September 19, 1958
Two miles away from the gunshot-riddled Snackful Peanut Processing Plant #5 outside Terre Haute last night, I thought about going back. Saw distant flames licking the place and knew it had caught on fire, probably from the spilled hot oil. I knew the lawmen could have taken me in. But in the moment, my body said flee at all costs, and it did.
A late-night trucker picked me up along the first westbound highway I stumbled upon. Offered to drop me at a hospital but I asked for downtown St. Louis instead. Got there by dawn, found the address for Liz’s parents in a phone booth and soon dropped myself on their front porch like a tossed morning newspaper.
Mr. and Mrs. Doomis were a straight-arrow midwestern couple, right out of an Andy Hardy movie. Dad was a retired science teacher, now garbed in overalls with a screwdriver in his hand. Mom, an apple-cheeked, never-retired homemaker, stood there in an apron. I heard bacon crackling from the kitchen. They had a framed photo of their dearly departed Billy on a small table by the door, draped with a black ribbon.
They were startled by my disheveled appearance. Not wanting to get into details, I told them I’d had an accident.
“Well, I’ll be!” proclaimed Liz’s mom, “Guess that explains it. Lizzie was expecting you two days ago, Mr. Snappy!”
“It’s Drake. And she’s here, right?”
“I’m afraid not. When she heard you disappeared after that game in Milwaukee, she just went off searching for you yesterday with a girlfriend. I suspect she’ll be calling in this morning. You look like you could use a nice warm shower!”
If I had my belongings I would have moved right in at that moment. The shower was heavenly, the four-course breakfast even more so. Mr. Doomis sat with me, re-pouring my coffee, and I divulged some of my Terre Haute torture tale.
“Baffling, that’s all I can say. When a young man comes from such a fine genetic line as that, and turns a dark corner. Baffling.”
Two wonderful things happened in the next two hours to improve my genetics: Liz called from her friend’s house in Bloomington, exchanged phone joy with me for a few minutes and said she’d be there in the morning. And there was a news bulletin on the radio that Richard Tressip was believed to have perished in a factory fire in Terre Haute. I couldn’t believe it. Naturally, it also announced I was missing again.
“You need a few days for recuperation,” said Mrs. Doomis. “Stay until Billy’s memorial service on Sunday, at least, and then you can talk to those policemen all you want. I’m sure Lizzie would appreciate it too.”
“Certainly. It’s the least I could do, ma’am.”
I spent most of the day napping, the rest helping Mr. Doomis build a work shed in their huge, leafy backyard. After everything I’d been through this year, it was like spending a day in an alternate American universe. Mrs. Doomis cooked some fresh tarts later, we ate roast chicken and golden potatoes and I drank a bottle of Griesedieck lager that tasted like something from the Lord’s private keg.
My hosts were avid Cards fans, and I sat with Dad Doomis after dinner and watched the first Giants battle at Busch Stadium while Mom knitted a sweater in an adjoining chair. Antonelli sure didn’t seem to be missing my warmup tosses. He took a 6-2 lead into the 5th thanks to a horrendous 2nd inning from Mizell that featured a Daryl Spencer grand slam homer.
“Darn that Vinegar!” barked Dad. “If anyone can get us out of this eight-game losing streak you’d think it was him.” I was going to remind him that the Cards were already eliminated, but I’m sure he knew and didn’t care. The most loyal baseball fans live through their team day after day, regardless of where they are in the standings.
Mrs. Doomis went to the kitchen to bring back the pitcher of her mint lemonade for refills, and I thanked her for the ninth time that day.
“Oh, never you mind. It’s nice having a young man here. Especially this weekend–”
She choked back a few tears, was about to say something else when Harry Caray shouted on the TV and her husband yelped with joy. Ken Boyer, who’d homered earlier, had just tied the game in the 6th with another grand slam. Uh-oh. It was the third homer Antonelli had given up in the game. If Brewster wasn’t out looking for me, Johnny would be soon.
He’d give up a fourth, a solo shot by Gene Freese that broke the tie in the 7th. Chuck Stobbs pitched four great innings of relief, the Cards snapped their losing streak, the Giants were three back in the loss column with the Braves having creamed the Reds, and were Richie Tressip alive he would have been a happy man.
Over tea and a giant slice of devil’s food cake, Mrs. Doomis joined me for my final hour before bed.
“I’m so glad Lizzie met you. You seem very nice and she really needs to plant her feet with someone. Seems like she’s been willy and nilly for half her life.”
“You mean with jobs? Or um, romances.”
“Oh, both. There was the editor of that Chicago paper. The doctor in Des Moines. That crazy rich boy in New York.”
My eyebrow arched. “Crazy rich boy?”
“Yes, she had an internship with a book publisher there, right out of college. Met some wealthy boy at a company party and dated him for a while. His father made himself a fortune in the food business, I think.”
The teacup suddenly quivered in my hand.
“You wouldn’t…remember his name, would you?”
She chewed on her wedge of cake for what seemed an eternity.
“Archibald, I believe. Archibald Priests. Rather an odd name…Anyway, he pestered her for a long while after they broke up.” She dropped her voice to a whisper, even though no one was around to hear us. “I think he even proposed to her.”
S.F. 050 100 000 – 6 9 0
STL 100 140 10x – 7 10 0
W-Stobbs L-Antonelli HRS: Spencer, Musial, Boyer-2, Freese GWRBI-Freese
MIL 101 050 020 – 9 18 0
CIN 000 000 020 – 2 10 2
W-Rush L-Schmidt HR: Torre GWRBI-Roach
Never saw this coming, the first laugher the Braves have enjoyed in seemingly a month. Frank Torre goes 4-for-6, Mel Roach—who basically cost them their final game with the Giants, goes 4-for-4 with a walk, and Bob Rush scatters ten hits. Milwaukee’s magic number over the Giants and Cubs drops to four.
L.A. 000 021 002 – 5 10 0
CHI 030 000 33x – 9 8 1
W-Drabowsky L-Williams HR: Thomson GWRBI-Thomson
The Dodgers losing on a late three-run homer by Bobby Thomson? Who could ever imagine such a thing? The real weird part is that bullpen ace Roger Craig comes in to specifically face Thomson and throws the fateful pitch. With their final two games with the Giants coming up next, the Cubbies have to pick up steam against the last-place LaLa-ers.
PIT 000 000 000 – 0 4 0
PHI 002 000 00x – 2 7 0
W-Semproch L-Kline GWRBI-Ashburn
The final seven installments in the Pennsylvania War will be played in the next ten days and Ray Semproch kicks them off with a brilliant 4-hit shutout to cut the Bucs’ lead in the series to 10-6.
NYY 001 003 000 – 4 8 3
BAL 002 010 20x – 5 10 0
W-Harshman L-Turley HRS: Slaughter, Nieman, Boyd GWRBI-Triandos
After a day off, absolutely nothing changes for the Yanks, who drop their fifth straight game and third straight hideous nightmare of a game. Bad pitching (Turley, who rarely gives up extra base hits, allows six of them), bad fielding (two errors by sure-handed Andy Carey in the first three innings), and not enough clutch hitting gives Chicago a chance to cut the lead to half a game…
CHI 010 000 100 – 2 6 1
K.C. 000 120 00x – 3 3 0
W-Terry L-Latman SV-Gorman HRS: Lollar, Phillips GWRBI-Maris
…except a guy named Roger Maris saves the day, slapping a two-run single in the 5th to break the tie, just his third game-winning RBI of the entire season, and the A’s shock the Sox to lower Chicago’s tragic number to seven. For bad measure, their leadoff on-base demon Earl Torgeson gets injured for eight games.
CLE 000 011 001 – 3 8 1
DET 000 000 100 – 1 4 0
W-Score L-Lary HR: Vernon GWRBI-Wertz
But everyone saw THIS coming. After lambasting the Yankees for two days, the Tigers manage just four hits against Herb Score. The Tribe, meanwhile, goes to nine games above .500, a season-high.
WAS 000 100 000 – 1 8 2
BOS 000 000 101 – 2 9 0
The Nats lose their 98th in classic Nats-fashion, catcher Clint Courtney fumbling a Frank Malzone dribbler with Don Buddin on third in the last of the 9th. The fluboff win is Boston’s 80th of the year. Too little and way too late.
National League through Friday, September 19
American League through Friday, September 19