September 14, 1958
My letter to the Cincy Enquirer was short, and not too sweet:
Dear Richard Tressip, AKA the “Peanut Killer”,
Now that the authorities know who you are, it’s only a matter of time before you are captured. Why make this difficult and sacrifice more innocent lives? Whatever personal beef you have with me can be discussed face-to-face, like real men do. I look forward to it But please, stop your cowardly crimes and stay away from Crosley Field today for the Reds’ doubleheader with the Giants. When you’re ready to talk, you know where you can find me. —M.S. Drake
The letter was a local sensation. Nervous jitters about the killer maybe being at the ballpark scared away some ticket-holders, but the ones that happily took their place had an armed, hair-trigger charge to them, no doubt eager to nab any potential reward money. Add to that a gorgeous day and the state of the Reds—still alive in the race and ready to further ruin Giants hopes—and the place had lines wrapped around the gates.
My phony Nick Testa act had apparently been leaked, and a small mob of fans clamored for my autograph while I was trying to warm up Al Worthington. Three Cincinnati TV stations wanted to interview me before the first game. I declined them all. With Liz safely bunked at her parents’ house in St. Louis, I should’ve been more relaxed. To hell with that. Telling Tressip we’d discovered his identity could very well disrupt things in his sick mind, and Brewster and I had no idea how.
Operation Shakespeare also was an unqualified mess. Brewster and Crosley Field management had replaced a big handful of ushers, grounds crew, and food and beer vendors with FBI men in disguise. They tried this with my crew at Seals a few months back, but today’s operation made that one look like the invention of the Model T.
Ushers were putting people in the wrong seats, hot dogs were being dropped and beers were spilling, and if there’s one thing you can’t do in Cincinnati it’s spill a patron’s beer. Some guy down the first base line was practically tackled by the FBI peanut vendor he tried to buy ten bags from. Some of the reward-hungry fans patrolled the grandstand and bleachers like amateur bounty hunters, and I counted at least four miniature brawls by the fourth inning.
Which was when the tense atmosphere started rattling Al Worthington. Up 3-0 with the help of a two-run Daddy Wags homer in the 1st off Purkey, a single and two doubles suddenly cut our lead to 3-2. Then, after Temple singled and Pinson doubled in the 5th, that likely MVP Frank Robinson hammered one over the left field scoreboard and we were down for good, 5-3. These Redlegs were more dangerous than pythons on a chipmunk farm. If they’d gotten any pitching at all the first half of the year, they would’ve been clinching the pennant around then.
Between games, a note was handed to me by a Crosley clubhouse attendant. It was a fourth request for a TV interview, and I almost crumpled the thing before I finished reading. I’m glad I didn’t:
Dear Milton Testa,
Ten minutes of your precious time at Buckabee Television Studios would be greatly appreciated. No compensation is available, but another dramatic piece of your mystery puzzle awaits you.
161 North Main Street, Walton, KY
I found Brewster behind the home plate seats. He wore a striped apron, straw boater, and was struggling to sell fans popcorn. I showed him the note.
“Think it’s him?”
“Nobody else calls me Milton except my mother.”
“Where’d you get it?”
“Clubhouse guy. Someone must’ve given it to him.”
He nodded. Dropped his entire popcorn tray and yanked a portable radio out of his apron.
“Brewster here. Heckler 1 may be in reach. Repeat. Heckler 1 may be in reach.”
Commotion rippled through the stands as Brewster’s Comedy Players ditched their disguises, began darting around. I stayed on Brewster’s heels. Found the clubhouse guy who never saw the killer. Said he heard a loud knock on the clubhouse door and found the note taped to it.
“Where the hell’s Walton, Kentucky?” I asked him.
“Over the state line. Not too far.”
Brewster shot me a look. “Come on. You’re riding with me.”
“But I have to warm up Ramon Monzant in ten minutes!”
Ramon didn’t. Lasted all of one-and two thirds innings, giving up nine hits and eight runs, and Cincy shellacked us 11-0 in the nightcap. We’d have a day off in Milwaukee before playing our final game there Tuesday, and with the Braves edging the Dodgers again today it was basically going to mean win in Suds Town or die.
And on that note, it only took us about half an hour to get to the eerily sleepy town of Walton. 161 Main St. was not a TV studio at all, but a small white house set back from the road with T. BUCKABEE painted on a mailbox at the end of the driveway. There was a pickup parked there, but knocking on the screen door produced zero response. Brewster took out his gun. Tried the door handle. It was open.
The living room was a complete shambles. Furniture knocked over, peanut shells covering practically everything. Tim Buckabee wore dirty overalls over a T-shirt, and the bottle of beer he’d been drinking was smashed on the floor beside his armchair. He seemed to be in his 50s. The reason I wasn’t so sure was because it’s hard to pinpoint a man’s age when his head and shoulders have been shoved straight through the glass of a TV screen.
For good measure, Tressip had stapled another note to the back of Buchanan’s overalls:
I STAYED FAR AWAY FROM CROSLEY FIELD, JUST LIKE YOU TOLD ME TO.
DOES THAT MAKE ME A GOOD BOY?
S.F. 201 000 000 – 3 7 0
CIN 000 230 00x – 5 12 0
W-Purkey L-Worthington SV-Kellner HRS: Wagner, Robinson GWRBI-Robinson
S.F. 000 000 000 – 0 5 2
CIN 351 020 00x – 11 15 0
W-Acker L-Monzant HRS: Pinson, Crowe GWRBI-Robinson
CHI 001 000 000 – 1 6 0
PIT 020 101 00x – 4 7 0
W-Witt L-Hobbie HR: Dark GWRBI-Hall
CHI 005 000 000 – 5 6 3
PIT 201 100 002 – 6 11 2
W-Face L-Elston HRS: Marshall, Groat GWRBI-Groat
Aren’t the Cubs supposed to have their famous swoon in June and not September? Well, they’ve gotten medicore again in a hurry, as the spoilin’ Buccos dump them twice. The nightcap is especially hideous, as Elston gives up two singles, a walk and Dick Groat game-winning double in the last of the 9th after Jim Marshall had grand slammed earlier to put Chicago up 5-2.
L.A. 001 000 100 – 2 10 0
MIL 120 000 00x – 3 9 1
W-Rush L-Podres SV-Robinson HR: Crandall GWRBI-Schoendienst
The Braves just can’t seem to get any easy wins, but I get the feeling they could care less. Their 81st of the year, combined with the day’s Giant and Cub disasters, puts them four games up in the loss column with eleven to play.
STL 000 000 000 – 0 7 0
PHI 000 010 01x – 2 6 2
W-Semproch L-Jones GWRBI-Semproch
The end is ‘nigh for the Redbirds, as they fail to hit for Sad Sam yet again, and Sam pitches just sadly enough to lose. But hey, if St. Louis wins their last twelve games, and the Braves lose all of theirs, they can tie!
NYY 000 011 010 – 3 7 0
K.C. 111 100 00x – 4 10 0
W-Garver L-Ford SV-Daley HRS: Smith, Maris, Siebern GWRBI-Smith
NYY 100 000 000 – 1 4 1
K.C. 200 000 10x – 3 6 0
W-Tomanek L-Maas HRS: Carey, Cerv GWRBI-Maris
Wait a second. Didn’t the Yanks just do this a week ago to the Senators, at home? What is their damage? The A’s are 4-16 vs. the Bombers going into these final two meetings, have the worst pitching in either league, then go out and get two amazing starts from Ned Garver and Dick Tomanek. Again, that’s Ned Garver and Dick Tomanek. New York never grounds into DPs and the A’s never turn them, but today they ground into three in each game. K.C. power threats Maris and Cerv both get injured in the nightcap, because that’s what happens to 9th place teams, and it still doesn’t hurt them. I guess this is why I play the games.
WAS 000 010 000 – 1 5 0
CHX 010 020 00x – 3 7 1
W-Pierce L-Ramos GWRBI-Landis
One day after I swore this race was over, this race is anything but. Billy Pierce becomes our second 20-game winner, and the Chisox now host the nothing-to-lose Birds while the Yanks go through Detroit. Stay tuned…
BOS 100 003 104 – 9 12 1
DET 011 000 000 – 2 10 1
W-Brewer L-Foytack HRS: Runnels, Williams, Jensen GWRBI-Williams
BOS 100 000 000 – 1 5 0
DET 022 002 00x – 6 7 0
W-Susce L-Fornieles HRS: Williams, Kaline, Zernial GWRBI-Martin
With Red Sox backs to the elimination wall, Ted Williams returns from his weekly injury and slams a homer in each game, but Billy Martin’s sac fly puts the Tigers ahead for good in the 12nd inning of Game 2, George Susce mows down the Bosoxians, and New England’s winter finally arrives.
BAL 010 000 000 – 1 8 0
CLE 201 000 03x – 6 9 0
W-Bell L-Brown HRS: Colavito-2, Minoso GWRBI-Colavito
BAL 200 011 000 – 4 8 0
CLE 002 001 000 – 3 11 0
W-Pappas L-Ferrarese SV-Loes HRS: Busby, Nieman GWRBI-Williams
Not much to report here, except for a stat-padding party for the Rock, now with 43 dingers and 121 RBIs, while Minnie Minoso ups his Top Ten average to .331.
National League through Sunday, September 14
American League through Sunday, September 14