4.22.2009

DAYLIGHT RAMBLERS


May 9, 1924

It was plain scary, that's all I can say. Benny had the Chrysler Six going as fast as 50 miles an hour on that Pennsylvania highway, and I had my teeth gritted for most of the ride. We passed every other car easy, even some big farm trucks, and a couple times we passed families with girls in the back and we could hear them ooh and ahh at the sight of us. Benny sure loved that part, and would take off his cap and salute them like he was one of those Indy 500 drivers. He even bought himself a pair of goggles for the trip, which made him look like some daffy frog.

The seats were made out of velour and were real comfortable, and the car's instruments were all readable on one glass panel instead of small separate ones that I'd seen in most other cars. Mr. Chrysler had also put in a new kind of brakes called hydraulic, which stopped the car quicker and safer than the old drum ones. All in all, the thing was definitely worth the 1,225 dollars that Benny had to shell out for it.

We left the city before sunrise and by the time it was light enough we were way out in the countryside. I had no idea how much of the middle of our state is wild, and I could even smell the spring flowers when the car brushed past them. Benny wanted to get us to Cincinnati before dark, but I didn't expect that to happen. We had to stop for lunch and dinner and buy more petrol and figuring out the big dumb maps was something I needed to be back in school for. We had a big one that the Gulf Oil Company put out, and trying to follow my finger along the William Penn or Lincoln Highway or National Road was just plain impossible with Benny swerving around cars like a kook.

Another reason he was driving fast was because he knew the Braves were playing at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh that afternoon and thought maybe we could catch an inning or two. Why bother? I asked him, the Braves stink and the game's probably sold out. Never stopped us in Brooklyn, did it? he said back, and because he was the driver there wasn't much I could do.

We stopped at a diner in a town called Breezewood that had petrol pumps, and sure enough, every local man and farm boy in the place had to go outside and drool all over Benny's car. He even let a couple of the kids sit behind the wheel. I guess it was like this when the very first car rolled into any town, and I had to be careful not to start thinking we were like moving picture stars. Benny, though, was changing before my eyes. When we kept driving he started blabbing about all the pretty girls he was going to meet and I had to yawn and look out the window at a long passing train...
—Vinny


The Tigers' express line from Illinois to the Nation's Capital rolled through Indiana, Ohio and a good portion of Pennsylvania, and Harry Heilman proved to be a worthy companion at my dining car table. The man from San Francisco, thirty years of age now and still as imposing as a drill press, is trying to match his unparalleled 1923 campaign with the stick, in which he bated. 403 to capture the league crown.

"I feel very comfortable at home plate" he said over a lavish breakfast of Canadian bacon and eggs, "Mr. Cobb paid me little attention when I was a rookie, but now he's very helpful when my stroke needs work." Indeed, the 1920s have reaped an abundant crop of hits for Detroit's most fearsome slugger. It seems like only yesterday when Harry was recommended for a Carnegie medal for saving a drowning girl from the Detroit River, and local fans have serenaded his praises since then.

Does the impending series in Washington worry him? "Not in the least. Our offense can match theirs with ease, and Griffith Stadium is a huge yard with plenty of room for my doubles and triples. Our pitchers are the ones who need to buckle down, but I have faith in most of them."

The Tigers will face ace Walter Johnson in the first game, not Marberry as this scribe reported earlier, but the strapping Navy veteran will not be moved away from the dish. "He has that whiplash of a curve ball, but if I wait long enough I have a fair chance of knocking it into right field. Anyway, it's always thrilling to face the best hurlers, and Big Train is certainly one of those."
—Calvin J. Butterworth



Well, as I thought we didn't get to the Pittsburgh area until late afternoon, then got lost in some smoky neighborhood and gave up on Forbes Field this time around. But we did pass a general store that had a big sign out front reading PIRATES BALL GAME TODAY!! with a pretty big crowd hanging out the door. We were curious and parked the car. Inside the store was one of those new radio machines, and believe it or not, an announcer named Graham McNamee was telling us about the last few innings of the game, direct from the ballpark! It was hard to hear the words because they were all crackly, but the crowd was excited and we found out the Bucs had a huge lead. After the game finished we bought some snacks and kept on driving, turning west into Ohio.

The Chrysler's lights weren't too bright, and Benny had to slow down to keep us from smacking into trees. He asked if I wanted to try driving and I said forget that so he kept going even though he was getting tired. That was a big mistake because he dozed off around ten o'clock, the car went into a ditch and we had to get a couple farmers to help push us back out. Benny was real mad because there was dirt and a big dent on the side of his new car. Anyway, by the time we got to Cincinnati we were both dog tired and found the crummiest, cheapest hotel we could find, called the Cavalier Arms, and went right to our beds. A very sleepy good night, reader-people!
—Vinny

National League games we found out about at that general store in Ginger Hill, PA:

at PIRATES 13-17-1, BRAVES 3-12-0
Wilbur Cooper has the luck of a killer Buc attack, which includes no less than SIX triples off Benton and someone named McNamara.

REDS 6-10-1, at CARDINALS 4-7-0
The Cards put a 9th inning rally together off Spanish hurlers Luque and Dibut, but fall too short as Cincy prepares itself for the invasion of Phillies tomorrow. Please do not laugh.


TIGER TAILS...A late-evening card game on a baseball club's train can be dangerous turf to invade. It was the infield vs. the outfield in a poker contest as Blue, Rigney and O'Rourke had at it against Cobb, Manush and Heilman in the parlor car. When this reporter walked past the large crowded table and sneezed, four of the six gentlemen scolded me to no end and O'Rourke stood and did a small circular dance to ward off any sneezing spirits...They served Virginia quail at table tonight, and Johnny Bassler consumed far too much, as catchers are prone to do. One hopes it will not affect his movement behind the dish tomorrow...A birthday wish goes out to my loving wife, Bonnie Butterworth, on her 29th birthday today. Here's to my returning two weeks hence, with flowers and victories in hand.
—Calvin

Other American League contests on this travel day:

at RED SOX 5-10-1, BROWNS 4-10-2
The first West-East matchup in the league is a thriller. Down 4-1 in the 9th, the Bostonians collect a hit batter, two walks, a single and double by Howard Shanks off Pruett to vault back ahead of St. Louis in the standings.

at YANKEES 5-9-2, SENATORS 4-6-1
Apparently thrillers are a matched set. The Yanks tie the game in the 8th on Russell after trailing 3-1, fall behind in the 9th on an Ernie Johnson error to score Richbourg, then win it at the final moment when Dugan's double gets past Goslin for the winning runs. The rare Washington defeat moves the idle Tigers up a half notch, as well as placing Chicago in the lord's seat by percentages.

INDIANS 12-13-1, at ATHLETICS 5-11-1
The hapless Elephants are crushed by the Tribe, who were eager to get away from their luckless field. Eight runs cross the plate in the 5th after Galloway botches a double play ball, and Speaker and Jamieson combine for six safeties.





















NATIONAL LEAGUE through Friday, May 9
Brooklyn Robins157.682
Pittsburgh Pirates149.6091.5
Cincinnati Reds1410.583 2
New York Giants1310.5652.5
St. Louis Cardinals1113.4585
Boston Braves914.391 6.5
Chicago Cubs915.3757
Philadelphia Phillies815.348 7.5
AMERICAN LEAGUE through Friday, May 9
Chicago White Sox 158.652
Washington Senators 169.640
New York Yankees 1410.5831.5
Detroit Tigers 1211.5223
Boston Red Sox 1113.4584.5
St. Louis Browns 1114.4405
Cleveland Indians 1015.4006
Philadelphia Athletics 817.3208

5 comments:

  1. Jeff,
    Great stuff. Your writing style captures the 1920's perfectly. My introduction to baseball simulations was Strat-O-Matic back in the early 70's. My Yankees were not too good.
    I started a World Series replay back in Feb.
    www.dmbworldseriesreplay.wordpress.com
    I will post a link to your blog and will definitely check back often.

    Kevin G.

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  2. Awesome post and very transporting!

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  3. I work for a Chrysler dealer so I like that touch! I finally caught up on the whole story and printed out each one for future referance.Great writing,I really feel like I'm there

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