RECENTLY, IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE: Stinky Braves beat us two out of three for no special reason...Robins sweep Giants with three 3-2 scores...Vinny gives Benny his Ladies Day memento...

June 26, 1924

This time it was Mama who shook me awake this morning. "There's a girl downstairs named Maria asking for you." I rolled over and said I didn't know any Maria and she said "The girl sure knows you. Maria Stonetino from Brooklyn?"

Oh lord. I tiptoed out, took one peek at the front room from the top of the stairs and saw Rachel standing there, all dolled up in a sun dress and yellow hat and carrying a little yellow sun umbrella. What the heck? I ran in the bathroom, washed up so fast I almost brushed my teeth with hair grease, threw on some clothes and hurried down to meet her.

Her face was full of color and she looked as sweet as a peach in her outfit and gave me this giant hug. Mama didn't know what to make of all this so I introduced "Maria" to her as "a friend I met up there I was meaning to tell you about." The second Mama went off to finish breakfast I asked Rachel what she was doing in Philadelphia and she looked at me like I was a big kook. "We got four games in three days here with you! Isn't it time I visited you for a change?" Honestly, the Phillies have been so busy losing lately I haven't been up on their schedule as much, but it was true. The Robins were at Baker Bowl today, tomorrow, and Saturday for a double-header, before the teams went back up to Ebbets for a Sunday game.

Mama called us into the kitchen for breakfast, which was when I noticed Rachel was talking with a fake Italian accent to go along with her fake Italian name. She even said her father worked down at the docks in New York hauling around vegetables. I was certainly thrilled to see her, but this masquerade stuff was ridiculous, and I told her so when we started off to the ball game. "Well, I wasn't sure your mother would like who I was," she said, "and me being Italian is a lot easier than you pretending to be Jewish." I asked where she was planning on staying and she said Mama had already promised her the downstairs couch, and that her little travel suitcase was in the hall closet. I couldn't believe any of this, but as the streetcar got close to Baker Bowl I started to think about the game, with Burleigh Grimes facing Johnny Couch, of all the strange things, and how fun it was going to be to give someone a tour of my daily field.

Benny met me outside as usual, tried to kiss Rachel's hand and missed, then asked if she had brought one of her girlfriends along. Realizing this was a solo journey for her, he gave me a little wink and said he'd see "you lovebirds" afterwards. I sprung for dollar grandstand seats, of course, and pointed out my favorite Baker items to her, like the dinky right field fence and the little hump in center field that went over the train tunnel. I bought her a sausage roll and lemonade, and promised her a dessert at Bassett's after the game.

The Phillies jogged on the field in their creamy white uniforms and red caps, the Brooklyn players in their drabbier grey colors, which delighted Rachel to no end because she had gotten tired of seeing her Robins in the same outfits every day, and she leaned over between sausage bites and gave me a wet cheek-kiss right before the first pitch with a "good luck" smile. Life was wonderful, even in seventh place.

And then Johnny Couch threw the ball, Bernie Neis singled, and we were off. One out later, Wheat singled, Fournier got hit by a pitch, shooting Rachel out of her seat with a "You can't do that!" with everyone laughing around us. Brown singled in two runs and it was 3-0 Brooklyn. A Holke triple and Harper single cut it to 3-1, easing my stomach a bit, but Couch was even worse in the 2nd inning, giving up two sharp singles, a loud double, and sacrifice fly for two more runs. Rachel could tell I was annoyed and held my hand with both of hers. It was warm out again but she didn't sweat like a normal person and her palm was actually dry and soft.

And then the Phillies went cuckoo on the old spitballer Grimes. Mokan singled, Hod Ford tripled. After two whiffs Holke singled, Harper tripled and Cy singled and we had tied the game 5-5! I hooted and jumped up and Rachel let go of my hand. "We got a war now!" I shouted to her trying to be funny but she hardly laughed. A Ford error helped give the Robins a 6-5 lead in the 3rd, but Holke got ahold of one in the 4th and belted a 2-run homer and we were up 7-6! But not long because Grimes singled and Neis homered with two gone in the 5th! When Holke drove in his fourth run with a scoring fly in the 6th it was 8-8 and the place was insane.

Rachel and me had pretty much stopped talking, as we took turns jumping out of our seats like yo-yos. Sometimes men play baseball and other times baseball plays the men, and this was one of those times. The game stayed tied until the 8th, when Rachel's heartthrob Fournier walloped his major league-leading 18th homer and she cheered so hard I almost went deaf. Then Brown doubled, scored when Wrightstone butchered a Zack Taylor single, and Steineder came in to put Couch to bed. And that stopped nothing. A single, three walks and two wild pitches with the same hitter up later, Brooklyn had a 12-8 lead and pretty much the game, right?

Nope. Ford tripled and Steinder singled in our 8th to make it 12-9 and bring in their best relief man Rube Ehrhardt. Brooklyn got another run in the 9th, but then we went cuckoo again. Cy singled to begin our final ups, and so did Wrightstone. Neis flubbed an easy fly in right for a two-base error and it was 13-10. Rachel hid behind her sun umbrella. Two ground outs followed, but one scored our 11th run. Joe Schultz hit for Steineder, our only home run threat on the bench. Ehrhardt reared and threw, Rachel peeking out, and Schultz creamed the ball on a line toward Benny's spot in the left field bleachers. Mokan ran back but the ball bounced off the wall in front of him for a double and it was 13-12! Rachel couldn't take any more, said she had to find a lavatory and left the grandstand, missing Heinie Sand's weak fly to right for the final out.

I sat waiting for her in my seat after half the place had left, and when she finally came back she was dabbing her face and neck with a wet handkerchief and was all smiles again, as if nothing had happened. But I was in a sour mood now after being thrilled and tortured for nine innings and still coming up short again. I told her the Phillies home record was a horrible 9-24 so she really had no business being worried, and if she was lucky maybe Brooklyn would just win 12-0 tomorrow and we wouldn't have to go through with this again.

She got as cool with me as I was with her, and we never went for ice cream, and during Mama's spaghetti feast that night I just sat and let Rachel Maria tie herself in knots with her fake Italian answers to Mama's questions. I knew I was being a dope, a jerk, and a bad host but come on, that game was just a brutal one and I need a full day to get over the brutal ones. Believe me, if the Robins had lost she would've left town on the first train.

We played some cards with Mama after dinner and Rachel let me win but I was still pretty much a wet blanket. I did give her my room and take the lumpy couch, though, hoping I could get all of my suffering out in one night, so I suppose I'll be ready to have fun again by morning. Good night, reader-people!

BRK 321 020 041 - 13 19 2
PHL 140 201 013 - 12 17 3

Other National League games today, and how about this?

at GIANTS 5-7-2, BRAVES 4-8-2
Boston comes real close to winning three games in a row, thanks to the yucky Giants, but lose their 50th game of the year instead. Down 3-0 in the 6th, New York scores all their runs on six hits off Joe Genewich, who was throwing a no-hitter until then.

at PIRATES 5-7-4, CUBS 4-9-2
For the second straight day, the Cubs blow a 4-0 lead in the middle of the game as Glenn Wright ties the game with a homer in the 6th and Cuyler wins it on a sac fly in the 7th. Emil Yde goes to 8-3, beating Guy Bush, who starts for the conveniently injured Pete Alexander. The Bucs make NINE errors the last two games and win both of them. What does that tell you?

at REDS 5-10-1, CARDINALS 4-8-1 (11 innings)
If not for our circus at Baker Bowl, this is the best game of the bunch. Flint Rhem has a 3-hit shutout going to the last of the 9th but Cincy ties the score with their typical batch of walks, timely hits, passed balls and other nonsense. Reliable Cards relief man Jesse Fowler is not today, and after he gives up a Walker double and Caveney single to start the last of the 11th, lefty Dyer comes on to face lefty Roush. BING! Base hit and this one goes to the Redlegs.

NATIONAL LEAGUE through Thursday, June 26
Pittsburgh Pirates4422.667
Cincinnati Reds4129.5865
Brooklyn Robins3829.5676.5
New York Giants3730.5527.5
St. Louis Cardinals3631.5378.5
Chicago Cubs3135.47013
Philadelphia Phillies2543.36820
Boston Braves1750.25427.5

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