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From the third row of bleachers, near the green screen on the left-field side, Louis Kleppel occasionally watched the game through heavy German field glasses. He has been watching the Giants for 47 years. "I made the road trip with the Giants in '51. Every day I'd shake Bobby Thomson's hand. I gave him a lift, a psychokinetic push. I went to Chicago with them and Eddie Brannick got me a seat behind the Giant dugout and I got Thomson going good. Shaking hands with me did something to him. Then Branca threw that fast ball on the wrists."
Kleppel used to collect money from Polo Grounds bleacher fans, so that he could present watches to Giant ballplayers. "I got 12 watches. I got them for Sal, for Westrum, Jansen, Irvin, Mays, Dark, Thomson, Lockman, Mueller, Hank Thompson, Shellenback—for doing such a great job with the pitchers—and Bobby Hofman, for all those pinch-hit runs. Then I started to collect money for an Antonelli Day, but they stopped me. I turned $18.50 over to the Damon Runyon Fund. Here, I'll show you the clipping."
Kleppel saw about 50 Giant games in 1957, 25 to 40 Yankee games and 20 to 30 Dodger games. He turned to a young boy behind him. "Don't chew so loud. It's not nice. I'm talking." Kleppel is a bachelor. "I married baseball," he said.
Kleppel took a baseball from his pocket and read the inscription: "To my friend with all good wishes, Wahoo Sam Crawford, August 23, 1957, Hall of Fame, July 22, 1957." Kleppel is having the ball autographed by outfielders only.
Kleppel once tried to get baseball fans to volunteer to give blood, but he was advised to drop the idea. "They thought baseball was a recreation, just for fun, and you shouldn't remind people of serious things. They don't realize that man is attached to each other man. Man is a Siamese twin, but he doesn't know it."
The only home run ever hit into the center-field bleachers—by Joe Adcock—landed between Kleppel's legs. "I've got a bad back, a sacroiliac. So I couldn't bend. Somebody else picked up the ball and sold it for $25."
On the field in front of Kleppel, Frank Thomas lofted a high fly along the left-field foul line. It fell into the upper deck for a home run.
The announcer cautioned the fans about walking on the playing field. A fan said, "What for? To save the field for houses?"
The shadows lengthened, covering right field and half the infield. Willie Mays came up and hit a long fly to center field, near the bleacher wall. A fan said, "That's all right, Willie. Home run in San Francisco." Paper littered the grass. Children ran the bases. The fans, barely 3,000 of them, filed out.