The road trip could have been worse (10 wins, 11 losses), but the night itself could not have been more nightmarish: the Dodgers' pitcher had struck them out 18 times. It was 2:30 in the morning, and their lead was one game. They had gone away three weeks before with a game and a half, but somewhere back east they had lost their half.
Maybe if they had come home with a larger lead they would have been greeted by a larger crowd. Baseball fans are like that. The little boy's father said there was supposed to be a brass band to meet them, and the little boy's mother replied that anybody with brains enough to blow through a horn would be home in bed. Even so, there were 300 people, some with signs like THIS TOWN LOVES YOU, and the morning was chilling, as mornings in San Francisco always are.
Manager Bill Rigney, his warm breath visible, addressed the faithful briefly, saying, "We're in first place, and I'm confident we're going to stay there," and a shivering young lady said, "I like hearing him say it, though I suppose it's what he would say," and the players filed down. Shortstop Ed Bressoud, a widower at 27, carried two sleepy children. Hank Sauer, after two decades as a player (he hit his last home run eight weeks ago in San Francisco), was now a coach. Trainer, clubhouse man, a few wives. Newsmen. Many of the faces were familiar but only two of the voices: down out of the sky came Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons, broadcasters.
There was nothing anybody could do about anything at half past two in the morning, but the little boy clung to a sign reading NOW! ON TO THE PENNANT. He fully forgave the Giants for striking out 18 times, and for losing their half game. "I'm not worried," he said, but his mother was terribly tired.
From Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill a tourist can see Alcatraz prison through a telescope for a dime. Among the tourists were the Chicago Cubs, to whom the Giants had been too cordial all season. On the Embarcadero a teamster said, "Don't mention my name, but if they can get past Chicago then St. Louis comes in, always a patsy for us. We can be four, five games ahead by the time L.A. wakes up. I been on strike for three weeks. Who's pitching?"
He was told that Mike McCormick was pitching.
"I mean for them," the teamster said.