“Drake! You’re in the left field bleachers!” Pence Murphy was in no mood to smile or negotiate.
“How come? where’s Phil going?”
“Where you were yesterday. Scaring the fans away.”
I kind of saw the reasoning. On Saturdays the left field bleachers was mostly a babysitting job, for the parents who dropped their rascals at the ballpark gate or stuck them on a bus or streetcar. The seats weren’t assigned, so I didn’t need to be showing anybody to any of them. In Stoneham and Murphy’s eyes, it was a much better place to station me because I was a lot less likely to be recognized in the stands.
I borrowed a pair of dark glasses from Pence just in case I crossed paths with another eagle-eyed mom, and got out to left field as the snot-nosers flooded in. From a few past experiences and talking to Cheesesteak Phil (who was saddled with motormouth Dot for the afternoon), it made no sense to even try to keep the kids in their seats. I parked myself in the middle of the section, leaned against the outfield wall and took in the field. I had Leon Wagner and Frank Robinson catching flies right in front of me, the sun was out, and for the moment things seemed just fine.
The other ushers were using their Handy-Talkies less, now that the novelty had worn off. The cops had found a room under my bleachers to hide out in, but even they had to figure the killer wouldn’t try anything with all the young ‘uns around.
“Hey Mister! I can’t see!”
I moved a few feet to the left, closer to centerfield. Mays darted past me on the grass below like a ball-hungry antelope, snagging leadoff hitter Johnny Temple’s fly to start the game. Willie Kirkland put us ahead with a solo shot down the right field line in the second, but George Crowe’s sacrifice fly out to Mays tied it in the 3rd.
I turned. The same kid, in his boy scout uniform, had sticky candy apple all over his mouth and hands.
“What’s that thing in your back pocket?”
“It’s um…a radio.”
“Can you listen to Russ Hodges on it?”
“No, not that kind of radio. It’s for talking to other ushers.”
“What do you talk about?”
“Oh y’know…Which fans are trouble-makers and have to get kicked out. Stuff like that. You’re not going to be a trouble-maker, right?”
He shook his head violently and stopped asking me questions, so that worked.
On the field, Bob Purkey and Al Worthington were dealing, and it was still 1-1 into the last of the 7th.
“WE WANT A HIT! WE WANT A HIT!”
The chant started in the left corner of the bleachers, spread like measles through the entire section and picked up somewhere in the right field bleachers before fading away.
“CINCINNATI STINKS!! CINCINNATI STINKS!!”
The little natives were restless. Empty popcorn boxes were starting to fly. One fell over the railing onto the warning track and I had to address the horde.
“No more throwing boxes, okay kids?”
“What about soda cups?”
A flattened one whizzed past me. I suddenly felt like Skipper Stu, a kiddie TV show host up in Sacramento.
“Didn’t you hear me? You wanna get booted out??”
Something hard dropped from the sky, smacked the side of my head. I looked down.
A bag of Salty Dog nuts lay at my feet. The impact had split the bag open. I spun around, suddenly frantic.
“Who threw that??”
“PURKEY IS A TURKEY!! PURKEY IS A TURKEY!!”
The bag came from pretty high up, maybe even from someone who threw it a long way. I raced up the ten-row aisle to glance over the back wall. Saw no one outside the park that looked suspicious, or was running away.
Suddenly Malarkey and his boys were exiting their room, charging up into the bleachers. There was a blip in the field action as the rest of the stadium no doubt stared.
“Where is he?” yelled Malarkey, out of breath.
“I don’t know!”
“Why’d you push the button then?”
I felt in my back pocket for my Handie-Talkie radio. Gone. turned and saw it sitting in the sticky hands of my boy scout friend. I handed Malarkey the open peanut bag.
“You kidding me? That again?”
If the killer threw it, he was long gone by now. And after our third-string catcher Bob Speake threw a dribbler down the line to kick-start the Reds’ winning rally in the 9th and the hours of kid-screaming had my head crying for mercy, I helped myself to a couple extra drafts at the Double Play.
CIN 001 000 001 – 2 11 1
S.F. 010 000 000 – 1 4 2
W-Purkey L-Worthington HR: Kirkland GWRBI-Crowe
PIT 000 010 001 – 2 9 0
CHI 011 001 00x – 3 5 1
W-Hillman L-Kline HRS: Hall, Walls, GWRBI-S. Taylor
The usual Cubbie attack, six walks and a clutch homer, and they win their sixth in a row to keep their half-game lead on the Dodgers. The non-walking Bucs drop into last place, five games out.
MIL 200 102 011 0 – 7 12 1
L.A. 102 300 100 1 – 8 9 3
W-Craig L-Robinson HRS: Aaron, Covington, Furillo-3, Snider
Wow, the Braves can’t buy a win and the Dodgers have them falling out of trees. Koufax is knocked off the mound by the 6th, but Carl Furillo is on a mission, belting three homers over the LF jai alai screen. An Aaron double and Crandall single off Labine ties it in the 9th, but the Dodgers win anyway when Hodges walks with two outs in the 10th and Zimmer’s deep fly to Aaron bounces off his glove for a 3-base error!
PHI 001 100 403 – 9 11 2
STL 100 001 000 – 2 8 1
W-Sanford L-Jones HRS: Jones-2, Bowman GWRBI-Hamner
The Most Unlucky Man on Earth, Sad Sam Jones, collapses again after the Cards tie the game in the 6th. Stan Musial has a genuinely awful game after a great one yesterday, going 0-5 with a whiff, two double plays, and stranding runners every time up.
CLE 200 000 000 – 2 4 1
NYY 010 000 32x – 6 12 0
W-Ford L-Grant HRS: Minoso, Siebern GWRBI-Skowron
Mudcat Grant is the AL’s version of Sad Sam Jones, the pitcher everything bad happens to. Minoso’s 1st inning bomb puts the Tribe up on Whitey, but Ford turns off the faucet from there and the Yanks put people on base all day until a half dozen of them eventually score.
K.C. 000 000 001 000 000 2 – 3 13 1
BAL 000 000 001 000 000 0 – 1 7 0
W-Daley L-Beamon SV-Gorman HR: Woodling GWRB-Cerv
Grim and Portocarrero trade eight innings of zeroes, before Martyn and Power double in the top of the 9th, and Woodling hits yet another homer in the last of the 9th. And on we go for seven more innings, until Charlie Beamon takes over for a spent Wilhelm and gets practically no one out. Despite the loss, in 16 innings Oriole pitchers do not walk one Athletic.
CHX 000 000 100 – 1 4 0
BOS 300 410 01x – 9 11 1
W-Delock L-Donovan HRS: Lollar, Malzone, Daley GWRBI-Williams
When Boston gets pitching, they’re pretty unbeatable, and after mopping up the Chisox again they tie them for third place. Malzone with a grand salami to break it open in the 4th.
DET 000 103 002 – 6 11 0
WAS 020 000 001 – 3 6 3
W-Bunning L-Pascual HRS: Kaline, Courtney
The Senators threaten to win three in a row, but come on, who are they trying to kid? Kaline homers for the first Tiger run, then gets hit and knocked out for three games.
National League through Saturday, June 7
American League through Saturday, June 7