May 24, 1958

This was no hangover. It was like having one half of a washing machine on my head and the other half churning my guts. My coughing fits were scaring the neighborhood dogs and my nose needed a full-time plumber.

Coffee was out of the question. I was so weak all I could do was pave myself a highway between the bed and the toilet. Tried to tune my radio in to the Giants game in Milwaukee, but kept getting the same episode of Ranger Bill. At one point I did drag myself to the telephone to call my mother, asked if she’d heard about an influenza or smallpox epidemic on the news. All that did was get her over to my place late in the day to lay cold washcloths on my face and spoon feed me some egg drop soup she picked up in Chinatown.

But that wasn’t all. She disappeared for a while, returned with a bag from a nearby pharmacy. grabbed a small towel from my linen closet and I knew what was about to happen.

“Oh no. Not that crap again.”

Too late. She had the jar of Vicks VapoRub out of the bag, and was already coating the towel with it.

“Be quiet. Atomic scientists are swearing by it now. I saw it in Family Circle the other day.”
“Yeah, well I’ve been swearing about it since I was five.”
“You have a better remedy for this, Milton?”
“How about a fifth of scotch? At least I’ll be too drunk to feel my nose exploding.”

She stuffed the entire Vicks-ified towel inside my sweat-drenched T-shirt and tucked it under my neck.

“There. Now get some sleep. A lot of it.”
“You try sleeping without breathing—”
“Use your mouth then. I’ll call you tomorrow after church.”

* * *

The Vicks worked its way through my sinus cavity like a minty enema. I was exhausted. Delirious. Before long was standing on a ball field’s pitching rubber in the middle of a patch of woods. The field seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place it. It was hot and humid and sunny, and crickets were chirping like crazy. There was a clean baseball in my right hand. I heard a small crowd of people cheering me on, but couldn’t see anyone. Not even a batter.

“Hang in there, baby…”

This was Liz’s voice, and she was suddenly leaning over to kiss my sweaty forehead. Was she really in the room? Seconds later she wasn’t, neighborhood dogs were barking again, and I was back on the ball field. It was night, under a full moon, but the crickets had vanished.

The ball in my hand felt wet. I turned it over, held it up in the moonlight. It wasn’t made of cowhide anymore but human skin. And the stitches sewn into it were leaking blood…

TWO SICK DAYS OF SKINNYS

5/23
S.F. 000 001 000 – 1 4 1
MIL 201 000 22x – 7 8 0
W-Jay L-Worthington HRS: Aaron-2, Covington GWRBI-Aaron
Glad I was in a near-coma for this one, because the Giants sure were. In pitcher-friendly County Stadium, our sputtering offense can’t get out of its ditch.

L.A. 000 050 000 – 5 14 0
CIN 001 001 000 – 2 6 2
W-Erskine L-Haddix HR: Zimmer GWRBI-Pignitano
Dodgers explode on the 5-0 Haddix with a five-spot in the 5th. Hmm. A Temple error begins the rally, a Pigntiano double and Zimmer blast finish it off. Roger Craig hurls four innings of nerve-wracking relief for the save.

STL 000 200 000 – 2 4 1
PIT 110 020 11x – 6 11 0
W-Raydon L-Brosnan SV-Blackburn HRS: Kluszewski, Groat GWRBI-Klu
Time for another bad Brosnan start, and Musial’s absence is felt immediately. Cards get plenty aboard but can’t get any big hits.

CHI 000 000 030 – 3 6 0
PHI 000 242 00x – 8 14 0
W-Cardwell L-Phillips HR: Hamner GWRBI-Fernandez
Except for a little Cubbie noise in the 8th, this one is all-hoagie. Wally Post goes 4-for-5 in a rare start against a lefty.

NYY 100 000 002 – 3 8 1
DET 401 000 00x – 5 7 0
W-Moford L-Ditmar SV-Morgan HRS: Siebern, Virgil, Zernial GWRBI-Virgil
Well dang! A 3-run shot by Ozzie Virgil following a two-out Kubek error gives the Tigers three unearned runs in the 1st, and Detroit holds on for their first win against the Yanks in four tries.

BAL 000 010 010 – 2 13 1
CHI 000 000 003 – 3 9 1
W-Staley L-Wilhelm GWRBI-Callison
Hal Brown takes a 3-hit shutout into the 9th, gives up a Fox triple and Rivera pinch double to start things. Wilhelm enters and saves nothing: Torgeson and Landis single, and after a force play, Lollar and Callison single for the stunning White Sox win.

WAS 100 000 002 – 3 6 0
CLE 210 100 42x – 10 14 0
W-McLish L-Griggs HRS: Pearson, Colavito GWRBI-Colavito
Little Albie pops one out in the top of the 1st, and could this be the day for Washington’s tenth win? Uhh…nope. The Indians have 45 plate appearances, and 22 guys get on base.

BOS 001 001 001 5 – 8 14 0
K.C. 000 001 020 0 – 3 8 1
W-Kiely L-Daley HRS: Jensen, Cerv-2, Simpson GWRBI-Daley
Another late inning collapse for the A’s. This time Hector Lopez fields a Malzone grounder that would have ended the game and throws it into the stands. Williams doubles in the tying run and the Sox take Bud Daley apart in the 10th for five hits and five runs.

5/24
S.F. 000 000 100 – 1 4 1
MIL 001 020 00x – 3 7 0
W-Spahn L-Antonelli HR: Mathews GWRBI-Mathews
Warren’s in charge, as the Giants go zero-for-Cincy and Milwaukee. Antonelli still hasn’t won a game, and now he can’t use Seals Stadium as an excuse. We’ll try to get better in Pittsburgh, starting with a Sunday doubleheader. And weren’t the Braves in last place like four days ago?

L.A. 010 300 001 – 5 7 1
CIN 010 110 000 – 3 9 0
W-Podres L-Nuxhall HRS: Gray, Pignitano, Bailey GWRBI-Pignitano
Podres has nothing, but Nuxhall has less, and Joe Pignitano clubs a 3-run shot in the 4th to give L.A. two out of three against the front-runners and tighten up this accordion of a pennant race again.

STL 100 000 000 – 1 2 2
PIT 410 040 10x – 10 15 0
W-Witt L-Jackson GWRBI-Thomas
More pathetic offense by St. Louis, while the Bucs whale away on Larry Jackson and Billy Muffett. Cards now head into—gulp—Cincinnati.

CHI 000 000 000 2 – 2 6 2
PHI 000 000 000 0 – 0 4 1
W-Drott L-Simmons HR: Long GWRBI-Long
A fabulous and unlikely pitching duel between Dick Drott and Curt Simmons, won in the 10th on a Dale Long blast. Phillies will now host the Dodgers while the Cubs head to Milwaukee.

NYY 012 000 000 – 3 9 3
DET 000 200 04x – 6 8 1
W-Lary L-Shantz HR: Mantle GWRBI-Boone
Double dang! Terrible fielding help out the Tigers in both of their scoring rallies, as Ryne Duren blows a save big time in the 8th. Winner comes in on a Ray Boone single.

BAL 100 000 000 – 1 4 0
CHI 000 200 00x – 2 5 0
W-Latman L-Johnson HR: Lollar GWRBI-Phillips
And with this one, Chicago is back in second place. Johnson throws great, but a Lollar blast, Callison triple and Bubba single is all the White Sox need. Since blowing a 7-0 1st inning lead in Cleveland a week ago, the White Sox have won six in a row.

WAS 101 000 000 – 2 6 0
CLE 000 300 00x – 3 8 0
W-Bell L-Pascual GWRBI-Minoso
Senators make it closer behind Pascual, but who are they kidding? They’ll have to get their celebrated tenth win in Detroit now. Or somewhere.

BOS 000 304 200 – 9 10 0
K.C. 000 000 010 – 1 10 2
W-Sullivan L-Herbert HRS: Jensen, Buddin, Daley GWRBI-Jensen
Everything wrong with the A’s is on display here. Same number of hits as Boston but eight less runs. K.C. plays in the easiest homer park for righties, but rarely take advantage of it. The Red Sox go to 6-0 against them on the year.

National League through Saturday, May 24

Cincinnati 19 16 .543
Milwaukee 19 17 .528 0.5
Philadelphia 19 17 .528 0.5
Pittsburgh 20 19 .513 1
Los Angeles 18 20 .474 2.5
San Francisco 18 20 .474 2.5
Chicago 18 20 .474 2.5
St. Louis 17 19 .472 2.5

American League through Saturday, May 24

New York 27 11 .711
Chicago 22 16 .579 5
Baltimore 21 17 .553 6
Boston 20 18 .526 7
Detroit 19 19 .500 8
Cleveland 20 21 .488 8.5
Kansas City 15 22 .405 10.5
Washington 9 29 .237 18
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