Luck of the O’Doul’s

O'Doul'sSeptember 25-26, 1958

Lefty never showed up for breakfast. Or lunch or dinner, for that matter. Not much else I could do but down cold ones in his restaurant bar and follow results of the only game of the day at Comiskey Park. The White Sox—even with ace Billy Pierce on the hill—dropped dead for the third straight day against Detroit and handed the American league pennant to the Yankees. It was downright ironic, what with all the decoy Bronx reportage compiled by our trusty mass murderer. If he had only become an American league fan when the Giants left town…

O’Doul’s was a spiffy joint, the walls covered with framed photos of Lefty from his playing, managing and Japan touring days. I even saw a glimpse of myself, ushering a Seals game in the second row from a few years back, O’Doul posing with Ken Aspromonte by the on-deck circle. 

O’Doul finally called me at home later after I was pretty much soused for the night. He apologized forever. Said he had been meeting with Japanese dignitaries all day about another possible goodwill baseball trip to Japan. Promised me a giant plate of apple flapjacks and sausage at 10 a.m. sharp on Friday, which sounded good to me.

* * *

Lefty was 61 years old, and in tip-top shape. He’d been working with Mays and some of the younger Giant hitters on a part-time basis, but I rarely saw him at the park. He kind of recognized me from the last six years I spent working Seals games, but he wasn’t sure. Still, he was a good-natured, helpful guy, and saw the desperation in my face right away.

“Looks like you need something in that coffee.”
“All depends on what you tell me.”
“Yeah, that. Your message was a little foggy, for starters. Something about the Peanut Maniac? Gotta tell you, I’ve been too busy all year to pay much attention to that idiot.”
“He left me a bunch of clues the other day. And I think you might have been one of them.”
“Hey John-Boy!”
Hotshot rookie John Brodie of the 49ers walked in at that moment with a small pack of admirers. O’Doul motioned for a waiter to get them a prime booth, then turned back to me.
“What was that?”
“The clue said ‘a lefty who served’.”
“Yeah. Well, maybe he meant Lefty Grove who served up his mean ‘sailor’ pitch to mix with that fastball. Or Lefty Gomez. Didn’t he serve during the War?” He chewed on a thought. “Actually, Gomez didn’t serve during the War, he took a job at General Electric…But anyway, why me?”
“Because you happen to be here in town. Ever remember serving food or drink to somebody weird who asked a lot of weird questions?”
“This place hasn’t even been open a year, kid. I see a ton of new faces and sports stars every day. This is kind of a wild turkey shoot, don’t you think?”
“What about Daryl Spencer? You’ve worked with him this season, right? Nothing strange about him? Or any of the Giants’ pitchers and catchers?
“Listen. You’re a good kid. And I’d like to help you out but I got stuff to do—”
“I’m sorry to bug you like this, Lefty. But if you haven’t heard, he’s taken my fiancee, and I’m sort of at the end of my rope.”

He hung his head with a dash of guilt. I kept at him. “You just seemed like a good hunch. I mean, you do have my photo behind your bar.”
“I do?”
I nodded. Quickly got up and walked him over to look at it.
“Well I’ll be…” He glanced at me, then back at the wall with growing clarity. “Come to think of it…Turns out you’re the second fella to bring up that photo since we opened.”

I stared at him. “No kidding. Who was the first?”
“Oh, I never got his name. Some good looking rich boy from back east. In here on the second day, asking about my time in Japan, my work with the Giants, about Seals Stadium, who all the people in that photo were. I didn’t know your name at the time so couldn’t tell him—”
“What else?”
He shrugged. Waved at a couple City Hall types coming in for morning beers. “Nothing special. Best places to stay, where all the local landmarks were. More like he was writing a school paper than wanting to visit any of ’em.”
“Coit Tower? Fisherman’s Wharf? The Presidio?”
“Yeah, the usuals. Even military stuff like Treasure Island and Battery Spencer.”

Every drop of color left my face.

“Battery what?”
Battery Spencer! Other side of the Golden Gate! Where they used to have those big cannons.”
“You mean that creepy old abandoned fort?”
“Hey, it’s really something. Do yourself a favor sometime and give it a visit—”
“I’ve been there. Years ago. Walked through it to take pictures of the bridge with an old girlfriend. I just…never knew its real name.”
“How were those flapjacks, kid? Still hungry?”
“Umm, no. But now I think I’ll have whatever you offered to put in my coffee.”

THE SKINNIES

9/25
DET 001 100 310 – 6 13 0
CHI 000 000 000 – 0 6 2
W-Foytack L-Pierce GWRBI-Harris
A very strange turn of events in the last five days. The Yankees, who got nothing but bad luck in Detroit, take the last two in Baltimore and both games in Boston, while the White Sox fall apart and get swept by the spoilin’ Tigers, a team they had a 14-5 mark against going in. One week ago I really thought Chicago could pull off the upset, but it’s the YANKEES IN THE SERIES, which starts in New York on October 1st.

9/26
CIN 110 000 000 000 – 2 9 2
MIL 000 101 000 001 – 3 5 2
W-Robinson L-Acker GWRBI-Torre
And they’ll be facing the BRAVES IN THE SERIES, who pull out another extra-inning thriller to win the pennant on Frank Torre’s single in the 12th! Milwaukee’s offense completely went south in the second half of the year, but their pitching was so effective it eventually compensated. In the friendly right field porch confines of Yankee Stadium, Wes Covington will be looking to wake back up.

CHI 000 032 210 – 8 16 0
L.A. 000 020 000 – 2 6 1
W-Drabowsky L-Podres HRS: Dark, Thomson, Walls, Long GWRBI-Thomson

CHI 222 620 122 – 19 20 0
L.A. 000 030 181 – 13 13 2
W-Briggs L-Koufax HRS: Banks-2, Neeman, Neal-2 GWRBI-Banks
The Cubs continue their west coast rampage by pasting Podres in the opener, then learn the Braves won the pennant between games and get REAL mad. They rack up twelve runs against Koufax in the first four innings of the nightcap, and L.A. only makes it close because a) John Briggs gets bored and b) Charlie Neal goes crazy with a grand slam and solo shot his last two at bats. The Cubbies, on the other hand, are going out in style, mashing seven more homers tonight to give them a baseball-leading 198 on the year.

STL 005 000 420 – 11 13 1
S.F. 000 000 100 – 1 7 2
W-Jackson L-Gomez HRS: Noren-2, Musial GWRBI-Noren
I seated half the number of fans I normally do for this travesty, then cut out after the third inning to go home and plan for my invasion of Battery Spencer tomorrow. The Giants clearly had no interest in playing this game.

PHI 340 000 002 – 9 15 0
PIT 001 010 001 – 3 11 0
W-Semproch L-Friend HRS: Anderson, Hamner, Kluszewski, Virdon GWRBI-Anderson
And the Phils have officially won Pennsylvania, beating the Bucs for the fifth straight time in a week and going up by three games on them with two to play. The great unheralded Harry Anderson doubles, homer, singles and knocks in four more.

BAL 020 021 150 – 11 11 1
NYY 200 120 040 – 9 12 2
W-Portocarrero L-Ford SV-Loes HRS: Taylor, Triandos, Gardner, Carey, McDougald, Berra GWRBI-Triandos
Amazing how lifelike Strat-O-Matic cards are: The day after the Yankees are out all night drinking and celebrating their pennant, Mantle drops a fly by the second batter of the game for a two-base error and his buddy Whitey Ford pitches his worst game of the year, unable to get anybody out and will end the year with “only” 23 victories. Though in the Series, he’ll have a chance to win three more.

BOS 101 000 000 – 2 12 2
WAS 232 000 02x – 9 11 1
W-Ramos L-Brewer HR: Williams GWRBI-Courtney
Also mailing it in big time are the Bostonians, after their two-day nightmare against the Yanks. Teddy Ballgame homers again because that’s what he does, but the rest of the lineup wastes 12 hits against Pedro “Abuse Me” Ramos.

DET 000 000 000 – 0 1 0
CLE 000 000 001 – 1 8 0
W-Score L-Bunning GWRBI-Vernon
You don’t have to be Criswell to predict this one. After lambasting White Sox pitching for three days, the Tigers manage one lousy single against Herb Score in a beaut, losing in the 9th on a pinch single by Mickey Vernon.

K.C. 020 100 000 – 3 6 0
CHI 002 200 00x – 4 6 1
W-Donovan L-Herbert HRS: Chiti, Boone GWRBI-Boone
From the Department of Too Little, Too Late.

National League through Friday, September 26

Milwaukee-x 87 65 .572
Chicago 85 68 .556 2.5
San Francisco 82 70 .539 5
Cincinnati 76 76 .500 11
Philadelphia 73 79 .480 14
St. Louis 72 80 .474 15
Pittsburgh 70 82 .461 17
Los Angeles 64 89 .418 23.5

American League through Friday, September 26

New York-x 92 60 .605
Chicago 89 63 .586 3
Cleveland 82 70 .539 10
Boston 81 71 .536 11
Baltimore 79 73 .520 13
Detroit 77 75 .507 15
Kansas City 57 95 .375 35
Washington 51 101 .336 41
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Mays the Force Be With Us

MaysSeptember 24, 1958

It was a gorgeous afternoon in the Mission District. A perfect contrast to the dark, raging clouds in my mind. Bleacher seats at Seals were gone by 8:30 a.m., and every local politician needing favors called in had flooded the switchboards. Like a modern Coogan’s Bluff, there were fans sitting in trees across the street in Franklin Square Park. I even had to bribe Pence Murphy with an after-game beer to get me in the usher gate.

After 150 games we were dead even with the Cubs at 82-68, three behind Milwaukee in the loss column with just four to play. If Chicago beat us again today we’d be history, and all 25,000 hearts in and around the ballpark rested on the Say Hey Kid for salvation.

His double and two homers yesterday raised his imminent batting title average to .354, his homers to 34, RBIs to 115 and whatever the hell OPS is to 1.005. His heroics also brought us back from an early 10-2 deficit to tie the game and lose it in extras. Did he have another miracle left in his bat?

I didn’t need a miracle to find where Tresip had stashed Liz, just my good old noggin. The rat bastard liked to play games, and the Christmas stocking of hidden clues in his last demented Bronx Bugle had topped them all. Let’s start with the “battery,” which was Thomas and Antonelli for us, Neeman and Hillman for them. Didn’t see anything revealing there, but I was afraid to run any of this by Antonelli. He would’ve forced me to warm him up again, and I was trying to stay incognito.

That plan worked for as long as the scoreless first inning, which was when usher pals Tall Tom, Butch and Dominic, and usherette Dot arrived in my high corner of the left field grandstand. Thanks a lot, Pence.

“Don’t you guys have people to seat?”
“They already are, Snappy,” said Tall Tom. “No seats left!” said Dominic.
“And your poor, poor fiancee!” piped in Dot.

So that had made the local paper. One question led to another answer and soon they were playing Sherlock Holmes with me whether I liked it or not.

Banks led off the 2nd with a bloop double and one pitch later, Walt Moryn bashed a two-run homer into the right field bleachers. Gopher balls were Antonelli’s bugaboo, up to 41 of them now, and Seals fell as silent as an abandoned Polo Grounds.

“Spencer has to be our Daryl at shortstop, right?” asked Butch, “What’s he done so far?”
“Nothing for two.”
“But he did turn the first two outs of the game,” said Dominic.
“So what?”
“Maybe he’s wearing something,” offered Dot. “Like tell-tale undershorts.”
“What the hell are tell-tale undershorts?” asked Tom.
“Can you people shut up??”

Then Willie shut their yaps for me. He had led off the 2nd with a walk and got stranded, and now singled with one gone in the 4th. Cepeda singled him to second, and Kirkland walked. Davenport, wobbly after being out a few days with a bruise, whiffed to elicit more groans.

Up stepped Valmy Thomas, my best buddy on the team. I glanced around nervously, he being part of the battery and all. Was Tressip perched somewhere with a sniper rifle?

CRACK! The sound came from Valmy’s bat. The ball whistled into the left field gap, scoring all three runners to give us the lead! Once again, the thrill of a big Giants hit collided with my fear for Liz.

“Valmy and Johnny? Vajlohn? Thomanelli?”
“Shut up, Butch.”

The game stayed 3-2 us until the 7th, when Wagner misplayed aDale Long single into a two-base error and a scrub named Jim Bolger tied it back up with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly.

Andy Anderson took the hill for the Cubs because three of the next four Giant hitters were righties. Antonelli was the lone lefty, and he tripled down the right field line. Here was Spencer, and he doubled down the LEFT field line!

“Wait! What’s Spencer backwards? RECNEPS?”
“Shut up, Butch.”

Bressoud made out and Bill Henry, Chicago’s perfect relief man (10-0, 1.60 ERA) came in to face lefty Wagner. Felipe Alou batted instead, doubled again, and we were up 5-3!

But I hadn’t warmed up Antonelli today, and after a Banks single to start the 8th, Johnny hung another meatball, Dale Long splattered it into 16th Street., and we were tied 5-5!

“‘A lefty who served,'” mulled Tom. “Gotta be Antonelli, right? Serving them up!”

The game had gotten too intense to focus on anything else. Kirkland doubled to start our 8th and was left there. So was Spencer after a leadoff walk in the 9th. Gordon Jones was in for his second relief inning in the top of the 10th. Walt Moryn stepped up and launched a virtual Sputnik, his 31st of the year, high and way out to right, and we were down again, 6-5.

Henry retired Cepeda and Schmidt easily in the last of the 10th. Davenport sort of redeemed himself with a single to keep our meager flames lit, but with everyone standing and praying, Valmy popped out to Banks to drive the stake into our 1958 season.

None of us could speak to each other. I trudged toward the exit. Like everyone else in the place I was happy to see the Giants stay in the race that long, but my quest to decipher Tressip’s weird clues had gotten me nowhere.

“Meet you at the Double Play?” asked one dour fan to his counterpart walking in front of me.
“Naw. Already promised Harry I’d get plowed with him at O’Doul’s if they lost.”

And I stopped in my tracks in the exit tunnel, a half dozen fans slamming into me from behind.

Of course. The “lefty who served.” The legndary manager of the San Francisco Seals. The part-time hitting coach for the Giants who owned the most famous tavern/eatery in town. The guy I hadn’t had a conversation with all season: Lefty O’Doul.

I got down to his joint as quickly as I could. The place was stuffed with Giants fans drowning their sorrows. Lefty wasn’t even there, “home sick” according to the barkeep. I said it was an emergency, and after a call to his house, I was told he’d meet me for breakfast tomorrow.

I spent a sleepless, torturous night waiting for morning. An occasional siren or howling cat, but no phone calls, knocks on my door or messages under it. The Giants were eliminated, no doubt making Tressip happy, but if his last “newspaper” indicated anything, I wasn’t sure it was enough to keep Liz alive. And what did Lefty know?

THE SKINNIES

CHI 020 000 120 1 – 6 13 0
S.F. 000 300 200 0 – 5 10 3
W-Henry L-Jones HRS: Moryn-2, Long GWRBI-Moryn
Okay, so the Cubs now head to L.A. needing to sweep all three, including a twi-night doubleheader at the Coliseum tomorrow, while the Reds are sweeping the Braves in Milwaukee. And that’s just to force a tie. Good luck, men!

STL 100 030 100 – 5 12 1
L.A. 100 001 004 – 6 8 0
W-Kipp L-Mizell HRS: Furillo, Hodges GWRBI-Hodges
The Dodgers leave the Cards with a Gil Hodges jack-in-the-box that will be spooking them all winter. Up 5-2 in the last of the 9th, St. Louis having somehow missed a half dozen easy chances to pile on runs, Mizell gets the first two outs and then walks Gino Cimoli. Then Don Demeter scratches out a hit. Then Elmer Valo (!) pinch-hits a clutch single. Then Gil Hodges hits one over the screen. See you next year!

NYY 000 000 010 01 – 2 12 1
BOS 000 010 000 00 – 1 4 0
W-Turley L-Kiely SV-Maas HRS: Skowron, Keough GWRBI-Skowron
A second straight extra inning classic at Fenway, as the Red Sox drop their last five meetings with New York and finish 7-15 against them. Still, grounding into three double plays, Yanks can get nothing across the plate against Sullivan for seven innings. Dick Gernert fill-in Marty Keough strokes a solo homer in the 5th to give Boston the lead, but Mantle’s two-out double ties the game in the 8th. With Duren unavailable, Turley keeps pitching, only allowing five walks, which for him is superb. Boston blows two great scoring chances in the 8th and 9th before Moose Skowron pops one over the Monster off Leo Kiely in the 10th. Duke Maas retires the Bosox in order and the magic number drops to two!

DET 000 001 050 – 6 9 0
CHI 200 000 000 – 2 7 0
W-Lary L-Wilson SV-Wehmeier GWRBI-Bolling
Make that one, señor. Jim Wilson pitches his face off for Chicago, but after loading the bases with one out in the 8th, usually efficient relief ace Gerry Staley takes over and has nothing, walking Zernial and Bolling and giving up singles to Martin and Lau and that be that. Sherm Lollar has been hitting like the dickens since coming back from his injury, but losing Landis, Goodman and Torgeson has been key this week. Torgeson’s 127 walks are the instigator of their rambunctious offense. They’ll try one more time against the Tigers tomorrow, throwing their 21-win man Billy Pierce against Paul Foytack, while the Yanks stay home awaiting the Birds, and following the score from Comiskey…

WAS 000 001 210 – 4 7 2
BAL 510 120 00x – 9 10 0
W-O’Dell L-Romonosky HRS: Bridges, O’Dell GWRBI-Nieman
Billy O. takes a no-hitter to two outs in the 6th, then falls apart for a few innings, but the Orioles have already crushed the life out of this one with a 5-spot dagger into the side of Count Romonosky in the 1st. Now they head to the Bronx to see if their final three games will mean anything.

CLE 030 000 030 – 6 13 2
K.C. 400 000 30x – 7 7 2
W-Terry L-Bell SV-Gorman HRS: Harrell, Power, Maris-2, Cerv GWRBI-Maris
Nice of Roger Maris to finally start hitting, now that his team has been eliminated for over two weeks. A grand slam off Bell plates four unearned runs afyter a two-out boot by Wertz, and his 2-run poke in the 7th adds some needed insurance against the rampaging Tribe, who nearly pull out another one.

National League through Wednesday, September 24

Milwaukee 86 65 .570
Chicago 83 68 .550 3
San Francisco 82 69 .543 4
Cincinnati 76 75 .503 10
Philadelphia 72 79 .477 14
St. Louis 71 80 .470 15
Pittsburgh 70 81 .464 16
Los Angeles 64 87 .424 22

American League through Wednesday, September 24

New York 92 59 .609
Chicago 88 62 .587 3.5
Cleveland 81 70 .536 11
Boston 81 70 .536 11
Baltimore 78 73 .517 14
Detroit 76 74 .507 16.5
Kansas City 57 94 .377 35
Washington 50 101 .331 42

This Means War

thelarkatventura-LSeptember 22-23, 1958

Crazy me. Thinking Richard Tressip was dead. He knew damn well where I went, read the St. Louis society page and found himself a priest outfit before the church barbeque coals were even lit. With plenty of time to take out the two bored FBI agents, abduct Liz, scare the bejeezus out of Little Maxie and ruin what was a damn good party.

So last night, having pocketed the nice little portable-printed gem below that he left for me in the Doomis’ mailbox, I was soon on the California Zephyr back to San Fran. Screw Brewster and his incompetent G-men, screw my backup catcher act, screw being patient and to hell with the consequences. This thing was down to two games with the Cubs, and me against Him.

Archie-19

[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

THE SKINNIES

9/22
WAS 002 000 200 – 4 9 0
BAL 100 101 000 – 3 8 0
W-Kemmerer L-Johnson SV-Hyde HRS: Yost, Robinson GWRBI-Sievers
The Drive to Not Lose 100 is still alive! Sievers knocks in RBIs 138 and 139, Hyde saves the game with one pitch, if they win the next two in Baltimore, all the Nats have to do is sweep the Red Sox on the final weekend! Yeah, right.

9/23
CHI 460 000 110 – 12 12 0
S.F. 203 050 000 – 10 15 1
W-Nichols L-Giel SV-Elston HRS: Moryn, Walls-2, Mays-2 GWRBI-Walls
Not sure which was worse: the Giants losing this game, or me not being there to see it. Al Worthington is roasted the first two innings, but Say Hey Willie brings us all the way back, doubling home a run in the 1st, hitting a three-run homer in the 3rd, and sparking a five-run, game-tying rally in the 5th with a leadoff solo shot. Anderson finally relieves Hobbie, but Bressoud clears the bases with a triple and it’s 10-10! Meanwhile the Braves had mowed down the Phillies earlier, so every pitch now is critical. Lee Walls promptly socks one off Paul Giel for his second homer of the game and 31st of the year. A butchered fly by Leon Wagner in the 8th adds a Chicago insurance run, and Elston notches his 18th save to tie them with us for second place! Tomorrow afternoon it’ll be Antonelli against Dave Hillman with one team getting eliminated, and if I have to disguise myself in a nun’s habit I’m going to be there—because I’ll also have Tressip’s crazy Liz-finding clues to decipher. At least the Giants’ loss keeps her alive another day…

PHI 001 000 000 – 1 3 1
MIL 403 000 00x – 7 9 0
W-Jay L-Roberts GWRBI-Aaron
A big double by Aaron and bigger triple by Crandall spot the Braves four runs off Robin Roberts and they cruise from there to drop their magic number to a big one. They won’t play again until they host the Reds Friday, but only one pursuer will be alive by then.

STL 000 004 007 – 11 18 0
L.A. 200 000 020 – 4 6 0
W-Jones L-Roebuck HRS: Flood, Kasko, Furillo-2
Another double-homer day, this time by Furillo, who gives L.A. a quick lead in the 1st, then ties the game in the 8th, before Ed Roebuck and Fred Kipp hand the Cards seven runs in the 9th. Welcome home, Dodgers!

NYY 001 111 001 01 – 6 18 2
BOS 100 211 000 00 – 5 10 2
W-Duren L-Kiely HRS: McDougald, Slaughter, Buddin, Piersall GWRBI-Slaughter
The Yanks hit Beantown ready to rumble, but smack 18 hits and still have to struggle to win the game in extras. It’s a thriller, though, as New York ties it up four different times, the last one on a Berra scratch single with two outs in the 9th. In the 11th, Enos Slaughter wins it with a bullpen shot off Leo Kiely. Magic number drops to four…

DET 000 002 001 – 3 9 1
CHI 010 000 001 – 2 6 0
W-Hoeft L-Wynn HR: Lollar GWRBI-Lau
And make that three, bucko. Wynn pitches pretty well for him, but a game-tying single by Martin and sac fly by Red Wilson fill-in Charlie Lau puts the Tigers ahead to stay. The last of the 9th is pure drama: Lollar’s leadoff homer makes it 3-2, and Phillips doubles with two outs. Landis replacement Jim Rivera then rips a shot that’s heading into right field but Charlie Maxwell dives and stabs it for the ballgame!

CLE 015 200 016 – 15 20 0
K.C. 100 060 020 – 9 9 3
W-Grant L-Tomanek HRS: Minoso, Brown, Ward GWRBI-Minoso
Four time’s the charm. McLish puts runners in scoring position for Minoso three times with sacrifice bunts, only to have Minnie make outs. After the A’s miraculously come back from an 8-1 deficit to tie it at 9-9 going to the 9th, Mudcat Grant bunts two more over and this time Minoso wallops one over the wall. In case you haven’t noticed, which is understandble since they’re eliminated, the Indians haven’t been losing many games lately.

WAS 000 000 010 – 1 7 1
BAL 000 000 05x – 5 11 0
W-Harshman L-Pascual HR: Nieman
Not sure what the late 50s word for bummer is, but Washington’s 100th loss qualifies. After Albie Pearson finally knocks in the first run of the game with an 8th inning single, Camilo Pascual coughs up everything but the Cuban sandwich he had for lunch, as a single and error by Bridges and three-run bomb by Nieman puts the Senators over the dreaded century mark.

FINAL PENNANT RACE GRAPHS: Marvel at Milwaukee’s late resurgence! Check out the Tribe! How about dem Yanks, playing .500 ball for the last two months! Here’s the National race, and the American one.

National League through Tuesday, September 23

Milwaukee 86 65 .570
Chicago 82 68 .547 3.5
San Francisco 82 68 .547 3.5
Cincinnati 76 75 .503 10
Philadelphia 72 79 .477 14
St. Louis 71 79 .473 14.5
Pittsburgh 70 81 .464 16
Los Angeles 63 87 .420 22.5

American League through Tuesday, September 23

New York 91 59 .607
Chicago 88 61 .591 2.5
Cleveland 81 69 .540 10
Boston 81 69 .540 10
Baltimore 77 73 .513 14
Detroit 75 74 .500 16.5
Kansas City 56 94 .373 35
Washington 50 100 .333 41

See You on the Flip Side

1950s 1960s man wearing chef hat holding barbecue grilling fork making okay sign looking at cameraSeptember 21, 1958

We clued in Liz’s folks last night on our marriage plans. Mom was over the moon, but Dad just looked under the weather.

“You’ll support my daughter by seating people at ball games six months a year?” I assured him I’d be finding a winter job, and also that Liz couldn’t go a week without working somewhere herself.

The saving grace was that they were a bit preoccupied with today’s memorial service for son Billy at their local church in Webster Grove. It was an event Liz helped put together the last few days, and our engagement bit would fit right in. After the solemn service she planned a celebration of Billy, and had booked the adjoining church hall and yard for a summer-style barbeque. Knowing her brother’s love for rockabilly, she even talked Eddie Cochran, his famous musician buddy he’d met out in California, to perform at the party.

This morning we got a congratulatory call from Brewster, who’d finally discovered I was still alive when a local cop alerted him to a last-minute notice on the Globe-Democrat‘s society page. His present to us would be a few FBI men stationed at the church because they needed something to do.

Of course, I also needed to calm down some of the Giants players. They were facing Jim Brosnan, who’d already no-hit them back in April, and this was a game they had to win. Thankfully, Stu Miller—our best pitcher—had a cool head, didn’t believe in superstition and said he’d “stick one in Musial’s ear” for me and Liz.

The church was stuffed to its upper pews. The Doomises had many friends, a lot of family, and a gaggle of Billy’s car-crazy pals from L.A. even made the trip. Father Grundy gave a heartwarming eulogy, praising Billy for his “big soul and wayward spirit,” even though he “never fulfilled his academic studies.”

The party afterward was a relieving hoot. I had never tasted more delicious ribs. Mr. Doomis walked around taking handshakes and embraces, never removing the earplug wired to the transistor radio in his suit pocket. (Giants were up 3-2 in the 5th). Liz was bravely spirited. She’d been very emotional all day, about me and the resolution of the Peanut Killer case, and really, the only mystery left was whether I’d be dusting off Seals Stadium chairs at the World Series.

Mrs. Doomis announced our engagement to the cheering hall, Eddie Cochran took the stage for a few numbers (see home movie film below) and Liz even got me out on the dance floor. One of Billy’s buddies smuggled a case of Griesdiecks in, and I joined them for beers, cigarettes and auto talk around the side of the church. It almost felt like my bachelor party.

Mr. Doomis tracked me down a after a while and asked where Liz was, because a friend of his wanted to snap a few pictures. Somebody had seen her playing catch with her five-year-old cousin Maxie behind the church, but a quick scout of the yard didn’t turn them up.

“Maybe they just took a walk together,” said Mrs. Doomis.
“Past two FBI men? Doubt that.”

And then a side exit door of the hall banged open. Little Maxie ran in, dirt on his face and both of his bare knees. Tears streamed down his cheeks.

“The bad church man took Cousin Lizzy!” he cried. I crouched, grabbed him by his little shoulders.
“What church man?? Father Grundy is right over there!
“No, no!! The one in the parking lot! The one with the burned-up face!”

THE SKINNYS

S.F. 020 010 100 – 4 8 1
STL 101 000 010 – 3 7 1
W-Miller L-Brosnan HR: Musial GWRBI-Wagner
Miller doesn’t exactly stick one in Musial’s ear, as The Man singles and homers off him, but he’s just effective enough to survive two doubles and two walks by best leadoff hitter in the bigs Joe Cunningham, and we keep pace with the Braves for another day. Time is running out though, and after a day off to get back home we have two with the Cubs while the Braves host one with the Phils.

MIL 100 200 000 – 3 6 1
CIN 001 000 100 – 2 7 2
W-Burdette L-Purkey
After Friday night’s disaster, Milwaukee responds nicely with two big wins, this time with the help of consecutive untimely errors by Hoak and Purkey to plate two go-ahead runs in the 4th. The Braves will finish with three at home against these Reds next weekend, and with us and the Cubs potentially knocking each other off out west it’s looking mighty wigwamish for the Series…

L.A. 110 100 000 – 3 8 2
CHI 115 012 00x – 10 19 1
W-Drott L-Drysdale HRS: Neal, Banks GWRBI-Moryn
Nothing like a start against Non-Dandy Don to cure Cubby offensive doldrums. Five-plus innings allowing 14 hits will do ya good every time.

PIT 000 200 000 – 2 5 0
PHI 000 015 00x – 6 10 0
W-Cardwell L-Raydon HRS: Thomas, Anderson GWRBI-Anderson

PIT 020 000 001 – 3 8 1
PHI 201 000 20x – 5 9 1
HRS: Stuart, Thomas, Bowman GWRBI-Bowman
Phillies finish off their home schedule with a tidy little four-game sweep of the Bucs to jump them back up to 5th place. Now they’ll try to spoil the Braves’ party for a day.

NYY 100 100 010 – 3 7 1
BAL 000 000 000 – 0 9 1
W-Larsen L-Brown HR: Carey GWRBI-Carey
A candidate for one of the sorriest shutouts ever. Larsen faces 40 men and 15 of them reach base, the Birds stranding 13 all told. New York will take the wins any way they can this week, though, and their 90th keeps them one and a half up on the South Siders as they head to Fenway for two likely battle royales.

CHX 003 001 001 – 5 10 1
K.C. 002 000 100 – 3 10 1
W-Donovan L-Garver SV-Staley HRS: Lollar, Lopez GWRBI-Lollar
The A’s come oh so close to pulling off another upset win, but blow two great scoring chances in the 6th and 8th. Maris, who hit three homers in the first two games, goes 0-for-4 and personally strands five. Sherm Lollar’s three-run poke in the 3rd gives the Pale Hosers a lead they never lose, and now they’re home for two with the struggling (again) Tigers and three with these elephants.

WAS 000 100 000 – 1 5 0
BOS 131 000 00x – 5 8 1
W-Delock L-Ramos HRS: Zauchin, Piersall, Williams GWRBI-Jensen
And the Senators clinch last place, to the surprise of no one. But hey, they still haven’t lost 100 games!

CLE 000 200 002 – 4 5 0
DET 000 001 010 – 2 5 0
W-Grant L-Bunning HRS: Doby-2, Groth GWRBI-Doby
No Minnie? No Rock? No problem. Larry Doby fills in with a double, walk and two homers and the Tribe wins their 80th.

TEAM STATS REPORT: Here are your team hitting, team pitching, and assorted miscellany through Sunday’s games. One week to go, kool kats!!

National League through Sunday, September 21

Milwaukee 85 65 .567
San Francisco 82 67 .550 2.5
Chicago 81 68 .544 3.5
Cincinnati 76 75 .503 9.5
Philadelphia 72 78 .480 13
St. Louis 70 79 .470 14.5
Pittsburgh 70 81 .464 15.5
Los Angeles 63 86 .423 21.5

American League through Sunday, September 21

New York 90 59 .604
Chicago 88 60 .595 1.5
Boston 81 68 .544 9
Cleveland 80 69 .537 10
Baltimore 76 72 .513 13.5
Detroit 74 74 .500 16.5
Kansas City 56 93 .376 34
Washington 49 99 .331 40.5

Extra Inexplicable Innings

BuschRF_cropSeptember 20, 1958

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.

“Oh, Snap!”

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?”
“Never mind…”

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—”
“Why not??”

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.

“Still?”
“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.

THE SKINNYS

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.

STATS RACES!
NL
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,

AL
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

Milwaukee 84 65 .564
San Francisco 81 67 .547 2.5
Chicago 80 68 .541 3.5
Cincinnati 76 74 .507 8.5
St. Louis 70 78 .473 13.5
Philadelphia 70 78 .473 13.5
Pittsburgh 70 79 .470 14
Los Angeles 63 85 .426 20.5

American League through Saturday, September 20

New York 89 59 .601
Chicago 87 60 .592 1.5
Boston 80 68 .541 9
Cleveland 79 69 .534 10
Baltimore 76 71 .517 12.5
Detroit 74 73 .503 15.5
Kansas City 56 92 .378 33
Washington 49 98 .333 39.5

Home Improvement

September 19, 1958

tvearly10081Two 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.”

THE SKINNYS

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
W-Kiely L-Hyde
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

Milwaukee 84 64 .568
San Francisco 80 67 .544 3.5
Chicago 80 67 .544 3.5
Cincinnati 75 74 .503 9.5
St. Louis 70 77 .476 13.5
Pittsburgh 70 78 .473 14
Philadelphia 69 78 .469 14.5
Los Angeles 62 85 .422 21.5

American League through Friday, September 19

New York 88 59 .599
Chicago 86 60 .589 1.5
Boston 80 67 .544 8
Cleveland 78 69 .531 10
Baltimore 76 70 .521 11.5
Detroit 74 72 .507 14.5
Kansas City 56 91 .381 32
Washington 48 98 .329 39.5

Darkness on the Outskirts of Town

5848123759_54e4257c3c_zSeptember 17-18, 1958

Sore wrists, clammy air, and peanut dust: the first sensations I had when I came to.

I was strapped to some kind of conveyor belt, feet on a slight incline, in a dark, cavernous room maybe the size of an airplane hangar. A bare, sputtering light bulb hung over my head from the rafters. I had no clue where Tressip was, but I couldn’t undo the nylon cords binding my wrists and ankles if i tried. And believe me, I tried.

The place seemed to be some abandoned factory or warehouse on the outskirts of some town. I mean, what mastermind villain doesn’t use something on the outskirts of town? Getting into that cab after the game in Milwaukee was stupid; I should have known better. But it was also dark, and hectic, and I was trying to keep up with the Giants players, and it never occurred to me or anyone that the team bus failed to start because Tressip had screwed with the engine.

Finally I heard a metal door slide open at the far end of the room, and my abductor strolled toward me out of the shadows. He was taller, beefier than I remembered from the last time he nabbed me in Dayton, though I was a lot more delirious on that occasion. He wore crisp slacks, a black polo shirt with some kind of aviation emblem under a weathered New York Giants ball cap. Had a ruggedly handsome, clean-shaven face but slightly off-kilter eyes.

He carried a large paper bag. Stopped a few feet away from me and worked up a wet, frosty smile.

“Hello again. Isn’t this exciting? We get to follow a ball game together.”
“No kidding. So what the hell’s in the bag? My foot-long wiener?”
“Hardly.”

He set the bag down on a small table I hadn’t noticed. Lifted out a brand new Zenith Universal portable radio, still in its packaging box.

“There’s a good appliance store a mile away. The merchant wanted 70 dollars for this but I Hebrewed him down to 60.”
“Really? With the type of cash you’ve been throwing around you’re worried about saving five dollars?”
“It isn’t the savings, Milton. It’s the joy of negotiation. The power of victory. Oh, but I forgot. You haven’t experience many of those.”

He ripped open the radio’s packaging, took the device to a nearby wall outlet and plugged it in. Hunted through crackly static until he found Jack Buck’s voice on KMOX in St. Louis—reasonably clear.

“Where are we, Tressip? Indiana? Kentucky?”
“Why would we be there?”
“Because I think you’re more clever than Agent Brewster gives you credit for. You can’t risk taking me to St. Louis so you stopped as close as possible in a bordering state that could also pull in Cardinal games on the radio.”

He strolled back over.

“See? This is why I haven’t killed you yet. Though you did something unforgivable that ruined my life and ultimately led to the death of my father, you possess a level of intelligence that is rare in these times and is well worth studying.”
“Gee. Thanks, Professor. Except I have no holy clue how me accidentally hitting you with a summer camp baseball caused your father to hang himself.”

He took off his cap, bowed slightly so I could see the faint purple scar and lopsided depression that was still visible atop his forehead.

“A germ entering the bloodstream finds its way around the body, Milton. And my severe injury and even more severe trauma was too much for my mother, who had a stroke when I turned 16. An event my father never emotionally recovered from. The Giants abandoning him was merely the lever that dropped the noose.”

Something happened in St. Louis which caused Jack Buck to exult into his microphone. Larry Jackson bailing himself out of an early jam.

“Mmm. Unfortunate. If the Braves don’t win this game and your traitorous Giants inch closer to first…” He shrugged, “I may just have to kill you tonight.”

“You’ll never get away with this, Richie. Come to think of it, driving all the way here in a Milwaukee cab wasn’t too brainy.”

“Please call me Richard now. And the taxi car never made it out of Wisconsin. Found a nice, nondescript Plymouth on a street near the Illinois border. Do you like this factory, Milton? One of the few that Snackful closed after my father died, but I kept a few peanut-related contraptions around, for nostalgic reasons of course. That one you’re attached to water-blanches the peanuts to separate the red skin from the kernel. Helps remove unwanted things. For your sake, the Braves will emerge victorious tonight and we won’t have to switch it on.”

The Braves did, though I must have sweated out five pounds in the process. Burdette was as shaky as ever, giving up eight hits in the first three innings but just one run, while the Cardinal defense stayed home in bed. When Musial homered in the last of the 9th to cut it to 5-3, I got pretty nervous.

“So now what? You’re letting me go?”
“I’d love to, Milton. I’d likely get more pleasure from hunting you down again. Except the Braves have one more game in St. Louis tomorrow night, so…”
“You’re not serious.
“Oh, I’m dead serious. Don’t worry, though. It’s an afternoon game. Starts in only 14 hours. Get a little sleep, why don’t you?” He slid over a chair, opened a thermos of coffee and poured himself a cup.

* * *

I was hungry, thirsty, and delirious by the time Thursday’s matinee began. Tressip had refused to feed me or share any of his coffee. I tried cursing him for a while, but that got me nowhere. Taunting was next.

“Sure must be nice being as rich as you. Richie. Go anywhere you want. Kill people on a moment’s notice. Show up in my local saloon to leave a Bronx Bugle and peanut shells in one of the booths—just so I can see it, right?”
“Yes, I did enjoy that. Stalking can be so rewarding.”
“As much as killing? What the hell do you do when you’re done with me and the Giants lose the pennant? Retire in the Caribbean and spend your inheritance? They might win on ’59 and you’d be miserable and vengeful all over again.”
“I live for the moment, Milton. The future is a black pit not even worth contemplating. And these are my moments.”

Jack Buck yelled a Joe Cunningham home run call at that moment, the first run of the second game going to the Cards. Tressip’s face visibly tightened. Moments later, Bobby Gene Smith hit a 2-run shot, the Braves were down 3-0 and Tressip was pacing frantically, talking to himself.

“Not do at all…This will not do at all…” He walked over to the blanching machine I was strapped to and flicked a switch. The entire thing vibrated beneath me. “Didn’t think I’d need to use this tonight…”
“Are you crazy??”
“That’s what they’ve all been saying. Kind of an insult, if you ask me.”

There was a weird bubbling sound. I turned my neck around, saw a glimpse of a giant tub of boiling oil. Baseball was literally going to be the death of me.

“Most unfortunate, Milton. I’ve enjoyed your company. Of course, the San Francisco Traitors would be eliminated by now if Eddie Mathews was hitting over .220 and Wes Covington had hit at all in the last month and a half. See, this really isn’t my fault at all.”
“You bastard…”
“Now now, Milton. I happen to be very legitimate. You can relax a short while, though. It’s still early in the game.”

It was, and the mediocre Cards stopped hitting Carl Willey altogether after the 1st. And guess who homered to tie the game up in the 6th? Wes Covington. Then Mathews sprained an ankle and was replaced by Felix Mantilla, and Tressip was pacing again. But Torre singled in the go-ahead run in the 7th, doubled in another in the 9th, and I wasn’t a dead man yet.

“Even if the Braves win this, a two-game lead in the loss column doesn’t exactly comfort me.” he drolly said.

And then St. Louis started rallying in the 9th. Juan Pizarro walked Flood, hit Cunningham, and walked Blasingame. Only one out. Tressip poised his finger over a second button.

“Don’t do this, Tressip. I can talk to Mays. And Cepeda. And Antonelli. I can get them to lose, I promise.”
“You mean CHEATING?? I never cheat, Milton. Maybe I remove people on occasion, but I never…ever…cheat.”

Humberto Robinson took over to face Stan Musial. The count went to three and two, before he grounded into a force to score a run and cut it to 5-4. Next up was Ken Boyer. Tressip started the conveyor belt. All he had to do was cut loose my straps and I’d slide into the hot, bubbling oil.

“Boyer hits one out to right!” yelled Buck, and I clenched my teeth. “but Aaron nabs it and the Redbirds lose!”

“Nevertheless,” said Tressip, and took out a long straight razor.

I struggled. He started cutting into the nylon cords.

Suddenly the far door exploded open. The force knocked over the peanut blancher, loosened my straps.

“SURRENDER, TRESSIP!” shouted a man with a megaphone that sounded a lot like Brewster. Tressip bolted for cover and shots rang out. He popped back up with a revolver, fired back. The air in the factory lit up with gunfire. A bullet sizzled through one of my arms. I got free, crawled on hands and knees off to the side. Tressip tried to come after me but I eluded him, slipped out an open window and fell into some high grass. Stumbled my way along a dank, smelly river. As far away from the dark, hellish factory as I could get—with nothing but St. Louis on my mind…

THE SKINNYS

9/17
MIL 012 110 000 – 5 10 1
STL 000 100 002 – 3 12 1
W-Burdette L-Jackson SV-Robinson HR: Musial

CHI 301 000 002 – 6 10 1
PHI 000 100 013 – 5 9 1
W-Hillman L-Roberts SV-Elston HRS: Thomson, Marshall, S. Taylor, Philley GWRBI-Thomson
Homers by Thomson and Marshall help the Cubs to a 4-0 lead, but Hillman, Anderson, Henry and finally Elston have to stave off furious Philly rallies in the last two innings, keeping them three behind Milwaukee in the loss column. Sammy Taylor’s pinch 2-run homer in the 9th off Robin Roberts was very necessary.

NYY 102 101 001 – 6 7 0
DET 200 101 30x – 7 12 0
W-Moford L-Duren SV-Morgan HRS: Kubek, Bolling GWRBI-Kaline
Only the Yankees have undergone as much suffering as yours truly the last few days. After a sure home run ball by Berra yesterday gets wind-blown back into an outfielder’s glove, the same things happens to Mantle in this one, the Tigers go inexplicably extra-base crazy, and pull another one out when Kaline hits a 2-run freak triple off Ryne Duren in the last of the 7th. Father Damien Clutchus, famous baseball exorcist, has been summoned from his retreat at Ostego Lake and should join the team this weekend in Baltimore.

BAL 010 010 001 – 3 10 0
CHI 101 011 00x – 4 8 0
W-Wynn L-O’Dell HR: Boyd GWRBI-Smith
Unlike the Yankees lately, the White Sox still win games on occasion. Al Smith is their star for today, with a walk, three doubles and two key RBIs. They close to within a game and a half of the Yanks, and the fact they still have six games left with the A’s has to be reassuring.

BOS 000 300 010 – 4 5 2
K.C. 000 000 100 – 1 6 0
W-Bowsfield L-Herbert HR: Jensen GWRBI-Jensen
Ah yes, them A’s. They finish 4-18 against the Red Sox, and very few of the losses were this close.

9/18
MIL 001 002 101 – 5 10 1
STL 300 000 001 – 4 8 0
W-Willey L-Jones SV-Robinson HRS: Covington, Cunningham, B.G. Smith GWRBI-Torre
Forgot to mention that Sad Sam Jones lost again, but it’s kind of expected by now. That’s eight straight losses for the Cards after they evened out at 69-69.

National League through Thursday, September 18

Milwaukee 83 64 .565
San Francisco 80 66 .548 2.5
Chicago 79 67 .541 3.5
Cincinnati 75 73 .507 8.5
St. Louis 69 77 .473 13.5
Pittsburgh 70 77 .476 13
Philadelphia 68 78 .466 14.5
Los Angeles 62 84 .425 20.5

American League through Thursday, September 18

New York 88 58 .603
Chicago 86 59 .593 1.5
Boston 79 67 .541 9
Cleveland 77 69 .527 11
Baltimore 75 70 .517 12.5
Detroit 74 71 .510 14.5
Kansas City 55 91 .377 33
Washington 48 97 .331 39.5

The Wigwam Willies

CountyStadiumSeptember 16, 1958

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…”

THE SKINNYS

S.F. 010 011 000 – 3 5 2
MIL 010 100 000 – 2 5 2
W-McCormick L-Spahn

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

Milwaukee 81 64 .559
San Francisco 80 66 .548 1.5
Chicago 78 67 .538 3
Cincinnati 75 73 .507 7.5
St. Louis 69 75 .479 11.5
Pittsburgh 70 77 .476 12
Philadelphia 68 77 .469 13
Los Angeles 62 84 .425 19.5

American League through Tuesday, September 16

New York 88 57 .607
Chicago 85 59 .590 2.5
Boston 78 67 .538 10
Cleveland 77 69 .527 11.5
Baltimore 75 69 .521 12.5
Detroit 73 71 .507 15.5
Kansas City 55 90 .379 33
Washington 48 97 .331 40

Polo Groundless

Archie-18

[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

THE SKINNYS
(only games scheduled)

L.A. 000 102 010 – 4 12 1
MIL 000 000 011 – 2 5 1
W-Drysdale L-Jay HRS: Roseboro, Zimmer, Torre, Aaron GWBI-Roseboro
Don Drysdale’s third quality start in about three months ruins the Braves’ day and puts the Giants back to within three in the loss column. Weirdly, the Dodgers played Milwaukee tough all year, splitting the series 11-11. And now the Giants come to town for one game tomorrow, with Warren Spahn facing Mike McCormick. You can say this is big.

STL 101 000 110 – 4 10 4
PHI 104 300 01x – 9 13 2
W-Sanford L-Mizell SV-Farrell HR: Bowman
The Cards put themselves out of their own misery, comitting four infield errors, three of them in two innings leading to four unearned runs, and the dark cloud of elimination has blanketed all of Missouri. Bob Bowman goes 3-for-5 with five RBIs for Philly, who manhandles St. Louis 14-8 in the season series. Still, the Cards will have a lot to say about this race. They have two games left with the Braves and six with the Giants.

TEAM RUN DIFFERENTIALS!
(Strange stat-oid: The Cubs and Giants both have scored 664 runs and given up 662.)

NL
Braves +124
Reds +47
Cubs +2
Giants +2
Pirates –13
Phillies –20
Cards –21
Dodgers –128

AL
Yankees +180
Red Sox +97
Orioles +59
White Sox +54
Indians +34
Tigers +10
Senators –206
Athletics –229

National League through Monday, September 15

Milwaukee 81 63 .563
San Francisco 79 66 .545 2.5
Chicago 77 67 .535 4
Cincinnati 75 72 .510 7.5
St. Louis 69 74 .483 11.5
Pittsburgh 69 77 .473 13
Philadelphia 68 76 .472 13
Los Angeles 61 84 .421 20.5

American League through Monday, September 15

New York 88 56 .611
Chicago 85 58 .594 2.5
Boston 77 67 .535 11
Cleveland 76 69 .524 12.5
Baltimore 74 69 .517 13.5
Detroit 72 71 .503 16.5
Kansas City 55 89 .382 33
Washington 48 96 .333 40

Dying in Wait

f-robinsonclubhouse1

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!”
“He’ll survive.”

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?

THE SKINNYS

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.

TEAM STATS REPORT: Here are your team hitting, team pitching, and assorted miscellany through Sunday’s games.

National League through Sunday, September 14

Milwaukee 81 62 .566
San Francisco 79 66 .545 3
Chicago 77 67 .535 4.5
Cincinnati 75 72 .510 8
St. Louis 69 73 .485 11.5
Pittsburgh 69 77 .473 13.5
Philadelphia 67 76 .469 14
Los Angeles 60 84 .417 21.5

American League through Sunday, September 14

New York 88 56 .611
Chicago 85 58 .594 2.5
Boston 77 67 .535 11
Cleveland 76 69 .524 12.5
Baltimore 74 69 .517 13.5
Detroit 72 71 .503 16.5
Kansas City 55 89 .382 33
Washington 48 96 .333 40