May 31, 1958

Horace Stoneham wanted to see me again, but I wasn’t in the mood to hear a lecture about my snoopy girlfriend. I told him I was sick and tried to go see Henry North instead, but Henry and his wife were on a holiday weekend road trip up the coast. Chumpo was around and boring as usual, but he did say something that nudged my ears.

“If you got peanuts on the brain, maybe you should trade jobs with Duffy Dieter for a month.”

Duffy Dieter was the peanut vendor in section 16. Had been chucking bags so long at Seals Stadium most people thought he was born there. His other home was Break Shot Billiards on Kearny Street, so I headed down there for a little best-of-three in Eight-Ball.

Most of the Seals ushers didn’t socialize with the food vendors, but Duffy had friends in all places. He was also King of the Break Shot, and had the beard, six-foot-five bulk and trophies on the wall to prove it.

“Not sure I oughta play with you, Drake,” he said as we chalked up, “People you know been turning up dead lately.”
“Yeah? Well, I didn’t know the dead guy on Opening Day. Anyone buy five or ten bags of peanuts from you that day?”

He paused a long moment to line up his thought, then broke the rack like a human pile driver, sinking two stripes. “Can’t say I remember, because I don’t. Why you asking?”
“Because the guy’s body was covered in shells. My guess is they were out-of-town shells.”

He dropped four more striped balls before I took a crack at an easy 5-ball shot and drubbed it. “It was crowded as hell that day, Drake. You know that. Everyone and their mother-in-law wanted to be there for the first west coast game. Chances are if the jerk bought half my tray I wouldn’t have even remembered him. Wanna break this time?”

I looked at the table, which he had already cleaned up. I broke for Game 2, which was a better match. I won my five dollar bill back by sinking three easy shots at the end and nailing a lucky bank job on the 8-ball. Game 3 looked like a certain Duffy shutout. I had a half dozen decent-looking stripe balls to play and never got to hit one. As he prepared to hit his game-ending 8-ball dagger, he paused and fixed a stare on me.

“Y’know, dealing with Stoneham and these other fools are gettin’ you nowhere. If I were you, Drake, I’d stop ruffling feathers and start burning ’em.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean do something you really shouldn’t and watch what happens. Something they won’t see comin’. Corner pocket.”

He fired. The cue ball clacked the 8-ball, but the 8 sideswiped one of mine and it shanked into a side pocket for the shocking defeat.

“Yeah…” I said, “Something nobody would see coming. Thanks for the tip and free demonstration, Duff.” I grabbed his five and walked out the door to think of whatever the hell that something would be.

THE SKINNYS

S.F. 010 010 101 – 4 10 1
STL 000 230 10x – 6 8 0
W-Jackson L-Antonelli SV-Paine HRS: Mays, Flood, Musial GWRBI-H. Smith
If I was managing our team and had a deeper staff to work from, Johnny Antonelli would be sent down to Fisherman’s Wharf to catch crabs. With a boat, I mean. The guy is 0-7 after this stinker and has now given up 13 homers in 55 innings. Mays collects two singles and a dinger, and thank god there’s just one more game tomorrow on this endless trip.

L.A. 000 000 210 – 3 6 0
CHI 010 100 000 – 2 4 0
W-Drysdale L-Elston HRS: Zimmer, Banks GWRBI-Zimmer
On the other hand, the Dodgers are in no hurry to get home, taking another close one at Wrigley on yet another clutch Zimmer home run. That’s six straight wins for the group of blue men.

MIL 100 000 010 – 2 5 0
PIT 001 000 002 – 3 10 0
W-Blackburn L-Burdette HRS: Covington, Skinner, GWRBI-Hall
Hard to know which loss has been the Braves’ worst, because there seems to be a new candidate every day. This time Burdette, who gets the worst run support by far in the league, takes a 2-1 lead to the 9th and gives up a Thomas dunker in front of Pafko, a Groat bloop double in front of Aaron, and a Bill Hall double down the line for the winners.

CIN 100 010 000 – 2 9 2
PHI 301 100 00x – 5 7 1
W-Semproch L-Nuxhall SV-Farrell HRS: Post, Fernandez GWRBI-Post
Wally Post with a rare big hit, a 3-run bomb in the 1st off Nuxhall that’s enough to take one from the Reds and keep the miracle Phils a half game in front of L.A.

NYY 202 000 100 – 5 11 3
BOS 111 000 30x – 6 7 0
W-Sullivan L-Shantz HRS: Jensen, Renna GWRBI-Renna
Ted Williams is injured again, but it’s hardly a problem against the lefty Shantz, as Bill Renna smashes an early triple and 3-run homer in the 7th and the Bosox pull out a must win at the Fens. Frank Sullivan is basically awful, but stays in for the complete game because he rarely throws homers and because New York’s infield defense is more awful.

WAS 000 000 020 – 2 6 0
BAL 100 200 20x – 5 6 1
W-Harshman L-Pascual HRS: Chrisley, Woodling GWRBI-Woodling
Dick Williams drives in two with a pair of doubles, Woodling chips in with a sac fly and 2-run homer, and the Birds pick up a game by beating the allegedly tough Pascual.

CHX 030 002 110 – 7 14 0
DET 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
W-Latman L-Lary HR: Torgeson GWRBI-Fox
Hottest team in the league? These guys. Barry Latman gives the Tigers nothing and Chicago closes to within four games of the Yanks, closest anyone’s been for a while.

CLE 003 022 600 – 13 15 1
K.C. 003 000 100 – 4 11 3
W-Bell L-Grim HRS: Colavito-3, Doby GWRBI-Colavito
Hottest hitter on the planet? They call him The Rock. He hits a 2-run shot to break the tie in the 5th, then adds two more and knocks in seven as the Tribe scores ten unanswered runs. As you’ll read below, he’s a legitimate Triple Crown bet.

BATTING LEADERS THROUGH MAY

National League

AVG: Groat-PIT .377, Mays,-SF .376, Covington-MIL .373, Lynch-CIN .345, Ashburn-PHL .339

OPS: Covington-MIL 1.225, Robinson-CIN 1.003, Mays-SF 1.003, Aaron-MIL .988, Cunningham-STL .988, Groat- PIT .982

HRS: Covington- MIL 19, Mathews- MIL 13, Robinson-CIN 13, Aaron-MIL 13

RBI: Aaron-MIL 40, Mathews-MIL 33, Covington-MIL 36, Robinson-CIN 39, Lynch-CIN 33

GWRBI: Banks-CHC 7, Anderson-PHL 6, Covington-MIL 5, Boyer-STL 5

American League

AVG: Williams-BOS .434, Wilson-DET .362, Minoso-CLE .354, Mantle-NY .353, Colavito-CLE .351

OPS: Williams-BOS 1.341, Colavito-CLE 1.274, Mantle-NY 1.194, Cerv-KC 1.005, Sievers-WAS .979

HRS: Colavito-CLE 18, Mantle-NY 16, Berra-NY 15, Sievers-WAS 15

RBI: Colavito-CLE 51, Mantle-NY 49, Berra-NY 49, Sievers-WAS 41, Cerv-KC 38

GWRBI: Colavito-CLE 7, Daley-BOS 6, McDougald-NY 5, Doby-CLE 5

National League through Saturday, May 31

Philadelphia 23 19 .548
Los Angeles 24 21 .533 0.5
Chicago 23 23 .500 2
Pittsburgh 23 23 .500 2
St. Louis 21 22 .488 2.5
Cincinnati 20 21 .488 2.5
Milwaukee 21 23 .477 3
San Francisco 21 24 .467 3.5

American League through Saturday, May 31

New York 31 14 .689
Chicago 27 18 .600 4
Baltimore 26 19 .578 5
Boston 25 20 .556 6
Cleveland 23 25 .479 9.5
Detroit 21 24 .467 10
Kansas City 16 28 .364 14.5
Washington 12 33 .267 19
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