Willie Kirkland was knocking on my hotel room door.
“Bus about to leave, Cap’n!”
“You okay in there?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks. I’ll get myself a cab.”
The hallway floor creaked. “Suit yourself!”
After finding that bloody Braves cap in my bag I was more tempted to just ditch the team altogether, hitch-hike west and relocate in some desert cave until I pieced all this junk together. Other than get drunk, hear a Bing Crosby song and fall off my bar stool, what the hell did I do the other night in Milwaukee? According to the Chicago Tribune, Tim Krugger had been found with his face in a puddle, signs of a struggle in the alley, and his hat gone.
Was that how I gashed my head? I blacked out a lot when I was younger, so was this problem back to stay? Were John Blaziecsky, Reggie, Vincent Grosso, Stan Szopa, Ohio Officer Grundheinz, Rudy Creech and now this Kruger guy done in by me in some unconscious state? Maybe Brewster and the S.F.P.D. were right to suspect me in the first place!
No, said my saner half, that was plain crazy. Szopa was killed in the Forbes Field grandstand when I was hiding out in a Pacific cabin on the other side of the country. And wasn’t there an actual creep calling my place, appearing over my handy-talkie, scaring Liz and knocking me out with chloroform?
Or was he triggering a darker side of me?… Just in case, before I left the hotel I located an incinerator in the basement and threw the bloody cap in it.
“Drake!” yelled Bob Schmidt an hour later as I continued to sit and ponder in a clubhouse stall, “Miller’s ready for ya!”
Stu Miller could wait. I smoked two more Camels in there, then trudged down the tunnel and out onto Wrigley’s Field to warm him up.
“You all right?” asked little Stu when he saw me, “Looks like you seen a ghost get hit by a truck.” It was something like that, but I shrugged off his question and asked for a fastball.
Leon Wagner gave us a kick out of the gate with a long homer onto Sheffield off Glen Hobbie. But Miller was shaky. Bobby Thomson doubled and Dale Long parked one and we were behind in no time. Our bats turned back to lead and produced nothing. With two gone in the Cubs 5th, Miller plunked Dark, Thomson singled, Long doubled, and we were well on our way to dropping our fourth straight and six out of seven on the trip. The dugout was a sweaty morgue.
And I sat there like the perfect cadaver. Thinking about Liz now. It was nice to have a silky talk with her again last night. Obviously this was going to be one of those on-and-off switch relationships, but was she safe with me? What might I do to her if I had another blackout?
Baby Bull Cepeda brought me and us back to life like he usually did with a leadoff triple in the 6th. A Kirkland single cut it to 3-2. Hobbie recovered with a spotless 7th, but the 8th was a different and better story. Daddy Wags walked, Mays singled, Cepeda walked, and relief Don Elston took over for Hobbie. Davenport lined out but Kirkland singled hard past a drawn-in infield to put us ahead, Banks booted a Valmy Thomas grounder, Miller beat out a bunt single, Spencer hit a run-scoring grounder and poof! We had a 6-3 win in the bank.
Next up was a happy team train ride to St. Louis. The Pirates had just beaten Warren Spahn, and the beers were flowing in the bar car. I sat in the back by myself, half-smiling, not drinking a drop. Thankfully, Jerry Lee Lewis was playing on someone’s radio. Maybe I wouldn’t have blacked out at all, but I was taking no more chances.
S.F. 100 001 040 – 6 11 0
CHI 200 010 000 – 3 6 1
W-Miller L-Hobbie HRS: Wagner, Long GWRBI-Kirkland
PIT 020 000 201 – 5 11 1
MIL 100 000 000 – 1 1 1
W-Kline L-Spahn GWRBI-Kline
Spahn breaks his own eight-game victory streak by throwing a hideous two-out pitch to non-hitter Ron Kline in the 2nd inning. The two-run single puts the Bucs ahead to stay, and Kline, after allowing a single to Mathews and one unearned run in the 1st, no-hits the champs the rest of the game. Putting the lead back down to two.
L.A. 120 200 000 – 5 9 2
STL 040 000 000 – 4 8 1
W-Williams L-Brosnan HRS: Furillo, Cunningham GWRBI-Snider
And stopping a losing jag are the Dodgers, thanks to the usual Brosnan wildness and Cards sloppiness. Norm Larker makes an error with two outs in the Cards 2nd to help them to four unearned runs, but Norm rebounds with three hits, Kasko makes a terrible two-base error and Stan Williams settles down to pitch the complete game.
PHI 000 010 000 – 1 4 0
CIN 402 300 10x – 10 11 1
W-Lawrence L-Simmons HR: Dropo GWRBI-Lynch
Phillies are starting to fade, Reds starting another surge from the depths. Need some evidence? Here you go, pals. Lynch and Dropo drive in seven of the ten Red runs.
NYY 100 001 010 00 – 3 8 0
BAL 000 000 300 01 – 4 8 1
W-Wilhelm L-Turley HRS: Slaughter, Williams GWRBI-Pilarcik
Make that two straight come-from-ahead losses by the Yanks. This time Dick Williams bashes a three-run homer to put the Birds ahead in the 7th, Berra hits a sac fly to tie it, before Ryne Duren surrenders an Al Pilarcik sac pop in the 11th.
WAS 210 000 300 – 6 5 1
BOS 004 000 104 – 9 12 0
W-Wall L-Hyde HRS: Sievers-2, Jensen, Berberet GWRBI-Berberet
Nothing symbolizes the Senators’ lost season more than this one. Sievers cranks his 42nd and 43rd homers, Dick Hyde comes on to save their one-run lead in the 9th, and relief whiz Dick Hyde poops his trousers. Williams walks, Jensen singles, Gernert walks, and third-string catcher Lou Berberet, only in the game because Sammy White is hurt and Pete Daley just went out for a week and a half, belts an impossible grand slam (for you Strat junkies, on a 1-2 roll) to win it. Good for Boston, who will be headed for Yankee Stadium on the weekend for three huge ones.
CLE 000 301 010 – 5 7 0
DET 201 132 11x – 11 18 2
W-Bunning L-Woodeshick HRS: Colavito, Wertz, Doby, Kuenn, Bolling GWRBI-Bolling
Love these battles between the Lake Dwellers. Tied at 6-6 in the season series, it’s just Bunning being Bunning, giving up three homers and somehow winning easily. Harvey Kuenn, who’s been starting only against lefties of late, goes 4-for-5 with a rare dinger.
CHI 000 002 000 – 2 8 1
K.C. 001 000 000 – 1 5 1
W-Donovan L-Herbert HR: Chiti GWRBI-Lollar
Except for an incredible game-saving catch that Al Smith makes on Harry Simpson’s bid for a 2-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, a pretty uneventful game.
National League through Tuesday, August 5
American League through Tuesday, August 5