I was either angry, annoyed, flustered or flabbergasted. Until I heard the absolute truth from Liz it was tough to pick the right selection from that emotional juke box.
It was even tougher to hang around her parents’ house waiting for her to show up. After nursing three cups of coffee for three hours I left her a message with Mommy and Daddy Doomis: Meet me behind the Giants’ dugout at Busch Stadium this afternoon. My Giants had pennant race ground to make up, and I was pretty sure they needed me.
Antonelli, who got bombed for four homers last night (and led all major league pitchers in that nefarious department with 40), nearly kissed me when I showed up an hour before the game. Ruben Gomez was so thrilled when I donned my catching gear I thought the first thing he was going to toss at me during his warmup was a bouqet of red roses.
“We figured for sure you was in that factory fire,” said Vamly Thomas, “the place becoming a big ash pit and all. How else could you explain us getting ambushed by these Cardinal clowns last night?”
I wanted to tell him that Stan Musial and Ken Boyer were hardly clowns, but kept my mouth shut and asked them to please do the same. Brewster didn’t know I was still alive yet, and I wanted to keep it that way as long as possible. With Tressip presumed dead, the FBI presence at the park was minimal, anyway. So were the Redbird fans. I was able to dress after the game started and slip into a box seat just behind Bill Rigney’s perch in our dugout.
Soon after Wagner and Mays doubled and Cepeda gave us a quick 2-0 lead, I felt a thin, smooth hand touch the back of my neck.
It was Liz alright. Radiant as ever, blonde mane glowing in the autumn Missouri sunshine. She sank into the empty seat beside me. Kissed my cheek with her warm mouth.
“I thought you were dead…”
“You ain’t the only one. Where were you?
“Oh, Indianapolis. Then Chicago. By the time I heard about the burning factory in Terre Haute I was almost in Wisconsin.
“So you were just looking around for me aimlessly? With a girlfriend? At least that’s what I heard.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
The Giants were lighting into Bob Mabe again in the second inning. Four runs were across and fans practically booed him off the mound. While Lindy McDaniel came in, Rigney and coach Salty Parker eyed us from the lip of the Giants dugout, a hint of snicker on their faces.
“Is something wrong?” Liz asked.
“Why don’t we take this to the shadier and more private upper grandstand, okay?” Grabbed her hand and led her up the aisle.
“You’re being very strange, Snap. What’s—”
“I’m being strange? The almost Mrs. Richard Tressip is telling me I’m being strange??” I dropped us into a row about twenty steps up. “Or wait…Maybe his name was Archibald Priests.”
Her entire face sagged. Lipsticked mouth quivered.
“He was nothing to me. Okay? You have to believe that. Just a rich, jerky kid I dated a bunch of times. How did I know he’d grow up to be a killer?”
“You sure knew who he was that day in Donora, Pennsylvania. Soon as Fran Szopa mentioned D.L. Tressip. When were you going to tell me?”
“I wasn’t positive it was Richard yet. I had to find out for sure. But I was scared to.”
“Which is why you went to Chicago instead of New York.”
“He was so creepy after I broke things off with him. Left dead flower petals on my apartment doorstep. I was afraid of actually seeing him again.”
“But he was killing people, Liz! How could you only think about yourself??”
“I know, I know! I’m sorry. I just…I just couldn’t bear to tell you, Snap—”
On the field, Boyer singled in two Cardinal runs following a dropped fly by Wagner. Liz paused, grateful for the distracting cheers.
“Because I love you.”
Musial grounded out to end the inning. The crowd groaned. I didn’t know what to feel.
“I always did. After all we’ve been through, no matter how many times we’ve knocked heads, I can never stop thinking of you. Don’t you…feel the same way?”
I believed I did, but it took three scoreless middle innings of quiet reflection to let everything churn in my brain. The grandstand around us was thinning out. Loyal, tipsy fans stayed to yell at the umps and players. I walked Liz out a side gate, went around and got us into the right field pavilion where most of the negro fans were, recalling Sportsman Park’s segregated days when they sat behind chicken wire.
The Giants erupted for four more runs in the 7th and started to run away. I guess I enjoyed that, but the weightier subject was keeping me mute. Liz was patient. Cradled her sweet head in my collarbone, lightly brushed her fingers up my arm. I sat there in delicious, dizzying agony.
Suddenly the pavilion fans all around us were talking excitedly, gesturing at the scoreboard in left. The Braves had just miraculously lost in 11 innings at Crosley and the Cubs had inexplicably done the same to the Dodgers in 12 innings at Wrigley.
I took this as a sign. Finally turned to Liz and kissed her full on the lips.
“I want to marry you.”
She smiled, nodded, and cried. The second Daryl Spencer homer in two days brought in the Giants’ 12th run. We were about to be a full game closer to first. And I had just raced around third for home.
S.F. 240 000 411 – 12 16 3
STL 002 000 000 – 2 7 1
W-Gomez L-Mabe HR: Spencer GWRBI-Mays
MIL 010 000 001 00 – 2 11 0
CIN 000 010 100 01 – 3 10 0
W-Kellner L-Spahn HRS: Adcock, Whisenant GWRBI-Whisenant
Not that Eddie Mathews is hitting over .220 or anything, but having him out of the lineup puts another crimp in the Braves’ struggling offense, and they fail to score enough runs for Spahn, as usual. They hit into three double plays after the sixth inning, tie it with two gone in the 9th on a Logan single, then lose in the 11th on four Reds singles. Brutal.
L.A. 001 020 000 001 – 4 7 2
CHI 100 200 000 000 – 3 7 0
W-Craig L-Anderson HR: Moryn GWRBI-Zimmer
But nothing all year at Wrigley is as brutal as this. The Cubs conspire to leave 14 runners on base, drop a game in twelve to the last-place Dodgers (despite a 15-3 record in extra innings going in) after roughly six great chances to score more runs. And here they are: Man on second nobody out in the 1st–don’t score. Man on second, nobody out in the 6th–don’t score. Bases loaded, nobody out in the 8th–don’t score. First and second, nobody out in the 9th–don’t score. Bases loaded, nobody out in the 11th–don’t score. Man on second and one out in the 12th–don’t score and lose.
PIT 000 100 000 – 1 5 1
PHI 002 000 00x – 2 8 1
W-Sanford L-Porterfield HRS: Groat, Philley GWRBI-Philley
Second straight great pitching performance by the Phils, this time by Jack Sanford, and they hop over the Bucs into a tie for 5th with the Cards.
NYY 000 010 050 – 6 7 2
BAL 000 020 000 – 2 9 0
W-Ford L-Portocarrero HRS: Skowron, Mantle GWRBI-Mantle (GS)
Yes, with dogs and cats sitting together in the stands and pigs flying across the Maryland sky, the Yankees win a baseball game for the first time in a week. And they nearly don’t. Ford gives up run-scoring singles to Taylor and Nieman in the 5th and they’re still down by a run entering the 8th. Kubek leads with a triple, and after Howard pinch-hits and whiffs, Siebern ties the game with a double. Carey walks and Milt Pappas relieves Portocarrero. Slaughter singles to fill the bases and the Mick promptly empties them with a rocket blast last seen heading for one of those nice-looking houses beyond centerfield. magic number inches down to six.
CHI 003 000 100 – 4 8 0
K.C. 000 000 101 – 2 5 0
W-Pierce L-Grim HRS: Maris-2 GWRBI-Aparicio
Proving yesterday was a fluke, Pierce wins his 21st with relative ease, mowing down every Athletic but Maris (two more dingers!) and keeping the White Sox a game and a half out. Having the worst pitcher in either league, Bob Grim (now 3-19, 5.95, 232 hits in 177 IP) start for K.C. sort of helps.
WAS 100 010 011 – 4 10 0
BOS 002 000 000 – 2 10 0
W-Clevenger L-Brewer GWRBI-Lemon
The Senators’ drive to avoid 100 losses is still alive. Sievers knocks in two more runs to give him 137 RBIs but has been stuck on 52 homers for a while. Roy’s average has dropped to .338, but with Williams and Zernial probably not having enough at bats, a triple crown is still in the offing.
CLE 000 001 200 – 3 10 0
DET 000 000 000 – 0 6 1
W-Woodeshick L-Foytack GWRBI-Power
The Tribe keeps rolling along, despite lose Minoso and Colavito to injury in this one. Still, fourth place looks like a good possibility for them, and third place is in reach. Quite a second half they’re having after three months of doldrums.
AVG: Mays-SF .351, Aaron-MIL .337, Cunningham-STL .335, Groat-PIT .326
OPS: Covington-MIL 1.051, Robinson-CIN 1.009, Cunningham-STL 1.007, Aaron-MIL .993, Mays-SF .953
HRS: Robinson-CIN 41, Aaron-MIL 39, Banks-CHC 38
RBI: Robinson-CIN 143, Aaron-MIL 116, Mays-SF 111, Banks-CHC 110, Lynch-CIN 108,
AVG: Williams-BOS .417, Zernial-DET .366, Sievers-WAS .338
OPS: Williams-BOS 1.316, Colavito-CLE 1.089, Sievers-WAS 1.045, Mantle-NY 1.036, Zernial-DET 1.030
HRS: Sievers-WAS 52, Mantle-NY 45, Jensen-BOS 45, Colavito-CLE 44
RBI: Sievers-WAS 137, Jensen-BOS 125, Colavito-CLE 123, Mantle-NY 119, Cerv-KC 105
National League through Saturday, September 20
American League through Saturday, September 20