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May 15, 1958

Liz was right. About my need to relax, at least. So after informing Malarkey’s stake-out goons that I had been out of town on none of their business, I took in a full evening of baseball-following over Chumpo’s drafts at the good old Double Play.

Back in St. Louis, the Giants absolutely flattened the Cards earlier in the day, belting seven balls out of Sportsman’s Park—two by Say Hey Willie—and the entire bar stunk of cigars and crazy pennant talk.

I didn’t partake. The Seals won 101 games last year in their swan song for the Pacific Coast League, and they didn’t even have any playoffs, so it’s been hard for me to get too thrilled about players like Valmy Thomas and Andre Rodgers. Still, I let Bob go on and on about various Giant feats of skill, because we all missed Reggie. He certainly would’ve been right at the bar with us, dishing it out and lapping it up.

The fun part of the night was when I helped Chumpo bus tables and found a sports section from the Wilmington (Delaware) News Journal sitting in an empty booth. Someone had probably bought it at the nearby out-of-town newsstand and used it to dump peanut shells on while reading the box scores. Anyway, that baseball columnist I like who covers the Yankees was in Philly to write about the big first-place matchup with Milwaukee, and I enjoyed every word.

This morning, after the beer cleared my head, I tracked down his next story in the News Journal morning edition, because Thursday afternoon’s game was one hell of a doozy. Here ya go, folks:

PHILS FOILED IN FIGHT FOR FIRST, FOLD IN FOURTEEN

By Archie Stripes
The Bronx Bugler
Special to the News Journal

PHILADELPHIA—Could they do it again? These Wheez Kids, these overachieving underachievers, this most fun collection of ball-rippers that has taken Brotherly Loveville and most of the country by storm in the first month and a half: could they sweep the World Champs with a matinee win?

They’re sure taking ME by storm. Gave up the last two games of the Oriole-Yankee series in the Bronx just to train it down here and see for myself. Series hero Lew Burdette was on the Milwaukee slab, Jack Sanford for the home gang. The unlikely swatting firm of Bowman, Anderson, and Philley all singled with two gone in the 1st for the first run of the game, but two walks and a flubbed grounder to the mound equalized things the next inning.

Then the Braves got busy. Filling in for injured Bruton, Felix Mantilla singled to open the 3rd. One out later, Hammerin’ Aaron yanked one into the left field upper deck, and after two singles and a walk and Red Schoendienst sac pop to right, the Phils were down 4-1.

Never say the word “down” to THIS bunch, though. Sanford got his rhythm back, while Burdette began handing out hits like Sugar Babies on Halloween. By the time Philly plated one in the 3rd and three in the 6th, they had ten singles and a double to brag about, the fans swayed with glee and visions of Dick Sisler danced in their heads. They led 5-4, the Braves were reeling and first place could be theirs in less than an hour.

Juan Pizarro had come in to calm down the locals, but the Braves had stopped doing a blessed thing at the dish. Leadoff slugger Wes Covington was zero-for-four going to the 9th, and after Adcock pinch-hit a single with one out, Wes rolled one out to Hamner. Granny moved like his sweet old namesake, though, missed the bag at second and pinch-runner Casey Wise was in a scoring spot. Mantilla came through like no one dreamed he would, rifled a single into left as Wise skipped home and tied the game 6-6!

The Great Humberto then took the hill for the Braves, and I speak of ace reliever Robinson, of course. He mesmerized Phillie bats for the next four innings, whiffing five and giving a hit to no one. Turk Farrell had given up the tying run, and he was equally fine, but the unlucky 13th proved his undoing.

Crandall boomed a one-out double. Logan walked. Schoendienst singled in Del. Jim Hearn took over and Mel Roach crawled out of a crack in the dugout to single in two more off him. The game couldn’t have been more over.

Except nobody left the park. Because they knew. Even with two outs, the occasionally surly Philadelphians roared with glee as Eddie Mathews—having a meaningless day with the bat—botched his second grounder of the day. New hurler Don McMahon was miffed enough to boot Bowman’s ball seconds later. Harry Anderson, of course, singled in a run to make it 8-6.

Pancho Herrera had gone in earlier at first base against the lefty Pizarro, and there he was, the pride of Santiago de Cuba, flanking the plate as the possible winning run.

McMahon looked in, peachy afternoon light dusting his uniform. Stared in, got the sign for the 3-2 pitch and threw. Pancho missed. Connie Mack Stadium deflated like 30,000 balloons and the Braves shook hands with each other, exiting quickly to make their cloud hopper to Cincy.

The winning team was outhit in all three games, and the champions lost two of them. But as this Band of Phillie Brothers learned, first place is a hard-earned treasure that’s rarely shared for long.

THE SKINNYS

MIL 013 000 001 000 3 – 8 11 3
PHI 101 003 000 000 1 – 6 15 1
W-Robinson L-Farrell SV-McMahon HR: Aaron GWRBI-Roach

SFG 213 200 210 – 11 17 0
STL 100 020 000 – 3 5 2
W-McCormick L-Jones HRS: Wagner-2, Mays-2, Cepeda, Davenport, King GWRBI-Wagner
The Cards’ best pitcher is Sad Sam Jones, but things can’t get any sadder than the start he’s had to this season. Five different Giants go deep on him seven times.

CIN 050 020 030 – 10 15 0
PIT 000 002 060 – 8 11 2
W-Lawrence L-Law SV-Jeffcoat GWRBI-Grammas
The Bucs had a nice April but May hasn’t been kind to them, either. In a game of big innings, the spunky Reds get three of them and it’s enough for the win. The Cincy story continues to be Jerry Lynch, now leading the league with a .394 average and leading the team with 23 RBIs.

L.A. 000 112 000 – 4 13 0
CHI 000 000 000 – 0 3 0
W-Koufax L-Hillman HR: Furillo GWRBI-Gilliam
The young, usually wild Sandy Koufax walks only two Cubs and whiffs seven for the first Dodger shutout of the year. Kid might have a future after all.

BAL 100 000 000 – 1 7 0
NYY 000 110 00x – 2 8 2
W-Ford L-O’Dell GWRBI-Bauer
Ten wins in a row for the Yanks, and Billy O’Dell loses his first after going 5-0. No wonder Archie bailed to cover the Phillie games. The feebleness of the Oriole bats even depressed him.

CLE 141 020 110 – 9 17 2
DET 001 200 102 – 6 12 2
W-Woodeshick L-Bunning SV-Mossi HRS: Ward, Harrell, Boone GWRBI-Colavito
The Tribe salvages the finale on some early mashing of Bunning and some tough relief work by Mossi, after two Indians errors with two outs threaten the game-long lead. Kaline, by the way, gets hurt for the third time, but will only miss three games in Kansas City this time, which ain’t bad.

CHI 010 002 100 – 4 10 1
K.C. 000 120 02x – 5 10 0
W-Daley L-Shaw SV-Kellner HR: Power GWRBI-Herzog
Uh-oh, the A’s must’ve heard me. Whitey Herzog comes off the bench in the 8th to knock a clutch 2-run double for the winning runs.

The Red Sox were thankfully idle after dropping two in idle Washington.

National League through Thursday, May 15

Milwaukee 15 12 .556
Philadelphia 14 13 .519 1
Chicago 15 14 .517 1
San Francisco 15 14 .517 1
Pittsburgh 15 15 .500 1.5
Los Angeles 14 15 .483 2
Cincinnati 12 14 .462 2.5
St. Louis 12 15 .444 3

American League through Thursday, May 15

New York 23 7 .767
Baltimore 18 12 .600 5
Chicago 16 13 .552 6.5
Detroit 15 15 .500 8
Cleveland 15 17 .469 9
Boston 14 16 .467 9
Kansas City 11 18 .379 11.5
Washington 8 22 .267 15
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