“Hit the damn ball, Willie!”
Bob and me were Hamming it up at the Double Play, watching the Giants suffer through extra innings in St. Louis. It was the finale of their first road trip—one that saw them go 10-11—and I was actually eager to get back to ushering in a few days to distract myself from thinking too much.
I had thought about Duffy Dieter’s idea to do something outrageous to upset the Mayor’s apple, orange and horse carts, but it just wasn’t coming to me. By the time the Cards’ Bob Mabe coughed up an early 4-0 lead they had taken on Gomez, I was already happily skunked and not feeling compelled to be anywhere but two feet away from Chumpo’s tap.
We were up 6-4 in the last half of the 8th. Rigney stuck Andre Rodgers in at short and moved Daryl Spencer to second. Spence had had a killer game—two doubles and a triple—and he rewarded his fans right away by letting a Hobie Landrith roller bounce off his face for an error. Joe Cunningham slammed the next pitch into the pavilion in right for the 6-6 tie, and extra frames.
The Cards had their chances to score off Gordon Jones, but couldn’t cash in. So we did. Two walks and a single off Phil Paine loaded the sacks, Felipe Alou worked a fourth walk for the go-ahead run. After Willie finally hit the ball but lined into a DP, Boyer, Musial, and Moon went out 1-2-3 and the saloon exploded.
I was in a feisty mood afterwards. It was a nice warm evening, and for some strange reason really felt like the first day in June. I asked Bob if he wanted to take a spin down to Monterey and fish for a couple of unattached tomatoes. He wasn’t too keen on that, so instead I fired up the Coronet, found a radio station playing Bobby Darin and gave myself a nice long motor tour. Headed over the Golden Gate to Sausalito, circled around through Berkeley and back over the Bay Bridge by the time it got dark.
Stopped at a tavern on the other side of the bridge for a few nightcaps, and that was when The Idea came to me. Just dropped in my darn lap. First I found a nearby hardware store that was still open and bought a few items. Then I drove out to Candlestick Point.
The construction site was easy to find, a big long pile of dirt carved out of a tall hillside. There was a wire fence around the whole thing and a night watchman’s shack at one end. I killed my headlights, parked on a dirt road around the side and climbed out.
A frigid wind whipped off the bay and just about iced my eyebrows. Whoever thought this was a good spot to build a ball park was definitely out of his mind. I opened the back door and took out my supplies: a blank sign on a post, a fat felt-tipped pen, and a hammer. Found a spot along the fence that looked easy to climb over. Tossed the stuff over the top and scaled the fence.
The wind here was ferocious. I had to put my arm over my face to keep the dirt from blowing in my eyes. At one point I thought I heard footsteps but no one was behind me. The guard was still in his shack. I could see his shadow moving in its lit window.
I uncapped the pen, scrawled my message on the sign and hammered it into the ground at the edge of the dirt pile. Stood back to admire my work:
THIS SITE MAY BE ILLEGAL!
FOR INFO, CONTACT HENRY NORTH, S.F. GRAND JURY
I grinned, all liquor-wobbly, and imagined the morning workers showing up and seeing the sign. Just getting the Mayor to sleep a little less was enough for me.
Then I heard the footsteps again. Quickening. Turned a second too late and a beefy arm was around my neck. Whoever it was held me fast, his mouth close to my ear. His breathing was labored. I distinctly smelled peanuts.
“You’re a bad boy, Milton…” he said in a low, polished accent I had a tough time placing. “Makes me think…you ought to be punished.”
It was hard for me to talk, but I managed to squeak out “the Mayor sent you?”
“Uh-uh…Never met…this mayor. Afraid it’s just you against me, Milton. All…season…long.”
I tried to raise a hand, hoping to nail his face. He kicked out one of my legs and dropped on top of me. He may not have been tall but he was solid. Pressed my face into the dirt.
“Seals is sure a nice park. Plenty big enough for…hide and seek, don’t you think? All I can say is, you better…play along.”
Then his arm jerked once under my neck and everything went black.
* * *
A worker slapped me awake first thing in the morning. “Get the hell up, you son-of-a-bitch.”
Before I had a chance to spit the dirt out of my mouth, two more workers appeared to drag me across the site. My sign was lying next to me, already smashed into kindling wood.
“See you in San Quentin, you sick bastard.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
They dragged me the rest of the way to the guard shack, dumped me on the ground. I could hear police sirens in the distance. Getting closer.
“Pick up a little nylon rope when you were at the hardware store, jerk-face?” When I didn’t answer right away I got kicked me in the ribs, and rolled over. Looked into the sky above me.
The dead night watchman swayed from a light pole next to the shack. Nylon rope tied around his snapped neck.
A bag of Salty Dog nuts stuck out of his back pocket.
S.F. 004 200 000 000 1 – 7 15 2
STL 220 000 020 000 0 – 6 12 2
W-G. Jones L-Paine HR: Cunningham GWRBI-Alou
L.A. 000 010 020 – 3 7 1
CHI 060 004 12x – 13 16 1
W-Hillman L-Koufax, HRS: Zimmer, Snider, Thomson, Banks, Long, T. Taylor GWRBI-Neeman
Oh well. The Dodger winning streak is stopped at seven, and in grand fashion as Koufax can’t get out of the second inning. L.A. heads home to the Coliseum now to take on the Reds, while we open our homestand against the Braves.
MIL 000 000 040 – 4 12 1
PIT 001 000 000 – 1 8 1
W-Willey L-Friend SV-Robinson HRS: Covington (#20), Crandall GWRBI-Pafko
Speaking of the Wisconsinites, they turn the late ambush trick on the Bucs this time, get four in the 8th on a Roach single, Torre double, Pafko 2-run single and after a DP, back-to-back taters.
CIN 200 001 000 – 3 8 0
PHI 001 100 000 – 2 7 1
W-Lawrence L-Sanford SV-Acker GWRBI-Burgess
CIN 401 000 200 000 0 – 7 17 1
PHI 400 000 210 000 3 – 10 12 0
W-Farrell L-Klippstein HRS: Whisenant, Bowman, Bouchee-2 GWRBI-Bouchee
Hard to believe, but it’s very hard to beat the Phillies twice in one day. Cincy jumps all over Seth Morehead in Game 2, but their pitching gives up the lead three times and the Redlegs finally lose on the second homer of the game by the infamous Ed Bouchee. Alex Kellner started for the Reds, having just arrived by way of Kansas City, and is less than dominating.
NYY 301 000 210 – 7 10 0
BOS 022 200 101 – 8 10 1
W-Brewer L-Duren HRS: Skowron, Carey-2, Jensen GWRBI-Jensen
Fabulous entertainment. Moose mashes a 3-run job in the 1st and Piersall doubles in two. Slaughter triples in Carey to make it 4-2 but Renna ties the game with a 2-run single. Two Turley walks and three singles make it 6-4 Sox. A Carey homer, Howard triple, Slaughter walk and Skowron single ties it 6-6. Renna doubles in Jensen and it’s 7-6. Carey homers again and ties it 7-7. Duren whiffs the side in the 8th but Jensen takes him into the Monster net leading off the Boston 9th, and we are suddenly on the verge of a pennant race in the other league.
WAS 000 000 000 – 0 5 0
BAL 100 010 00x – 2 7 0
W-O’Dell L-Ramos GWRBI-Nieman
Billy O. improves to 8-1, 2.02 and is the Cy Young favorite right now. Can’t say the same for Pedro (0-9, 5.99) Ramos.
CHX 000 000 130 03 – 7 14 0
DET 000 201 100 00 – 4 11 1
W-Moore L-Aguirre HR: Lollar, Kaline, Boone GWRBI-Lollar
Chicago finishes off a sweep of the Tigers and closes to within three games of the Yanks. Since snapping New York’s 13-game win streak they’ve gone 11-2 themselves, and after being helpless early on here against Foytack, jump all over him and Aguirre in the late going, winning it on a 3-run shot by April poster boy Sherm Lollar.
CLE 000 000 000 – 0 6 0
K.C. 300 000 00x – 3 7 1
W-Terry L-Grant GWRBI-Power
Ralph Terry is named the staff ace and rewards his manager with a fine 6-hit shutout, Vic Power finally chalking up his first game-winning hit of the year. Weirdly, Rocky Colavito does not hit a home run.
National League through Sunday, June 1
American League through Sunday, June 1