I took the night flight back to San Fran as dry as a preacher. Whatever mess I’d gotten myself into had just become thicker and stickier, and I needed my wits to start cleaning off the gunk.
I’d seen Horace Stoneham at his office window a couple of times, peering down at the field. From what I’d heard, he wasn’t much for socializing. Anyway, one of his flunkies drove me straight from the airport to Seals Stadium. The Giants had beaten the Phils again in exciting, late fashion earlier, and the place was dark except for the light coming from Stoneham’s office.
He was sitting behind his big desk. Stocky, red-faced, hair thinning. Coddling half a glass of Glenlivet in his hand. As I entered he stood a bit wobbly, shook my hand with his free one.
“Thanks for coming, Mr. Drake. Sorry to have to do this.”
“Don’t be. Spokane wasn’t paying me dirt anyway.”
“Well, if you help me out, I can offer you a lot more than dirt. Have a seat and a drink.”
He poured me a glass before I even bent my knees. I sipped it like a parakeet.
“Very unfortunate about your friend Reggie.”
He eyed me for a long, bloodshot second. “Did you hear some son-of-a-bitch shoved him into my new scoreboard?”
“Naw. You’re not serious.”
“Pence Murphy found him. Ten minutes before we opened the damn gates. Thank god he hid him in the equipment shed before I came up with the idea of dumping him across the street.”
“Pretty damn illegal there, Mr. Stoneham.”
“It’s not as illegal when you’re friends with the police. And I had my reasons, which I’ll get to. It also might interest you to know that Pence Murphy thought you did it and ran away.”
“Big atom bomb there. Did he tell you why I would want to kill one of my best friends?”
“Hey, I didn’t even know who you were. When you run a club you don’t really have time to meet the ushers. Or ushers who’ve been relegated to hosing off seagull shit. But it so happens I do know Phil Todd, who vouched for your Spokane ‘promotion’ right away.”
“Why am I here, Mr. Stoneham?”
He set his glass on the desk. Pulled his stocky frame off the chair and strolled to the window. Looked out at the black field.
“This was a big move for me…My father built the Giants into something big in New York. Hell, when I was a kid I’d sit and listen to John McGraw talk strategy with him in our living room. But I’m no social gaddabout like O’Malley is, and I don’t like spending money on newspaper, radio and television ads. I’d rather build our new following here by winning ballgames.”
“Might want to invest in some better relief pitchers then.”
“Listen, smart mouth. I got a stake in keeping you on the payroll. don’t blow it.”
“What kind of stake?”
He walked over, grabbed the Glenlivet and topped off my glass, spilling some on my fingers. “Like I said, until my new park’s built out on Candlestick Point, the Giants need big crowds. Meaning I can’t have some nut job leaving corpses in the stadium. Which is where you come in.”
“That’s right. Someone seems to have a grudge against you, Drake. My pals on the police force sure think so, and they don’t even know you found that guy in the scoreboard.” He leaned in, scotch-breathed my face. “The idea is to put you back in the grandstand ushering those seats at quadruple your old salary. With plainclothes cops all over the yard, waiting for the creep to make another move.”
This time I drank half the glass in one swig. “You wanna throw me out there like bait?”
“More like a magnet. And don’t worry, you’ll have an assistant to help you out, organize things. This wasn’t entirely my idea, you know.”
He turned and nodded to his flunkie, who swung the door open to the hall.
In walked Liz Dumas. Pretty damn radiant for late at night.
“Hey there again…Snappy.”
PHL 100 012 010 – 6 13 1
SFG 300 001 11x – 7 9 0
W-Grissom L-Farrell HRS: Sauer, Mays GWRBI-Davenport
Willie finally hits one out, but it’s Hank Sauer’s moon blast off Simmons in the first that gets the Giants going. Philly battles back a few times before a Schmidt triple and Davenport single win it.
PIT 000 400 000 – 4 11 0
L.A. 000 001 000 – 2 4 2
W-Witt L-Erskine SV-Face HRS: Stuart, Furillo GWRBI-Stuart
On a hunch, Danny Murtaugh starts Dick Stuart for Kluszewski in the righty-friendly Coliseum and Dr. Strangeglove smashes one over the screen in the 4th with two aboard. (My bad: that movie hasn’t been released yet…)
MIL 100 030 000 – 4 10 0
CHI 100 000 000 – 1 2 0
W-Jay L-Phillips GWRBI-Aaron
Strong showing from Joey Jay with the wind blowing out at Wrigley, as the Braves’ hurlers start to get nasty.
K.C. 100 000 000 – 1 8 3
BOS 000 050 73x – 15 18 0
W-Delock L-Herbert HRS: Jensen, Piersall GWRBI-Runnels
God in heaven. A’s actually have a 1-0 lead in this going to the 5th, but Bob Cerv misplays two balls in left to lead to five Sox runs, and Jensen and Piersall add bombs later to rub it in. Ike Delock becomes the first 4-0 pitcher. A’s leave town with tails stuffed into their behinds and hope to rebound in…Yankee Stadium.
CHX 000 000 010 – 1 8 2
BAL 101 100 00x – 3 5 0
W-Johnson L-Pierce HRS: Phillips, Taylor GWRBI-Taylor
Undaunted, the Birds keep up with Boston with more amazing pitching, this time from Connie Johnson. Soon as I praised Chicago to the skies, they stopped hitting.
CLE 040 013 004 – 12 15 1
WAS 200 000 000 – 2 11 3
W-McLish L-Griggs HRS: Doby, Harrell, Yost GWRBI: Minoso
Yost homers to start the offense for the Nats and they score twice in the 1st! In other news, that’s all, folks.
Tigers, Yankees, Cards and Reds are all idle.
National League through Thursday, May 1
American League through Thursday, May 1