July 22, 1958

So with the blessings of the FBI, Walter O’Malley, and George Randolph Hearst, Liz was suddenly the new “personality columnist” in the Herald‘s baseball section. What a circus. Fans knew about it, the players were fighting over who would get to flirt with her, all while Brewster and the feds were trying to keep her on 24-hour guard.

And yet they couldn’t. The Peanut Killer wanted his letters printed, so somehow they had to get to her. Brewster, of course, was livid that the Herald had leaked the whole setup to the public, though if they hadn’t, our murderous, attention-loving friend probably would have done it himself.

Liz flew to Pittsburgh this morning, and was pretty torn up about it. Back when I first met her, she was getting her Herald feet wet as a celebrity grandstand sighter for the “Gaddy’s Gadabouts” column, but this was much bigger. This was a career break that could put her on the national map. It was also creepy and dangerous, and would take gobs of time away from her novel—which she decided to bring along for “good luck and idle moments.”

Plus there was this other problem.

“Explain to me why you can’t come along.”
“Brewster’s orders, baby. And I get it. With the killer threatening to rub out more victims, he doesn’t want us doing anything that might upset the psycho even more.”
“But wouldn’t the psycho want this? I thought you were his personal obsession or something.”
“I was. Until the letter to you arrived.”
“I’m scared, Snap. I’m not sure I can go through this alone.”
“You’re hardly going to be alone. And didn’t you drive to that woman’s writer camp in everlovin’ Iowa by yourself? To me that place looked a lot more scary.” She started to jab my arm, turned it into a desperate hug. “You’ll be fine, Liz. I’ll call you as often as I can.”

In the meantime, like most people I planned to be all over the Herald‘s morning editions like flies on a cow.

For the first game of their trip tonight I followed the score by listening to the Giants’ battle in Philly. Man alive, those Phillies are tough. Errors by Jones and Ashburn helped us to an early 4-1 lead, but Gomez was in boiling oil every inning till the 8th, when Jones and Giel ladled him out of a two-out, second and third jam. Cepeda doubled and singled and drove in three, to add to his team-high 63 RBIs. It was also nice to rough up Curt Simmons, a crafty lefty who shut us down on our last trip there.

Russ Hodges didn’t bring up the Peanut Killer once on the broadcast, but was certainly aware of audience interest because he gave a Dodgers update practically every inning. They scored five times for Drysdale early, but as you can read below, the bullpen and defense plain evaporated. Forbes Field, site of the last fan murder, was apparently packed to the gills and sprinkled with over 100 cops.

About a half hour after the game ended, Liz called. She didn’t sound too good. The first letter had somehow arrived in the Forbes Field press box, sent special delivery from Topeka, Kansas. It took some doing for me to calm her down enough to read it over the phone.

There once was a writer named Liz
Who everyone said was a whiz
She did favors for a killer
Provided good filler
Till some poor fan’s life went kafizz

“Great,” I said, “So the jerk is going to kill somebody anyway? Then what’s the point of doing this?”
“He isn’t well, Snap. I think it’s hard for him not to kill. Brewster told me all we can do is follow along until he slips up on the other end. Unfortunately, no one in Topeka remembered seeing him. He dropped it in a mailbox there days ago.”

One thing was clear to me, though. When this thing got published in the morning, Forbes Field attendance would be dropping for the next game.

THE SKINNYS

S.F. 103 010 000 – 5 7 1
PHI 011 000 100 – 3 11 2
W-Gomez L-Simmons SV-Giel GWRBI-Cepeda

L.A. 050 101 001 – 8 11 4
PIT 020 001 43x – 10 13 2
w-Friend L-Labine HRS: Pignatano, Neal, Skinner, Mazeroski GWRBI-Mazeroski
Up 7-3 in the 7th, the killer-distracted Dodgers continue a trend and unravel like a cheap dinner jacket. A single, double and Drysdale error brings on Klippstein, who gets nobody out, and it’s 7-7 in a heartbeat. Maz homers in the 8th and the Dodgers add more insults when Furillo and Snider butcher outfield flies on consecutive plays. Hard to believe this team was in first a little over a month ago. Of course, a month from now in this league they could be back.

STL 001 000 001 – 2 4 0
MIL 000 000 000 – 0 4 2
W-Mizell L-Jay HR: Katt GWRBI-Katt
Just like old early April times, as Ray Katt provides all St. Louis offense. Vinegar Bend drowns the Braves in his best start of the year and surprisingly, his first shutout, to move the Giants within a game and a half of the top.

CHI 100 120 000 – 4 7 0
CIN 000 000 000 – 0 1 0
W-Drott L-Nuxhall GWRBI-Walls
But if you’re talking pitching, start right here. The often-mediocre Dick Drott takes a no-hitter all the way to the 9th when Vada Pinson breaks it up with a one-out slicing double. The Cubs stumbled for a bit but are now back in this thing.

NYY 000 005 100 – 6 6 0
DET 000 000 010 – 1 8 2
W-Ditmar L-Foytack HRS: Mantle, Groth GWRBI-Slaughter
Not in any kind of a thing are the Tigers, who kick off a long critical homestand by throwing a game away to the Yanks. Ditmar walks to begin the 6th and Siebern rolls an easy DP ball out to Coot Veal at short, who kicks it away. Then Tito Francona, filling in for the TWO injured Detroit first baseman, boots another grounder. A rattled Foytack walks Slaughter to force in one run and then Mantle cranks a grand slam into the upper deck. That was fun.

BOS 000 100 002 – 3 5 0
K.C. 400 000 00x – 4 4 1
W-Garver L-Sullivan SV-Burnette HRS: Malzone, Williams, Maris GWRBI-Ward
Oh, so it’s that kind of a day. A Preston Ward double and Maris 3-run shot in the 1st eventually hold up, and Boston drops a very rare game to the A’s to give New York a season-high 10-game lead. Teddy Ballgame returns from a week off and clubs a 2-run shot in the 9th to make the locals briefly nervous.

BAL 100 010 000 – 2 11 1
CHI 100 100 02x – 4 8 1
W-Pierce L-Brown GWRBI-Fox
Nellie Fox breaks up a tight one with a two-out, 2-run single in the 8th, to drop the Birds further into the abyss.

WAS 300 023 010 – 9 14 1
CLE 001 001 000 – 2 7 0
W-Ramos L-McLish HRS: Sievers, Zauchin, Harrell GWRBI-Sievers
The Nats win ANOTHER one? With Pedro Ramos pitching? Surely I jest. Three big lineup changes, dropping the whiff-happy Jim Lemon to the 6th spot, and putting Norm Zauchin cleanup and Herbi Plews at second base against righties seems to have done wonders. Hmm…

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ll be winging my way east for a 5-day traveling family circus come Wednesday, so look for a special guest post that morning from another one of our esteemed absentee managers. Snappy’s next diary entry will appear on Friday, via the magic of cell phone publishing.

National League through Tuesday, July 22

Milwaukee 51 40 .560
San Francisco 50 42 .543 1.5
Chicago 49 45 .521 3.5
Philadelphia 46 44 .511 4.5
Los Angeles 45 47 .489 6.5
Pittsburgh 44 47 .484 7
St. Louis 43 46 .483 7
Cincinnati 38 55 .409 14

American League through Tuesday, July 22

New York 63 30 .677
Boston 52 39 .571 10
Baltimore 52 42 .553 11.5
Chicago 49 45 .521 14.5
Cleveland 46 48 .489 16.5
Detroit 45 47 .489 16.5
Kansas City 37 55 .402 25.5
Washington 28 66 .298 35.5
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