After the Tim Buckabee murder outside Cincy, the feds turned Milwaukee into an impending battle zone. Tressip’s photo, a fuzzy, ten-year-old number showing him sitting at a Paris café with his lordly father, was printed in all the local papers and copies handed to nearly every employee at County Stadium. The train station and airport looked like dark suit conventions. But what could they do? As the killer proved in Ohio, you can’t guard every baseball fan within fifty square miles.
And none of the Milwaukee Wigwammers were going to miss this game tonight. A line for standing room tickets snaked around the park by 3 p.m. The aroma of beer and smoking brats rose from the huge parking lot like an alluring ethnic force field that was keeping the pigeons away. We were three games behind the Braves in the loss column, and would only meet again in a playoff series, so you might say this contest was critical.
To ensure their good fortune after Sunday’s double disaster—not counting the murder—the Giants players first rose to the occasion by cloistering me inside the ballpark like some kind of religious talisman. Reporters, fans, everyone but those in San Francisco uniforms were kept far away from me. They even tried to bribe Brewster to keep him away, before remembering he could be a protective asset. And occasionally smart.
“That ‘latest edition’ of the Bronx Bugle yesterday? A phony. Or at least one he printed way ahead of time. Tressip may be insane, but he’s sure clever.” Brewster gave me a Handie-Talkie to use, which Bob Schmidt soon lifted from my back pocket and “stored away somewhere” for safekeeping.
I spent the game on the bullpen bench beyond the outfield fence, wedged between Ray Crone and Marv Grissom. Their body warmth helped alleviate the early fall chill blowing through, and I was careful to ignore any and all catcalls from the nearby bleachers. Especially after what happened there back in June.
Mike McCormick was pitching against Warren Spahn. It really wasn’t the mismatch people thought, because Mike had been throwing better after many shaky outings, and Spahnie could be either brilliant or wretched. As it turned out, this was a nerve-wracking game neither team deserved to win.
A walk to Cepeda and singles by Davenport and Thomas broke us in front 1-0 in the 2nd., but McCormick coughed that up immediately by hitting Andy Pakfo, giving up an infield single to Schoendienst that Spencer threw in the seats, and a sac fly to Logan. In the 4th, a second Pakfo plunking and Logan sac fly put the Braves briefly ahead, but that would wrap up all home fan cheering for the night.
The killer at the game was not Richard Tressip at all, but one Melvin Earl Roach of Richmond, Virginia, a 25-year-old, spectacled utility player for the Braves. Roach had a nice bat, had mostly been filling in at second base but against the lefty was stationed out in left field tonight. “Stationed” being a figure of speech.
First he let us tie the game in the 5th when a two-out Spencer single bounced in front of him and he kicked it away. Then with a man on and one out in the 6th, Davenport lined a single to left that Roach let bounce happily through his legs, scoring Cepeda with the go-ahead run. The big crowd went mute, along with the Brave bats, which had been doing a lot of that lately. Thirteen out of the last fourteen Milwaukee hitters couldn’t get the ball out of the infield. We were suddenly two games out in the loss column, the Cubs had also won in Philly, and the horse race was back on.
The feds didn’t want us out celebrating, even though we didn’t have another game until Friday in St. Louis. We were expected to board the team bus and head straight for the airport. That was good news for me, because I knew Liz was there, and we already had dinner reservations for tomorrow. It was a weird but fun scheduling quirk; many of the players were going to sit in the stands and take in the Braves’ two games there on Wednesday and Thursday.
But then the bus wouldn’t start.
“Are you kidding me??” yelled Davenport. “To hell with this!” piped in Mays, and he bolted off the bus with Wagner and Kirkland to hail a cab. Within seconds, so had everyone else.
I followed them out, but lost most of the players in the mad rush of exiting fans. Luckily, a cab pulled up behind me.
“Airport, buddy?” asked the driver.
“You read my mind,” I said, hopping in. “Step on it.”
He knew what he was doing, Quickly got us out the exit, nearly hitting a few fans still wearing their feathered headresses. As soon as we were away from the stadium, I thought I herad something thump in the cab’s trunk.
“Did you hear that?”
He glanced back, then pulled down a dark side street and climbed out. Went around and popped open the trunk. The thumping suddenly stopped. I turned my head and he opened the back door on my blind side. Lunged in and put a cold, wet cloth over my face. Before I passed out I heard him say,
“It’s been too long, Milton…”
S.F. 010 011 000 – 3 5 2
MIL 010 100 000 – 2 5 2
CHI 100 203 000 -6 12 0
PHI 010 001 000 – 2 9 0
W-Drott L-Cardwell SV-Henry HRS: Anderson-2 GWRBI-Drott
The Cubs inch closer on the strength of Dick Drott’s wobbly performance on the mound. At the bat, though, D.D. doubles and singles and knocks in three.
L.A. 450 000 000 – 9 15 1
CIN 100 100 001 – 3 11 1
W-Klippstein L-Lawrence HR: Roseboro GWRBI-Fairly
So Drysdale beats the Braves, and then Johnny Klippstein muffles the Reds the next day. Makes all kinds of no sense at all. Cincy’s tragic number drops to one.
STL 000 001 000 – 1 7 1
PIT 001 010 00x – 2 5 0
W-Friend L-Brosnan SV-Face GWRBI-Clemente
The Cards, now that they’re eliminated, give up all hope of finishing over .500 and fail to hit the always combustible Bob Friend.
NYY 000 030 001 – 4 7 0
DET 101 000 54x – 11 15 0
W-Bunning L-Ditmar HRS: Slaughter, Kaline GWRBI-Kaline
Nothing is going right for the Yankees. Nothing. Losing two in K.C. in a park my dead grandma could hit in turns out to be the perfect warmup for this disaster, as Ditmar, Dickson and Kucks give up five extra base hits and nine runs to the Tigers in the last two innings. A bigger freakish insult than that is Jim Hegan and his sub-.200 stick taking over behind the plate for injured .300-hitting Red Wilson, then going 4-for-4 with a single and three straight doubles. I don’t know where or when the Yanks caught this bad luck virus, but they better find an antidote quick.
BAL 000 000 200 – 2 7 0
CHI 000 000 100 – 1 2 0
W-Johnson L-Donovan SV-Wilhelm GWRBI-Johnson
Lucky for the Bombers, the Chisox blow a great chance to move within one and a half. No-hit through six by the immortal Connie Johnson, they manage just two scratch singles for the game. Johnny Callison grounds into double plays all three times he comes up.
WAS 200 000 000 – 2 4 2
CLE 011 000 01x – 3 8 1
W-McLish L-Kemmerer HR: Colavito. Zauchin GWRBI-Harrell
Quietly continuing with their great September run are the Indians, as McLish wins #19 and the Rocks socks homer #44. And on the flip side, Russ Kemmerer loses his 21st.
BOS 000 150 900 – 15 10 2
K.C. 101 000 000 – 2 7 1
W-Monboquette L-Urban HRS: Williams, Jensen GWRBI-Williams
As I was saying, this is exactly what I expected the Yankees to do in Kansas City. Jensen with a grand slam, tying Colavito with 44 homers. Boston has walked 137 times more than any other team, and throw in a dozen more today.
National League through Tuesday, September 16
American League through Tuesday, September 16