Our DC-8 landed in Pittsburgh late last night. Agent Brewster sat next to me the entire way, drinking coffee and reading three Look magazines cover to cover. I had two Camels, a gin and tonic, and fell asleep.
When we got to the team hotel, most of the Giants were across the street drinking at a place called Danny’s, but we did bump into Bill Rigney in the lobby. Brewster introduced me to the skipper and we shook hands. Rigney had already had a few, muttered “Better not jinx us, Snippy…” and wobbled off.
* * *
We were playing a matinee today before grabbing a train to Philly for the weekend. I got to Forbes Field plenty early, headed straight to Rigney’s office. Thankfully, he was more conscious. Fixed me up with the equipment guy and I was handed Nick Testa’s baggy team uniform with the number 47 on the back. It felt strange putting it on.
I found a lonely corner of the visiting clubhouse to change in, two lockers away from utility outfielder Bob Speake—who flat out wouldn’t. Neither would Mays, Davenport, Spencer or anyone else. Cepeda and Gomez didn’t seem to recognize me from that crazy night at the Mongo Room, and if they did, they weren’t letting on.
Finally Valmy Thomas and Bob Schmidt walked over together. They were the first and second Giants catchers, played about equal time depending on the park they were in. They knew I would just be in the bullpen so didn’t feel threatened at all. “You gonna be our four-leaf clover or black cat?” Valmy asked, and Schmidt pounded my back with one of his dog paws.
The visitors’ bullpen was way down the left field line in foul territory, under a little sun canopy. The Pirates were playing sorrier than us, and maybe 9,000 people were on hand, the vast majority screeching kids just out of school. Suppose it might have been more packed if a body hadn’t been found there two days ago. Poor Stan Szopa had been sitting alone in the last row of the deep dark right field grandstand when his throat was cut from behind, and Salty Dog peanut shells sprinkled on him like some twisted chef’s holiday garnish.
“We didn’t see a damn thing,” said Valmy as he warmed up Ruben Gomez. “We were too busy trying not to lose, which we ended up doing anyway.” Gomez kept sneaking glances at me. Maybe he wasn’t as skunked at the Mongo Room as I thought he was.
His performance sure didn’t inspire sobriety. Clemente nailed him for a run-scoring double in the 1st, a 2-run homer in the 3rd, and we were down 4-0 just like that. I took the last spot at the far end of the bullpen bench, listened to Paul Giel and Ray Crone discuss Philadelphia prostitutes and watched Marv Grissom fill up a paper cup with tobacco spit.
A Bressoud double and Wagner homer off Curt Raydon began the 6th and put us back in the game. Gomez had settled way down, but Rigney lifted him for a pinch hitter in the 6th. It was still 5-4 Bucs by the 9th, and I had a headache from sitting in the sun and the miniature screechers. Raydon hit Kirkland on the hand with one out, and Alou ran for him. Davenport worked a walk and my pal Valmy loaded them with a single. We were in this thing! I hopped off the bench and did a little clap-cheer.
“Sit the hell down, weirdo!” said Gordon Jones and I did, realizing I’d broken some kind of cool-acting bullpen protocol.
Roy Face took the hill. Spencer hit into a force to make it 4-3, but we were down to our last out. Reserve outfielder number two (we have about five of them) Jim King stepped in and roped a ball deep to right center. The outfield is bigger than Yosemite Park out there, and the thing dropped smack between Virdon and Clemente and rolled forever. Alou and Davenport both scored, King had a triple, and I cheered silently inside my grin.
Jones hustled in to save the 5-4 victory despite giving up a pinch triple to Stevens, and I was 1-0! I was so caught up in the game I had forgotten to even scope the stands for Brewster or the possible Peanut Killer. Brewster reminded me of this before I boarded the team bus for the train station.
“On a third-string catcher’s salary?” I snapped back, “You’ll take what you can get from me, pal.”
S.F. 000 002 003 – 5 6 1
PIT 202 000 000 – 4 9 0
W-Giel L-Raydon SV-Jones HRS: Wagner, Clemente GWRBI-King
L.A. 010 003 000 – 4 11 1
PHI 000 000 030 – 3 11 1
W-Drysdale L-Semproch SV-Craig GWRBI-Zimmer
Beating the Phillies these days is about as easy as holding off a horde of Visigoths with a cap gun. Drysdale’s cruising 4-0 in the 8th when Bowman singles, Anderson walks and Philley singles to load the sacks with one out. New Dodger reliever Klippstein enters and throws a wild pitch, Neal boots one, and it’s a 1-run game, but Labine and Craig escape a two-single rally in the 9th.
STL 000 000 000 – 0 7 1
CIN 000 010 60x – 7 10 0
W-Purkey L-Jones HRS: Bailey, Robinson GWRBI-Bailey
Another chapter in the Annals of Suffering, by Sad Sam Jones. With the Cards inexplicably unable to touch the lefty-challenged Bob Purkey, Jones is only down 1-0 when he explodes like a watermelon in the 7th. Three singles and two walks precede a Robinson grand salami, and St. Louis is back to only a game over .500.
CHI 000 210 010 000 000 000 4 – 8 15 0
MIL 002 000 002 000 000 000 0 – 4 9 2
W-Elston L-Robinson GWRBI-Elston
Though to be honest, no one is suffering more than Braves fans right now. After two impressive wins against the Cubs, they blow another early lead, tie it in the 9th on a two-out Adcock pinch double, then get exactly one single in the next TEN innings off Bill Henry and Don Elston, before Robinson gives up two walks and four singles in the 19th.
NYY 000 100 010 – 2 9 1
CLE 010 020 00x – 3 9 0
W-Grant L-Ditmar HRS: Skowron, Colavito GWRBI-Colavito
And the Tribe pulls off the sweep, as the Yanks make it close without Mantle and Berra but the Rock comes through with another clutch knock to break the 1-1 tie in the 5th.
BAL 010 101 020 – 5 8 1
K.C. 000 000 010 – 1 6 1
W-Portocarerra L-Grim HRS: Triandos, Woodling GWRBI-Triandos
And the upstart Orioles move into a tie with New York, mere points behind the Yanks, as Arnie wins another and Woodling gets three more hits.
BOS 020 000 010 – 3 8 0
CHX 100 022 00x – 5 11 2
W-Pierce L-Brewer SV-Moore HR: Torgeson GWRBI-Phillips
The Red Sox blow a chance to go into first by themselves when Bubba Phillips doubles in two, Earl Torgeson homers in two more, and Billy Pierce gets a desperately needed clutch win.
WAS 000 103 010 – 5 7 0
DET 000 420 22x – 10 13 0
W-Foytack L-Kemmerer HRS: Sievers, Bolling, Zernial, Kaline
Kemmerer gets absolutely hammerered and the Tigers rebound from being steamrolled yesterday in a big way.
National League through Thursday, June 19
American League through Thursday, June 19