GomezSealsAugust 26, 1958

I was half right about Brewster. He was off chasing a lead on my mother. A gas station attendant in Utah had filled the tank of a blue Chevy Impala matching the description of one leaving her street in a hurry on Saturday. The attendant also said he head “thumping” in the car’s trunk when it pulled away. Turned out the pump jerk was color blind, and the driver had kidnapped his own bowling ball and forgot to zip its bag shut.

Liz was back working on her crazy book, so she was happy to have me go to today’s matinee. After starting the big series with a 4-12 mark against the Braves, we had nabbed the first two games, and the line for bleacher tickets nearly stretched to Potrero Avenue. I was really intending to reunite with my usher pals—assuming they’d have me—but Ruben Gomez cornered me when I got to the employee gate.

“You see Johnny A. pitch last night? He get all good after you warmin’ him, so now you go back to warmin’ ME.”

Bill Rigney had kicked me off the team on our last road trip, but Ruben had already cleared this with the old buzzard. As long as I was off the field before the game began.

So I suited up in my fake Nick testa duds, and let Gomez work me in the pen for a good half hour. His curveball was dropping, his fastball popping. A few of the guys, Valmy Thomas and of course, Gomez’s night club buddy Orlando Cepeda, stopped by to either rib or console me on my missing mother. The alleged kidnapping had made the Oakland papers and already been linked to the Peanut Killer.

“Can’t believe you’re here at all and not out there hunting’ this animal down,” said Valmy. “You get along with your mom, right?”
“Shut up.”

There wasn’t a seat to be had for the game, and one of the Examiner‘s photo bugs let me join him in his box. The Braves had Crandall out with an injury and had been suffering at the plate, but a Covington double and Logan triple over Mays’ head gave Joey Jay a 1-0 lead in the 2nd. Jay then hit Davenport to start our 3rd, which really pickled our herring. Gomez laid down a perfect bunt, Bressoud singled in the run with two gone and we we were tied.

Then Ruben just dangled his cheese and ate them for lunch. Milwaukee got a leadoff single by Covington in the 4th a lead off double by Schoendienst in the 6th, a leadoff single by Rice in the 7th, a leadoff walk and single by Aaron in the 8th, and a leadoff single by Logan in the 9th—and couldn’t score one more run. In our 8th, Gomez singled, went to third on a Spencer single, scored on a wild pitch and that was the game.

In 28 innings on this latest visit to our fair stadium, the Braves had scored just two dinky runs. And we had hopped over them into second place.

I got home to see an envelope pinned to my door. Liz was inside, frying up steaks for us.

“Exciting game, sounded like.”
“Yeah. You didn’t hear anyone knock?”
“No. I was too busy on my second act problem to hear it anyway. Why?”

I held up the envelope. She frowned, and at that moment the telephone rang. I walked over and grabbed it.

“Yeah.”
“You’re not big on listening to warnings, are you Milton?”
“Shut your yap and let me talk to my mother.”
“Oh, sorry. She can’t come to the phone right now. A little tied up. Gagged, too.”

My hand tightened on the receiver. Imagining it as his neck.

“Another win for the traitors today, Milton? I’m so disappointed. You and Mommy better hope the Cubs or Braves win this thing.”

CLICK. I dropped the phone, opened the envelope.

Good job, kid. Keep Mickey happy and keep them Giant wins coming. See you next week in L.A.  —Braggo F.

THE SKINNYS

MIL 010 000 000 – 1 7 0
S.F. 001 000 01x – 2 5 2
W-Gomez L-Jay

PHI 000 002 020 – 4 11 0
CHI 010 200 000 – 3 8 2
W-Roberts L-Hillman HRS: Lopata, Banks-2, S. Taylor GWRBI-Lopata
Cubs lose! This one comes as a big surprise, as they blow a late 3-0 lead and lose on a windblown Stan Lopata 2-run shot over the ivy. Robin Roberts survives Ernie B.’s 35th and 36th homers to go the distance.

PIT 000 200 000 – 2 9 1
STL 300 010 01x – 6 7 1
W-Sad Sam Jones L-Porterfield GWRBI-B.G. Smith
(Intercepted transmission from Quagnar X-5000 to Lord Aknar, Mighty Ruler of Baseball Universe Force) DETECT NEW IMMINENT THREAT TO SECRET .500 LEVEL BY ST. LOUIS EARTHBALL TEAM. SUGGEST DEPLOYMENT OF BAD LUCK FORCE FIELD FOR GAME TOMORROW WITH PITTSBURGH. REMIND ALL UNITS THAT SILLY EARTHBALL CARDINALS MUST NEVER REACH OR RISE ABOVE SECRET .500 LEVEL. THAT IS ALL.

CIN 221 008 001 – 14 11 1
L.A. 010 000 000 – 1 4 4
W-Nuxhall L-Williams HR: Robinson GWRBI-Robinson
Walt Alston seems like a nice guy. Never met him, but I’m sure he’s assembled the best rotation and lineups possible given the roster he’s been saddled with. At least he gets to spend a lot of time down in his remote North Carolina cabin, far removed from the ghastly horrors his Dodgers have unleashed on the 1958 public. Tonight, they boot four balls, Stan Williams walks nine guys in five-plus innings, and Frank Robinson yawns and goes 5-for-6. L.A. was one game out of first at the all-star break. They are 13-35 since.

K.C. 000 001 002 – 3 4 2
NYY 002 003 20x – 7 8 1
W-Ditmar L-Terry HRS: Carey, Mantle GWRBI-Slaughter
Leave it to the A’s to put the Yanks back in the win column. Slaughter’s two-run triple gets New York going, before Terry and Lopez make back-to-back two-out errors in the 6th to give them three unearned runs and sock the game away. Mantle’s 38th homer in the 7th also rings up his 100th RBI. The A’s can officially eliminate themselves with a loss to the Yankees tomorrow.

CHX 300 005 100 – 9 16 1
WAS 200 000 100 – 3 6 1
W-Pierce L-Ramos HRS: Lollar, Landis, Bridges GWRBI-Lollar
Sherm Lollar clubs a three-run bomb off Ramos in the 1st, then gets hit by a pitch his next time up and put on the DL for ten games. So it’s a good thing Pierce wins here to keep Chicago on the Yanks’ heels.

DET 301 410 400 – 13 19 0
BOS 000 100 020 – 3 8 1
W-Lary L-Sullivan GWRBi-Zernial
The Tigers have had Boston’s number all year, and burn Frank Sullivan alive in this one to knock the Sox ten and a half out of first. Kaline and Maxwell with three hits apiece and Zernial with four to go with his five RBIs.

CLE 002 000 002 – 4 9 0
BAL 002 001 000 – 3 10 0
W-McLish L-Harshman SV-Grant HRS: Hardy, Brown GWRBI-Hunter
And the Tribe are suddenly closing in on Boston and Baltimore territory. A game-tying homer by Dick Downtown Brown and two-out clutch double by Billy Big Game Hunter plate two in the 9th off Harshman to send the Birds reeling.

National League through Tuesday, August 26

Chicago 72 56 .563
San Francisco 69 57 .548 2
Milwaukee 68 57 .544 2.5
St. Louis 62 63 .496 8.5
Cincinnati 63 65 .492 9
Philadelphia 60 63 .488 9.5
Los Angeles 55 71 .437 16
Pittsburgh 55 72 .433 16.5

American League through Tuesday, August 26

New York 78 48 .619
Chicago 72 54 .571 6
Baltimore 67 57 .540 10
Boston 67 58 .536 10.5
Cleveland 67 61 .523 12
Detroit 61 63 .492 16
Kansas City 50 75 .400 27.5
Washington 40 86 .317 38
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