August 8, 1958

Liz was happy to be “home” in L.A. again, which turned out to be the Hotel Figueroa. A family of Greek people were now living in her vacated house in the hills, and she had no clue what she’d be doing when the weekend was over.

We met at the counter at Canter’s Deli on Fairfax for some late coffee and dessert after the Dodgers game. Which I skipped. The Giants had smacked Drysdale silly again but the Braves had also won back in Philly and to be honest, I wasn’t in a baseball mood. Getting booted off a team you have no business being on is like getting double-fired.

Considering the way the road trip went, Liz was pretty friendly. We had a fine time talking about the different towns, the murder victims, and the insanity of our lives. We were like an old married couple—without the married and old parts.

“John Blaziecsky!” she began over her warm cup. “The Opening Day guy with the knife in him. He was the only one that wasn’t an ordinary joe!”
“Cops checked him out right away, Liz. Vacuum salesman from San Jose, remember? If that ain’t ordinary I don’t know what is.”
“Yeah, but think a second about the others. Grosso the night watchman, your friend Reggie in construction, Stan Szopa the steelworker, a cop, and a Philly pretzel vendor. Maybe that first guy sold a defective vacuum to the wrong character.”
“Uh-uh. As they say, I think we’re meowing up the wrong scratching post. The question you threw at me last night is our ticket.”
“Which was…”
“What would someone have against the Giants?”

She shrigged, snatched the last bite of cheesecake off our shared plate. “Insane Dodger fan? They’ve gotten awful rotten. Maybe it’s Ralph Branca’s brother.”
“Or Ralph Branca. Seen him pitching anywhere lately?”

We chuckled over that one. It was almost midnight, and I still had to ride with Liz back to the Figueroa. She offered me part of her bed but I was wary. That business needed a bit more time, a stronger heart and stomach. And as the coffee suggested, a long walk under an L.A. moon felt more like it.

She paused outside the hotel doors. “Oh! Before I forget, Billy invited us over for a barbeque after Sunday’s game.”
“Great. Guess he’s healed up enough to flip a few burgers.”
“Try top sirloin.”
“Then I will. Thanks.”

We kissed. It was still sweet, still electric. I watched her through the lobby doors, waited until she vanished into the elevator, then headed up the sidewalk. Got about half a block and then…

“Mr. Snappy, is it?”

The voice was tough, vaguely ethnic. From no one I’d ever heard before. I turned.

It belonged to a six-foot-tall man mountain, with slicked-back hair and a broken Roman nose. He wore an expensive black suit with a black shirt and black tie. Two henchmen, less fancily dressed but no less creepy, had just gotten out of a bright red Eldorado with him.

“Maybe.”
“I say most definitely. Allow me to say good evening. Braggo Farfadecchio.”

He put out a hand the size of Sicily, and I shook it. Half his knuckles felt out of place.

“What’s this about?”
“It’s about you taking a little spin with us.”
“No, I better not. Spinning makes me dizzy.”
“Too bad. ‘Cause my boss might get a trifle upset.”
“Who’s your boss?”
“Just get in the car, asshole.”
“I’d like to know who I’m about to sue.”
“You ain’t suing nobody but your dentist. After he messes up the mouth surgery you’re about to need.”

I threw up my hands. “Sorry!” Began to walk and his two goons stuck matching .38s in my ribs.

“Let’s just say that Mickey would’ve sent Johnny Stompanato instead of me, except for the fact someone stabbed the hell out of him four months ago.”

I froze. Because I suddenly realized which Mickey he was talking about. And it wasn’t the mouse.

THE SKINNYS

S.F. 400 003 000 – 7 9 0
L.A. 020 110 000 – 4 10 0
W-Gomez L-Drysdale SV-Jones HRS: Davenport, Gray GWRBI-Kirkland
For the first five innings, Drysdale only has one horrendous inning, while Gomez has four of them, but Non-Dandy Don collapses a second time in the 6th, and it proves fatal. A scoring double by Kirkland and two-run pinch single by Jim King are the killing blows. Giants take a 7-5 lead in the season series.

MIL 001 120 000 – 4 9 0
PHI 000 000 000 – 0 6 1
W-Rush L-Semproch HRS: Aaron, Crandall GWRBI-Crandall
Covington is still out a few more days, but Del Crandall picks up the slack with two singles and a homer, Rush is fabulous and Milwaukee keeps their two-game lead.

CIN 000 000 000 – 0 7 1
PIT 112 000 00x – 4 11 1
W-Friend L-Purkey GWRBI-Skinner
Well, I guess put the whammy on the Reds, who get blanked by one of the more hit-happy pitchers in the league. Bob Skinner returns from his injury and promptly doubles in the game-deciding run in his firs at bat.

STL 000 200 020 – 4 3 1
CHI 000 010 40x – 5 12 1
W-Nichols L-Mizell SV-Elston HR: Blasingame GWRBI-Adams
The secret to this Cub win is getting Drabowsky out of there after he walks six Cards in the first five innings. Three big triples, two by Bobby Adams, are the keys, but it could have been a real blowout as Chicago leaves 15 runners on base. Season series is now 7-5 in favor of St. Louis.

BOS 010 002 000 – 3 8 1
NYY 000 020 000 – 2 8 1
W-Sullivan L-Shantz SV-Smith HR: Berra
In the grandaddy of rivalries, Boston miraculously pulls off their biggest win of the year with actual pitching instead of bludgeoning. Missing Jackie Jensen for the first two games, Sullivan gives up a 1-0 lead when Yogi hits one in the upper deck with Mantle aboard in the 5th. A Bill Renna double, Sammy White triple and wild pitch puts the Sox back on top, and with their bullpen weary, none other than Riverboat Smith enters to throw two and a third of one-hit saving ball. Boston takes a 6-4 lead in the series, and the Yankee lead “drops” to eight and a half, but you gotta start somewhere.

BAL 010 200 201 – 6 13 2
WAS 401 200 00x – 7 10 1
W-Ramos L-Harshman SV-Valentinetti HRS: Nieman-2, Bridges GWRBI-Lemon
Also with a chance to pick up a game and failing miserably are the Orioles, who hand the Senators five unearned runs in the process, something THEY are supposed to do. Also, Jack Harshman manages to give Jim Lemon four hits, an event about as rare as seeing Roy Sievers in drag.

CHI 000 000 000 – 0 6 0
DET 000 002 03x – 5 9 0
W-Lary L-Wilson HR: Bolling GWRBI-Maxwell
Joining the day’s shutout victims are the White Sox, while the red-hot Tigers are suddenly one game behind them in the loss column. Detroit grounds into three DPs but big late hits from Maxwell and Bolling make up for that.

K.C. 000 001 200 – 3 11 1
CLE 300 001 10x – 5 11 1
W-Bell L-Terry SV-Mossi HRS: Colavito, Power GWRBI-Colavito
The A’s have been the bee in Cleveland’s bonnet all year, but by the time they knock Gary Bell out and threaten to complete a big comeback, the game conveniently ends.

National League through Friday, August 8

Milwaukee 60 48 .556
San Francisco 59 51 .536 2
Chicago 59 52 .532 2.5
Philadelphia 52 54 .491 7
Pittsburgh 53 56 .486 7.5
St. Louis 51 55 .481 8
Cincinnati 50 59 .459 10.5
Los Angeles 50 59 .459 10.5

American League through Friday, August 8

New York 69 40 .633
Boston 60 48 .556 8.5
Baltimore 59 49 .546 9.5
Chicago 59 50 .541 10
Detroit 56 51 .523 11
Cleveland 56 54 .509 12.5
Kansas City 41 66 .383 27
Washington 34 76 .309 35.5
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