June 24, 1958

Everywhere you go there’s someone riding your behind. Starts with Mom and Dad, keeps going with your math and gym teachers, then your boss, then the guy sitting in section 3 behind home plate, maybe ten rows up from the field.

I told you about the heckler in Vancouver who had it in for me one night when I pitched for the Rainiers, right? This guy in Milwaukee tonight made him sound like Laurence Olivier. He was in the right field bleachers, just close enough for us to hear every word, and just far enough away to duck if one of our tobacco chaws happened to whizz at his head.

“Hey Crone! Your mother called! She wants her name back!” Ray Crone never got into games unless we were getting crushed, so insults made him feel special and just bounced off his cap.

“Don’t start any crossword puzzles, guys! ‘Cause every one of you’s gettin’ USED!”

That one wasn’t exactly true. They only scored three runs and Gordon Jones was the only reliever to leave the pen, but as a team, everyone felt sort of used. We racked up a dozen hits on Rush and Robinson but left twelve on base, Cepeda got thrown out at the plate by Bruton to end the 8th, and we could only score one run all night. No wonder we’ve dropped seven out of eight to them.

“Must be embarrassing to be called Giants when you guys hit like midgets!”
“Just let me brain him once…” I hissed to Bob Schmidt, “I’ll find a back way up there and put him on the floor before he even—”
“No can do, Drake. One reason we make good money is to ignore this junk.”

Down by two in the 9th, Rodgers and Bressoud singled with one out. The stadium got quiet and the heckler got louder.

“Nice ball park you got out there, Giants!! Down to only one murder a week, from what I hear!”

I turned, tried to get a view of him. The bleachers were too packed, the air too misty and smoke-filled to spot him. A few of the fans near him laughed, but most were fixated on the field. Mays hit one deep to right that Aaron flagged down, and then it was up to Cepeda.

“Oooh Giants, I’m scared! Big Orlando’s up!”
“HEY SHUT UP, CREEP!!”

The words exploded from my mouth before I could stop them. The bleacher crowd grumbled, then booed us. Schmidt slammed an elbow in my ribs.

“Whaddya, stupid? What’d I just say?”

“Nice goin’ down there, Testa!” yelled our friend in the bleachers. “Or how about I call you…Milton?”

Oh no. I hadn’t recognized his voice, but now I did. I hopped up on the bullpen bench. Looked frantically at the crowd.

“Don’t worry about your lady, Milton! We’re drinking wine and everything’s fine!”

That did it. I never spotted him but I didn’t care. Scaled the chain link fence like a mad Jimmy Piersall. Leaped into the bleachers. Grabbed the first big guy I saw with a peanut bag and knocked him over a seat. Cepeda whiffed to end the game. The stadium rocked and cheered and few noticed the scuffle in the bleachers, which lasted only ten seconds. Grissom and Giel jumped the fence too, pulled me off the baffled dad who was just sharing a peanut bag with his kids.

“I heard him!” I blurted to my teammates, “He was up there!”
“Bad enough we’re stuck in the second division,” snarled Giel, “now you’re gonna get us sued?”

Rigney had a different response later. For the last game tomorrow I’d be banished to the dugout. I could think of worse fates. Like the one that evil, cunning  son-of-a bitch would suffer if I ever laid my hands on him.

THE SKINNYS

S.F. 000 100 000 – 1 12 1
MIL 210 000 00x – 3 8 0
W-Rush L-Miller SV-Robinson HRS: Covington GWRBI-Covington

L.A. 000 070 002 – 9 11 1
CIN 100 000 020 – 3 10 0
W-Williams L-Lawrence HR: Furillo GWRBI-Zimmer
One of the more schizo pitching displays you’ll ever see. Brooks Lawrence retires the first 12 Dodgers he faces, then allows a single-walk-single-single-walk-walk-single-single sequence to start the 5th and is gone from the game. Seven of those guys score.

CHI 201 010 020 – 6 8 0
PHI 000 002 300 – 5 8 1
W-Nichols L-Farrell SV-Elston HRS: Banks, Thomson, T. Taylor, Bowman, Ashburn GWRBI-T. Taylor
Amazing. Cubs take 4-0 lead. Bowman cuts lead in half with homer. Richie Ashburn knocks out Dave Hillman with rare 3-run homer in the 7th. Only to have Tony Taylor sock an even rarer 2-run homer for the game.

STL 000 011 030 – 5 11 0
PIT 000 000 101 – 2 9 0
W-Jones L-Porterfield SV-Paine HR: Stuart GWRBI-Kasko
Musial with three hits, Sad Sam Jones manages to not have a breakdown, and the Cards are back above .500.

NYY 120 011 101 – 7 12 0
CHX 000 000 000 – 0 6 1
W-Turley L-Donovan HRS: Carey, Mantle GWRBI-Berra
Turley walks seven White Sox and still shuts them out. Only Turley and the White Sox can accomplish that.

BAL 000 110 011 000 0 – 4 10 0
DET 000 000 301 000 1 – 5 13 2
W-Wehmeier L-Zuverink HRS: Woodling, Triandos, Miranda, Martin GWRBI-Francona
Wow. Portocarrera blows a late 2-0 lead. Willie Miranda ties the game with a homer. Yes, I meant willie Miranda. Triandos hits the third solo shot off bunning in the 9th, but Zernial equalizes things with a single in the 9th. Wilhelm goes three innings, gives way to George Zuverink, who throws one great inning and one awful one to knock the O’s one game out.

BOS 000 000 000 – 0 2 0
CLE 000 100 00x – 1 6 0
W-Bell L-Brewer GWRBI-Nixon
Brilliant shutout by Gary Bell, by far Cleveland’s best hurler. And if things weren’t suddenly unlucky enough for Boston, Ted Williams goes out again for three games.

WAS 204 020 000 – 8 8 0
K.C. 010 000 110 – 3 10 1
W-Romonosky L-Terry HRS:Sievers-2, Yost, Zauchin-2 GWRBI-Sievers
Okay, I do believe Roy Sievers is hot. That’s four homers in his last two games, and eleven in his last twelve. On the year: .345, 28 HRS, 69 RBIs, 1.115 OPS. Rocky who?

National League through Tuesday, June 24

Chicago 38 31 .551
Los Angeles 36 31 .537 1
St. Louis 33 32 .508 3
Milwaukee 33 32 .508 3
Philadelphia 33 32 .508 3
San Francisco 33 35 .485 4.5
Cincinnati 31 36 .463 6
Pittsburgh 30 38 .441 7.5

American League through Tuesday, June 24

New York 42 25 .627
Baltimore 42 27 .609 1
Boston 39 28 .582 3
Chicago 37 31 .544 5.5
Cleveland 34 36 .486 9.5
Detroit 32 36 .471 10.5
Kansas City 27 39 .409 14.5
Washington 19 50 .275 24
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