Spokane may be a very nice place to have dinner. Or raise a kid. Or pick wild blueberries. But four days up here was four days too long for me.
The Indians team I was occasionally pitching for was lousy, with a wage to match. The electric hot plate in my rented room never worked. Worst of all, things down in San Francisco were going from weird to bizarre,and I was too far away to stick my nose in them. I told you about Reggie’s body still not being found as of yesterday, right? Well, put this next little chinwag in your rumble seat.
After breakfast at Frank’s, three over easy with lousy home fries, I placed another call to Chumpo. As far as murder news goes, I had struck out with the morning papers again. This time, though, Chumpo’s voice was slow and dark, like someone had forced him to drink motor oil. I asked him what was wrong.
“They found Reggie yesterday…”
“Huh? What do you mean ‘found him’?”
“He’s dead, Snappy! Someone killed him!”
I faked my shock well. Vowed revenge. All that stuff. Chumpo, meanwhile, sounded like he was trying not to cry. I pictured him wiping his eyes with his filthy bar rag.
“Right across the street from here, too…Can you believe that?”
“I guess I can believe anything these days. Russian satellites in space? Two bodies found in one ball park? Weird.”
“Oh no. They found Reggie in Franklin Square Park. His face all mashed in.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“I mean, you’d think mugging a guy would be enough, right? But whoever did this must’ve used his head for batting practice! Son-of-a…”
I heard him drop the phone on the bar.
“Chumpo? You there?”
He picked it up again. Snorted back a sniffle. “Yeah…Had to go see Diane and the kids this morning. They’re a wreck, Snappy. When are you coming back?”
“Sooner than I thought I would, that’s for sure. There’s something very smelly about this thing.”
“How’s about I tell you when I’m back in town?”
There was a long pause. “You got something to do with this, Snappy?”
“You were pretty strange on the phone the other day…kind of paranoid, if you know what I mean.”
“Hey. Whatever you think you might be thinking about, it isn’t that. Talk to you soon.”
I hung up. Let my brain go to work while I dressed for our homestand finale with the Bees. Who the hell moved Reggie’s body across the street to the park? And a day later?
Bragan put me in for a longer relief stint this time, game tied 6-6 in the 5th. My curve was snapping a lot better. Whiffed .300 hitter Joe Christopher on three pitches, looking for a fastball each time. Gentile gave us the lead with a 2-run shot, and I left after three innings of one-hit ball. Ducked into the clubhouse to hit the whirlpool again.
Found an envelope from Western Union taped to my locker. I ripped it open.
TO: SNAPPY DRAKE
NEEDED DOWN HERE ON URGENT MATTER. AIRLINE TICKET IN YOUR NAME AT SPOKANE AIRPORT. SPEAK TO NO ONE CONCERNING BODIES AND REPORT TO MY OFFICE ON ARRIVAL.
OWNER, S.F. GIANTS
PHL 100 000 100 – 2 8 0
SFG 000 200 001 – 3 5 0
W-Miller L-Meyer HRS: Kirkland, Cepeda GWRBI-Cepeda
Typical baseball. Phillies score 16 runs one day, can’t swat a fly the next. With Rigney back in the Giants’ dugout, new right fielder Willie Kirkland blasts a 2-run shot to take the lead in the 4th, and Cha-Cha Cepeda lines one over the wall off Jack Meyer for the winner.
STL 000 010 000 – 1 11 1
CIN 001 020 01x – 4 5 0
W-Haddix L-Brosnan GWRBI-Bailey
Typical baseball. Cards score 19 runs one day and can’t whack a mole the next. Well, they do get 11 hits and waste nearly every one, leaving 13 men aboard. Jim Brosnan’s bid for a Vander Meer lasts two and two-third innings before Johnny Temple singles.
PIT 010 000 300 – 4 6 1
L.A. 100 503 10x – 10 9 1
W-Williams L-Raydon HRS: Hall, Neal, Zimmer GWRBI-Hodges
Memorial’s short left field screen wigs out Curt Raydon, who allows a triple, single, four straight walks and another single to start the Dodgers’ 4th inning. Scrappy little Don Zimmer is hitting .362 with six homers now.
MIL 401 001 000 – 6 5 0
CHI 300 011 11x – 7 10 2
W-Drabowsky L-Pizarro SV-Elston HRS: Aaron, Mathews, Banks, Moryn, Neeman GWRBI-Neeman
Braves explode in the 1st, but Cubs battle back and take the game in the 8th on a pinch homer off Juan Pizarro by Cal Neeman.
K.C. 000 001 410 – 6 9 0
BOS 201 100 111 – 7 14 2
W-Smith L-Gorman GWRBI-Daley
A’s lose their fifth in a row, but at least they make it interesting, scoring four times in the 7th to take a brief lead. The Bosox have been an on-base machine, though, and use a Buddin single, Piersall double and pinch single by Daley off Gorman to win it in the 9th.
DET 100 013 021 000 0 – 8 17 1
NYY 004 000 004 000 1 – 9 16 0
W-Duren L-Morgan GWRBI-Siebern
With Kaline, Berra, and Carey all out, the Tigers and Yanks still pull off another extra-inning slugfest, and New York takes both halves of an incredible 2-game series. After Shantz gives away a 4-1 lead, the Bombers score four more times in the 9th off Hank Aguirre with the help of triples by Howard and Richardson and a pinch-single by Marv Throneberry. Red Wilson grounds into a 6-4-3 with the bases loaded off Duren in the 11th (16 LOB!), before a single and two-base error by Kuenn and Siebern single win it in the 13th. Duren has whiffed 18 in 12 innings of work and not given up an earned run yet.
CHX 000 000 000 – 0 2 1
BAL 100 021 30x – 7 13 0
W-Brown L-Moore GWRBI-B. Robinson
Story of the year in the A.L. so far is Baltimore’s amazing pitching. Brown’s second whitewash drops the team ERA to 2.36, and the Birds move into a first-place tie with Boston.
CLE 001 120 020 – 6 13 2
WAS 000 001 000 – 1 9 0
W-Narleski L-Kemmerer HRS: Vernon-2, Doby GWRBI-Colavito
The Tribe snaps the Senators’ 1-game winning streak with the aid of two Mickey Vernon mashes, as he fills in for an injured Wertz.
NOTE: While I’m away this week, one of my trusty managers will be filling in for me on Wednesday with a special guest post. Snappy’s next diary entry will appear on Friday.
National League through Wednesday, April 30
American League through Wednesday, April 30