An usher wearing a bow tie and Wrigley Field cap shook me awake. Don’t ask me how I got to Chicago. Don’t ask me how I was dropped like a rolled-up rug between two rows of the left field bleacher planks. In fact, don’t ask me anything, because the last two days are still a big fat blur.
I remember getting my lights punched out by an Ohio state trooper who was really the Peanut Killer. I remember waking up gagged in a dark, stuffy motel room, obviously after he’d ditched the stolen police car and poor Officer Grundheinz’s uniform. I remember being roped to a chair, the killer standing in a shadowy corner, wearing a baseball cap too small for his head with the letters AYBL on the front. Tossing a white ball of rolled-up wet socks at my face and chest over and over.
He had me drugged up on something, because I remember him talking but not much of what he said, other than “pray for your lady…pray for your lady” after nearly every sock-pitch. No use pussyfooting around here: the guy was some kind of freak.
After he had enough of me, a damp cloth hit my face and I blacked out again. Only to end up in the Wrigley bleachers an hour before the gates opened for our five-game, home-and-home series with the dangerous Cubs.
Anyway, the usher fetched his boss, who fetched Agent Brewster—who was stationing his men outside the park. As you’d probably guess, Agent Brewster was not a barrel of sunshine.
“They found the Ohio trooper dead in his trunk, a few miles over the Indiana state line. All just to get you into his clutches again. The gall of this suspect is beyond belief, and he’s a step ahead of every one of us. Got any ideas on why he did this?”
“Gee, afraid I don’t. When you’re unconscious you tend not to think about things.”
“How about when you’re not? Any more details on the suspect?”
“Nope. Except his face was out of alignment.”
“Really. Like how?”
“Like there’s a dent in it at the top. From some car accident maybe.” Brewster nodded to one of his flunkies, who jotted a note. “Can I go warm up Johnny Antonelli now?”
“Sure. And then you’re sitting in the bleachers in street clothes, right next to Agent Culberson here. We’re not letting you out of our sight until we leave Chicago.”
The Giants players were glad to see me, gave me some healthy ribbing. I held back the grisly details, blamed my “wild” day and a half on my “out-of-control buddy” from L.A. Antonelli was in a good mood for a change and he pitched like it, whiffing eight Cubs, allowing just five hits and shutting them out in less than two hours, 3-0. A Mays walk and Cepeda double into the right corner in the 4th was all we needed.
One more game was left on this trip and then it was back to Seals. Brewster’s guys were combing the streets and stands, and Liz Dumas was still a missing person of interest. I looked forward to going home, but even though I’d see Chumpo and Bob and my usher friends and be surrounded by friendlier fans, I knew I’d be feeling just as edgy and alone.
S.F. 000 100 200 – 3 7 0
CHI 000 000 000 – 0 5 0
W-Antonelli L-Hillman GWRBI-Cepeda
CIN 000 100 000 – 1 7 1
MIL 040 000 00x – 4 11 1
W-Burdette L-Purkey HRS: Crandall, Torre GWRBI-Crandall
It was inevitable, I guess. Burdette is brilliant, and the Braves hop back into first by percentage points, after going a blistering 12-3 in their last fifteen games. Meanwhile, the pitching-challenged Reds slip back into last.
L.A. 003 025 020 – 12 15 1
STL 000 1000 000 – 1 6 3
W-Drysdale L-Jackson HRS: Snider, Fairly GWRBI-Snider
Speaking of blistering, Larry Jackson pitches awful, the Cards field awful, and Drysdale cruises. Before this game, St. Louis had 18 comeback wins, 18 blown leads, were 18-18 at home, and 18-18 on the road. Perfect.
PHI 010 001 130 – 6 12 1
PIT 120 003 003 – 9 11 1
W-Kline L-Sanford HRS: Philley, Ashburn, Stevems GWRBI-Stevens
An odd one-game series for the Phils on their way out to Milwaukee, and not the way they drew it up. Down 6-2 in the 7th, Ashburn’s 3-run poke in the 8th ties it up, only to have R. C. Stevens—who went in a first defensively for Stuart—bash his own 3-run homer off Jack Meyer for the win.
NYY 040 000 014 – 9 15 0
BAL 000 100 000 – 1 7 1
W-Ditmar L-Portocarrero HRS: Berra, Nieman
The first half of a two-act pennant war at Memorial Stadium is just a drubbing. Young Brooks Robinson’s two-out error in the 2nd leads to four unearned Yankee runs, Siebern tripling in the last two. Berra adds a 2-run shot in the 9th off the immortal George Zuverink and the Yanks go up by three and a half.
WAS 000 000 003 – 3 6 0
BOS 013 010 00x – 5 10 2
W-Bowsfield L-Ramos SV-Wall HRS: Piersall, Jensen-2 GWRBI-Piersall
Nothing like a few days off in the Senators’ Gopher Ball Spa to cure any team’s ills.
K.C. 000 001 400 – 5 9 1
DET 010 030 000 – 4 8 0
W-Garver L-Foytack SV-Gorman HRS: Simpson, Cerv, Zernial-2 GWRBI-Cerv
Gus Zernial does what he’s supposed to: mashes two homers to put Detroit up 4-0, then comes out for defense, but Paul Foytack can’t hold the lead, and Bob Cerv parks a grand slam in the 7th for the A’s surprise winner.
CLE 010 010 012 – 5 8 1
CHX 140 023 00x – 10 10 2
W-Pierce L-Grant SV-Staley HR: Vernon GWRBI-Fox
All Chicago in this mess, a game featuring eight walks per team and scads of LOB. Like St. Louis, the Tribe just can’t get or stay over the .500 hump.
National League through Tuesday, July 1
American League through Tuesday, July 1