floor and collapsed on my bed.
I didn’t dare open or even touch them. That was for the FBI fingerprint men. By morning I would hear about the one Liz didn’t have with her. The one that was already printed in the Herald:
How cruel is life?
With its salty twists and turns?
When loyalty is dumped
Like morning trash
As if it were last night’s ash
And then I saw the morning paper in our lobby. Rudy Creech, 45-year-old vendor on the streets outside Connie Mack, had been found dead. His scorched head shoved into the flame of his hot pretzel wagon.
S.F. 000 600 000 – 6 10 0
PIT 021 200 000 – 5 11 1
W-Giel L-Kline SV-Jones HRS: Spencer, Thomas, Foiles GWRBI-Spencer
S.F. 201 040 000 – 7 12 2
PIT 000 000 000 – 0 6 3
W-Monzant L-Law HR: Mays GWRBI-Mays
CHI 000 000 200 – 2 9 1
MIL 300 000 00x – 3 6 0
W-Spahn L-Drabowsky GWRBI-Bruton
Weird mirror-image kind of game. Braves score three out of the gate on four walks, a single and double, then drop dead against Moe until Spahn goes all Drabowsky in the 7th, walking two and giving up three singles, but the Cubs can’t get the big hit and blow a chance to sweep.
L.A. 000 211 010 – 5 10 2
PHI 030 001 000 – 4 9 2
W-Craig L-Meyer SV-Klippstein
Dodgers beat the Phillies for a change in a very sloppy game, the Dodgers’ winner coming across on a Jack Meyer wild pitch in the 8th. Koufax with another bad start, but Craig and the tattered relief brigade bail him out.
CIN 000 002 000 0 – 2 8 0
STL 000 000 020 1 – 3 17 3
W-Paine L-Acker HR: Lynch GWRBI-Cunningham
Joe Nuxhall is the poor man’s Sad Sam Jones, seemingly finding ways to blow leads every time out. The guy’s 3-13 for a reason. Here the Cards toy around with him for seven frames until Gene Green singles in two to tie it in the 8th. Acker surrenders four singles in the 10th to end it.
NYY 322 004 030 – 14 14 1
CLE 000 100 000 – 1 4 1
W-Turley L-Bell HRS: Mantle, Bauer GWRBI-Mantle
NYY 000 000 000 – 0 4 0
CLE 002 000 13x – 6 6 0
W-Grant L-Maas HRS: Colavito, Wertz GWRBI-Colavito
So the Yanks take the Indians’ best pitcher apart in Game 1, then get shutout by their worst pitcher in Game 2. Makes sense. True to form, though, the Mick is on base all six times in the opener and clubs his 31st homer, a 3-run shot in the 1st to get the Yankee train rolling.
BOS 101 000 010 – 3 7 0
CHX 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
W-Brewer L-Donovan HR: Jensen, GWRBI-Jensen
Tom Brewer mystifies the Pale Hose as the scarlet ones salvage the Comiskey finale and pick up half a game. Jensen knocks in all three of their runs as he continues his belated MVP drive.
BAL 000 005 100 – 6 12 1
K.C. 101 000 020 – 4 7 2
W-Harshman L-Garver SV-Wilhelm HRS: Woodling, Smith GWRBI-Woodling
Like in many A’s games, their starter is humming along nicely when the trap door suddenly opens under his cleats. A single-triple-homer-walk-single-error-single-single combo opens Baltimore’s 6th inning.
WAS 203 000 000 – 5 8 1
DET 010 000 000 – 1 4 2
W-Kemmerer L-Bunning HRS: Sievers, Zauchin, Zernial
Really, Tigers? Two errors, two hit batters, two homers on Bunning’s docket just won’t cut it.
National League through Sunday, July 27
American League through Sunday, July 27