Tough to make out a dead body when it’s covered in peanut shells and Royal Crown Cola. But there it was. Head wedged under the wooden seats of row D, section 16, third base side.
My section of Seals Stadium.
Bad enough they wanted me and the other ushers and usherettes here two hours before Johnny Antonelli’s first pitch to Jim Gilliam, it being the first big league game ever played in this state, but I had to spend the whole afternoon babysitting San Francisco fat cats and skinny weasels who probably never saw one Pacific Coast League game in their lives.
And now this. Some poor sap who either had a stroke from the Giants edging the Dodgers 7-6 in the 9th inning chiller, or got trampled in the post-game exit stampede. At least that’s what I thought. Until I crouched, brushed the peanut shells off him and saw the pearl white handle of a switchblade stuck in his lower back.
Guess I better introduce myself. Snappy Drake here. You can call me by my birth name if it floats your rubber duck, which happens to be Milton. Just don’t expect any flowers and wine from me if you don’t go with Snappy. See, every Seals Stadium ush calls me Snappy because of my famous curve ball. Threw it two years for the Oakland Oaks and one for the Seattle Rainiers before the thing stopped snapping altogether and hung there like an executed prisoner waiting for hitters to club it to death. Which is why I’ve been showing Seals fans to their seats since 1951.
Of course that PCL gig is history now. In case you’ve been in Alcatraz or drinking too many rusty nails down at Lefty O’Doul’s, the big news in the Bay the past eight months is that the New York Giants moved out here over the winter, along with the Brooklyn Dodgers down L.A. way. Hell, I don’t think the town’s been this hot and bubbly since the Gold Rush, and that was a couple of my grandpas ago.
So yeah, I’ll be dusting off those third base boxes and raking in quarter tips at 16th and Bryant all year. And soon as I’m done getting questioned by the law in about twenty minutes, I figure to be back next time with some inside dope about this poor murdered bastard in row D, section 16.
Wish I had more dope to share on this shiny new baseball year. Milwaukee and their killer Aaron-Mathews-Spahn-Burdette combo took all the National League beans last season, but big whoop. I have to figure the Giants and Dodgers to thrive in their new joints in front of packed crowds. Besides, I already put 600 clams down on the local boys with Chumpo over at the Double Play. So you know where I stand.
L.A. 003 100 002 – 6 10 0
S.F. 010 101 301 – 7 14 1
Can’t have a better First Major League Game in California than this, right? Furillo triples in two to put the Dodgers ahead in the 3rd, then Antonelli cracks him in the ribs next time and knocks him out for a game. But it’s still 4-3 L.A. in the 7th when rookie Orlando Cepeda hits one with two aboard that to everybody in Seals, looks, sounds and smells like a shot by the great DiMaggio. Dodgers don’t take lose for an answer, though, tie it in the 9th on two singles, a Reese pinch bunt and another single by Gilliam. Some guy named Kipp starts the last of the 9th but gives up a 1-out triple to another rook, Willie Kirkland, who went in for Wagner just before. Babe Birrer relieves, hits pinch-hitter Spencer and Mr. Willie Howard Mays, late of New York, after a double and two singles already, whacks a single to left to win it for us and bring on my nasty discovery.
at BRAVES 4-11-0, PIRATES 3-5-1
Much cleaner game, even better ending. After throwing a 3-run homer to Dick Stuart in the top of the 4th, Warren Spahn retires 16 of his last 17 Bucs, but Milwaukee, despite leadoff hits all over the place can’t score another run, and it’s still 3-1 to the last of the 9th. After a single by Schoendienst, Roy Face is hailed. Gets Adcock on a grounder but Covington singles, Crandall hits a deep sac fly out to right center that Clemente makes a spectacular catch on, and with two gone, Eddie Mathews hits one out of the dang park. Which is why they’re the Champs.
PHILLIES 8-11-0, at REDS 6-12-1
Yet another amazing battle. Phils hit seven doubles off Bob Purkey (three by Ashburn), but Robin Roberts has plenty of nuthin’ and it’s 6-4 Philly, last of the 9th with two outs, and Frank Robinson launches his second bomb to tie the game! Willard Schmidt finally relieves Purkey in the 10th, but Harry Anderson and Willie Jones take him deep and that’s that, Matt.
at CARDS 8-8-0, CUBS 5-12-2
Sam Jones is hardly a mystery for Chicago, but the Cubs leave more people on base than sailboats in a marina, and a 5-run St. Louis power keg in the 4th off Glen Hobbie (homers by Ken Boyer and Ray Katt) gets the Cards out of the wading pool and into the high chop for good.
YANKEES 3-11-0, at RED SOX 2-4-0
Oh yeah, that other league. Not sure how long I’ll be filling you in on AL games, but some of the press boxers today were talking about this character back east named Archie Stripes who writes for a small rag called The Bronx Bugle, so maybe I’ll just reprint his junk next time. Anyway, with Teddy Ballgame out a few days, this rube named Bill Renna fills in and parks a 2-run homer over the nets in the Boston 1st. Berra gets one back with a solo shot, and then Andy Carey smacks one off Sullivan for a 3-2 Yank lead in the 7th. Tough bullpen work by Trucks and Duren seals the Fenway coffin.
at ORIOLES 4-7-0, SENATORS 2-3-0
Hoo boy, that’s 0-2 already for Washington, Dick Williams and Bob Boyd with five hits in eight tries at the top of the Birds lineup. Harshman goes the whole way, Ramos not as far.
TIGERS 10-14-2, at WHITE SOX 5-10-1
Godawful 1st inning for the home team at Comiskey, Pierce losing his cool after Landis drops an easy one for a 2-base error and Reno Bertoia of all jokers hits a 3-run homer. Lary’s pretty bad, too, but the Detroiters sock it away in the 9th on a another 3-run homer by defensive sub Johnny Groth.
A’s 7-10-1, at INDIANS 6-8-0
Kansas City scores all their runs in the 4th, topped by a Bob Cerv moon rocket off McLish, and Ray Herbert goes the distance for the win, even with the Tribe chipping back and leaving seven on the last four innings.
National League through Tuesday, April 15
American League through Tuesday, April 15