RECENTLY, IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE: Vinny's presence and hand-holding and two Brooklyn wins put Rachel on the mend...Bucs seize power by ambushing Reds...Hartnett's 14th homer helps dump Cards...
June 23, 1924
I was sleepy-eyed from my late trip back from New York, but couldn't lollygag around at home because the game at Baker Bowl with the Braves was an hour earlier than normal and I still had to figure out a present for Benny.
He was turning 19, which I figure is a big deal with that bigger 20 just around the corner, but as usual with Benny he wasn't thrilled. "Come on Vinny," he said when I practically had to drag him out of bed, "I don't have a steady girlfriend, my team stinks and I can't even rub two nickels together." I told him it was his birthday, the sun was out and there was a brand new ball game to see, but all he did was complain about the flapjacks that Dotty his rooming house lady made special for him and tasted like "burnt Goodyear tires." But when I reminded him we were playing the awful Braves he cheered up a little, and when I said everything at the ball park was going to be my treat, he shook my hand and actually smiled. I had him back.
Hal Carlson with his lucky 5-5 record was throwing for the Phils. I say lucky because he gives away hits like candy canes on Christmas and still manages to pull games out. Jesse Barnes, the unlucky brother of the Giants' Virgil, won his first three games of the year but then lost his next eight and I knew we could get in some tasty licks off him.
The left corner bleachers were packed, probably because everyone else had the same hunch that we could beat these rubes, and sure enough, with two outs in the 1st, Butch Henline singled, Cy Williams walked and Russ Wrightstone clanked a ball off the Lifebuoy sign in right field. Henline scored easy but Cy couldn't outrace Ray Powell's throw from right. We saw the giant cloud of dust erupt, lost our view of Cy and catcher Gibson, but then the umpire's thumb shot up and we groaned.
The 1-0 lead went on forever, it got real hot in the bleachers, and with every runner we left on base Benny got glummer. He had no clue what to do with his life and I reminded him I didn't either and we could knock our brains together all summer to come up with something, but that didn't help.
Then Jimmie Wilson stepped to the plate to lead off our 7th. Barnes spun and threw and Jimmie cold-cocked one high and deep to left. The ball was coming right at us! Benny climbed on the bleacher row, knocking me aside, leaped over the hats and heads of six fans but the thing nicked off his fingers and landed in the lap of some little girl who wasn't even watching the game! The crowd cheered the homer but Benny just sulked from missing the ball, so I had to re-direct his attention back to Carlson, who was throwing a 2-0 shutout into the 8th. Heck, even Casey Stengel was hitless.
A Harper double and Holke triple in our half of the inning made it 3-0 and seemed to perk him a bit, and then Oscar the Peanut Man edged himself into our row. He handed Benny two bags of hot nuts tied together with a blue ribbon and said "Happy birthday, Benny!" Right after that Benny's grandstand gambling friend Rollo Briggs showed up, gave Benny a couple of cigars and wished him the same thing. He was followed by Mike, our favorite Baker Bowl security cop, who reached up from his stool on the field and handed him a rolled-up paper: a giant signed photograph of Ruth Malcolmson, the Miss Philadelphia of 1924 who Benny embarassed himself over back on Decoration Day. Benny was blushing silly and asked me how all these people knew about his birthday and I told him I visited a few folks right before game time.
I even said I talked to the Phillies' equipment man, who knew Hal Carlson real well and that the pitcher had promised to throw Benny a shutout. Of course this was just a big fib, but with the score the way it was and the Braves being the other team I figured I had a good chance of getting away with it. Hal got the first two guys in the top of the 9th but then Cotton Tierney scratched a single. Some bum named Herb Thomas pinch-hit for Barnes and Carlson hit him in the back. Art Fletcher went to the mound and I thought oh no, what if he lifted "Benny's friend" before he could finish the shutout? This could wreck Benny's mind for a solid month! Instead, Fletcher went back to his dugout hole, Carlson got Bill Cunningham on an easy grounder and that was that! The place erupted, and lots of the bleacher fans around us who overheard my fib pounded Benny on the back with birthday wishes.
Benny was all smiles after and treated me back with some Bassett's ice cream dishes at the Reading Terminal. He vowed I would be his best friend forever, and that I could be his best man if he was ever lucky enough to meet a real girl. Before he could start dwelling on this again, I reminded him Cooney was facing Oescheger tomorrow.
Good night, reader-people!
BOS 000 000 000 - 0 8 0
PHL 100 000 11x - 3 9 1
Other National League games today:
PIRATES 6-13-1, at REDS 3-7-1
Oh boy. A 3-2 Cincy lead with the great and frightening Carl Mays on the hill? No problem for the Buccos! Two singles, a walk and Earl Smith double put them up 4-3 in the 7th, before a walk, Moore double, Smith single and Traynor single finish things off and give Pittsburgh a 5-game lead again.
at ROBINS 3-10-1, GIANTS 2-9-0
The plague that has infected McGraw's clubhouse shows no signs of letting up. Ross Youngs' 2-run triple in the 3rd off Tiny Osborne—Brooklyn's worst starter—ties the game, but New York can't put any hits together after that. Hack Wilson goes 0-for-5 in the cleanup spot and McQuillan loses a tough one on a Zack Taylor single in the 5th. With Brooklyn just one game behind New York now, the Robins-Giants rivalry will probably get heated.
The Cardinals and Cubs had the day off.
|NATIONAL LEAGUE through Monday, June 23|
|New York Giants||36||28||.563||6.5|
|St. Louis Cardinals||35||30||.538||8|