June 25, 1958

No one was happy to see me. Not the players at breakfast, or in the dugout, and especially not on the plane tonight to Cincinnati. The stewardess even watered down my gin.

To repeat the obvious, I should have known better. The Wisconsinites were nice and treated us with respect. One guy mouthing off like that was too strange, and should have raised an alarm that he was from somewhere else. Still, hopping into the County Stadium bleachers to knock over an innocent fan was one thing. Suddenly being viewed as a bad luck charm was something else.

With me huddled at the far end of the dugout and avoided like a leper, we put on our third straight display of offensive offense. Scored just five runs during our stay, and left the home of the Braves three games below .500 with a season mark of 1-8 against them. The real sad thing was that Al Worthington threw like Walter Johnson. Retired 16 in a row at one point, but the two hits he allowed, a key Covington single in the 1st and late Covington homer in the 7th were enough to beat us. We grounded into two double plays, left eight on base while Milwaukee left just one. What a stink bomb, and if that wasn’t rotten enough, my new pal Valmy Thomas got plunked on the hand by Joey Jay in the 9th and will miss a whole week. Now HE won’t even talk to me.

So I sat in the last row of the plane, staring out at blackness and occasional signs of clouds. Agent Brewster had managed to find me leaving the park and ripped my head off because he obviously felt left out. He had no leads on Liz, of course, so I just walked away from him and boarded the team bus.

I had to figure our hitting would improve in shorter, steamier Crosley Field, but the question was whether our pitchers could keep Robinson and Lynch in the ball park. And everyone’s favorite disappointment Johnny Antonelli would go in the first game. I tried to catch Rigney’s eye when he passed me on his way down the aisle to the bathroom, thinking a little baseball chatter would lighten the mood. He just lit a cigarette and ignored me too.

No wonder I was shocked when we came down the plane’s steps in Cincy at three in the morning and somebody whistled at me. He also yelled “Snappy Drake!” instead of “Testa!” or “Milton!” Standing outside the chain-link exit fence was none other than Billy Frack, soiled white T-shirt glowing inside his open, black leather jacket. I perked right up, broke off from the trudging team and ran over to shake the hell out of his hand.

“How’d you ever find me?”
“Queasy but easy, Pops. Headed up to ‘Frisco, Seals cat said you were on the road with the team. Being my own boss-man, I can take a big vacater any time I like, right?”
“Sure, but why—”
“Gotta find Lizzie, don’t we? May as well join forces, see some of the country!”
“Yeah, but I’m supposed to be with the team. Impersonating Nick Testa.”
“Who the frack is that?”
“Forget it. Long story. Where you staying?”
“Where else? The El Rancho Rankin, out on Route 125! Place is a block long and there’s an extra bed, so c’mon! You can fill me in on the way.”

I was drifting away from the team pack. Thomas spun around, eyeing me.

“No, listen. The FBI’s involved now, and I have to be—”
“The feds? Big fat deal. Bunch of amateurs. Let’s bounce, Pops.”

He grabbed my sleeve, walked me ten feet. I began to shake him off but then stopped.

Got one look at his shiny, baby blue ’58 Chevy Nomad station wagon, and slid into the passenger seat.

THE SKINNYS

S.F. 000 001 000 – 1 6 2
MIL 200 001 00x – 3 2 0
W-Jay L-Worthington HRS: Mays, Covington GWRBI-Covington

L.A. 030 000 000 – 3 7 0
CIN 000 001 000 – 1 7 1
W-Erskine L-Schmidt SV-Craig GWRBI-Zimmer
Amazing to me that Carl Erskine, one of the shakier pitchers in the Dodger rotation, has a 2.48 ERA, and even in friendly Crosley he squirrels out of every jam in the books. With the Cubs losing in Philly, scrappy L.A. goes back into first by percentage points.

CHI 000 000 022 – 4 8 1
PHI 400 024 00x – 10 11 0
W-Cardwell L-Drabowsky HR: Anderson GWRBI-Hamner
Philly trounces the Cubs after getting ambushed the day before. Harry Anderson reaches base all five times and Don Cardwell continues his surprising mastery, going to 7-2 with a 2.38 ERA and 097 WHIP.

STL 100 030 000 – 4 11 1
PIT 001 010 000 – 2 11 2
W-Mizell L-Friend SV-Paine GWRBI-Boyer
From the Dept. of Ships in the Night: Vinegar Bend wins his tenth straight decision, Bob Friend loses his seventh straight. Ken Boyer with three hits, the Bucs with their usual one walk and three GIDPs.

NYY 100 200 040 – 7 11 1
CHX 200 000 000 – 2 7 1
W-Ford L-Wynn HR: Slaughter GWRBI-McDougald
Whitey gets touched for two in the 1st, then closes the door while Early Wynn gets pummeled. The Yanks have clearly righted themselves since their Cleveland drought, and after tomorrow’s finale head to Kansas City for some likely relaxation.

BAL 001 001 003 – 5 7 1
DET 000 000 201 – 3 6 1
W-Harshman L-Moford HR: Harshman GWRBI-Harshman
The Birds, on the other hand, never relax. The Tigers battle back in the 7th to tie the game 2-2, only to see pitcher Jack Harshman wallop a 3-run shot into the upper deck in the 9th to keep the O’s one game back. Uncanny.

BOS 110 102 120 – 8 11 1
CLE 001 010 010 – 3 6 0
W-Bowsfield L-Grant HRS: Buddin, Gernert, Minoso GWRBI-Renna
With sloppy Mudcat on the Tribe hill, Boston easily recovers their productive mojo, getting their usual eight walks and six extra base hits even with Williams out of the lineup.

WAS 003 000 010 – 4 6 0
K.C. 001 000 000 – 1 4 0
W-Pascual L-Grim HR: Tuttle GWRBI-Pearson
Second great Camilo P. start in a row, and the Nats win their 20th game of the year! Sievers does not homer for a change.

National League through Wednesday, June 25

Los Angeles 37 31 .544
Chicago 38 32 .543
St. Louis 34 32 .515 2
Milwaukee 34 32 .515 2
Philadelphia 34 32 .515 2
San Francisco 33 36 .478 4.5
Cincinnati 31 37 .456 6
Pittsburgh 30 39 .435 7.5

American League through Wednesday, June 25

New York 43 25 .632
Baltimore 43 27 .614 1
Boston 40 28 .588 3
Chicago 37 32 .536 6.5
Cleveland 34 37 .479 10.5
Detroit 32 37 .464 11.5
Kansas City 27 40 .403 15.5
Washington 20 50 .286 24
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