LAST GAME IN BROOKLYN
By Wayne Zurl
On September 24, 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field and I was there. Well, not exactly there—I watched the game on TV. I was eleven and had sprained my ankle the day before in gym. My mother kept me home from school.
Junior Gilliam had just hit a high fly ball to shallow right field when I heard what I thought was a muffled backfire sound off close to our house. I looked out the window, but didn’t see a car running. Then a man about thirty or forty—as a kid, I had a hard time telling—slammed the side door at Mrs. Campbell’s house. It wasn’t Mr. Campbell. He jumped into a two-tone brown ’48 Chevy, one just like my father’s, and drove away. I went back to finish watching the game.
The cameras panned the small crowd of people scattered around the stadium. The announcer said only 6,700—a drop in the bucket. The game ended when Pirates’ outfielder Bob Skinner grounded to short and Don Zimmer scooped it up and fired a bullet to Gil Hodges at first. End of an era. The Dodgers won the five-hitter two zip, but no one in Brooklyn looked happy.
My mother was preparing a meatloaf when I pushed the curtains aside and saw two marked police cars parked in front of the Campbell’s house. As I peered out the window, a black ’55 Ford pulled into the driveway and an overweight guy in a gray suit and fedora stepped out.
I called to my mother, “Hey, Ma, what’s going on next door?”
She didn’t know.
Another dark four-door pulled up and two more suits got out. One carried a big Graphic Reflex camera and the other, a big tool box.
My mother stepped up behind me and looked over my shoulder.
“I’m going out there,” she said.
“You shouldn’t walk.’
“Sure I should.”
I hobbled after her and reached the sidewalk in front of Campbell’s house just as a Nassau County patrolman approached his car. He looked short for a cop. His orange oval patch and powder blue tie contrasted sharply with the navy blue uniform.
“What happened?” my mother asked.
“Woman got killed.”
“She get shot?” I asked.
He looked at me for the first time and frowned. “Yeah, why?”
“I’ll bet I know who did it,” I said.
My mother stared at me like I was a Martian.
The cop smiled and shook his head. “Sure you do, kid.” He got into his car and drove away.
“What are you talking about?” Mom asked.
“I saw a guy run out of the house before.”
She grabbed my hand. “Come with me.”
The Campbell’s front door stood slightly ajar. Mr. Campbell sat on the sofa hanging his head. Mom knocked on the jam and the overweight guy opened the door. A gold shield hung from a leather fob on his jacket pocket.
“My son has something to tell you.”
He stepped outside and closed the door.
“This guy,” I said, “came out the side door and jumped into a car.”
“I don’t know. Some guy. I never saw him before.”
“Not sure. Third inning?”
The detective looked confused.
I shrugged. “I was watching the Dodger game.”
“Oh.” He rolled his eyes.
“Was she shot?” I asked.
I must have seemed overly enthused. He scowled.
“Look, son, we’re pretty busy here. I hope you’re not fooling around.”
He wouldn’t do that.” Mom always stuck up for me.
“What’s his name?”
I spoke for myself. “I’m Sam Jenkins. We live next door.”
"How old are you, kid?”
“Eleven and a half.”
“You look pretty big for eleven.” He pointed to the Ace bandage around my foot. “What happened?”
I told him, and then described the man I saw and his car.
“Okay, thanks. I’ll look into it.” The squad dick turned to leave.
“Hey, wait,” I said. “You want his plate number?”
If you want to read more about Wayne or check out his Sam Jenkins series, just follow the link: http://www.waynezurlbooks.net/