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April 17, 1958

Totals for our opening series with the Dodgers: three knuckle-chewing one-run games, 68 combined hits, 52 suckers left on base, two wins, one loss and one corpse with a knife in its back. I’d pass out right now if I had a choice in the matter.

Spent at least an hour with the cops after that opener. One of them was built like Gorgeous George Wagner but his suit was too small. The older one who asked all the questions smelled like scallions and probably hadn’t smiled since before the Depression. They had nothing on me but you wouldn’t know from their attitude. They didn’t know the stiff’s name because his wallet was gone and no one had come looking for him yet. Not one person in the stands saw what happened. All the cops found was a piece of paper in his pocket that said “A band on…” with the rest of the sentence or whatever the expression was torn off. 

Afterwards I was so annoyed I tipped a few more Hamm drafts than usual across the street at the Double Play. Chumpo poured me a free one when I told him the story, and then Reggie Fleming and Bob Stuckey arrived. Reggie and Bob were my partners in inebriation after Seals games. Reggie was in construction. Bob sold nine-inch screws, and if they didn’t start a lame-brained argument on a given day then that day was ruined. This one was about Horace Stoneham, the Giants owner, supposedly making a land deal to build a brand new park for the team the next few years. Bob didn’t believe it because he was sure they were going to double-deck Seals. Reggie did because he had ears in the land-grab trade, and so they were off.

Twenty-four hours and our first night game victory later, Reggie and Bob were still at it. I got bored. Paid my tab and hiked down the hill to my walk-up at 15th and Van Ness. The usual clammy fog was rolling in from South Bay. The thick kind that makes even mailboxes look spooky. I hiked to the top of my creaky wooden steps and stopped.

A woman stood there in the shadows. I couldn’t see her face but the perfume she was wearing convinced me she had to be a looker. What I could see was a cloud of cigarette smoke blowing toward my face from where her head must have been, and a smart navy skirt that showed enough leg to keep my shoes stapled to the porch step.

“Mr…Drake?”
“You could say that.”
“I hear you found that body after the game yesterday.”
“Yeah? Says who?”
“It was in the papers.”
“Too bad I don’t read ’em. What are you doing here?”

She dropped her cigarette, pulverized it with a high red heel, and emerged from the shadow.

I was dead right. She was blonde, late 20s. With a sweet, farm-raised face that made you want to whinny and a gait to match. She held out a slender, very white hand for me. It was holding a business card. I read it out loud.

“Liz…Dumas. Los Angeles Herald Examiner?”
“Yes, I’m one of their crime reporters. I was hoping to get an exclusive interview with you. And my name is pronounced ‘Doo-mah’ by the way. It’s French.”
“Well, I’m pretty damn tired right now and need to sleep. The finale tomorrow is a day game, you know.”
“Oh I know. I just—”
“So good night.”

I took out my key, stepped past her to the door. Her hand found my shoulder. 

“Please. The police were no help at all. You must have something more—”
“Hey, lady. I don’t know you. The guy had a knife in his back, okay? And for all I know was a Dodgers fan.”
“Was he? Because that’s—
“Forget it, okay? I don’t know any more than the cops right now. Not to mention, Miss Doo-miss, that my feet are about to fall off.”

She stood there with a sweet, pathetic pout. Like a lost school girl. I felt bad all of a sudden. “Hey. I don’t mean to be a jerk. You just caught me on a bad night. Besides…you haven’t even told me what that perfume is you’re wearing.”

She smiled a little. It was a nice smile. “Dioissimo…By Christian Dior.”

“Mmm. Ten bucks says I remember that.” I unlocked my door and stepped inside. Stood there and waited for her high heels to make it to the bottom of the steps. Then I killed the outside light.

* * *

After the last game, another madhouse of runners all over the map and this time an extra-inning loss, I went under the stands to the usher’s room to change my clothes. Johnny Heep, one of the janitor boys, walked up behind me and handed me a sealed envelope. Said this “actress-looking” girl just gave it to him outside.

I opened the thing. Read the piece of paper first, which said “PLEASE COME. LIZ.” Inside the paper was a ticket to tomorrow’s Giants-Dodgers opener at the Memorial Coliseum—and a plane ticket to Los Angeles.

THE SKINNYS

4/16

LA 010 000 100 000 – 2 8 1
SF 000 000 020 001 – 3 7 1

W-Grissom L-Drysdale HR: Zimmer GWRBI-O’Connell
I get it now, this Dodgers-Giants business. These clowns can’t stay off each other’s backs. Drysdale has a 2-0 lead and 2-hit shutout going to the last of the 8th when Jackie Brandt scratches out an infield hit. Neal then throws away a sure double play over Don ZImmer’s head at short for a 2-base error. Making Leon Wagner’s game-tying 2-run single possible. Two singles and a walk finish Drysdale in the 12th, bring on Clem Labine, and O’Connell bats for Lockman to single in the winner.

NYY 014 502 002 – 14 17 0
BOS 002 100 010 – 4 9 0

W-Ford L-Brewer HRS: Berra, Mantle, Gernert, Renna GWRBI-McDougald
Maybe Tom Brewer should’ve become one of those instead of a pitcher, because this is Ugly City. In his three-plus innings of “work”, 13 of 21 Yanks get on base. (By the way, that New York writer Archie Stripes wouldn’t agree to write these A.L. skinnys without extra coin, so nuts to him and here I am. Guess I’ll just reprint some of his best stuff from time to time and send him cigars.)

K.C. 000 000 010 – 1 6 1
CLE 231 000 00x – 6 10 1

W-Bell L-Grim GWRBI-Doby
Ding-Dong goes all the way. Bob Grim is exactly that, though the A’s bullpen shuts down the last 15 Tribers.

DET 000 000 000 – 0 5 0
CHX 024 002 02x – 10 13 0

W-Donovan L-Foytack HRS: Phillips, Lollar, GWRBI-Aparicio
The Lord invented the wood shed for games likes this.

4/17

L.A. 010 202 000 1 – 6 17 2
S.F. 120 001 010 0 – 5 12 0

W-Craig L-Giel SV-Kipp HRS: Rodgers, Thomas GWRBI-Fairly
One more classic for the road. Five of seven Giants pinch-hitters reached base in this series, and Jim King ties this one up in the 8th with a pinch triple off Craig. But Ron Fairly says touche with his own two-out single in a pinch in the top of the 10th. The opening home-home trench war now slogs south.

CHC 100 010 004 – 6 6 1
STL 200 100 000 – 3 9 3

W-Anderson L-Mizell HRS: Long, Moryn GWRBI-Moryn
Cubbies get their first win with the help of hideous Cards defense. A double and two-base error by Cunningham gives them a run off the bat, and after Cunny repeats the feat in the 9th and Mizell boots a roller, Phil Paine comes on and surrenders a 3-run smash to Walt Moryn.

PITT 020 001 020 – 5 10 0
MLW 000 001 010 – 2 10 1

W-Law L-Burdette SV-Gross HR: Groat GWRBI-Virdon
The Champs lose their first, thanks to two Mazeroski-turned DPs to bail Law out of jams. Don Gross throws two scoreless frames to ice it.

NYY 010 003 020 – 6 10 4
BOS 300 012 03x – 9 12 1

W-Monboquette L-Trucks HRS: Skowron, McDougald, Bauer, Jensen, Renna
The Sox beat up Don Larsen, but Monbo can’t keep the ball in the park, and it’s left up to Williams-sub Bill Renna to win it in the 8th with his third homer of the young year.

K.C. 023 000 003 – 8 13 2
CLE 000 220 100 – 5 7 1

W-Terry L-Mossi SV-Daley HRS: Wertz-2 GWRBI-Chiti
Tribe battles back on Wertz long ones to tie it in 7th, before Mossi takes hill for 9th and gives up leadoff triple to Tuttle and single to Chiti. Error, single, sac fly, and red Indians faces follow.

DET 000 100 000 0 – 1 6 0
CHX 000 000 010 1 – 2 11 0

W-Staley L-Wehmeier GWRBI-Landis
They win a wipeout, they win a nail-scraper. Doubles by Goodman and Francona off Bunning tie it in the 8th, a Landis fly wins it in the 10th.

WAS 000 100 000 – 1 8 1
BAL 001 000 11x – 3 9 0

W-O’Dell L-Clevenger SV-Wilhelm HR: Sievers
This fairly new save statistic must have been defined by what Hoyt Wilhelm did here. Bases juiced and no one out in the 9th, he relieves O’Dell and whiffs Norm Zauchin, pinch-hitter Herbie Plews, and pinch-hitter Clint Courtney to end it.

NOTE: Phillies and Reds were off two straight days. Will have to poke my nose into this…

National League through Thursday, April 17

Philadelphia 1 0 1.000
San Francisco 2 1 .667
Milwaukee 1 1 .500 0.5
St. Louis 1 1 .500 0.5
Pittsburgh 1 1 .500 0.5
Chicago 1 1 .500 0.5
Los Angeles 1 2 .333 1
Cincinnati 0 1 .000 1.5

American League through Thursday, April 17

Baltimore 2 0 1.000
Kansas City 2 1 .667 0.5
New York 2 1 .667 0.5
Chicago 2 1 .667 0.5
Boston 2 2 .500 1
Detroit 1 2 .333 1.5
Cleveland 1 2 .333 1.5
Washington 0 3 .000 2.5
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