Before today’s twinbill with Pittsburgh, I found myself stuck in a back room of the Seals clubhouse. Not that I minded the back room; I didn’t need to see the other ushers and my boss Pence Murphy throwing me the evil eyes. But the gates opened in five minutes and here I was, getting a briefing from my old pal Scallion Breath. The flatfoot’s real name was Lieutenant Malarkey, and both names were fitting.
“Do what I tell you to do, Drake, and this’ll be real easy. I got five plainclothesmen in your section. Can’t tell ya who they are because that could blow their cover. They’ll be there for both games. See anyone that looks suspicious, all you gotta do is use this and we’ll be on him in seconds.” He tossed me a silver whistle.
“Are you kidding me? You guys all got .38s and I have to fight this lunatic with a party favor? Maybe you should just give me a New Year’s hat to go with it.”
“Like I said, Drake. If he makes a move we’ll be on him like flies. Not to mention ten extra officers at the gates to watch the crowd coming in.”
“Great. Do they have whistles, too?” Malarkey just glared at me. I asked him what Liz was going to do.
“Miss Dumas will be wearing an usherette uniform and working a first base section, with another set of officers around HER. Mr. Stoneham wants this plan to succeed, Drake. From what I hear he’s paying you a nice little chunk to try and help that happen. Don’t throw it away.”
And with that, I was back in the stands. Many of the Section 16 regulars were there, like the Jorgensens, a wealthy old Pacific Heights couple who had been attending Seals games here since the ’30s. Like Johnny and Tony Muccio, two brothers who worked for the same concrete waste company, bet each other like crazy during the games and were the best tippers I had. It was close to a sellout, but kind of dizzying to show folks to seats while I stared at their faces or looked for objects in their hands.
The Pirates took a quick 2-0 lead on McCormick thanks to a Dick Stuart bleacher blast, but the home team strung five hits and a walk together for four runs off Ron Kline in the same first inning. From that point on, though, we were drawn and quartered, as the Bucs scored the last ten runs of Game One. Three different Pirates—Stuart, Frank Thomas and Hank Foiles—each homered twice, and the game was doubly awful because the fans who would have normally just left had to force themselves to stick around for Game Two.
There was a 20-minute break before Porterfield and Monzant took the hill, and I spent it smoking cigarettes with Liz in a tunnel. Her usherette outfit included a cute little skirt she wasn’t thrilled with. It was the first time I saw most of her bare legs. They were whiter than I expected living down in L.A. and all, but otherwise perfect.
“Any strange characters in your section?” she asked.
“You didn’t hear me whistling, did you? This whole thing is idiotic. Let’s say you’re a diabolical killer with an axe to grind against me or Giants fans or something. Why the hell would you try and knock someone off at the ball park again after barely getting away with it the first time?”
‘He might be diabolical but no one said he’s a genius.”
“If it’s even a he.”
She frowned. Crushed out a cigarette with her usherette sneaker. “Girls don’t do these things. See you afterwards.”
Game Two was more of the same. Except for Clemente, who went 0-for-10 on the long afternoon, they could’ve hauled the entire Pittsburgh lineup into custody for attempted murder. Catcher Bill Hall drove in six with a homer, triple and single, making that 11 RBIs on the day for their backstops, while Wagner’s late homer was our only damage against Porterfield.
This time the crowd was thinning out, so it was easier to scope the fans. A pack of teenagers snuck into the section and when I tried to boot them out, one who looked a little older spun around and flashed me his badge. A guy on the grounds crew was spending a little too much time sweeping off third base and glancing in my direction, blowing his cover all by himself.
Johnny and Tony got tired of betting when the score became 9-1 and headed home. Then a fat little guy with peanut shell flakes on his muscle shirt sided up to me during the bottom of the 9th and gave me a nudge.
“What’s the matter, Snappy? Pitching didn’t work out for ya?”
“I was at your first game up in Spokane last week. Pretty sad.”
I looked him over. Sure didn’t recognize him from my bygone PCL days.
“Not as sad as you feeling like you had to tell me this.”
“Oh yeah? Maybe you should work on your snap instead of the clap.”
My blood boiled. To hell with the whistle. My fist was in his gut before I knew it and he was tumbling backwards on the aisle steps. A nearby soda vendor dropped his entire tray of Royal Crowns, yanked a police revolver from his apron and was on the creep in seconds. Three “fans” and a “photographer” from the field joined in.
“He’s not the killer, he’s just a jerk!” I yelled a few times, but they didn’t hear me and pushed me aside so they could handcuff him.
Valmy Thomas fouled out to end the game just then, and the rest of the crowd began to file out. I scanned the park. Could see Liz watching the commotion from the other side of the field and trying to squeeze through the crowd to join me.
Then I turned to the left field bleachers. They were almost empty, but one big guy was sitting there in the second row, paying no attention to the exiting people around him. As a matter of fact, he was staring bullets right at me.
As a matter of fact, it was the jerk I was looking for a week ago: Paulie Suggs.
PIT 212 200 005 – 12 16 0
SFG 400 000 000 – 4 8 0
W-Kline L-McCormick HRS: Thomas-2, Stuart-2, Foiles-2 GWRBI-Foiles
PIT 034 001 010 – 9 15 0
SFG 000 001 001 – 2 7 1
W-Porterfield L-Monzant HRS: Hall, Wagner
PHL 002 000 052 – 9 10 1
L.A. 100 020 000 – 3 10 0
W-Roberts L-Labine GWRBI-Ashburn
Koufax leaves after surrendering a walk and Fernandez triple to tie the game in the 8th, and Labine and Craig give up six more runs.
PHL 140 100 000 – 6 11 0
L.A. 000 000 100 – 1 10 1
W-Morehead L-Newcombe HRS: Young, Jones GWRBI-Anderson
Philly racks up seven extra-base hits to zero by the Dodgers, which explains the weird line score.
CIN 000 013 010 – 5 7 0
CHI 010 201 000 – 4 9 3
W-Schmidt L-Hillman SV-Jeffcoat HR: Banks
Three of the Reds’ five runs come on errors by Cub infielders Dark, Banks and Taylor.
CIN 010 000 000 – 1 5 1
CHI 103 400 00x – 8 14 0
W-Briggs L-Acker HRS: Thomson-2, GWRBI-Long
Bobby T with two taters, one a slam, and John Briggs is brilliant in the nightcap to earn the split.
MIL 014 100 033 – 12 14 0
STL 200 001 000 – 3 5 1
W-Willey L-Jones HRS: Aaron, Covington, Torre GWRBI-Aaron
The first meeting of the year between the Cards and front-running Braves is a disaster, as Hank remains hot with a double and homer and St. Louis can’t get anything going after taking a 1st inning lead.
DET 000 000 000 – 0 7 0
BAL 010 000 00x – 1 3 0
W-Portocarerra L-Bunning HR: Woodling GWRBI-Woodling
Classic Birds win, getting an early clout by Woodling and another brutally good start to snuff the opposition.
DET 000 001 200 – 3 6 1
BAL 040 010 00x – 5 12 4
W-Pappas L-Susce SV-Wilhelm GWRBI-Williams
And look who’s back in first place after the sweep. Despite making four errors, Wilhelm comes on to bail the O’s out of a bases-loaded jam in the 8th and get a DP ball from Kaline in the 9th to end it.
CHX 000 100 010 – 2 7 1
NYY 501 011 00x – 8 12 0
W-Larsen L-Wilson HRS: Siebern, Mantle-2, Howard GWRBI-Siebern
Jim Wilson gets tagged for three homers in the 1st, and Larsen cruises to the win.
CHX 000 001 000 – 1 4 1
NYY 000 000 000 – 0 4 0
W-Latman L-Maas GWRBI-Aparicio
Barry Latman? Barry Latman. Only run of the game comes on a Bubba Phillips single, Barry Latman bunt and two-out Aparicio single dumped in front of Slaughter.
CLE 201 222 000 – 9 17 1
BOS 000 000 020 – 2 6 0
W-Woodeshick L-Monboquette GWRBI-Vernon
Wertz-sub Mickey Vernon collects two doubles, a single and walk in five trips as Monbo gets mauled in the opener.
CLE 000 100 103 7 – 12 14 2
BOS 220 010 000 0 – 5 10 1
W-Score L-Kielty HRS: Colavito-2, Doby, Carrasquel GWRBI-Brown
Down 5-1 through six, the Indians ambush the Sox with one in the 7th, three in the 9th, tying the game on a Rock shot with two outs, then scoring seven in the 10th off Leo Kiely. A Dick Brown pinch triple and Carrasquel pinch homer start the rally, and back-toback jacks by Rock and Doby finish it. Since wiping out the A’s, Boston has lost four in a row.
K.C. 010 020 001 – 4 8 1
WAS 000 000 001 – 1 4 2
The A’s losing streak stops at eight, as Garver hurls a gem. Pearson flubs a Chiti drive into the gap for a double and 2-base error to get K.C. going.
K.C. 100 001 000 – 2 9 0
WAS 000 051 00x – 6 7 0
W-Valentinetti L-Burnette SV-Hyde GWRBI-Sievers
Split happens. Wally Burnette throws four great innings, then falls apart in the 5th, giving up a double, walk and Sievers triple before Daley comes in to do no better.
National League through Sunday, May 4
American League through Sunday, May 4