9.26.2009

AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY...


July 13, 1924

RECENTLY, IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE: Phils get unbelievable shutout from Glazner in nightcap of Forbes Field twinbill after letting 7-0 lead get away in opener...Reds and Giants pick up a half game on leader while Brooklyn flops...

"Hey Vinny!" It was Hod Ford, our second baseman, calling me over to his breakfast table at the Schenley this morning. It seems Heinie Sand had met up with a young "Baseball Mollie", which is what the Phillie players call girls who follow them around, and still hadn't come out of his room. That got me a little disappointed in Heinie, because I swore he told me he was married once, but maybe I was wrong. Either way, said Hod while he munched his toast, you can't expect guys like us to be away from home for a month three times each summer and not "sample the local fare."

There was a kitchen help lady who kept coming over to re-pour our water glasses, and when Hod got up, left his quarter tip and headed upstairs, she came back and stood next to the table. When I looked up at her I noticed she was staring at me sort of funny. I also noticed that under her white cloth hat she had rolls of bright red hair and an amazingly beautiful face.

"What position do YOU play?" she asked, and it took me a second before I realized she thought I was on the team. "Oh, I'm kind of a backup everything," I said, because I enjoyed playing along. "You're awful young-looking," she said, "even for a rookie." Harper and Wrightstone were calling her from the next table, and she stared at me with a big smile for a little longer until finally turning away.

I finished my eggs and juice and started to get up and suddenly the lady was back. She re-poured my water glass again, but this time very, very slow, like she had to watch every drop go in. "I'm Gretchen Slattery," she said in her calmest, sweetest voice, "Want to go canoeing with me today?" I didn't know what to say, so I just sat there. "I know you fellahs aren't playing," she continued, "Nobody in Pennsylvania does on the Lord's Day." When asked if she had her own canoe she said "Yes, and I even have an auto."

I was tempted to say I was engaged to somebody right then and there, but being around these wild players was rubbing off on me, and I figured what was wrong with a little canoeing, anyway? So when she got off from her job around noon time, I met her around the back of the hotel, and we climbed into this rickety half-truck jalopy, which she had to start with a crank and blammed its exhaust out every couple of blocks.

It was hard to tell how old Gretchen was. She was able to drive herself so she obviously wasn't too young, but she had this sweet little girl face that made it hard to take your eyes off her. She drove pretty fast out of Pittsburgh and headed in an east direction, up and down these hilly, curvy roads along a river. There were less and less houses and more and more trees, and after at least an hour of this we bounced down this narrow, muddy trail and stopped at a dead end.

I didn't see any canoe anywhere, just a sorry-looking cabin perched on these flimsy wood poles stuck into the riverbank. There were smoke wisps coming out of its little metal chimney and a collection of fuzzy animal skins hanging between two trees. When I asked where the heck the canoe was she just smiled and led me inside.

There was no electricity, and she lit about twenty candles around the room before she answered one of my questions. She said she did have a canoe once but it tipped over and she almost drowned and she just let it float downstream. She also had a rowboat once that did the same thing, so no, she never went out on the water for fun anymore. I asked why she lied to me and she just pulled me close and took off her cloth hat and her red hair spilled out of it like flowing lava and the next thing I knew she was kissing me and tugging at my shirt. Don't leave me, too, she kept saying and I pushed her off and said "I don't even know you!" and then she got real calm and sweet again.

"Do you know of the Johnstown Flood?," she asked. Of course I did, what Pennsylvania kid doesn't know about that? Well, it turned out that Gretchen was four years old when it happened and her entire family drowned, "and now I'm waiting for the next flood to take me, too, but I need someone to go with me..." Can you believe this? Fetching Gretchen was not only close to 40 years old, but living like a hermit by herself, trying to snag a man she could drown with. Or in this case almost a boy.

I told her I was just the Phillie batboy and not a player and really had to get back but that only got her to start grabbing me again. I began to feel bad for her and let her hold me in her arms for a while, and I even had some of her stewed raccoon for an early dinner. But there was no way I was going to wait around for another flood and miss the rest of the Phillies' road trip. She drank a small glass of moonshine whiskey after we ate, and I faked drinking mine, and the second she fell asleep I snuck out to her jalopy, cranked it up and drove away from the cabin with her running out after me screaming. I left the auto for her at the edge of the main road a few miles away, and hitchhiked a ride back into Pittsburgh from there.

I told Heinie the story later, but he was all giddy from the time he spent with his normal girl and could only laugh about it. I guess it was a little bit funny, but if you think I'm going anywhere near the Schenley Hotel breakfast room again you got another thing coming.

Good night, reader-people!
—Vinny

Only National League games today:

BRAVES 5-9-1, at REDS 4-8-2
Talk about a flop. Boston hadn't beaten Cincy all year, but a huge shortstop error by Sam Bohne helps give the Braves two runs and the lead for good in the 2nd inning. Boston goes up 5-1 on Luque in the 7th, and the Reds make it exciting by scoring three of their own in the 8th, but Skinny Graham comes on to snuff the rally and get them 1-2-3 in the 9th.

at CUBS 5-9-1, GIANTS 0-4-3
McGraw moves Kelly back up to the fifth spot in the lineup and it gives the Giants bad Irish luck or something because their offense is just pathetic against Vic Keen and his 4-12 record. The worst fielding shortstop in either league Travis Jackson makes three errors to help the Cubs out, and I don't see how New York ever won a pennant at all with that guy out there.

ROBINS 6-9-0, at CARDINALS 2-7-1
The opposite of yesterday, when the Cards mashed Grimes. Bill Doak rolls over St. Louis pretty easy, and Flint Rhem throws two wild pitches in a row to help the Robins score three in the 5th. At least somebody takes advantage of a Bucs' day off, and I'm happy it was Rachel's team. And Rachel? Just so you know, I will never take a ride with another pretty flood victim again.










NATIONAL LEAGUE through Sunday, July 13
Pittsburgh Pirates5428.659
Cincinnati Reds5135.5935
Brooklyn Robins5036.5816
New York Giants4736.5667.5
St. Louis Cardinals4143.48814
Chicago Cubs3846.45217
Philadelphia Phillies3452.39522
Boston Braves2362.27132.5

2 comments:

  1. Vinny told me to tell you:

    "Thanks, mister! You got no idea how tough that was."

    ReplyDelete