Friday the 13th. The Phillies were in town, and Tall Tom decided not to show up. Perfect. Flag Day wasn’t until tomorrow, so I couldn’t figure out his excuse this time. Anyway, I had to work his section all night by myself. Got a few weird looks from fans who’d been following the murder stories, but nothing that caused me to lose a tip or miss the game action.
And what action! The Phils have been an amazing surprise contender so far, and with control specialist Robin Roberts going for them, I knew we’d have a tough contest. Made even tougher because winless and wretched Johnny Antonelli was starting for us. Maybe the unlucky day would reverse Johnny’s non-luck.
Mays singled and got caught stealing to begin our 4th. I hate stealing, think more of the time it kills rallies than gets them going, but Cepeda made up for it with a line single on the next pitch. Then Willie Kirkland bombed a high arcing drive to right that got everyone in my section neck-craning and praying until Bob Bowman ran out of room out there and the ball dropped into the first row of bleachers for a 2-0 lead!
Naturally, Antonelli gave up a triple to Robin Roberts to start the next inning, the run scored on an Ashburn grounder and it was 2-1. Two innings later, Wretched Johnny gave Robert a one-out double, and he scored on a single by Ashburn to tie the game.
But this was our night; I could feel it. A run-scoring triple by Spencer and wild pitch put us up 4-2, and a costly error by Wally Post and double by Davenport made it 5-2 going to the 9th. Seals was charged. All Antonelli had to do was retire the dregs of the Philly lineup.
Except for a false alarm dispatch from Butch in the 7th inning, my Handy-Talkie was silent all game. I was afraid it needed a new battery. But around the time Chico Fernandez stepped up to the plate in the 9th, it suddenly crackled to life. I could barely make out a “You there?”
“You didn’t hear me the first time, Butch? I told you, the guy we’re after does not have a limp…” I heard no reply. “Butch? Come in, Butch.”
There was another crackle. Then…
“You didn’t recognize my voice, Milton. I’m insulted.”
Fernandez whiffed and the stands roared, but I had stopped breathing. The entire stadium seemed to shrink around me.
“Who is this?”
“You know who it is…We didn’t see each other that long ago.”
“You sick, rat bastard. How did you get on this frequency?”
“Thomas was very nice to let me borrow his radio. After I put him to bed, of course.”
“Tall Tom? What did you do to him!?? When I find you I’m going to turn you into meat loaf, I swear to God!”
The fans around me normally would’ve turned their heads, but they were too busy worrying at the field, because Antonelli had just walked Solly Hemus.
“That’s enough, tough guy. Now you better listen to me. I don’t like these little trips you’ve been taking. You know, sharing intimate details with others about our special friendship—”
“We don’t HAVE a friendship.”
“Come on, Milton…When have we not?”
Antonelli then walked pinch-hitter Chuck Essegian on four pitches. Friday the 13th was pouring into the park like poisonous fog.
“Tell me your name.”
“Hmm…Kind of like this ‘Peanut Killer’ they’ve come up with. Don’t you?”
Richie Ashburn was up again. Richie Ashburn always seems to be up. He smoked one down the line that dropped fair by inches, got past Kirkland and gave him a triple. It was 5-4. Everything had me in a panic now. I jabbed the red emergency button on the radio.
“Oh, you shouldn’t have done that, Milton. Now I’ll have to leave.”
“You heard that? Where are you??”
“You’re a dead man!”
“Ha ha. Wrong. You are, and so are many others if you don’t play along…”
Gordon Jones replaced Antonelli, who got booed all the way to the dugout.
“Play along doing what?”
“Just stick around and do your job like a nice little usher. Stop talking to strangers, especially the cops. Or that lady of yours is going away forever.”
“WHAT? You have Liz??”
Granny Hamner singled in the tying run, of course, and the Peanut Killer killed his radio. Seconds later, Malarkey and his boys flooded the section.
“Where is he? You got him?”
I glanced around, wild-eyed. Was he watching me this second? Was he seeing me talking to cops?
“Uhh…It was nothing. Sorry. Some kid got ahold of Tom’s radio…” On the field, Bowman singled and Paul Giel came in from the pen. “Tom must’ve dropped it somewhere. Look around, okay? See if you can find him.”
They took off again. I dropped into an empty seat and sat there motionless for the last two dreadful innings. Turk Farrell infested the Giants’ bats with termites, Hamner tripled in the winner in the 11th, and we all went home miserable.
After learning Tall Tom had only been knocked out and left in a storage closet, I stopped at the Double Play for six beers. They didn’t help.
PHI 000 010 103 02 – 7 10 1
S.F. 000 200 210 00 – 5 12 0
W-Farrell L-Giel HR: Cepeda GWRBI-Hamner
How can Johnny Antonelli not be the Peanut Killer? He’s killing fifty thousand Giants fans every four days.
PIT 000 102 203 – 8 8 0
L.A. 300 102 000 – 6 11 0
W-Blackburn L-Podres SV-Face HRS: Thomas-2, Foiles-2, Neal, Roseboro, Zimmer GWRBI-Foiles
Curses, Foiles again: Hank belts a 3-run shot in the 9th off Podres to give the Bucs a desperately needed comeback win. Lucky for the Dodgers., the Cubs always lose when they do.
MIL 200 002 000 – 4 7 0
STL 000 202 10x – 5 11 0
W-Mizell L-Spahn HRS: Aaron, Torre, Boyer, Musial GWRBI-Mizell
Warren Spahn, Human Train Wreck. He has a 5.51 ERA now, and has lost six out of seven, so having him now be able to throw on three days rest is not exactly a plus for Milwaukee. This time he blows two 2-run leads, then gives up a triple to Eddie Kasko (!) and single to vinegar Bend Mizell (!), and lo and behold the Cards are over .500 and just a game and a half out.
CIN 123 100 001 – 8 12 0
CHI 012 001 000 – 4 10 0
W-Lawrence L-Drott HRS: Robinson, Thomson GWRBI-Robinson
Dolan Nichols pitches nearly six innings of fantastic relief for the Cubs. Too bad Dick Drott killed them with three and a third innings of horrible starting work. And Frank Robinson is quietly putting together a great season. Four-for-five here, with a double and homer.
DET 000 102 010 01 – 5 11 0
NYY 040 000 000 00 – 4 16 2
W-Morgan L-Duren HR: Harris
Another bizarre contest between these two. Frank Lary gives up 12 singles in five-plus innings, but the Yanks can’t score again after plating four in the 2nd. While Wehmeier and Morgan shut them down out of the Detroit pen, a Zernial pinch single in the 8th off Ditmar ties it, and after Duren loads the bases in the 11th, a wild pitch brings in the winner.
CHX 000 001 001 – 2 6 1
BAL 300 000 00x – 3 6 0
W-Portocarrero L-Wilson GWRBI-Woodling
Orioles are now a half game out, after another Arnie spectacular. And that man Woodling drives in the winners again with a 2-run single in the 1st.
K.C. 000 001 000 – 1 5 2
BOS 520 040 10x – 12 16 1
W-Sullivan L-Grim HRS: Williams-2 GWRBI-Williams
Grim, indeed. Just your typical 16-hit, six-walk Red Sox performance, with Ted collecting two homers, a walk, five RBIs and a game-winning single in the 1st. Boston is 7-0 vs. the A’s.
CLE 002 013 000 000 00 – 6 10 2
WAS 001 031 100 000 02 – 8 14 2
W-Hyde l-Tomanek HRS: Harrell, Sievers-2
The only starters worse than Antonelli and Spahn right now are Pedro Ramos and Mudcat Grant. Grant and Ramos try and outcrap each other in this one, Pedro giving Billy Harrell a 3-run homer and Mudcat blowing leads of 3-1 and 6-4 by walking five Senators—nearly impossible—and giving up the tying run in the 7th on a single to Rocky Bridges. Unhittable Dick Hyde then shuts off the Tribe’s faucet for eight innings, until Minoso drops a fly and Sievers whacks his second homer of the game and 19th of the year. Two in a row for the Nats!
National League through Friday, June 13
American League through Friday, June 13