“Snappy Appreciation Day? You’re kiddin’ me, right?”
“Not at all,” said Horace Stoneham over the phone at eight this morning, “You’re the biggest story in town, kid. Probably in the whole country. Forget about taking down the Peanut Killer, you exposed a crooked FBI man.”
“He sort of exposed himself, pardon the expression.”
“Yeah well, be at the ballpark by 12 noon. And bring your sweetheart.”
It was awful tough to leave the bedroom, let alone my apartment. Reporters clogged the sidewalk outside for a change instead of snoopy lawmen. But after taking our sweet time about rejoining the world, I skirted Liz out my famous back exit and hiked us up the hill on the next street to Seals Stadium.
All my usher and usherette pals were there to greet us with gifts of flowers and alcohol. Then Stoneham lured me out to a microphone at home plate with slimy Mayor Christopher there to shake my hand, Cards and Giants lined up on either side. Flashbulbs popped in my face. Liz watched from a few yards away, beaming through misty eyes, and I decided to say something after all.
“Today…I consider myself…the luckiest son-of-a-bitch in San Francisco. I’ve been ushering games in this park for over a half dozen years, and have never gotten anything but kindness, and encouragement, and good tips from you fans. My fiancee and I have been through quite a lot this year, survived many tough breaks, but thank God we still have an awful lot to live for. “
“I’m sorry the Giants couldn’t finish first, even with helping out their pitchers as much as I could. But it’s only their first year in town, and I’m sure Willie and Orlando and Valmy Thomas—and I better not forget Antonelli—will give you folks plenty of pennants and world titles the next ten years in their beautiful new ballpark at Candlestick Point. So thanks again for coming out to support us, even with a dangerous criminal stalking me and the club all season, and GO GIANTS!”
The crowd roared, and for a retired ballplayer and amateur sleuth I felt pretty good. I watched the ballgame with Liz in a front row box, signing a raft of baseballs and programs throughout, and enjoyed an absolutely thrilling season finale. Cards took a 1-0 lead, Mays tied it with his 36th homer, a shot off the left field pole. Cunningham put the Cards up 2-1 with a homer and Sad Sam Jones pitched a classic Sad Sam 6th: walk-walk-double-Bob Schmidt homer, four runs across the dish and there would’ve been more if Mays hadn’t been gunned down at the plate by Bobby Gene Smith.
Then your inevitable Leon Wagner butchery in left ignited a three-run Cards rally and Phil Paine and Paul Giel pitched us into extra innings tied 5-5. It was a gorgeous day, and nobody rooting for either club wanted the game to end. But it had to. Leading off our 12th, Ed Bressoud rifled a double down the right field line, Irv Noren kicked it off his shoe a few times like a buttery soccer ball and Eddie raced all the way around to score the unearned game-winner.
After meeting the press some more and shaking too many hands, Liz and I made our escape. More fog was rolling in, and we cuddled as we walked downtown in search of a quiet, celebratory dinner.
“Been meaning to ask,” she said, “How did you ever come up with that bit about Tressip and me having a son?”
“It was the last of the 9th on that bridge, doll. I had to think of something. Plus the man was insane, desperate, and delirious. He was likely to believe anything. And you went along with it like a pro.”
“Well, at least I really didn’t have to kiss him again. Did that enough on our small number of dates. Oh—and guess what? The editor of the New York Herald Tribune wants me to add me to their World Series coverage team! Maybe I can talk them into letting you write a column from the stands. You got nothing special to do this week, right?”
“Naw. Just recuperating. But I got a lifetime for that.”
I kissed her. We had already made our wedding plans lying in bed that morning, which would be a quickie job in Reno without friends, flowers or little Cousin Maxie. After that, who knew if I would still be an usher? It was a fun summer job, but not exactly a full-time living.
I certainly wasn’t too shy about calling Phil Todd back, trying my luck with the Spokane Indians again. I was still a few years shy of forty, plenty of time to get that old Snappy Curve snapping again. And maybe, just maybe, I’d be ready to resurrect that old fastball I had as a kid. After all, it’s kind of become the way I’ve gone through life: high, fast, and middle-up.
STL 001 010 300 000 – 5 10 2
S.F. 000 104 000 001 – 6 8 1
W-Giel L-Paine HRS: Cunningham, Mays, Schmidt
CIN 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
MIL 002 100 10x – 4 6 0
W-Burdette L-Schmidt HRS: Covington, Burdette, Torre GWRBI-Covington
Unlike their counterparts from New York, the NL champs go out in style, sweeping the Reds with a Burdette shutout and three dingers, even one from the previously dormant Wes Covington.
PHI 000 040 100 – 5 9 0
PIT 003 000 000 – 3 11 2
W-Sanford L-Witt SV-Farrell HR: Ashburn GWRBI-Anderson
And the Phillies win the ’58 Overachieving Award, sweeping all seven games from the Bucs in the last two weekends and finishing a solid fifth. True to form, Pittsburgh racks up eleven hits without one walk, and loses. On the season, they drew 363 less bases on balls than the Red Sox, and over a hundred less than any other team.
BAL 112 000 000 – 4 9 2
NYY 100 002 000 – 3 10 1
W-Harshman L-Larsen GWRBI-Miranda
The Yanks outhit the Birds in all three games, and still get swept. They’ve certainly been hitting well enough, but their pitching and defense has flown south, and hopefully not for the winter. Aside from those two critical, hard-fought extra-inning wins in Boston last week, they have been dreadful all month. Can they turn it around against the tough-pitching Braves? Stay tuned…
K.C. 000 200 020 – 4 5 1
CHI 001 000 000 – 1 3 1
W-Garver L-Latman SV-Gorman GWRBI-Simpson
Barry Latman keeps the Chisox from finishing one game out of first by walking ten Athletics, making a key error, and giving K.C. a final-day win at Comiskey. Still it was an incredible two-month run by the South Siders. Rumor has it they will be facing off against the Cubs in a special second-place City Series sometime soon…
BOS 032 400 000 – 9 12 1
WAS 004 000 010 – 5 11 3
W-Delock L-Clevenger HR: Zauchin
Roy Sievers wins the triple crown! Goes 0-for-4 but finishes a few points ahead of Kaline in the batting race. This means he should automatically win the MVP, right?
DET 001 000 000 – 1 8 0
CLE 000 000 103 – 4 10 0
W-McLish L-Lary HR: Jackson GWRBI-Jackson
Major kudos are owed to the Tribe, for enjoying a 14-8 September and grabbing third place from the Red Sox on the last day. Colavito returns for the finale, collects two singles, but the season-ending heroics go to Cub castoff Randy Jackson, who hits a pinch-hit three-run homer off Frank Lary with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. My kind of ending.
**WORLD SERIES STARTS WEDNESDAY**
Tune in here for expanded coverage, with a game report posting EVERY DAY until the Series is completed. Congrats again to our pennant-winnning absentee skippers Larry Granillo (Milwaukee) and Kevin Graham (New York). Good luck, gents!
FINAL NATIONAL LEAGUE through Sunday, September 28
FINAL AMERICAN LEAGUE through Sunday, September 28