I was out at my mom’s house with the Oakland cops most of the night. The neighbors had heard and seen nothing, and the one barking dog in the neighborhood couldn’t be questioned. Somehow she got kidnapped in broad afternoon daylight, though the fact she was on her first Saturday bottle of Cabernet must have helped. The window glass was on the dining room floor. Clothes were strewn around her room, like she’d been forced to pack in a hurry.
The Oakland cops were more business and less nonsense than the S.F.P.D. Dusted for fingerprints, asked the right questions (“Can you think of any reason she might have had to skip town?”) and then Brewster showed up around midnight to take over and dump all their work in the toilet.
“No, Brewster. I don’t think I’d have a reason to kidnap my own mother.”
“It’s not what I’m saying—”
“It’s what your fricking implying!”
He took me to an all-night diner to let me calm my nerves with some eggs. Promised the FBI would cover the Bay Area like a “wool blanket” and follow up every lead, but somehow I wasn’t convinced.
When he dropped me back at my mother’s house, now taped off, quiet and spooky-dark, I got inside and switched on a few lights. Wandered into her bedroom again. Her jewelry box was still on her dresser, half open and filled with broaches and necklaces. Stuff her kidnapper had no interest in. I knew she kept a few valuable fur coats in her closet, and those were there, too. A cardboard box on a high shelf tipped over when I was rummaging around, and I caught it a second before it fell. It was a small rectangular box, like something you’d store office documents in. On one side it said “MILTON PAPERS,” written in my father’s handwriting. I opened it and leafed through the contents.
My birth certificate was in there, pediatrician bills clipped together from age one to ten. Receipts of two train tickets from San Francisco to New York, dated June 23, 1935, and a rental agreement for a Hudson sedan from Arrow Autos in Yonkers, NY dated four days later. A New York State road map. None of this rang an immediate bell. I would have been around 12 years old at the time.
Then I found two old letters. The first was from a Randall Nathan, director of the Adirondack Youth Baseball League in Loon Lake, NY. It was dated July 14, 1935 and addressed to my father:
Dear Mr. Drake:
All of us at the A.Y.B.L. have been thinking about the well-being of your boy Milton. How is his recovery going? We realize an incident such as that can have a lasting detrimental effect on a young lad, and when you informed us he has been subjected to recent “brain faints,” it had us all the more concerned.
If there is anything I or my staff can do to help Milton through this difficult period, please don’t hesitate to write us.
I stared at the letter. Suddenly those weird nightmares I’d been having about crickets and mosquitoes and June bugs and my father driving me into woods began to fuse together. But an “incident?” What the hell happened? Did I accidentally kill some kid at this place? Did I fall and bust my head on a rock? Both of the above?
What I really needed to do was ask my mother.
MIL 000 000 100 – 1 4 1
S.F. 000 010 01x – 2 4 2
W-Miller L-Spahn HR: Mays GWRBI-Mays
Watched this one on my mom’s RCA while I sat in her living room in a stupor today. It kept me alive. Aaron robs Kirkland of a home run in the 1st inning. A great, tight pitching duel between Spahnie and Stu Miller (now 15-6, and our best pitcher), won on a Mays rocket blast (#30) in the last of the 8th. Suddenly we’re just a game and a half behind the Braves, and more worried about the Cubs. Weird year.
PHI 000 100 013 – 5 5 0
CHI 013 100 03x – 8 15 2
W-Drott L-Sanford SV-Elston HRS: Moryn, Banks GWRBI-Dark
PHI 000 002 000 -2 3 1
CHI 003 030 00x – 6 11 0
W-Briggs L-Morehead HR: Thomson GWRBI-Thomson
Like I said, these guys have gotten scary. Before a packed Wrigley crowd, they maul the Phils twice to take a two-game lead. They are 19-6 in August. They have five players (Thomson, Long, Banks, Moryn and Walls) with at least twenty home runs. They’re 10-10 against Milwaukee with two to play, and 7-10 against us with five to play. Should be one heckuva September…
PIT 110 000 000 -2 6 1
STL 000 214 11x – 9 12 1
W-Mabe L-Kline HR: Cunningham GWRBI-Cunningham
PIT 005 000 011 – 7 16 1
STL 100 000 100 – 2 8 0
W-Law L-McDaniel HRS: Hall, Virdon, Cunningham GWRBI-Clemente
Down in Mediocrityville, Bob Mabe finally throws a good game in the opener, only to have Lindy McDaniel not get out of the third inning in the nightcap. This is also known as your basic St. Louis Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, after a minor surge in July, the Pirates have suffered through four straight losing weeks.
CIN 000 040 000 – 4 8 0
L.A. 000 000 000 – 0 2 0
W-Haddix L-Drysdale GWRBI-Pinson
File this one under Missing Duke Snider. The Dodgers manage two dinky singles and nothing else off the hittable Harvey Haddix, while Pinson’s bases-clearing double over Gino Cimoli’s head in center is all the Reds need. Not that the injured Duke would have even started against the lefty, but still…
DET 000 000 000 – 0 5 0
NYY 000 120 00x – 3 11 3
W-Ford L-Hoeft GWRBI-McDougald
DET 000 130 060 – 10 13 0
NYY 000 010 000 – 1 5 1
W-Susce L-Kucks GWRBI-Bolling
The Tigers and Yanks take turns wiping each other, giving the Chisox and Bosox a chance to gain more ground. No homers for either team all day despite good weather, and Whitey’s fourth shutout gives him a 19-6 record and 2.07 ERA.
CHI 110 001 011 – 5 14 0
BAL 000 000 001 – 1 6 0
W-Wynn L-Johnson HR: Phillips GWRBI-Goodman
Early Wynn’s first good start in forever comes at the perfect time, as Chicago notches win #70 and is suddenly dreaming of a possible Windy City World Series. Too bad they only have two games left with the Yankees.
K.C. 100 001 002 – 4 8 1
BOS 102 310 20 – 9 12 1
W-Delock L-Grim HR: Williams GWRBI-Williams
K.C. 100 100 000 – 2 8 2
BOS 000 220 00x – 4 7 1
W-Fornieles L-Tomanek HR: Gernert
Guess the great A’s revival is officially over, as they become Boston’s favorite punching bag for two more games. They are now an ungodly 4-16 against the carmine hose. Teddy Ballgame only plays in game one, but goes 4-for-4 and ups his at bats-short average to .418.
CLE 012 110 300 – 8 14 1
WAS 004 021 000 – 7 8 1
W-Martin L-Pascual SV-Grant HRS: Nixon, Harrell, Jackson, Sievers GWRBI-Jackson
Great game, considering the team quality. Two-out error by Harrell enables the Nats to score four unearned runs in the 3rd, topped by Roy Sievers’ 48th homer (and 122nd RBI). Then it goes back and forth until new acquisition Randy Jackson slugs a three-run shot off Pascual in the 7th to win it.
National League through Sunday, August 24
American League through Sunday, August 24