On his way to baseball purgatory last Friday, Williams stopped by Garvey's locker to offer encouragement. Garvey rose from his stool to shake the manager's hand. Williams had said earlier that there was no reason the team shouldn't win without him at the tiller. Now he said to Garvey, "We'll just go out and get 'em, won't we." Garvey nodded in agreement, and as Williams moved on, resumed his seat and his conversation. "Dick has enjoyed this year as much as any he's had in the past," he said, shaking his head as if confounded by such a phenomenon. "I know he won't admit it, but he's had a more personal approach to the team this year. He's shown some real compassion. I think all of us have grown both professionally and personally this year. We're enjoying the camaraderie, and that's what it's all about."
Williams watched the first game of his suspension behind a carton of popcorn in McKeon's upstairs box. He was helpless to stop the 8-4 slaughter. Coach Ozzie Virgil, the surrogate manager, entertained the press afterward in the cramped coaches' quarters. "We just played horsebleep," he said. "You play like that, you can't expect to win a ball game.
The door was open to Williams's office. An attaché case rested on a chair. There were papers on the desk and clothes in the closet. A large photograph of Babe Ruth hung on one wall, alongside one of Williams with President Johnson after the '67 Series. But nobody was home and all the lights were off except one. There blinking in the darkness was a Lite beer advertising sign, a beacon of sorts, a comic reminder of the missing manager, and, at the same time, the Lite, as it were, at the end of a long dark tunnel for the Padres.