June 2, 1924
Well, like I promised I got up nice and early and took a hot bath, put on my best clothes and went off to school with three apples in my pockets. I had missed so many days because of my baseball journey that I thought Mrs. Crackerbee could use more than one bribe.
Instead she made a big fuss over me the second I got in the room, walked me up in front of the class and asked how my "voyage to the Caribbean Sea" went. Uh-oh. I guess Mama had made up some cockamamie story about where I went, and now I had to just plain fudge it. All the kids were staring at me, especially the girls, like I was some kind of midget war hero, so I went on and on about my crazy Uncle Percival and his mission to spread religion to the islands down there whether they liked it or not, and how we got attacked by Cuban pirates and had to trade them cigarettes and tonic medicine and chewing gum to save our lives, and how it rained a lot of the time and that's why my skin never got tan. Stuff like that.
For the next hour or so we reviewed a nutty chapter in our physiology book. It described the human body as a house where the stomach was the kitchen, the small intestine was the dining room, and the lungs were the laundry but for some reason it didn't say anything about a bedroom or bathroom. Then right before lunch Mrs. Crackerbee handed out a final history test, which I knew I'd probably flunk. Joey Kopf sat next to me, a smart little kid with blonde hair and thick glasses, and I started working on him for answers. Joey's real name is Josef but the school started giving German kids American school names after the War so they wouldn't get beaten up, and I looked out for him a bunch of times so I knew he might help me.
The test was mostly about the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and I was getting Lexington mixed up with Manassas pretty quick. If they had questions about the Great War that just ended I might have done better because I'd read every one of Papa's letters from there four times, but I guess they didn't want us to know much about that one and how incredibly stupid and awful the whole thing was. Anyway, Joey traded me six answers for three sticks of peppermint gum, so I guess that pirate story I told made some kind of dent in his head.
I ate my salami and cheese sandwich in the lunch room after. It was broiling hot out and the fans weren't working, so I found a spot right next to one of the windows, and that's when I heard Benny calling my name.
He was standing out in the alley wearing the nicest clothes I'd ever seen on him. His hair was combed and he'd even shaved most of the stubble off his chin. Ruth was right around the corner waiting, he said, and she wanted to take us someplace special for the afternoon. I told him I had to be in school and was already eating lunch, but I knew it was a dumb argument. How I could I not meet Miss Philadelphia? Mr. Tuggerheinz had been keeping an eye on me the whole lunch but the second he turned his back I climbed out the window and ran around the corner with Benny.
And there she was—Ruth Malcolmson, wearing a slim blue dress and a cute little hat and good God, she was the most perfect female I'd ever seen. I shook her hand and kissed it because I didn't know what else to do. She had a funny voice that sounded like dripping maple syrup and smelled like a flower vase, and in ten seconds she was getting us into a taxicab.
Benny couldn't even talk, just stared at her and kept his arm around her tiny waist. She said she'd heard about our baseball road trip and wanted to know all about the far-away cities so I serenaded her with that as long as I could before Benny started kicking my shin to shut me up. Benny asked Ruth if we were going to a park or fancy restaurant and she just smiled and wouldn't give her secret away.
Finally she leaned forward, tapped the driver's arm and said "Twenty-first and Lehigh please," and Benny lost the smile on his face. She was taking us to Shibe Park! He asked her if she was an A's fan and she said "Oh of course! Who didn't grow up rooting for Home Run Baker?" Me and Benny sure as heck didn't, but we kept our fake smiles on as we bounced our way through town.
Shibe is actually just four or five blocks away from Baker Bowl in the area they call North Penn, but it might as well be on the Moon to us. True blue Phillie fans don't want anything to do with those wealthy Mack-heads who follow the upstart American League in their giant cave of a ball field, and it was just our luck that one of the two games being played all day was right in our city. At least it was against first-place Washington, so maybe we could see the Athletics suffer.
Lehigh Boulevard was packed solid. The A's had been playing hot lately, had just beaten up the Yankees three in a row before they lost in Washington yesterday, and their fans were starting to believe again. Heck, they'd won a bunch of pennants in the early 1910s before Mack traded all his stars away, although the Phillies had won a pennant since the last time the A's had. Anyway, Ruth had already gotten us tickets through some society friend and they were supposed to be in a good section, and it's kind of tough to say no to a beautiful lady and a ball game.
This was the first time I'd been to Shibe Park and I have to say it was a palace compared to our dump, especially the outside, which looked like somebody's mansion. The hot sausages were actually hot for one thing, the fans were polite, smelled less like gin and really seemed to understand the game. The team has been hitting like the dickens these days, and they have a rookie slugger named Al Simmons who Ruth couldn't stop talking about. She liked to watch him hit with his "one foot in the water bucket" stance, though Benny whispered to me that she probably just liked looking at his rump.
Anyway, we had a good rump-watching spot, right behind the Athletics' dugout, but the game turned sour right away for the home folks when Eddie Rommel hit Muddy Ruel in the back to start the game. Washington actually had their catcher leading off so I guess they won't try that again, but getting Muddy plunked only lit their bats on fire. After Judge walked, Goslin singled in the first run and with two outs, Ossie Bluege doubled home two more and it was 3-0 out of the gate. A Dykes triple and Bing Miller single made it 3-1 and got Ruth all excited even though her rump-boy grounded out to end the inning.
Judge then got hit on the side of his head to load the bases, knocking him out for a few days, and Goose Goslin went crazy, tripling in three runs for a 6-1 lead. A walk and four more Senator singles in the 5th kicked Rommel out for good, and their pitcher Ogden sat back on the mound and relaxed while his hitters scored single runs each of the last four innings to take the game 14-4. Wow, those Washingtons can flat out whip your hide, and we were sure glad they're in the other league.
We took Ruth over to this big Jewish neighborhood nearby and had ice cream at a great place called Doc Hoffmans, and her strawberry cone was the only thing that cheered her up. Then Benny made fun of one of the A's players—I think it was Maxie Bishop—and Ruth's face turned from angel to red-hot devil and she said she had to go and told Benny that maybe she'd see him again sometime. Benny ran out the door after her to apologize but she was into another cab before you can say Jack Sprat and that was the end of our date with Miss Philadelphia. Benny felt like a complete dolt of course, so I had to remind him that Hornsby and the Cards were in town starting tomorrow, and I thought I saw him try to smile.
Good night, reader-people!
WAS 330 041 111 - 14 16 1
PHA 100 200 001 - 4 8 1
Only other game today:
CARDINALS 4-12-1, at PIRATES 3-9-1
The Bucs get back from Cubs Park for one game before hitting the eastern road and lose again. Cooper can't handle two leads, Bill Sherdel triples in the tieing run in the 6th and scores on Cooney's hit for the final lead. How about that? The Phils don't even play and pick up half of a game! Every other team is busy getting to where they have to be. The Cards now come see us and the Pirates go to Brooklyn to beat up the dying Robins.
|NATIONAL LEAGUE through Monday, June 2|
|New York Giants||27||18||.600||2.5|
|St. Louis Cardinals||25||23||.521||6|
|AMERICAN LEAGUE through Monday, June 2|
|Chicago White Sox||30||16||.652||1.5|
|New York Yankees||24||22||.522||7.5|
|St. Louis Browns||20||26||.435||11.5|
|Boston Red Sox||18||27||.400||13|