June 29, 1958

A note was slipped under the door of Valmy Thomas’ room, where I woke on his bathroom floor with my face in a pile of wet towels. No doubt, it was scribbled by someone at the front desk:

Mr. Drake—
Officer Grundheinz called. Bring your note to Dayton General Hospital and he will meet you there.

How the front desk knew I was drinking myself into a stupor in another room was weird, but maybe word and screaming laughter till one in the morning gets around quick in a hotel.

Thankfully, it was a short bus ride to Dayton. I armed myself with the largest paper cup of coffee sold east of the Mississippi and was there in plenty of time to make it back to Crosley for today’s series finale. It took a bit of nurse questioning, but tracked down Billy’s room in the recovery wing.

He wasn’t pretty. Head bandaged, both eyes black and blue, his right arm and left leg in casts. He smiled when he saw me but it looked painful to do it.

“My wild and crazy blue baby…She never does that to me.”
“Well, the cops said someone wrecked the brakes and took a switchblade to a few of the tires. I think you were meant to be our friend’s next victim.”

Rage filled Billy’s eyes. His instinct was to smash his fist on the bed, but clenched his left one instead.

“You gotta get him, Pops…He’s still got Liz alive somewhere, I know it. She’s his trump card.”
“I hope so. If I only knew what the rat bastard’s beef with me was…”

I glanced out the third floor window. Spotted an Ohio State Police car parked in front of the entrance that wasn’t there when I arrived.

“Call my folks for me, would ya Pops? Still got that phone number?”
“Yeah. Think so…”
“Hey…Feel like going out and snagging me a hamburger?”
“Uhhh…probably shouldn’t. Have to get back in time to warm up Stu Miller.”
“Aw c’mon, Pops. This hospital grub’s gonna kill me faster than Peanut Jerk will.” He motioned to a tray of uneaten grey toast and liquified eggs on his bedside table.

Next to it was a potted plant: a stalk of green leaves with yellowish flowers.

“That’s nice. Who brought you that?”
“Dunno, actually…Was here when I woke up.”

The plant looked familiar. Like something I’d seen out in the San Joaquin Valley once.

And then I remembered what it was. I walked over, picked up the plant and yanked the entire stalk out of its soil.

Peanuts were entangled in the roots.

“Damn…Listen Billy, I need to go talk to this cop outside. Back in a sec—” I took the plant with me, raced out the door.

The state cop saw me coming, swung open the car’s back door. The morning sun was in my eyes, but I could make out his uniform, cap and burly frame behind the wheel. I reached the car and waved the plant at him.

“Officer Grundheinz! I think the guy who messed up my friend’s car just left this! He’s gotta still be around—”
“Did you bring his note?”
“Yeah! But look at this plant—”
“Get in and we’ll look for him.”

I hopped in back, shut the door. He screeched away from the curb, pinning me to the seat.

“Whoa! Where the hell are we—”

He turned sharply down the first alley he saw and threw on the brakes. His voice eerily dropped.

“Didn’t I tell you not to call the police, Milton?”

I froze. In the split second before he turned and knocked me out cold with a fist, I saw the Peanut Killer’s demonic, leering, misshapen face.

THE SKINNYS
(compiled from national wire services after Mr. Drake did not return to Crosley Field)

S.F. 021 020 010 – 6 11 3
CIN 000 012 010 – 4 10 2
W-Miller L-Lawrence HRS: Davenport, Thurman, Lynch, Dropo GWRBI-Davenport
Stu Miller allows three solo home runs but strikes out nine to get his eighth victory and earn the Giants a split of the four games as they head to Chicago.

L.A. 000 000 000 – 0 3 0
MIL 000 300 00x – 3 5 0
W-Rush L-Williams HR: Aaron GWRBI-Aaron
Brilliant shutout for Bob Rush and the Braves win again to tie the Dodgers for second place. All Milwaukee runs come in the 4th when Stan Williams allows a leadoff homer to Aaron, then walks three, gives up a single and throws two wild pitches.

CHI 303 000 053 – 14 21 2
PIT 001 000 400 – 5 7 2
W-Hobbie L-Friend SV-Henry GWRBI-Long

CHI 130 100 000 02 – 7 15 0
PIT 013 000 001 00 – 5 13 0
W-Elston L-Blackburn GWRBI-Adams
The Cubs vault back into first place as the teams collect 56 hits in the two games without one home run. Faced with a cold day in homer-starved Forbes Field, the powerful Cubs hit three triples in Game 1 and four more in Game 2, including one by Bobby Adams in the 11th to thwart a late Bucs comeback.

STl 110 000 200 – 4 11 0
PHI 000 000 120 – 3 8 0
W-Mizell L-Semproch SV-Paine HRS: Musial, Philley GWRBI-Musial

STL 102 202 000 01 – 8 12 0
PHI 101 310 001 00 – 7 13 0
W-Paine L-Farrell HR: Cunningham GWRBI-Blasingame
Cards sweep two thrilling 1-run games, Paine holding on in the opener to boost Vinegar Bend’s record to 11-2, then getting the win in the nightcap when he triples in the 11th off Turk Farrell and scores on a Don Blasingame single.

NYY 100 000 010 – 2 5 1
K.C. 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
W-Ford L-Herbert HR: Slaughter GWRBI-Slaughter
Ray Herbert gives the Yanks just one hit through the first six and a third, but it leaves the park. The A’s have numerous scoring chances against Ford and cash in none of them to lose all three to the Bombers. Roger Maris, since being traded from Cleveland, is hitting a paltry .173 in 52 at bats.

BAL 000 000 003 – 3 5 0
CLE 000 000 000 – 0 3 1
W-Harshman L-Bell HR: Robinson GWRBI-Robinson

BAL 101 300 000 – 5 12 0
CLE 000 010 030 – 4 9 2
W-Pappas L-Ferrarese SV-Wilhelm HRS: Taylor, Porter
Jack Harshman shoves the Tribe back under .500 in the opener, before Orioles bats shove them deeper in the nightcap. Harshman punches out nine, walks none, and Brooks Robinson wraps a 3-run shot in the 9th off Gary Bell around the foul pole. The sweep puts the Birds two and a half out as they welcome New York to Memorial Stadium for a short but all-important two-game series.

WAS 001 000 100 – 2 8 0
CHX 003 002 00x – 5 13 0
W-Wynn L-Romonosky SV-Staley HR: Torgeson GWRBI-Torgeson

WAS 000 001 100 – 2 3 0
CHX 200 010 00x – 3 6 1
W-Moore L-Valentinetti HRS: Sievers, Torgeson GWRBI-Callison
White Sox get the expected 4-game sweep and hop over swooning Boston into third place.

BOS 001 010 220 – 6 11 1
DET 312 030 00x – 9 14 1
W-Hoeft L-Monboquette HRS: Virgil, Kuenn SV-Morgan
And the Tigers sweep the Red Sox to move up to fifth place, just one game under .500. Frank Malzone throws a Zernial grounder away with two outs in the 1st to lead to three unearned runs, and Boston never recovers. Difficult to believe they were a half game out of first about a week ago.

TEAM STAT REPORTS: Here are your team hitting, team pitching, and assorted miscellany through Sunday’s games. End of June league leaders will be included with the next post, along with All-Star Game contest details.

National League through Sunday, June 29

Chicago 40 34 .541
Milwaukee 37 33 .529 1
Los Angeles 38 34 .528 1
Philadelphia 36 34 .514 2
St. Louis 36 35 .507 2.5
San Francisco 35 38 .479 4.5
Cincinnati 33 39 .458 6
Pittsburgh 33 41 .446 7

American League through Sunday, June 29

New York 46 26 .639
Baltimore 45 30 .600 2.5
Chicago 42 32 .568 5
Boston 40 32 .556 6
Detroit 36 37 .493 10.5
Cleveland 37 39 .487 11
Kansas City 28 43 .394 17.5
Washington 20 55 .267 27.5
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