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April 18, 1958

Nice ticket, lady.

I know the Dodgers were opening the season at the L.A. Coliseum instead of the Trojans, but the deep right grandstand really was a football field away. No kidding. The place had more people in it than the city of Bakersfield. The blinding sun was playing chopsticks on my temple, me stupidly without any shades, and when the Dodgers scored four in the 1st off Stu Miller I thought my ears would slide off my head.

For starters, the flight down this morning was a doozy. Wind gusts over the San Joaquin wrestled my stomach to the mat. I swear I heard the propellers cry for mercy. Hadn’t been down to L.A. since our Rainiers swung through to play the Stars, Angels and Padres years back, but that trip was by bus. You know, on one of those roads.

Liz never said where she’d meet me, but that’s what seat numbers are for, and she sure knew that. Plopped down beside my aisle chair around the bottom of the 3rd. She seemed flustered, but in sunshine looked no less fetching than she did in foggy darkness. Wore a creamy blouse and tangerine skirt that begged for ogling, and it even matched her press pin. She’d already made reservations for dinner at Tam O’Shanter on Los Feliz, and on a couch at her place for my sleeping. Meaning except for the fact that the Giants were behind most of the game, there wasn’t much i could squawk about.

Then the game went into extras again. Damn these teams. I used the opportunity to walk the massive stands, transistor radios all around me creating a weird Vin Scully echo chamber. Also got a good look at the tall screen and jai alai court they call left field here. Turned and peered up at the press box a few times but didn’t see any sign of Liz.

She met me an hour later under the columns at the far exit, after the Dodgers had blown yet another one to us. Her mood was rotten. She drove us across town in her white T-Bird convertible, more quiet and reckless than I cared for.

Everyone parking cars and seating tables at Tam O’Shanter seemed to know her. Walt Disney apparently ate at this place all the time, but he wasn’t there. Neither was Mickey. Liz ordered English Goose and I had a steak that was perfectly tender and bloody. It went down even better with my tumbler of Glenfiddich.

“So,” she began, waiting for me to light her cigarette after mine, Anything new?”
“I don’t know. Besides you?”
“I meant about the case, silly. The body.”

I said no, but did tell her about the torn-off note the cops found in the stiff’s jacket. It got her mind dancing.

“A band on…the radio? A band on…the run? Wait! How about a band on stage somewhere? Like a local club! This guy must be a musician somewhere, right?”
“For a crime reporter, you sure jump to daffy conclusions.”

Her pout returned. She speared a brussel sprout. I leaned in. “Must be making a damn good wage at that paper to spring for my airline ticket and all this. What’s your angle, Liz?

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean. All I am is a lousy stadium usher and you’re glommin’ on to me like I saw the Lindbergh baby get snatched.”
“But you did find a stabbed body in a ballpark. Isn’t that a good story?”
“Not especially. What if our locker room kid Johnny Heep found him? Would he be sitting here?”
“If he was as cute as you…maybe.”

The Glenfiddich blended nicely with my sudden body warmth. I winked and finished off my steak. Liz paid the gaudy bill and we drove across Los Feliz to Franklin and into the Hollywood hills. Nat King Cole was on her T-Bird radio. The balmy night air teased her blonde mane around.

But something bugged me, and I asked her to pull over at a late-night market so I could buy more smokes. There was a pay phone in back. I dialed the Herald Examiner and asked for the crime desk. Got some gravelly night editor who sounded like he had a stack of felony reports in his in-box he would rather be leafing through.

And he didn’t know anyone named Liz Dumas.

THE SKINNYS

Strange day on the ball fields. Three nice little pitching performances and four insane rumbles. Naturally, the first rumble happens in L.A.

SF 000 120 100 01 – 5 9 1
LA 400 000 000 00 – 4 13 2

W-Miller L-Labine GWRBI-Mays
Make that four straight 1-run games with these two. After Miller’s nightmare of a 1st he clamps down and blanks the ex-Brooklyners the rest of the way to upset their huge opening crowd. Just like they did up north, key infield errors, this time by Hodges and Grey, lead to two of the runs that help tie the game. In the 10th, Wagner leads with a double, before Mays, on base five out of six times, singles off Craig for the winner.

MIL 002 001 003 – 6 7 1
PHL 050 000 002 – 7 10 1

W-Farrell L-Robinson HRS: Mathews, Hemus GWRBI-Bowman
Uncanny opener at Connie Mack. Carl Willey hits Ashburn and knocks him out of the game with his first pitch, then serves up a Solly Hemus grand slam and five runs in the 2nd, only to have the Braves chip away and go ahead with three in the top of the 9th on two singles, a double, and 2-base Bob Bowman error (replacing Ashburn). So we all know what’s coming: defensive sub Pafko drops a fly to start the last of the 9th, a passed ball and single follow, and one out later the red-faced Mr. Bowman doubles into the gap for the winners!

CIN 000 000 001 – 1 6 0
PIT 000 000 000 – 0 6 1

W-Haddix L-Kline GWRBI-Hoak
Great pitching duel, won in the top of the 9th on a one-out Don Hoak double. The Bucs oughta trade for this Haddix guy sometime.

STL 000 000 000 – 0 2 0
CHI 301 001 11x – 7 13 0

W-Drabowsky L-Brosnan HR: Banks GWRBI-Banks
Wrigleyville explodes when Ernie B. cranks one out with two aboard in the 1st, and the Cubbies cruise from there. On the negative side, Dale Long gets hurt for what appears to be a week.

BAL 000 000 000 – 0 6 1
NYY 000 100 00x – 1 5 0

W-Ditmar L-Portocarrero GWRBI-Berra
No offense in the Bronx, neither. “The Springfield Rifle” shoots down almost every Bird he sees.

CLE 010 300 101 002 – 8 13 0
DET 001 040 100 000 – 6 18 2

W-Mossi L-Morgan HRS: Vernon-2 GWRBI-Avila
Back to the loony bins. Woodeshick and Hoeft take turns out-stinking each other for the first part of the game, until the pens take over. But Minoso singles in Ward with two outs in the 9th to tie the thing, and after the Tigers blow a million scoring chances, Doby walks with two outs in the 12th, Martin boots a ball at short, Zernial butchers a single to score both runs with Groth over in right replacing the injured Kaline (5 games). Racking up 18 hits and losing ain’t much fun.

CHX 010 020 002 000 01 – 6 17 3
K.C. 120 100 100 000 02 – 7 13 1

W-Gorman L-Shaw HRS: Lollar-2, Cerv GWRBI-Martyn
Last game was just a warm-up, though. Bad Sox defense and a Cerv homer put the A’s out front early, 4-1. Lollar’s 2-run homer gets Chicago back in it. Up 5-3 in the 9th with two outs and two Sox aboard, lefty Daley comes on to face lefty Goodman. Al Smith pinch-hits, doubles into the corner to tie the game. Chicago burns through most of their pen and has Bob Shaw on the hill after Lollar homers a second time off Gorman in the 14th. Tuttle singles with one out for the A’s and Chiti doubles him to third. Frank House pinch-hits a walk. Whitey Herzog pinch-hits a whiff but Martyn lines a single to score the tying and winning runs! Break up the Athletics!

Senators and Red Sox were idle.

National League through Friday, April 18

Philadelphia 2 0 1.000
San Francisco 3 1 .750
Chicago 2 1 .667 0.5
Cincinnati 1 1 .500 1
Milwaukee 1 2 .333 1.5
St. Louis 1 2 .333 1.5
Pittsburgh 1 2 .333 1.5
Los Angeles 1 3 .250 2

American League through Friday, April 18

Kansas City 3 1 .750
New York 3 1 .750
Baltimore 2 1 .667 0.5
Chicago 2 2 .500 1
Boston 2 2 .500 1
Cleveland 2 2 .500 1
Detroit 1 3 .250 2
Washington 0 3 .000 3
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