From the Quick Baseball Mysteries (Short Stories Collection)
(If you missed Part 1 and want to start at the beginning, click here)
The officer turned me over to a detective named Sparks who took me to a trophy case within the Grayson Stadium offices. Sure enough, the glass case was broken and a something was obviously missing. “We think Scott took the murder weapon from here.”
“You don’t honestly think that trophy was the murder weapon do you?”
“I’m not ruling anything out.”
“And why would Scott break into this case and take a trophy to kill someone? Why not use a bat? There are plenty of those lying around.”
“Look, I’ve seen a lot of crime scenes in my day and I can tell you this. People who kill aren’t always thinking rationally. I can’t say why? I just collect the facts.”
“Well, I can give you one fact: you’ve got a murder and a robbery to solve.”
“Robbery? We don’t have any evidence that anything has been stolen.”
“The evidence is right in front of you.”
He looked at the case. “This? You obviously don’t know much about about criminal justice. This isn’t theft per se. The missing item is in the body.”
“You’re right. I don’t know much about crime scenes. But I do know baseball and that’s why I was called down here. Whatever was taken from this case —trophy or otherwise — is not the trophy inside the guy on the field.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The trophy inside that guy is a 1941 South Atlantic League Championship trophy. The Macon Peaches won the Sally League that year. Why would Savannah have a Macon trophy in their case?” He looked at me dumbfounded. “Somebody wanted you to think that trophy came from this case.”
The South Atlantic League or Sally League as it’s often called has existed in a variety of forms since 1904. A baseball purist might throw at you the Southern League, the Western Carolinas League, and a hole host of other related trivia that might have gone by that title. However, we don’t have that kind of time. All you and I need to know for this story is that Savannah’s current minor league team (the Sand Gnats) plays in the Sally League. And in 1941, the Savannah Indians were in the South Atlantic League.
However, that trophy sticking out of the body was a Peach, or owned by a Peach, I should say. The Macon Peaches won the 1941 South Atlantic League Championship. If I was going to figure this out, I would have to talk with Scott. “Can I ask Scott some questions?”
The detective lead me into the parking lot where Scott was still being detained. He looked scared, but somewhat relieved to see me. “Quick, thank God, you’re here. They think I did this.”
“You realize I was about to plunder the magnificence of Georgia peach when I was interrupted by the police?”
“Plunder the what? I’m facing a murder charge and you’re pissed I interrupted your dinner?”
“Who said anything about food?”
“Oh, yeah I should have figured. You can hurt me later for interrupting your leisure activities. Did you see the trophy?”
“Yeah, it’s a Macon Peach trophy.”
“That’s why I had them call you. I knew it wasn’t ours, and I knew you could confirm that.”
“What about the trophy case?” Detective Sparks was still with us.
“What about it?”
“It’s been smashed,” I answered. “Something was stolen from it. My guess is they wanted someone to think that trophy sticking out of the body was it.”
Detective Sparks asked, “Do you think you can tell us what is missing from the case?”
“I’ve passed that case every day for 5 years. I hope so.”
The detective lead us back inside the stadium and to the case. Scott seemed genuinely shocked, so I felt a little better about him not being involved. Sure, I felt I knew him and didn’t think was capable of murder. But do we ever really know the people that come and go in our lives?
“Well, what’s missing,” the detective was growing impatient.
He stared at it, trying to remember. We waited a few moments and he exclaimed, “It’s the 1937 trophy! The ’37 champs trophy is missing.”
“You sure that nothing else is gone?”
“No, that’s it!”
“Why would someone steal one trophy and leave another,” asked the detective.
“Why would someone kill a groundskeeper,” asked Scott.
“Why would I answer the phone in the middle of…” they both looked at me. “Oh forget it, I’ll do some research on both trophies.”