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"Not yet," Hershberger said. "I'm waiting for a friend."
The day before, he bought a bottle of iodine in the drugstore of the Copley Plaza, but he changed his mind about drinking it, even if he could not shake the impulse that had led him to buy it. After the players had left, Hershberger drifted back to his room. At 1:10 p.m., as he sat there thinking, the phone rang. At McKechnie's urgent request, Paul was trying to reach Hershberger from a public phone booth at the ballpark. "The phone rang a long, long time," recalls Paul.
When Hershberger finally answered it and Paul identified himself, the usually gentle, soft-spoken catcher snapped: "What do you want?"
"Bill asked me to call you," Paul said. "He's worried about you, and he wants you to come to the ballpark."
"I'm sick," said Hershberger.
"You don't have to put on your uniform," said Paul. "Bill says you can come out and sit in the stands. He's concerned, and he just wants you out here."
Hershberger hesitated. "All right," he said. "I'll be right out...."
Paul was the last person known to have spoken to him. Hershberger never made it to the ballpark. Around 2 p.m., he stripped off his shirt and undershirt and shaved with his brand-new electric razor, which he had bought just before this road trip. In the bathroom, Hershberger then gathered up all the towels from the racks, got down on his hands and knees and, as meticulously as a mason laying tiles, unfolded and spread out the towels, wall to wall, on the bathroom floor. He was too polite and thoughtful a man to make a terrible mess for the maid to clean up. No, he would leave nothing like that. Nothing like the mess his father, Claude, had left 12 years before, when Willard was a high school boy of 17 living at home in Fullerton, Calif., and one dark November morning was jolted awake by the thunderous roar of the shotgun exploding in the bathroom at the bottom of the stairs.
Hershberger finished laying out the towels. The game at the park was in the seventh inning, with the Reds winning 2-1, when he picked up the used single-edge blade that he had taken from his roommate's safety razor. He turned his back to the tub.
Peering above the basin into the reflecting glass, Willard McKee Hershberger looked into the face of the only man who ever really wished him ill.