I dozed off in my seat on the Keystone Limited, and in the early morning hours had that nightmare again. The one from when I had the stomach flu. This time the field was in a hospital courtyard. I had to pitch to a batter whose entire head was wrapped in bandages, and the mound was turning into quicksand under my cleats…
Then the train lurched, woke me up, and we were rolling into 30th Street Station. Philly was hot and muggy and my “private suite” at the hotel was the size of a mop room. I tried to track Brewster down to complain and find out if there was any news on the Liz search, but he was off at a local FBI meeting for most of the day.
Connie Mack Stadium was in a shabby part of town. No surprise the Athletics split town five years ago. Unlike Forbes Field, the park was packed for tonight’s opener. The Phillies were making fools out of the national writers who had picked them for last, starting the weekend just one game behind the Cubs after taking two of three from the Dodgers. They were doing it with smoke, mirrors, rabbits, leprechauns and voodoo, but also some real tough starting pitching.
“You watch,” said Johnny Antonelli as I trudged down the right field line to the bullpen with Thomas, Schmidt, our starter Al Worthington and a few of the other pitchers before the game. “The pressure will get to them by mid-July and they’ll start peeing in their jocks.” Antonelli, still without a win, was looking for anyone and anything to criticize. He spent most of the game on the far corner of the bench, reading a local daily paper and whistling at ladies’ undergarment ads.
Today’s “lucky” choice for the Phils was Curt Simmons, who started pitching here when he was 18 and was now in his 12th season. Rigney stacked the lineup with his usual lefty-mashers, but it was fruitless. Inning after inning went by with Mays, Cepeda, Alou, Davenport and Hank Sauer flailing away at his drooping curveball, usually with men on base. The Phils were blowing chances too against Worthington, but they got the only run of the game when Dave Philley (perfect name) snuck a deep fly into the left center stands, just out of the reach of a leaping Willie. Maybe getting over .500 just wasn’t in the cards for us.
A few of the Giants must have decided the shutout wasn’t my fault, because I was invited along for drinks at a big smoky restaurant across the street from the Warwick Hotel. Cepeda, Gomez, Kirkland and Wagner felt uncomfortable walking in and took a cab to another joint in the colored part of town. As usual, there were a half dozen cute baseball tarts trying to chat it up at the bar—though none with me. The whole hour seemed pretty awkward, and not just because of the tight sport coat Brewster had given me to wear.
Right when I was about to order my third mug of Schmidt’s, a waitress appeared and set a creamy, light brown cocktail in front of me. The thing looked more like a dessert.
“Compliments of the man in the corner. Amaretto, shot of brandy, whipped cream—”
“What man in the corner?” I tried to look over her head. She turned and pointed, then twisted up her pert mouth.
“Oh. Well he was just there…Anyway, it’s called a Peanut Pleasure. Enjoy!”
She walked away. I stared at the drink. Minced peanuts were sprinkled on the bed of whipped cream.
“Got a new girlfriend there, rookie?” It was Valmy Thomas, smirking beside me. I got off my stool, scanned the entire restaurant with my heart pounding. Saw no man in any corner.
“I sure as hell hope so…”
S.F. 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
PHI 010 000 00x – 1 8 0
W-Simmons L-Worthington HR: Philley GWRBI-Philley
L.A. 310 041 112 – 13 18 0
PIT 000 010 000 – 1 5 2
W-Erskine L-Friend HR: Larker GWRBI-Larker
The Dodgers pulled off a similar massacre against the Cubs a few months ago, but it’s been a long time. With the mediocre Erskine going for L.A., this could be the worst offensive day for the Pirates all season.
CHI 300 030 000 – 6 9 0
CIN 000 003 010 – 4 7 0
W-Hillman L-Schmidt SV-Nichols HRS: Thomas, Long, Moryn, Robinson GWRBI-Thomson
The Cubs in Crosley are a bad recipe for the opposition. Three more dingers give them 83 for the year, just four behind the Dodgers for the league lead, and keep them a game in front of Philly.
STL 021 020 000 – 5 10 1
MIL 010 000 000 – 1 8 0
W-Mizell L-Jay HR: Boyer GWRBI-Katt
Vinegar Bend wins his ninth straight decision, and the Braves revert to more comical offense. They hit six doubles in the game—in six separate innings—and manage to score just one run.
NYY 010 101 200 – 5 10 1
DET 331 000 00x – 7 10 0
W-Bunning L-Turley SV-Wehmeier HRS: McDougald, Berra-2, Wilson, Kaline
The good news: Yogi comes back and slams two homers. The bad news: Both homers are solo shots: More bad news: Bob Turley is plain awful, as 16 of the 28 Tigers he faces reach base. Trucks and Dickson stop the bleeding, but the Yanks run out of innings and drop their fifth in a row, and are a yucky 7-11 in June. Mantle’s latest return in two days should help matters.
BAL 000 000 000 – 0 3 0
CHI 210 000 00x – 3 9 1
W-Donovan L-Brown HR: Torgeson GWRBI-Torgeson
The brilliant Dick Donovan shows up and fires a 3-hitter to but Chicago just a game and a half out of first.
BOS 000 201 000 – 3 7 1
K.C. 012 020 00x – 5 11 0
W-Terry L-Delock SV-Morgan HRS: Gernert, Cerv GWRBI-Simpson
Boston blows another chance for first place, losing to the A’s for the first time in ten games. Naturally. Another homer and double for Bob Cerv, who has been nothing short of amazing, now batting .348 with 17 homers, 50 RBIs.
WAS 000 100 000 – 1 5 0
CLE 000 000 000 – 0 4 0
W-Pascual L-Woodeshick GWRBI-Pascual
Ah yes, baseball. The Tribe sweeps the Yankees, then gets shutout by Washington. Of course, it’s against Camilo, who also knocks in the only run of the game.
National League through Friday, June 20
American League through Friday, June 20