Yes, the long-awaited paperback version of Mystery Ball ’58 should be available on Amazon by the end of February, with the Kindle version happening some time shortly thereafter. Corrections have been made, the narrative slightly tightened, and all your Snappy chapters can now be enjoyed in one easy-to-drop-in-your-backpack volume! [Rumors that Matthew McConaughey and Scarlett Johanssan will be starring in the movie version have not been confirmed.] When the book is truly live and ready-to-purchase, I’ll let y’all know!
Yes, Mystery Ball fans, I’ll be launching a new replay blog on June 3rd. It will be set in 1938, involve Hank Greenberg, good and evil, and will run for about 25 weeks. Head over to Dear Hank now, sign up for your free subscription, and tell all your pals!
Sorry for the delay, pals. Real life will occasionally intervene with my fantasy one, and it did.
First, the awards…
MVP AMERICAN LEAGUE: Mickey Mantle, a clutch madman virtually the entire year, finished second in homers (46), knocked in 123, walked 112 times, had a 1.036 OPS, and the Yankees won. What more do you need? (RUNNER-UP: Roy Sievers and his triple crown for the last-place Nats)
MVP NATIONAL LEAGUE: Frank Robinson. His Reds did NOT win, but Robby played out of his gord and far better than he was supposed to, tied for the league lead in homers, drove in 143 and led both leagues with 18 game-winning RBIs. (RUNNER-UP: Hank Aaron)
CY YOUNG AMERICAN LEAGUE: Whitey Ford in a no-brainer. 23-8, 2.56.
CY YOUNG NATIONAL LEAGUE: Very tough call. Nobody stood out, so I’m going with Don Cardwell of the surprisingly tough Phillies. Cardwell went 15-6, sported a decent (for this league) 3.01 ERA, and pitched beautifully nearly every time out.
AVG: Mays-SF .352, Cunningham-STL .338, Aaron-MIL .336, Musial-STL .329, Groat-PIT .328, Lynch-CIN .326, Covington-MIL .323, Robinson-CIN .319, Ashburn-PHL .318
OPS: Covington-MIL 1.041, Cunningham-STL 1.019, Mays-SF 1.010, Aaron-MIL 1.007, Robinson-CIN .990
HRS: Robinson-CIN 41, Banks-CHC 41, Aaron-MIL 40, Covington- MIL 36, Mays-SF 36
RBI: Robinson-CIN 143, Aaron-MIL 120, Banks-CHC 119, Mays-SF 118, Musial-STL 111, Lynch-CIN 110, Cepeda-SF 106,
WALKS: Cunningham-STL 120, Temple-CIN 93, Mathews-MIL 90
AVG: Williams-BOS .413*, Zernial-DET .360*, Sievers-WAS .338, Wilson-DET .333, Cerv-KC .331, Kaline-DET .330, Minoso-CLE .327
*not enough at bats to officially qualify
OPS: Williams-BOS 1.315, Colavito-CLE 1.084, Sievers-WAS 1.038, Mantle-NY 1.036, Zernial-DET 1.018, Cerv-KC .985, Jensen-BOS .955
HRS: Sievers-WAS 52, Mantle-NY 46, Jensen-BOS 45, Colavito-CLE 44, Triandos-BAL 38, Cerv-KC 36, Berra-NYY 36
RBI: Sievers-WAS 140, Jensen-BOS 128, Colavito-CLE 123, Mantle-NY 123, Cerv-KC 109, Zernial-DET 106
WALKS: Torgeson-CHX 127, Runnels-BOS 117, Mantle-NYY 112, Colavito-CLE 97, Jensen-BOS 94
E.R.A.: Witt-PIT 2.78, Porterfield-PIT 2.99, Rush-MIL 2.75, Willey-MIL 2.86, Cardwell-PHL 3.01
STRIKEOUTS: Jones-STL 234, Drysdale-LA 175, Podres-LA 172, Drott-CHC 170, Cardwell-PHL 148
WINS: Mizell-STL 18-12, Miller-SF 17-7, Roberts, PHL 17-10, Spahn 17-13, Gomez-SF 16-11, Cardwell, PHL 15-6, Willey-MIL 14-7
SAVES: Face-PIT 19, Elston-CHC 18, Robinson-MIL 16, Paine-STL 13, Craig-LA 12
E.R.A.: Portocarrera-BAL 2.44, Ford-NY 2.56,Latman-CHX 2.63, Ditmar-NY 2.73, Harshman-BAL 3.05
STRIKEOUTS: Bunning-DET 206, Turley-NY 194, Wynn-CHX 186, Ford-NY 171
WINS: Ford-NY 23-8, Pierce-CHX 21-10, McLish-CLE 20-11, Portocarrero-BAL 17-9, Bell-CLE 17-10, Latman-CHX 14-3, Larsen-NY 14-6, Ditmar-NY 13-6
SAVES: Wilhelm-BAL 16, Staley-CHX 15, Hyde-WAS 14
Yours truly appeared on YouTube last week to demonstrate speedy Strat-O-Matic dice rolling. How else could I have played 1,237 games in a little over a year without the aid of a newfangled computer machine? My column for Strat that linked to it is HERE. Or you could just be lazy and watch the thing HERE.
I also played a best-of-5 Chicago City Series to settle 1958 second place bragging rights between the White Sox and Cubs. My report will first appear in the e-zine pages of the Outsider Baseball Bulletin next week (I think). It’s a great little publication, and you can subscribe HERE.
There was nothing we could do. Nothing.
I sat with my tail-gating pals from Game Three in the same grandstand seats. It was even colder out than on Friday, but we were prepared with our Braves garb, Indian blankets, and nuclear flasks. I even let them put warpaint on my face.
The irony was that even after he surrendered a home run to Norm Siebern on the first pitch of the game, it wasn’t Warren Spahn who needed our good luck smoke signals. It was the Milwaukee offense.
Against Bob Turley, walker of 134 men in 257 innings and sporting a perfectly average 15-13 record and 3.56 ERA, the Braves’ bats were spooked from first inning to last. Witness:
1st inning—Leadoff double, Mathews, Aaron and Covington do nothing.
2nd inning—Two leadoff walks, Roach, Logan and Spahn do nothing.
4th inning—Crandall single with one out, Roach and Logan do nothing.
5th inning—Torre single and Mathews walk with one out, Aaron and Covington do nothing.
6th inning—Bruton walk and Crandall double with nobody out, Roach, Logan, and Spahn do nothing.
7th inning—Torre and Mathews walk with nobody out, Aaron and Covington ground out, Wes’s into a double play.
8th inning—Bruton leads with single, Crandall hits into a double play.
9th inning—Mathews and Aaron single with two outs, Covington flies out to end the Series.
Without a doubt, considering what was at stake, it was the worst display of clutch hitting I’d ever witnessed. The Braves left 13 aboard, eight of them by Covington. Except for the leadoff Siebern dinger and a stupid leadoff triple to Turley in the 9th that led to New York’s other bookend run on a two-out Carey double, virtually none of this was Warren’s fault.
When Siebern caught the last out and it was finally over, I trudged through the exit tunnel with the massive funeral procession. Waited around in the slowly-emptying parking lot drinking Schlitz until Liz found me, Yankee champagne spray still twinkling in her blonde hair.
“Well, that was sure awful,” I said. “Bet the Giants could’ve done better.”
“Not with their bullpen. That Siebern played like he was in a higher league. 13-for-24 with four homers.”
“He won Series MVP?”
“Him and Ford. Clean split by the writers.”
“Nice. Who’d you vote for?”
She smiled mischeviously. “Harry Hanebrink, of course.”
“That’s my Liz…”
I kissed her and we started walking, into the end of summer.
Game Five Final:
NYY 100 000 001 – 2 9 0
MIL 000 000 000 – 0 9 0
W-Turley L-Spahn HR: Siebern GWRBI-Siebern
PRAISE AND THANKS
Well, as Snappy said, that Series ending really did suck. After a six-month struggle to emerge atop the wild National League, the Braves had nothing left in the tank. Not that the Yanks were slouches; they scored 84 more runs than the Braves, had a team OPS that was 22 points higher, and enjoyed a +174 run differential, by far the best in baseball.
So World Champion congratulations are in order to the cool, patient Kevin Graham for his absentee-managing acumen, but also to runner-up Larry Granillo, who narrowly missed taking the 1977 Dodgers to Play That Funky Baseball’s NL pennant and finally half-triumphed here. Good work, gentlemen!
Thanks also go out to the other 14 absentee skippers for helping me conduct this 13-month project. You know who you were. Special thanks go to Daniel Shoptaw for enduring the Cards’ pinball ride in the standings and having me on his podcast in the season’s opening week, to Bill Miller for his daily retweets and constant classy commenting in the face of his Dodgers’ historic second half swan dive, and to Washingtonian writer Ted Leavengood for agreeing to take on the ghastly Senators.
Of course, the biggest thanks go out to all you dear readers for following along with this seat-of-my-brain tale. For those diehards that need still more, I’ll be playing a special Windy City series between the second place White Sox and Cubs, and reporting the results on Cubs manager Scott Simkus’ excellent subscription-only Outsider Baseball Bulletin in the near future. It remains to be decided what my next Web creation will be. I have a few “offline” fictional projects I’d like to work on for a spell, one a collaboration I’m very excited about.
Meanwhile, if you don’t already, follow me on Twitter at @mysteryball58 for all the latest muse news and jocularity. I’ll be keeping that handle and avatar for the forseeable future, because how does one give up a Jimmy Stewart baseball card, anyway?
See you on the flip side, pals.
—J.P., Culver City, CA
*P.S. In a day or two I’ll be adding the final league leaders and awards to the bottom of this post.
By Liz Dumás
October 5, 1958
He showed up for his last outing of the year against Baltimore, this port-siding blonde demon, with a boozy head and nothing on his pitches. New Yorkers were actually worried. Then Whitey Ford handled the Braves rather easily in the opener, a mere warmup act for his 7-0 command performance in Game Four today. Milwaukee never had a chance, and this World Series is one Yankee win from a too-early closing curtain.
Actually, the Chairman of the Board and Carl Willey both looked wonderful for the first three innings, but Willey was the resident mortal. He walked Carey, gave up a Slaughter single and run-scoring grounder to Mantle in the 4th. A Siebern single, Carey walk and Berra RBI single in the 6th made it 2-0. One run would have been enough, because Whitey’s stuff was demonically good.
The Yankees even tried to make it a rough day for him, and he wouldn’t have it. Skowron booted a grounder hit by Mathews in the 1st, but after a Roach single, Aaron grounded into his third twin killing of the Series. In the 4th, Hank started the inning by reaching first on catcher’s interference, and guess what? Adcock grounded into a double play. Felix Mantilla hit a pinch single to start the 8th, but oh yeah—Roach grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Meanwhile, the Bombers were lobbing soft grenades all over the field and exploding them. A Mantle walk and Berra bloop double began their 8th. Willey gave up a sac fly to McDougald to make it 3-0, and when Trowbridge came in to face lefty Kubek, said lefty Kubek lined a home run to right that just made it over Pakfo’s leaping glove. For the sheer fun of it, they scored twice more in the 9th with a Carey double and obligatory Johnny Logan error in the mix, and County Stadium was so quiet you could hear obnoxious tavern cheering all the way from the Bronx.
Unless you were a Yankee fan, there was nothing good about this game. It will now be up to Warren Spahn to save the day in Game Five, a man who couldn’t get out of his own ghastly way in New York. He’ll face Bob Turley, prone to be wild, with the hope that another midwest miracle is in the cards. And the dice.
NYY 000 101 032 – 7 13 2
MIL 000 000 000 – 0 4 1
W-Ford L-Willey HR: Kubek GWRBI-Mantle
Yankees lead series, 3-1
Don’t forget, the Game Five account will appear in Sunday’s Special Mystery Ball edition!
Sorry, no video today. Whitey wiped that away, too.
It was great to be on another planet for Game Three. Open fields, open sky, Wisconsin-nice people, and a ballgame for the ages that reminded me why the sport is one of the two best things on Earth.
First I had to manuever my way through the vast, sweet-smelling parking lot. I’d become a minor celebrity in these parts, and ten different “tail-gating” groups tried to rope me into parties behind their open station wagons. I picked the one that offered me an extra grandstand seat and served me an early lunch from a “brat tub”. This was just what it sounds like: an army of Usinger’s bratwurst simmered in Blatz beer and onions.
Braves fans were ecstatic to be back in the Series, unplussed about having their headresses handed to them two days ago. “I sold Joe Adcock new whitewalls at my shop last week,” said Freddy Skiba, “The man had a rough year with the stick but he still gave me a five dollar tip. How can you not root for a fella like that?”
Two brats, too many onions and a few bottles of Schlitz later, I waddled with my new friends into County Stadium a few minutes late. It was a godsend. I missed Siebern opening the game with a slice double to left which Covington—naturally—kicked into the corner. An Elston Howard single one out later put Joey Jay behind 1-0 and made the crisp October air a little icy. The crowd never got down though, tooting horns, waving plastic tomahawks, urging on their heroes as pleasantly loud as they could muster.
The Braves responded to this in the 2nd. Crandall walked, Roach singled him to third. Crandall was nailed at the plate on a Logan grounder, but a ball got past Berra to advance the runners and Jay hit a sac fly to tie it up.
Big fat deal, said Mickey Mantle, who turned around some Canadian air with a solo missle last seen heading for Lake Michigan. My rowmates squirmed, got a bit quieter. The Braves had put runners aboard each of the first six frames off Larsen, but managed only one run. After freshly-whitewalled Adcock pinch-hit for Jay and grounded out to end the 6th, Larsen then smacked a homer to left to begin the 7th. Winter was truly coming.
The seventh-inning stretch featured a fun group sing-along to a small polka band atop the Milwaukee dugout. It seemed to lift everyone’s spirits. Bruton singled with one out. Covington lined a single to get him to third, but Wes pulled his fourth bonehead play of the Series, rounding first too wide and getting tagged out by Skowron. Groans and maybe a boo or two filled the air, but Aaron singled in Bruton and it was 3-2. Stengel replaced Larsen with his favorite set-up reliever, Virgil Trucks.
Here was Eddie Mathews now, saddled with a low batting mark but always capable of a big hit, like his Opening Day homer to beat Roy Face and the Pirates. Eddie looked at a few pitches, then swung.
The ball was clean out of the yard before we even reached our feet. 4-3 Braves! A half dozen of my new pals rubbed my head. One stuck a headress on it. I warned them that my good luck charm deal with the Giants never paid off, and sure enough, Yogi clubbed a homer to tie it again in the 8th.
Humberto Robinson was pitching now, and put us through the ringer. After Aaron and Mathews stranded two more runners to end the 8th, Enos Slaughter pinch-hit a triple to begin the 9th that dropped two inches fair. Haney brought the infield in. Robinson bore down, got Siebern on a grounder, whiffed Carey and Howard grounded out to end the threat. Ryne Duren mowed the Braves down in the last of the 9th, so extra innings happened.
Mantle, Berra, and Skowron went out 1-2-3, and Milwaukee was forced to hit for Robinson. Adcock had already been used, Pafko was in left field for Butterfingers Covington, so up stepped Harry Hanebrink. Yes fans, Harry Hanebrink. Maybe ten at bats all season. He bounced the first pitch he saw out to McDougald at second, but the frigid air put a spell on Gil’s grip, and his throw sailed into the first base boxes for a two-base error!
Torre, 0-for-5 on the day and 1-for-13 in the Series, singled him over to third. The place became a nice, pleasant asylum. Billy Bruton dug in. He had singled his last three times up. Everyone was standing. Duren looked in…stretched…threw…
And Bruton ripped a liner into center for the ballgame! Schlitz showers for over thirty thousand! I glanced up at the press box while I got wet, imagining that Liz was having a lot less fun. But I’m sure she was cheering inside.
Game Three Final:
NYY 100 100 110 0 – 4 9 1
MLW 010 000 300 1 – 5 15 3
W-Robinson L-Duren HRS: Mantle, Larsen, Berra, Mathews GWRBI-Bruton
Yankees lead series, 2-1
Game Four coming tomorrow, with Ford vs. Willey, but at least for tonight, it’s party time in Wisconsin for guys and gals!
By Liz Dumás
October 2, 1958
Fred Haney sat in his Yankee Stadium office with the remains of his head in his hands. His Braves had just been shot, stabbed, hung, set on fire, drawn, quartered and tossed to a pack of ravenous back alley dogs, and it would be a good half hour before his scratchy voice could utter an intelligible syllable.
Because how does one react to such carnage? After Spahn came out of the pen armed with nothing for Game One, Lew Burdette began Game Two by serving up a Siebern line shot homer into the stands in right, Norm’s second of this young Series. In literary parlance, it was gothic foreshadowing. Walks to Carey and the Mick soon followed. Yogi Berra, slower than Nikita Khrushchev on a basketball court, then legged out a triple past Covington to left center, and it was 3-0 home fellas before the first punches were even thrown in the bleachers.
On the Yankee hill, Art Ditmar was not himself either, but the Braves helped him out all afternoon by grounding into double plays and stranding runners. And unlike Burdette or the four doomed souls who followed him out to the rubber chopping block, Ditmar at least showed he belonged on a professional baseball diamond.
Are you sitting down, dear readers? Good. Berra was on base all six times to the plate, with two homers and two singles to go with that triple. Mantle was on base all six times to the plate, with four walks, a single and an upper deck homer. Norm Siebern, MVP of the first two affairs, was on base six of seven times to the plate, with two walks, two singles, and two homers, his second clout a grand slam in the 5th on the first relief pitch Bob Rush threw.
Later, Casey Stengel was typically gracious in victory. “I won’t say nothin’ bad about no Braves. You win 89 you deserve all the deserving you get, and that’s a bunch of sweet, talented grapes hangin’ over there, so don’t tell me we got this thing licked headin’ over to that frozen tundra they play in, with all the good pitching no one saw today that I wish we had sometimes when we’re stuck in one them barnburners with no hoses in sight,” he explained.
The one silver lining for Milwaukee was the reappearance of slugger Wes Covington, who singled and homered in four tries. But Frank Torre, one of their best pressure hitters, made out all five times to McDougald at second and Aaron rapped into another death-dealing double dip in the 3rd. Then there was poor Eddie Mathews, who missed a sure homer and surer bloop single thanks to mysterious, swirling Bronxian wind gusts.
The Yanks hadn’t crafted a stomping like this in a long time, and the Braves had rarely been a stompee all season. Baseball can be funny, though. Teams often come out cold after getting every break and blessing in the Bible, and a frosty Wisconsin climate, loud, bundled-up wigwammers and Joey Jay will be primed to make that happen to the stately Gothamites.
MLW 010 100 000 – 2 9 2
NYY 302 052 16x – 19 22 0
W-Ditmar L-Burdette HRS: Covington, Siebern-2, Mantle, Berra-2 GWRBI-Siebern
Game Three tomorrow from Milwaukee! Larsen vs. Jay
You’d think the Yankee brass would’ve given me a choicer seat after my killer-catching heroics out west. I guess sticking me out in the right field bleachers was how they felt about anyone from the National League.
I was surrounded by wall-to-wall hooligans out there. Most of them had camped out the night before to buy tickets, and many with hidden flasks to lubricate the experience. The good thing was that none of them recognized me or even knew who I was. The bad thing was that I still had to listen to them.
“Spahn? He’s a bum! Whitey’ll mop his clock.”
“You told me three Ballantines, a Coke and a red hot.”
“No, meathead. I said two Ballantines, two red hots and a Crackerjack!”
“Mathews? He’s a bum! What’d he hit this year, .195?”
Actually, it was .215, but what difference did it make? With a half hour still to go before the first pitch, I dreamed about being up in the press box beside Liz.
Five minutes after the first pitch, Warren Spahn was wishing he was dead. Carey laced a double down the line with one gone in the Yankee 1st. Slaughter singled him in. Mantle singled Slaughter to third. Berra dumped another single into center to make it 2-0. Skowron walked. I had a full house of cheering nuts shaking the bleachers and dozens of rollicking armpits in my face.
Fred Haney came out to calm Spahnie down, and it worked, because Warren got McDougald on strikes and Richardson on a dinky fly to end the inning. Logan got them a run back against Ford with a two-out single in the 2nd, but then Spahn was back on his slippery slope. He started by whiffing Whitey, but Siebern blasted a ball that landed two deafening rows behind me, Carey ripped the next pitch into the left field stands, it was 4-1, and Spahnie was gone for the day.
“It’s ovah!!” one of them yelled to Aaron out in center, “Ya hear me Henry?? O-VAH!!!”
What was really over was the Yankee offense for the rest of the game. Spot starter Juan Pizarro took over and pitched one-hit ball for four and two-third innings before Bob Rush escaped jams in the 7th and 8th.
Crandall socked a solo homer in the 6th, and after Roach singled and Mathews walked in the 7th, Aaron strode up there as the go-ahead run. All mouthy shenanigans ceased in the bleachers. You had the certain Cy Young winner (23-8, 2.56) facing the possible NL MVP (.336, 40 homers, 120 RBIs, 17-game winning hits) with the game on the line. Breathing was suddenly a luxury.
Aaron worked Ford to 3-2, then rapped a ball up the middle that McDougald grabbed and flipped to Richardson to start a killing double play. Ford snuffed out the last six Braves with ease, and New York had first blood in the Series.
I had to wait around forever for Liz to finish her game story, and we were both too drained to do anything but return to the Picadilly and order room service. Tomorrow it would be Burdette against Ditmar, with Wes Covington back in action, and I told Liz if she couldn’t get me into the press box or a grandstand section containing actual adults, the marriage was off.
MLW 010 001 000 – 1 5 0
NYY 220 000 00x – 4 11 0
HRS: Crandall, Siebern, Carey GWRBI-Slaughter
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Don’t forget, game reports will be filed EVERY DAY until the World Series is completed. So I’ll be back tomorrow, after this message from Ballantine beer…
“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
Tressip woke me this morning from a pay phone. He was definitely on the Marin side of the bay. I could hear the unmistakable dull whooshing of cars crossing the Golden Gate. But I played dumb.
“Sorry your beloved Traitors couldn’t take the pennant, Milton” he said. “Any luck with my riddles?”
“Working on ’em, Tressip. And that was your team more than mine.”
“How DARE you say that to me!”
“I haven’t even started saying things. How’s my fiancee holding up, and it better be swell.”
“If you insist that’s who she is…just fine. For now.”
“How about giving me the number of that phone booth you’re in and I’ll buzz you back when I find out where it is.”
“Not on your life. But I’ll give you 24 hours to find us and then…season’s over.”
He hung up. I smirked. This was one day I wouldn’t need coffee.
* * *
I had paid a pal of Billy Frack’s to drive my Dodge back up from L.A., and by late afternoon I was tossing things in the trunk: a flashlight, rope, my .38 and all forty hard wooden ounces of Triples Trevor. Stopped at a hardware and sporting goods store near the Presidio and bought some ammo for the gun. The guy had just folded over the top of the bag when none other than Agent Brewster entered the store with another new goon. Strolled over to me. He didn’t look too good. Or pleased.
“Well, well. Doing a little home improvement, Drake?”
“Yeah. The usual loose screws. What did you do, follow me here?”
“Damn right I did. You sure bolted out of St. Louis like Snappy’s Comet. Got a lead you’d like to share?”
“Why would I have one of those? Isn’t that your job?”
“Come on, Drake. I wasn’t born yesterday.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
“We did find Tressip’s private plane, y’know,” said his stooge, “At an airstrip outside of Berkeley. Was wondering how he was gettin’ everywhere. “
“Congratulations. Stop by later and I’ll give you both little gold stars. Meanwhile, call me if you think of anything useful to say.”
I walked out. Knew they were going to follow me again and gave the Coronet a little gas to lose them in the park with some extra weaving. As it turned out, the weather cinched it for me. A fog bank higher and thicker than a plague of Egypt rolled in from the Pacific and cut visibility to three car lengths. I crawled across the Golden Gate, barely able to tell I was on a bridge, took the first exit on the other side and looped up to the cliffs. Turned into the dirt lot for the old gun battery and parked.
One of the spookiest things about fog is how quiet it makes things. I knew the bridge was just below the embankment, but it could’ve been on a distant planet for all I could see or hear of it.
What I did see, after stuffing the .38 behind my shirt and arming myself with Triples Trevor, were the looming, gothic shapes of Battery Spencer. The fort was built in 1897 to guard the Bay with three giant M1888s against foreign invaders that never materialized, then was finally scrapped in the middle of World War II. And it had a haunted, menacing feel to it. Perfect.
It also seemed abandoned, and now way past sunset, was smothered in darkening fog. There were two rows of abandoned former barracks, rusted out and filled with military spirits. I inched through every one. The air smelled like old urine and was beyond clammy. If Tressip was camping out up there with Liz, they both might’ve caught pneumonia already.
I was ready to give up staking out the place when I suddenly heard a ghostly sound in the fog. It was a faint woman’s cry—more a sob than a scream—but did I imagine it? Did the wife of a fallen soldier throw herself off the cliff once?
Another wave of frigid fog fingers groped through the encampment. I wrapped my coat tighter. Listened hard.
And heard it again. It was coming from a barrack across the path I had just been inside. I retraced my steps. Took out the flashlight.
In the far corner of the structure, beside a small heap of discarded newspaper, pop bottles, and animal dung, was a door I hadn’t noticed. Fitted with a shiny new padlock. The female sobbing was clearly somewhere behind it.
It took me a few minutes, but I found an old hair clip and managed to jimmie the lock open. Quietly opened the door. Saw a flight of steps leading to an underground bunker or storage chamber. Tightened my grip on the bat and crept down them.
Liz was nylon corded to a girder, stripped to her soiled slip and bra, tears streaming from her eyes. Looked like she hadn’t eaten in days. Unable to see me with the flashlight beam in her face, she immediately began shrieking through the black tape over her mouth.
“No baby, it’s me!!” I put the beam on my own face to show her, then set the flashlight on the floor. Reached up to undo her mouth tape and her eyes practically popped out of her skull. I turned a fraction of a second too late: Tressip was behind me and yanked the .38 out of my shirt.
“Well done, sir. Extremely well done. Now get those hands up, please.”
He hadn’t seen the bat yet. I leaned it against the front of my leg, raised both of my hands.
“So the Giants ending up in third place just wasn’t enough for you, was it?”
“Curiously…no. This damage you did to me runs deeper than I ever imagined. But we’re a lot alike, you and I. Both of us lost our fathers. Both of us could have been big league stars, if not for one sloppy pitch—”
“Oh shut the hell up, you sick scum. I am nothing like you.”
“Apologize for that, Milton.”
I heard the .38’s chamber click. Felt its cold barrel on the back of my neck.
“How about now?”
“Gee, I don’t know…How about THIS—”
Whipped the bat around and nailed the side of his half-burned head. The gun went off, narrowly missing my ear and putting a hole in the ceiling. I hit him again and the weapon went flying. He crumbled in a bloody heap on the floor. I ripped the tape off Liz’s mouth, madly undid her cords.
“I knocked him out! Let’s just go—”
“Where’s the gun?? I’LL do it!!”
I grabbed her arm and Triples Trevor and raced us back up the stairs.
It was so dark and foggy we kept slamming into barrack walls. Finally got back outside and headed toward the parking lot. I pulled off my coat, wrapped it around her.
“Nice swing in there, Snap,” she said, “Never knew you could hit.”
“Two for eighty-two lifetime. But they were both doubles.”
We reached the wet dirt of the parking lot and stopped. A familiar shiny black Mercury was parked about ten yards away. Brewster’s car.
“What the hell? I ditched them over an hour ago. How’d they find me?”
“The FBI? That’s a good thing, right? Come on.”
She broke away, ran up to the passenger side of the Mercury and cried out again. Backed off.
Brewster’s stooge was sitting there with a bullet hole in his forehead.
“Tressip got him!” she yelled.
“Wrong, Miss Doomis,” said Brewster’s voice behind us. He stepped out of the fog, brandishing a bigger revolver mine could only dream of being. “My partner of the day was getting a little too curious on the way over here.”
“I don’t believe this…” said Liz.
“But not too shocking,” I added. “I thought his investigative work was a little slow and shoddy. And nice little phony factory siege you staged in Terre Haute, Brewster.”
“Do either of you losers have any idea how much money Tressip has? How much he was willing to pay for some simple cooperation?”
“So he bought you off.”
“No, I’d call it more of an under-the-table contract. He knew some federal men through his father’s friends. Heard I was unhappy at the Bureau. That I wanted to retire early and sail around the globe on my yacht. Thought correctly that I could be persuaded to be his ‘inside man’ for a very pleasing sum.”
I charged him. In a flash, his weapon was in my nostrils.
“Now now, Drake. One more day till the season ends—before I help Tressip leave the country and get the rest of my payoff. I don’t want you blowing this deal. Where’s our friend now?”
“I killed him.”
“Go take a look. He’s downstairs.”
“Not anymore I’m not.”
It was Tressip, also stepping out of the fog. Blood oozing from the scalp wound I gave him. He was wobbly but still looked ferocious.
“Hello, Richard,” said his buddy Brewster.
“Good evening, Griffin,” said Tressip. “And thank you. But I think I can manage from here.” Raised my .38 and blew Brewster’s brains out from four feet away.
Everything happened fast. Tressip grabbing my arm, knocking the bat away. Liz slipping in the mud trying to run. Me lunging after her and Tressip getting a burly arm around my neck, slamming my head on the Mercury’s door. I dropped in a daze. heard Liz’s screams muffle as he pulled the stooge’s body out of the passenger seat, shoved her in and peeled out of the lot.
I staggered to my feet, somehow got to the Dodge and roared after them. Nearly went off the winding road three times trying to catch up. The Merc tore through a red light at the bottom, got back on the bridge to ‘Frisco. I broke the same law, pumped my speedometer up to 55. Saturday night traffic was as thick as the fog going into the city, and we bobbed and weaved through it like lunatics.
But then we could go no further. Ran into a murky sea of red tail lights. Tressip jammed on his brakes right in front of me. I hit the Merc’s bumper head on, slammed my mouth on the Dodge’s steering wheel. Groggily climbed out half a minute later, spitting a couple front teeth on the road. A few motorists ran over to help, but I was already stumbling past them. Followed Tressip as he pulled Liz between oncoming cars to the sidewalk on the eastern side, the .38 lodged in her spine.
“Stop, Tressip!” I yelled, “It’s over!”
“For you, maybe! She told me she loved me once, I believed her, and now we’re going away!”
“Going where?? Every cop in the city you weren’t paying off is about to be after you!”
He paused at the rail, spum around with a beaming, insane expression.
“Going where it’s wet…and quiet…and we can be together. Come darling.”
He hoisted himself on the rail, yanked her up beside him.
She struggled with him. I hobbled up and he shot the sidewalk two inches from my foot.
“Uh-uh, Milton. You threw an evil fastball. You lose. You don’t get the girl in the end. I do. Forever.”
He stood on the rail, gripped a cable with his free hand. Hauled Liz up by her hair.
“Ready to say your vows, my sweet?”
He was really going to do this. Any motorists who tried to intervene were fired at. The fog whipping across the bridge made it even more nightmarish. I begged my brain for an answer. And then…
“Okay, Tressip! You’re right! I KNOW she loved you, because she told me a few days ago! She even…she even told me about your son!”
Tressip paused, stared at me in wonder. So did Liz.
“Right. The little boy she had nine months after she had…relations with you. She was afraid to tell you, and when I proposed to her I agreed to help raise him.”
A half-confused, half beatific expression enveloped his ruined face. I kept going.
“Don’t you remember him? Little Maxie! You scared him away at that memorial service for Liz’s brother!”
“That was my son…”
“I was going to name him after you, Richard,” said Liz, playing along, “I just wasn’t sure I’d see you again.”
He stroked her hair with the gun still in his hand. “In your heart you knew you would…”
“Kiss me, handsome.”
He smiled, leaned in. She put her mouth on his, then kneed him full force in the groin. He howled, slipped off the damp rail. Pulled her off with him. She clamped an arm on the top rail as she dropped. I raced up.
Tressip dangled from her ankle, high over the fog bank of death, volcanic rage and hurt in his doomed eyes. And they were staring right at me.
“You shouldn’t have hit me, Milton…”
“For God’s sake, Tressip! It was an accident!”
“There are no accidents…” Liz tried to kick him off but his grip was otherworldly. Her hands were slipping. “And that’s not all…You didn’t pick me for your team that day, Milton! You didn’t pick me and look what happened!”
Police sirens approached. Tressip heard them, sighed deeply…and let go. “LOOK WHAT HAPPENED…” he cried as he fell into oblivion. Fog and water silently entombing him.
The helpful mob swarmed in. Helped me pull Liz back over the rail to safety. I kissed and hugged her until a police officer made us stop.
STL 200 200 000 – 4 8 3
S.F. 300 130 10x – 8 11 2
W-McCormick L-Mabe SV-Giel HRS: Wagner, Mays GWRBI-Mays
An entertaining slopfest I listened to while I packed my car. Daddy Wags and Willie go back-to-back in the 1st but it’s a classic Cardinal atomic meltdown in the 5th that decides things. How about three Giant runs on one hit, one sac fly, two walks, a hit batter and two passed balls?
CIN 210 000 000 – 3 9 0
MIL 000 030 01x – 4 10 1
W-Spahn L-Lawrence HRS: Aaron, Mathews GWRBI-Mathews
Just the type of miraculous, tight win the Braves have been getting lately. Can’t hit at all for half the game, then get late clutch homers by Hank to tie and Eddie to win it.
CHI 031 030 000 – 7 14 1
L.A. 000 303 000 – 6 9 0
W-Drott L-Drysdale SV-Nichols HRS: Marshall, Neal GWRBI-Adams
The Cubbies finish their season with another offensive explosion, courtesy of Don Dreckdale and his 19th loss of the year. Jim Marshall’s tater is Chicago’s 199th, as they fall one short of the double century mark. As for the Dodgers, I still find it impossible to believe that this team was one game out of first at the all-star break. They went 22-53 in the second half, playing worse than the Washington Senators.
PHI 101 010 020 – 5 8 1
PIT 101 000 000 – 2 9 1
W-Simmons L-Kline GWRBI-Bowman
Don’t try and tell the Phillies the games don’t matter anymore, because they seem fixated on winning the rest of them anyway. Six in a row over their western neighbors now.
BAL 113 010 300 – 9 11 0
NYY 302 010 000 – 6 14 0
W-Brown L-Dickson HRS: Mantle, Berra, Siebern GWRBI-Nieman
Another horrible performance by the Bombers, as it’s Bobby Shantz’s turn to have nothing. One more of these to get out of their system tomorrow before they welcome in the Braves.
K.C. 000 000 000 – 0 7 0
CHI 000 000 02x – 2 8 1
W-Wynn L-Grim GWRBI-Lollar
Speaking of horrible, Bob Grim of the A’s finishes the year at 3-19, but at least it isn’t his fault this time. Would you believe 13 LOB for K.C. against the sketchy Early Wynn?
DET 100 001 001 – 3 6 1
CLE 400 101 10x – 7 11 0
W-Woodeshick L-Moford HRS: Harris, Doby, Wertz, Harrell, Minoso
Another Tribe barrage sinks the Tigers. A win tomorrow with Cal McLish on the hill and the Indians clinch third place, which is pretty amazing.
BOS 410 040 020 – 11 14 1
WAS 112 010 003 – 8 12 1
W-Bowsfield L-Kemmerer SV-Baumann
Less amazing is 22-game loser Russ Kemmerer walking nine Red Sox and the Nats losing despite hitting seven doubles off Ted Bowsfield. Sievers collects three of them, and thanks to a lack of at bats for Williams and Zernial, is on the verge of a triple crown.
STATS RACES–ONE DAY LEFT!
AVG: Mays-SF .353, Aaron-MIL .338, Cunningham-STL .336, Musial-STL .328, Groat-PIT .328
OPS: Covington-MIL 1.035, Cunningham-STL 1.012, Mays-SF 1.007, Aaron-MIL .999, Robinson-CIN .995
HRS: Robinson-CIN 41, Banks-CHC 41, Aaron-MIL 40, Mays-SF 35, Covington-MIL 35
RBI: Robinson-CIN 143, Aaron-MIL 120, Mays-SF 117, Banks-CHC 119, Musial-STL 110 Lynch-CIN 110,
AVG: Williams-BOS .412, Zernial-DET .364, Sievers-WAS .340, Kaline-DET .331
OPS: Williams-BOS 1.314, Colavito-CLE 1.089, Sievers-WAS 1.044, Mantle-NY 1.037, Zernial-DET 1.028
HRS: Sievers-WAS 52, Mantle-NY 46, Jensen-BOS 45, Colavito-CLE 44
RBI: Sievers-WAS 139, Jensen-BOS 128, Colavito-CLE 123, Mantle-NY 123, Cerv-KC 109
National League through Saturday, September 27
American League through Saturday, September 27