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April 23, 1958

“Snappy! Phone for you!”

It was Chumpo, back behind the bar in a clean shirt the next morning. Couldn’t say the same for myself. A mirror would’ve been afraid to look at me.

Chumpo locked me in for the night like this once in a while. The Double Play didn’t open for another hour, but he’d already gotten the cook to make me some eggs. Poured me a tall tomato juice and slid over the bar phone.

“Yeah.”
“Hey! It’s Liz!”
“Oh. Hi…”
“Tried you at home a few times and got nowhere, so…Are you okay?”
“Just talk.”
“Okay, listen to this! Daddy got me in touch with the editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Ever hear of that?”
“Uhh…nope.”
“Well, it’s only the best of its kind. I pitched them a short story idea based on the Opening Day murder and he LOVED it! So guess what?”
“You’re quitting journalism.”
“Hardy har. No, I’m coming up there to research and write the short story! Thought maybe you could help me find a a place to stay, show me around. You know, at least when the Giants are out of town.”

My eggs arrived. Three over easy with Chumpo’s wonderful greasy home fries. “Sure, I guess…Except the Giants don’t leave town until after Mother’s Day. Think the league was counting on horrible spring weather back east or something.”
“I promise I’ll stay out of your hair.”

Actually, I didn’t mind at all having her in my hair. But no sense giving in too quick to a dame, and there was a touch of desperation in her voice.

“Creepy shadows outside your window again?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Just that I worry about you.”
“Baloney. Doesn’t even sound like you want me up there.”
“Oh give me a break, Liz. I just woke up.”
“Fine then. Take a sip of coffee and tell me you’d like to see me.”
“I happen to be drinking tomato juice.”
“Yeah, probably with vodka in it. Talk to you some other time.”

She hung up. So did I. Chumpo refilled the juice and I pulled out my last Camel.

* * *

Hosing seagull crap and wiping it off a fence with a giant sponge at the end of a long mop was one thing. Getting it off the Seals Stadium scoreboard was another. Milwaukee was pounding Cincy all afternoon, the only out-of-town game everyone was following, but it was hard to see the actual score with dried hunks of white goop all over it. I ended up watching us beat St. Louis again from the grounds crew alley, and the view was awful. When Mays doubled into the left corner off Mizell to set up the winning rally in the 3rd, all I saw was him swing and tear around the first base bag. I guess that’s exciting enough by itself, but the last thing I wanted to do was crane my neck out more and catch a glimpse of Old Forster working my grandstand section and farting it up.

Maybe I should’ve been nicer to Liz on the phone. It’s tough to fake your mood, though. My local team was 6-2, had first place all to themselves, the city was doing somersaults, and I was a puddle of mess.

THE SKINNYS

STL 100 100 000 – 2 8 0
SFG 012 001 00x – 4 13 1
W-McCormick L-Mizell GWRBI-Cepeda
Now it’s Mike McCormick’s turn to win one. Cards jump ahead on a Boyer sac fly, but Brandt and Lockman doubles tie it soon and that rally started by Mays put us up for good. Guess I should stop dumping on Willie. He IS hitting .444 out of the gate, even though he hasn’t homered.

CHI 120 220 000 – 7 9 1
L.A. 511 172 44x – 25 31 1
W-Koufax L-Hillman HRS: Walls-2, T. Taylor, Zimmer, Neal, Furillo, Gray, Hodges, Cimoli GWRBI-Pignitano
The Dodgers get mad as hell, and don’t take it any more. Koufax throws a horrible five innings for his “win”, walking four and giving up three bombs, but Dave Hillman out-horribles him. How about 15 hits in four and two-thirds innings? Furillo, who’s done nothing at all so far, racks up five hits in this one, and after his homer in the 5th K.O.’s Hillman, Gene Fodge takes over and serves up homers to Gray and Hodges to make it back-to-back-to-back. The Dodgers score in every inning, and cap the carnage with a pinch grand slam by Gino Cimoli.

PIT 100 001 003 000 – 5 7 0
PHI 500 000 000 001 – 6 14 0
W-Farrell L-Face HR: Anderson GWRBI-Anderson
Not to belabor a theme, but the Bucs drop to 1-5 in one-run games and lose on a Harry Anderson foul pole shot off Roy Face in the 12th. All after battling back from an early 5-spot off Ron Kline.

MIL 014 401 020 – 12 16 0
CIN 100 000 010 – 2  6  0
W-Willey L-Purkey HRS: Covington-2, Mathews-2, GWRBI-Schoendienst
No contest in this early first place showdown, as Purkey gets rock and rolled. Lynch provides all the Reds’ offense with a single, double, and homer.

BAL 100 021 400 – 8 9 0
BOS 000 000 000 – 0 3 2
W-Portocarerro L-Monboquette HR: Nieman GWRBI-Nieman
Okay, so the Red Sox destroy Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium, but can’t touch Arnie Portocarerro at home, with Ted Williams in the lineup? Got it.

NYY 000 001 100 – 2 6 0
WAS 000 010 000 – 1 2 0
W-Ditmar L-Clevenger HRS: Carey, Aspromonte GWRBI-McDougald
The Senators keep it close, only because New York’s offense still hasn’t woken up. Ditmar is fabulous, though, giving up a Pearson walk, Lemon single, Aspromonte homer and nothing else.

CHX 002 011 000 2 – 6 13 0
CLE 000 400 000 1 – 5 7 2
W-Wilson L-Woodeshick HR: Aparicio GWRBI-Minoso
Boy, these Pale Hosers sure find ways to beat you. Cleveland strings together six singles in the 4th to erase a 2-0 deficit, but Chicago nibbles right back and wins it in the 10th on a walk to pitcher Wilson and triple to Aparicio that just scrapes the foul line.

DET 021 100 101 – 6 14 1
K.C. 000 201 200 – 5 9 1
W-Wehmeier L-Daley SV-Aguirre HR: Zernial GWRBI-Zernial
Not to be overlooked in the pesky department are the A’s, who fall behind 4-0 and tie it in the 7th on singles by Lopez and Cerv. Gus Zernial saves the Detroit day with a game-winning single off Daley with two outs in the 9th.

National League through Wednesday, April 23

San Francisco 6 2 .750
Cincinnati 4 2 .667 1
Milwaukee 5 3 .625 1
Philadelphia 3 3 .500 2
St. Louis 3 4 .429 2.5
Chicago 3 4 .429 2.5
Los Angeles 3 5 .375 3
Pittsburgh 2 6 .250 4

American League through Wednesday, April 23

Chicago 6 3 .667
Boston 6 3 .667
Baltimore 5 3 .625 0.5
New York 5 4 .556 1
Detroit 5 4 .556 1
Kansas City 4 5 .444 2
Cleveland 3 6 .333 3
Washington 1 7 .125 4.5
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