I followed Henry. How could I not? It took some doing, as in throwing on my clothes, retrieving my coat downstairs without being seen, and sneaking back out of the Pacific Union Club in time to catch him walking out the front door.
He started to hail a cab. None were stopping, so he headed for the nearest corner. I was right behind him.
“Henry North?” He stopped and turned, naturally wary. I stuck out a hand. “Milton Drake, Sacramento Bee.”
He refused to shake it, kept walking. “Sorry, I cannot talk to you about the Club.”
“The hell with the Club. Tell me about the Candlestick Point land swindle.”
He stopped a second time. His face brightened. Hope crawled into his eyes. “I know plenty of reporters, but I’ve never heard of you. Why is that?”
“Probably because I just started this week. Trying to break in with a juicy scoop, and someone over at City Lights suggested this. And mentioned you.”
A cab finally rolled up. He opened the back door, climbed inside. I had to be quick.
“How about a cup of coffee? On me.”
He shut the door, then rolled down the window. “I don’t think so…Instead, Come to my home for noon Sunday lunch. 2223 Scott Street. Did you hear that, driver?” The cab rolled away.
* * *
It was pouring rain on Sunday. Lunch was in the drawing room of his narrow, museum-like Victorian home, right across the street from Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights. His wife, an attractive lady with social event written all over her, brought in Waldorf salads and slid the doors closed on the way out, a dash of concern on her face. My salad was delicious, but it would’ve been nice to have the Giants’ double-header in Chicago on in the background.
“City Lights is not my kind of shop,” began North, washing down a couple of pills with his club soda and lime before taking his first bite. “I was hoping to find a book on the history of that area by the bay. The library wasn’t too helpful.”
After agreeing I would not use him in my story—which wouldn’t be hard because I wasn’t going to write a single word—he filled my ear for the next half hour with one labyrinth of a real estate tale. Seems that Elmer Robinson, the mayor five years ago, asked his board of supervisors to approve a $5 million bond proposal to build a new stadium and attract a major league team. Seals Stadium, as much as everyone loved it, was just too small and didn’t have good parking. But when the supervisors visited Horace Stoneham in New York to try and lure the Giants, Stoneham said it would take at least double that amount to woo him. So back they went to San Francisco, and created a “dummy company” called Stadium, Inc. to bypass the city charter.
“So where does Mayor Christopher fit in?” I asked.
Henry didn’t answer right away. Munched on a lettuce leaf.
“You play squash with him, right?”
“George cares very much about this city. But his campaign to make this stadium a bonanza is a little too…self-serving.”
This time he looked right at me. “He was on the original Board of Supervisors. And he’s the one who pushed for Stadium, Inc. to take advantage of Charles Harney’s land.”
“Mr Harney’s the man who first bought the Candlestick Point land. In 1953. For just $2,100 an acre.”
“That’s dirt cheap.”
“Exactly. But through Stadium, Inc., he sold it back to the city for over $65,000 an acre.”
“Worse. It’s criminal.”
“You should do something.”
“Oh, I am. I’ve been preparing a report on the transactions for months. Care for some tea?”
“No thanks. I’m a coffee man, remember?” The only sound for about ten seconds was the ticking of a grandfather clock. “You wouldn’t happen to have a TV or radio around—”
Mrs. North walked in just then with two perfect chocolate eclairs. Henry took a moment to grip her hand, waited for her to leave again.
“I’ve worked with all kinds of businessmen and city officials on all kinds of contracts. But this one just smelled rancid. I do hope whatever you write will help my cause.”
“I’ll try. And if you can steer me to some other people who want to stop this park from being built, I’d sure like to meet them.”
Henry’s face darkened. “I would tread lightly, young man. These people say they have the best interest of the city at heart, but they don’t. They are a sinister band of selfish cutthroats.”
With that in mind, I wolfed down my eclair and stood up. “Mind if I contact you again?”
“If you must. And the next time I’m in Sacramento, perhaps I’ll come visit you at the Bee.”
“Umm…sure. Call me at home first. You know, to make sure I’m going to be at the office.”
I scribbled my number for him and got out of there quick. I had a lot to think about, and the raindrops hitting my head weren’t helping.
S.F. 110 000 000 – 2 6 0
CHI 020 110 01x – 5 12 1
W-Drott L-Antonelli SV-Elston GWRBI-Adams
At least the Giants didn’t have to worry about bad weather at Wrigley. Poor Johnny A. drops to 0-4, though, and we leave 15 men on base against none other than Dick Drott.
S.F. 060 030 000 – 9 8 1
CHI 000 000 030 – 3 8 2
W-Monzant L-Briggs HRS: Davenport, Schmidt GWRBI-Davenport
Briggs, by far the better of the two spot starters, has nothing, but after the Giants knock him out in the 5th,Marcelino Solis and Dolan Nichols (!) retire the last 14 batters, Weird.
PIT 000 100 100 – 2 12 1
PHI 100 000 000 – 1 3 0
W-Witt L-Simmons SV-Face HR: Skinner, GWRBI-Skinner
A slew of wasted hits don’t keep the Bucs from finally beating the Phils., as Skinner drives in both runs with a homer and single.
PIT 200 000 016 – 9 13 3
PHI 022 000 000 – 4 8 1
Jack Meyer, who’s been almost perfect in relief for the Phillies, gets creamed in the 9th with the help of a two-out error by Granny Hamner. The double loss puts the Giants alone in first for the first time since the opening week of the season.
L.A. 001 040 110 – 7 14 2
STL 011 221 002 – 9 10 1
W-Paine L-Podres HRS: Hodges, Boyer-2, Kasko, GWRBI-Kasko
Amazing back and forth contest. Musial goes 0-for-5 but Boyer whacks two homers and a double, and defense fill-in Eddie Kasko startles the crowd with a 2-run shot off Podres in the 9th to win it!
L.A. 001 001 040 – 6 14 0
STL 100 110 000 – 3 11 3
W-Labine L-Paine SV-Craig HRS: Cunningham, Musial GWRBI-Neal
The Cards edge toward a sweep, but Morrie Martin and Phil Paine can’t protect the small lead.
MIL 100 000 100 – 2 8 2
CIN 201 000 02x – 5 9 0
W-Haddix L-Jay HRS: Roach, Bailey GWRBI-Hoak
Mel Roach hits the first pitch of the game out of Crosley, but nothing goes right for the Braves after that as their weekend in Hell continues. Haddix, by the way, is the first NL pitcher to go 5-0. The series finale will be the only game played Monday.
BAL 032 230 003 – 13 22 1
BOS 000 001 000 – 1 5 0
W-Johnson L-Sullivan HRS: Robinson, Triandos, Woodling GWRBI-Robinson
Okay, so the Birds throw a bone of a win to the Sox, then bash their brains in again the next day. And now Ted Williams isn’t hitting, as his average plummets to .430.
NYY 000 005 002 – 7 10 0
WAS 000 100 000 – 1 6 2
The Senators are now 0-9 against the Yankees, and if they couldn’t win this matchup, Pascual against hit-happy Bobby Shantz, they might go 0-22 for the year. Camilo whiffs 12 Bombers, and it gets him nowhere because his team can’t hit their way off a cliff, and Ken Aspromonte has messed up the last ten balls hit to him at second base, including two to launch the five-run 6th here. Oh yeah, and it’s thirteen wins in a row for the team that shall not be named.
DET 100 000 001 – 2 4 1
K.C. 112 000 21x – 7 17 1
W-Herbert L-Lary HRS: Maxwell, Cerv, Simpson GWRBI-Tuttle
Herbert badly outpitches LAry, but the story of this one is Bill Tuttle. The A’s CF drops a ball in the 1st for Detroit’s first run, then goes 5-for-5 and knocks in the go-ahead KC run in the 2nd.
CHI 700 100 020 – 10 12 1
CLE 411 221 00x – 11 15 2
W-Bell L-Moore SV-Score HRS: Moore, Colavito-2 GWRBI-Minoso
One of the craziest games of the year. Chisox get seven off Bell in the 1st, and the Tribe shrugs it off like a water bug. Rock collects another double and two more homers, as the Tribe scores in their first six innings. Top of the 9th, up by one, pinch-hitter Al Smith doubles into the gap off Herb Score. Nellie Fox races around third and Larry Doby smokes him at the plate to end the game!
CHI 070 110 112 – 13 16 1
CLE 000 004 012 – 7 11 1
W-Latman L-Ferrarese GWRBI-Latman
Chicago chalks up their second 7-trun frame of the day, but this time hold on. Nice to see the Sox bats wake up, because now they go home to take on the steamrolling Yanks, while Cleveland will relax by the Lake against the swan-diving Bostonians.
National League through Sunday, May 18
American League through Sunday, May 18