Some days are so bad you wish they were phonograph records, so you could just pick up the needle and drop it back at the beginning.
Don Taussig’s locker was one big peanut party, and the thing became a crime scene for half the night. Every County stadium worker, from senior ushers down to teenage kids selling Braves Booster badges, was either questioned or grilled by the FBI. The back door to our clubhouse had been mistakenly left open by an after-game catererer, but no one had seen anyone enter with a carton of peanut bags.
Salty Dog peanuts, I should add.
“No foul play reported here or in Cincinnati,” said Brewster this morning over weak coffee at the hotel, “It had to be a warning of some kind, right?”
I shrugged, lit a Camel. “You got me. His daily jabberings are being published on schedule, right? What was today’s?”
Brewster flipped open his little spiral notebook and attempted a dramatic reading:
Whippoorwills and fireflies
That’s where it begins
Skeets and moths and fastballs
The worst of many sins
Brewster snorted when he finished. “Sounds like some kind of nature deviant.”
“Forget handwriting analysis. You need to hire a bad poetry professor.”
“We could do without your sarcasm, Drake.”
“And I can do without the Bureau turning every ballpark into a Spanish inquisition. We got a pennant to win.”
It felt good saying that, Horace Stoneham’s favorite line, but the irony was lost on my square-jawed friend. He cleared off the coffee cups and my half-finished plate of eggs, flipped over my paper placemat and sketched out a quick map of the United States on the other side. Made six large black circles in specific places and turned the map around.
“What do you see?”
“I don’t know. Big dots?”
“Right. Every one where an alleged peanut killing took place. What else do you see?”
“Not much. Except a big coffee stain in Nebraska.”
“No, genius. Look where the killings are. All over the place, from San Francisco to Pittsburgh, across to Ohio, back to Philly and who knows where else next. This person gets around, but I’m not buying the traveling salesman angle. They don’t have this kind of money. The Peanut Killer is loaded.”
At that moment, I wished I was loaded, and not with cash. Better yet, I was eager to get to the ball park, because as I said, we had a doubleheader to play.
“Look, Brewster. If you’re fishing around for connections I may have to the Rockefellers, you’re wasting your time. Only rich guy I’ve ever met is named Willie Howard Mays.”
He shot me a sly eye. “When did I say you you were connected?”
“You didn’t. But why else would you be here? Why buy me breakfast?”
“Believe me, if we still suspected you we’d have you in a windowless room by how with a light in your face.”
“You see too many movies.” I slid my plate back on top of his map and finished off my eggs.
“I guess I see you more as some kind of lightning rod, Drake. I don’t believe this guy has one ounce of interest in your girlfriend. He’s been trying to get to you from Day One.”
“Guess he’ll have to try a little harder then. Thanks for the grub, chief.”
* * *
I scooted onto the team bus, rode over to County Stadium for seven hours of double hell. Antonelli badgered me again during his warmup throws, then fell apart after retiring the first nine Braves in a row. Aaron had a double and homer and our feeble hope for a split rested with Ramon Monzant.
Monzant was better, but the result was about the same. The problem this time was our unholy, hole-filled defense, which after making two errors in the opener flubbed five balls leading here to four unearned runs. After we cut Milwaukee’s lead to 3-2 in the 6th, Spencer and Kirkland made errors to start their 7th and one out later Bressoud kicked one. No wonder we’re now 4-13 against this team.
The only good news was that we had a short bus ride down to Chicago later instead of a long plane trip. Liz and the Dodgers, who also dropped a pair of stink bombs today, were heading to St. Louis for two games before we swapped cities. As we cruised past the big lake, the temptation to call her bubbled up to the surface again. Try as I might to stop it, my heart was making trouble for my head again.
S.F. 000 000 010 – 1 5 2
MIL 000 011 03x – 5 7 0
W-Rush L-Antonelli SV-Robinson HRS: Davenport, Aaron GWRBI-Logan
S.F. 000 011 000 – 2 6 5
MIL 012 000 30x – 6 8 0
W-Buhl L-Monzant SV-McMahon HR: Covington GWRBI-Covington
L.A. 000 002 101 – 4 8 0
CIN 002 011 30x – 7 10 2
W-Purkey L-Podres HRS: Neal, Lynch-2, Whisenant GWRBI-Lynch
L.A. 100 010 000 – 2 6 1
CIN 300 112 00x – 7 13 0
W-Acker L-Kipp GWRBI-Bailey
After some encouraging play to begin the series, the Dodgers roll out two flat ones, unable to get their power bats going in homer-friendly Cincy. In the For What Its Worth department, Sandy Koufax throws two decent innings of relief late in the nightcap.
CHI 000 120 000 – 3 9 0
PHI 200 103 00x – 6 8 1
W-Semproch L-Drott HR: Jones GWRBI-Ashburn
CHI 011 060 010 – 9 16 1
PHI 020 003 020 – 7 15 1
W-Briggs L-Morehead SV-Elston HRS: Neeman, Thomson, Essegian GWRBI-Banks
The Cubbies fashion a huge 5th inning in Game 2 to earn a split. In the opener Bill Henry relieves Drott with the bases jacked and two gone in the 6th inning of a tie game, and Richie Ashburn triples out of the reach of a diving Lee Walls to score the entire house.
STL 001 000 020 – 3 9 2
PIT 000 001 21x – 4 8 0
W-Blackburn L-Chittum HR: Thomas GWRBI-Thomas
STL 050 010 130 – 10 13 1
PIT 001 000 100 – 2 3 2
W-Maglie L-Law HR: Mazeroski
Cards tie Game 1 with two runs in the 8th but with Paine unavailable, Frank Thomas takes Nelson Chittum (yes, Nelson Chittum) out of the yard for the solo game-winner. Sal Maglie, who came over from the Yankees recently, gets a surprise start in the nightcap and allows just three Buc hits in six-plus innings.
NYY 000 010 010 – 2 7 0
CHX 000 000 003 – 3 9 0
W-Pierce L-Duren GWRBI-Jackson
Shocker of the day. With four White Sox regulars injured, the Yanks take a 2-0 lead to the bottom of the 9th only to have Ryne Duren poop it away. Aparicio and Fox lead with singles. Battey pinch-hits a walk. Sammy Esposito walks. Mueller ties the game with a sac fly. One out later Duren walks Lollar and bench bum Ron Jackson and that would be that.
BOS 100 010 000 – 2 10 0
CLE 300 010 00x – 4 10 0
W-McLish L-Sullivan SV-Grant GWRBI-Power
BOS 001 011 010 – 4 6 0
CLE 300 200 00x – 5 10 1
W-Ferrarese L-Fornieles SV-Grant HRS: Piersall, Renna, Power GWRBI-Power
Determined to keep the American League a runaway, the Red Sox drop three out of four in Cleveland, both of these saved by new Tribe closer Mudcat Grant. Vic Power’s three-run shot in the 1st in Game 2 give the Indians a lead they somehow never give up, putting them a season high three games over .500.
BAL 000 040 000 – 4 8 1
DET 000 400 10x – 5 11 0
W-Foytack L-Brown HR: Nieman GWRBI-Kaline
Bob Boyd makes a two-out error leading to four Tiger runs in the 4th. So naturally Boy Boyd triples in the first of four Oriole runs to tie the game the next inning. (I love when the cards turn human.) Hal Brown has a bad case of the triples, though, and gives up his fourth one of the game to Al Kaline in the 7th to lose it.
WAS 010 002 011 – 5 11 2
K.C. 000 120 001 – 4 11 0
W-Ramos L-Burnette SV-Hyde HR: Zauchin GWRBI-Courtney
The Nats avoid getting swept out of Dodge when Clint Courtney singles in Norm Zauchin in the 8th, Clint’s first game-winning RBI of the year in their 105th game.
National League through Sunday, August 3
American League through Sunday, August 3