RECENTLY, IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE: Vinny gets into Havana Grit Faction, secret Phillies club, for giving Harper a lucky stick...Phils split four games in Boston, prepare to invade Giants territory for Fourth of July...Bucs take eighth straight, may never lose again...

July 3, 1924

The ride down to New York lasted most of the day but didn't include anything overnight, meaning I'll have to wait for the trip out to Cincinnati to see where I'll be sleeping. The players were mostly in their own special car, playing cards or reading magazines or smoking, though Heinie Sand and Hod Ford strayed out to the dining car for lunch and invited me along.

What a fancy spread and what service! Colored waiters were all over the place and they served the best grub I've had in a long time, even from Mama. Heinie recommended a roast beef and melted cheese sandwich so I took him up on it and the meat was so delicious and fresh I thought I heard it moo when I chewed it. Ford was big on seafood and ordered fresh clams and oysters that were still in shells, and we all had vegetables even though I just picked at mine, and something called birch beer that tasted more like strong root beer and went down like frosty butter. I'll tell ya, hanging around with wealthy ballplayers is sure a nice way to live!

We stopped in the players' lounge to watch a huge game of Mississippi 7-Card Stud that seemed to involve every other player and even Art Fletcher. There was lots of shouting and cussing and five-dollar bills being smacked around, and I asked Heinie if the players went easy on their manager in these games. "Only if we lost that day," he said, which I figured was most of the time. Harper came out of the bathroom to rejoin the game, nudged me aside and invited me to join the H.G.F.s for a little tour of New York night spots after we checked in at the hotel. I said thanks but I probably wasn't old enough and he said "If you walk in with us you can be in diapers."

Our hotel was on a nice street in midtown Manhattan called Fifth Avenue, but by the time I got pulled into a taxicab with Harper and Holke and Wrightstone and Woehr it was dark, and we were heading west, then east, then north so fast I had no idea where we were most of the night.

And there was another reason for that, because every place we stopped was a speakeasy, and I got introduced to many kinds of whiskey, a few kinds of vodka and quite a bit of beer. Much of the stuff was shipped to the city from boats off the coast of Long Island, rumrunning as it was called, and as Holke explained, every ballplayer worth his salt knew where to find the stuff after games. As I sat and stumbled around with them, it struck me that if they ever invent a way to play ball games at night, it would probably help keep the players from becoming drunks.

On one place we walked over to a big guy sitting alone at a table with a girl passed out on his arm and it turned out to be George Kelly of the Giants! Their talented first baseman was having a real bad year for himself with the bat, and he was all out of sorts with Brooklyn having just crunched their behinds three straight at the Polo Grounds, and when he saw the Phillie players he got all chummy and started ribbing us, saying we were going to pay tomorrow for what the Robins just did, and Harper bet him fifty bucks right there on the spot that they'd be lucky to win one of the double-header games. Kelly then saw me, grabbed my arm and yanked me close to his drunky mouth. "Whaddya think, junior? Giants got a chance tomorrow?" I said sure, why not? and he winked at me. Wrightstone pulled me away, said "Don't be fraterning with enemies," and that was that.

Anyway, I think I remember us eating steaks and bread somewhere, which is probably why I didn't upchuck until I got back to my room later, and I also think I was dancing with a girl to a jazz band at one point but it wasn't Rachel because too much of her legs were showing and she smelled like an open gin bottle. We were in a club called Connie's Inn up in Harlem, and I knew that because I'd stayed up in that area with Benny one time early in the season and I remember all the coloreds in the streets. They didn't allow coloreds in the Cotton Club or this place unless they were playing the music, which I think is stupid and unfair but who the heck am I to change things? I'll tell you who I am, damnit, I'm Vinny Spanelli, star batboy for the Philadelphia Phils, and I'm gonna dance with flazzies and drink speakeasy juice and fraterize with whoever the hell I want and no one's telling me different, so g'night...


Only National League games today:

ROBINS 6-10-1, at BRAVES 0-4-1
Sure hope Rachel didn't go up to Boston to see her boys, because I invited her to the Polo Grounds tomorrow in case you forgot. Dazzy Vance does it again with a 4-hit blanker and Wheat gets four hits.

at CUBS 6-11-5, REDS 2-5-1
Leave it to the Bucs to pick up half of a game without even playing. Pete Alexander comes back from sitting out the Pittsburgh series with an injury, just in time to smoke out their chief rivals. Also, in a great Pittsburgh imitation, the Cubs make five errors and still win easy.

NATIONAL LEAGUE through Thursday, July 3
Pittsburgh Pirates5022.694
Cincinnati Reds4631.5976.5
Brooklyn Robins4332.5738.5
New York Giants4033.54810.5
St. Louis Cardinals3736.50713.5
Chicago Cubs3241.43818.5
Philadelphia Phillies3046.39522
Boston Braves1956.25332.5

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