June 22, 1958

Flying to Milwaukee tonight after sweeping our Father’s Day twinbill in Philly, I actually dreamed about him.

Let’s back up first. Ever since Dad was killed driving his Oakland bus years ago, I make it a point to call my mother on this day. Tried her from the hotel and got no answer because she was likely in church. (I can’t seem to get this east-west time difference straight.) Anyway, Connie Mack was packed with dads and sons, and memories of playing catch with him and listening to episodes of The Shadow while perched on his lap bubbled up all day.

It was also another long, hot afternoon sitting in the pen, meaning plenty of bubbles. Antonelli took his scowl out to the mound in the opener and pitched it right off his face, giving the Phillies practically nothing but a Wally Post homer in the 2nd inning. That’s right, after nine straight horrible losses, we bashed five solo homers and got Johnny his first win of 1958! The locker room was so lively between games that Ramon Monzant went out for the nightcap and practically did the same thing, only needing a batter apiece of help from Giel and Jones to finish off the 9th.

Most of the players were phoning or telegramming their dads after, and I boarded our jet with mine still locked in my head. It was no surprise then, when my gin and tonic and the hum and light bumps of the plane put me under…

…and smack into the front seat of our dark blue Hudson sedan. Driving up into woods. Had my treasured glove in my lap, both of us wearing Oakland Oaks caps. Felt excitement glowing on the horizon, at the end of this two-lane road. The trees were dark green and leafy. Mosquitoes splatted the windshield. I thought I heard thunder. And my father just kept repeating the same words: “Hard and fast and middle up” like one of those Indian mantras.

It all seemed so real, like it might have really happened. I didn’t dream about my dad much. Sure I missed him, but when he died it was like something in me switched off. Like a box of valuable china that gets glued shut and you don’t dare try and break it open.

The plane bounced again, and the Hudson turned sharply at a sign that said A.Y.B.L. and the road got narrower and twistier. The guard rails dissolved. Lightning crackled in the clumpy dark sky. “Hard and fast and middle up…hard and fast and middle up…” he kept saying, trying to calm me with it. A giant June bug got into the car and smacked against my arm. I tried to swat it away—

And it was Valmy Thomas, nudging my arm on the plane. “Hey! You okay, rookie? Bressoud needs a new poker partner, so come on. Row 21.”

I knocked the cobwebs out of my head and joined the game in back of the plane. It was Davenport and Grissom against me and Ed Bressoud, with others watching and stacks of dollar drink coasters and five dollar bills in view.

“Gee,” I said, “I feel kind of honored here.”
“Don’t let it get to your head,” said Bressoud, “I gotta win some money back.”

I dropped a five-spot on the pile, looked at my opening hand. Nothing great.

“So how’s the big psycho killer hunt going?” asked Jim King out of nowhere. I was afraid of that.
“Not really much action yet…” (Sure, if you count the guy buying me drinks and leaving notes next to my pillow not much action.) “If you notice, the FBI guys aren’t even on the flight.”
“Jerks…”
“Panzies…”
“No, I think they’re probably just checking other leads.”
“Well don’t worry rookie,” piped up Thomas, “We got your back.”
“Or at least Antonelli’s cousins will,” said Davenport. “Right Johnny?”

Antonelli waved a hand at us from two rows away. No doubt deep into a fresh girlie mag.

“Listen, if this situation becomes too much for everyone, I got no problems jumping the club when we get home—”

Spencer’s face hardened. He pointed a finger in my face. “We just took three out of four from a team that was pulling our pants down. Antonelli finally won a damn game and we’re back at .500. You ain’t going anywhere, chief.”

I looked at my hand again. The plane dipped in a cloud and I was suddenly woozy. “I’ll um…raise.” Threw in a drink coaster. I’m not much of a poker player, but I did my best…hard and fast and middle up.

THE SKINNYS

S.F. 101 210 001 – 6 7 0
PHI 010 000 000 – 1 6 0
W-Antonelli L-Roberts HRS: Mays, Spencer, Davenport, King, Alou GWRBI-Spencer

S.F. 120 000 000 – 3 8 0
PHI 001 000 000 – 1 6 0
W-Monzant L-Morehead SV-Jones GWRBI-Sauer

L.A. 020 110 200 – 6 13 1
PIT 000 000 210 – 3 11 3
W-Podres L-Witt SV-Craig HR: Pignitano GWRBI-Snider

L.A. 001 000 000 – 1 2 0
PIT 000 040 00x – 4 10 0
W-Blackburn L-Klippstein HR: Thomas GWRBI-Thomas
Awful Buc defense and a pinch homer by Joe Pignitano help the Dodgers take the opener, before they get shut down by Ron Blackburn later. Johnny Klippstein’s first swing start goes badly when R. C. Stevens fills in for the injured Kluszewski, singles to tie the game and sets up a two-out three-run bomb by Frank Thomas.

CHI 010 001 106 – 9 12 0
CIN 003 200 100 – 6 9 1
W-Nichols L-Nuxhall SV-Anderson HRS: Neeman, Long, Walls, Moryn, Robinson, Bell GWRBI-Walls

CHI 020 000 000 – 2 5 0
CIN 401 010 00x – 6 10 1
W-Acker L-Briggs GWRBI-Robinson
An utter Reds disaster in the opener. All Cincy for the first eight innings, and then Joe 3-9 Nuxhall falls apart after sure-handed Vada Pinson drops an easy fly to open the 9th. Two singles, a Walls homer and Banks double brings on Hal Jeffoat, who throws another homer to Moryn, and that’s that. Jerry Lynch returns to the Reds lineup for the nightcap, doubles in the 1st to key a four-run outburst that’s more than enough for Tom Acker, who whiffs 14 Cubbies.

STL 000 001 010 – 2 5 2
MIL 001 001 10x – 3 3 2
W-Spahn L-Brosnan HR: Cunningham GWRBI-Aaron
Bizarro game of the day. Brosnan doesn’t give up a hit until two outs in the 6th, but the Aaron single puts Milwaukee ahead to stay after a Kasko error keeps the inning going. This after a Blasingame error in the 3rd gives the Braves their first run. Spahn has one shaky inning but is otherwise spotless as he wins his second straight. Thankfully, we’ll be missing him on this visit.

NYY 000 210 020 – 5 12 0
DET 010 100 000 – 2 8 0
W-Larsen L-Lary SV-Duren HRS: Slaughter, Mantle, Skowron, Harris GWRBI-Skowron
Hello again, Mick, and goodbye baseball, as he singles twice and homers in four trips. Larsen is unusually awful but pitches out of a bunch of jams before Duren bails them out of two more in the 7th and 8th.

BAL 300 000 400 – 7 10 1
CHI 000 010 020 – 3 11 0
W-Johnson L-Wilson HRS: Woodling, Robinson GWRBI-Woodling
The Birds remain tied with the Yanks, and they’re winning because of reasons like this: Leading just 3-1 in the 7th, a wild pitch gets runners to second and third with two gone. Reliever Moore intentionally passes the homer-happy Triandos to face the unclutch Brooks Robinson. And Robinson hits one off the foul pole for a grand slam.

WAS 001 010 000 – 2 11 0
CLE 000 003 01x – 4 8 0
W-Narleski L-Ramos SV-Mossi HRS: Sievers, Wertz GWRBI-Harrell

WAS 000 000 100 – 1 5 1
CLE 120 001 00x – 4 6 1
W-Ferrarese L-Valintinetti HRS: Colavito, Vernon GWRBI-Colavito
The opener is classic Senators. A 2-0 lead for them with Pedro Ramos throwing one of his only good games all year. He walks Doby, Wertz, Avila and Nixon to start the 6th, then gives up a double to Billy Harrell and that’s that. The Rock breaks a home run drought in game 2 with his 21st of the year, four behind leader Roy Sievers.

BOS 020 000 050 – 7 14 0
K.C. 001 001 70x – 9 13 3
W-Tomanek L-Sullivan SV-Daley HRS: Jensen, Gernert, Daley, DeMaestri, Cerv, Lopez GWRBI-DeMaestri
I take it back: THIS is the bizarro game of the day. Actually, it’s a perfect example of a Writing on the Wall game. Boston has a 2-1 lead on Jack Urban through the top of the 6th, but leaves 14 men on base in the process. Cerv ties it with a homer, and then Frank Sullivan combusts in the 7th, as seven A’s runs cross the plate. Undaunted like they usually are, the Sox bash three homers off Bud Daley in the 8th, back-to-backs by Jensen and Gernert and a pinch blast by pinchmaster Pete Daley. But this time it ain’t enough, and the Sox drop one and a half off the pace. LOB: Boston-18, K.C.-4

TEAM STAT REPORTS: Here are your team hitting, team pitching, and assorted miscellany through Sunday’s games.

National League through Sunday, June 22

Chicago 37 31 .544
Los Angeles 34 31 .523 1.5
Philadelphia 33 31 .516 2
St. Louis 32 32 .500 3
San Francisco 33 33 .500 3
Milwaukee 31 32 .492 3.5
Cincinnati 31 34 .477 4.5
Pittsburgh 30 37 .448 6.5

American League through Sunday, June 22

New York 40 25 .615
Baltimore 41 26 .612
Boston 39 27 .591 1.5
Chicago 37 29 .561 3.5
Cleveland 33 36 .478 9
Detroit 31 35 .470 9.5
Kansas City 26 38 .406 13.5
Washington 18 49 .269 23
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