July 14, 1958

I was done talking to Brewster. The guy couldn’t find a bee if the stinger was in his behind. Here I was, letting down my guard day and night with Xavier Lawrence Chitwood “in custody,” while someone was possibly tailing me around town and phoning my lady for terrorizing purposes.

Unless they were two different people with two different agendas. Maybe I could clarify one of them.

From a newspaper article I learned that X-Man read meters for the Pacific Electric Company over in El Cerrito. I got up early, crossed the Bay Bridge, parked outside the P.E.C. office and waited for someone I could follow. A trio of meter readers in their little blue caps emerged from the building before long, coffees and/or cigarettes in hand. One overweight fellow seemed to be the friendliest, or certainly the one who knew the most co-workers. I waited till he drove away in his yellow truck and got on his tail.

The slow pursuit took me to a hilly neighborhood dotted with modest houses, thirsty flower beds and chain-link fences. If X-Man was truly diabolical, doing this job sure gave him plenty of easy access.

I parked and followed Chubby Boy down the sidewalk, keeping a safe distance. Let him duck down a half dozen alleys to read meters, then record the results in a big black binder. Waited for him to return to his truck and rounded the rear bumper to “bump” into him. The name GUS was stitched into his shirt.

“Excuse me!” I cried.
“No, no. My mistake, sir…” He tipped his cap and I pointed a finger at him.
“Say, you wouldn’t happen to know Xavier Chitwood, would you?”

The question gave him pause. He suddenly wanted to flee. “Why?”
“Well, I’m an old buddy of his from grade school, see.” I stuck out my hand. “Perry Dobbs.” He gingerly shook it. “Drove up from San Diego when I read he confessed to these murders because I’ll tell ya, it really shook me up.”
“Same here. None of us believe he was doing these things.”
“Oh. So you’re friends with him?”
“Not really. Just at work. Kept to himself most of the time but he was certainly friendly enough…Listen, I still got three more neighborhoods—”
“Yeah, I know. I’m just kind of searching for some answers. Been trying to call him off and on all year, but…Was he leaving town a lot?”
Gus shrugged. “Called in sick a few times if that means anything. Probably was hiding out at the library.”
“Library?”
“Yeah the big one on Larkin.” He was always doing some kind of ‘research’ there. At least that’s what he said. Nice meeting you, Perry.”

He hopped back in his truck and drove off.

* * *

The library would have to wait, because I was due in section 16 for the Braves-Giants afternoon finale, with a chance for us to inch within half a game of first. No slugfest this time, just an endless death match. Rigney and Haney pulled out all the stops, and five straight innings of scoreless ball late in the day were as tense as you could imagine.

The game began with Mays dropping Roach’s fly ball for a 2-base error, and the 1-0 Braves lead lasted until Alou singled in Bressoud in the 3rd. McCormick pitched better than usual, but then gave up five straight hits and three runs to begin the 5th. It looked real bad. Then seldom-seen outfielder Don Taussig batted for McCormick with two outs in the 7th and popped one out of the yard off Spahn. It sparked the team. A walk and three singles in the 8th tied it up, and on we went into the extras abyss. We had chance after chance to win it off Spahn and Humberto Robinson but couldn’t plate a crumb.

The 14th inning rolled around, Grissom pitching now, and I looked up from my rail perch to see Liz Dumas standing there in a big sun hat.

“I needed a break, Snap. Your friend Butch let me in the gate.”
“Great. Any weird phone calls today?”
“I wouldn’t know. Left it off the hook. So what’s going on here any—”

WHOCK. At that very moment, Johnny Logan smacked one into the bleachers.

“That’s what.”
“Oh God! I jinxed them! I’m so, so sorry.”

I put an arm around her for a reassuring squeeze, moved her aside so a handful of depressed fans could begin their exodus. After we went out 1-2-3, Liz ended up buying me dinner at the Cliff House, and all was soon forgotten.

Though I did urge her to just take a long walk in Golden Gate Park next time.

THE SKINNYS

MIL 100 030 000 000 01 – 5 12 0
S.F. 001 000 120 000 00 – 4 12 3
W-Robinson L-Grissom HRS: Logan, Taussig GWRBI-Logan

CIN 101 050 000 – 7 10 0
L.A. 020 000 000 – 2 3 1
W-Schmidt L-Koufax HRS: Robinson, Bailey, Roseboro GWRBI-Robinson
The Dodger swoon continues, Koufax serving up six walks, two wild pitches, a double, triple and homer in his four-plus innings of “work”. Regardless of how the Reds have been faring, Frank Robinson continues to rake, now batting .334 with 28 HRS, 89 RBIs.

PHI 100 001 010 – 3 9 0
CHI 400 101 00x – 6 8 0
W-Hobbie L-Simmons SV-Elston HRS: Hemus, Long GWRBI-Long
Cubs stay within sight, thanks to a prodigious Dale Long blast off Simmons in the 1st, Hobbie and elston holding the potent Phils at bay.

CHX 000 000 011 -2 10 0
NYY 002 120 10x – 6 8 0
W-Turley L-Donovan HRS: Lollar, Torgeson Siebern-2, Mantle GWRBI-Siebern
Chicago finishes off their dreadful visit to the Bronx, outhitting the Yanks but wasting a rash of scoring chances. New York uses maximum efficiency, leaving a grand total of two on base.

CLE 000 300 000 – 3 5 0
BOS 403 314 02x – 17 16 2
W-Brewer L-Narleski HRS: Gernert-3, Daley GWRBI-Gernert
He goes by Dick Gernert, but after today Boston fans shall dub him Thor. By the end of the 4th inning he has TEN runs batted in, thanks to a grand slam off Narleski in the 1st, a 3-run net job off Narleski in the 3rd, and another 3-run smash to center off Bob Lemon in the 4th. The Red Sox also walk ten times, just to rub it all in.

DET 000 000 000 00 – 0 3 1
BAL 000 000 000 01 – 1 5 1
W-Portocarrero L-Bunning GWRBI-Pilarcik
Make it five shutouts now for Arnie, as Bunning drops a heartbreaker (walks one, whiffs twelve) when Williams and Pilarcik stroke back-to-back doubles with two outs in the 11th.

PENNANT RACE GRAPHS! Here’s your American League and National League. Check out those soaring Braves…

National League through Monday, July 14

Milwaukee 47 37 .560
San Francisco 45 40 .529 2.5
Philadelphia 43 40 .518 3.5
Chicago 45 42 .517 3.5
Los Angeles 43 42 .506 4.5
Pittsburgh 40 44 .476 7
St. Louis 39 43 .476 7
Cincinnati 36 50 .419 12

American League through Monday, July 14

New York 57 28 .671
Boston 48 36 .571 8.5
Baltimore 48 39 .552 10
Chicago 47 40 .540 11
Detroit 43 42 .506 13
Cleveland 44 43 .506 13
Kansas City 34 50 .405 22.5
Washington 22 65 .253 36
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