RECENTLY, IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE: Phils hold off Cubs and go speakeasing...Bucs and Reds win, one day after Bucs and Red lose...Vinny doesn't remember going back to hotel...
July 18, 1924
"Vinny! Spit on my damn bat, will ya?"
It was Heinie, red-eyed and wobbly, so hungover he couldn't even spit on his own bat handle for the gooey grip he liked to have. I told him I wasn't a good spitter and he said that's baloney because all kids know how to spit. It took me four tries to call up a good one because I was just as hungover as he was, but I got it done.
The sun was back out today and it was a perfect low 70s, and the good Cubs Park seats close to the field were all filled. I even saw my old pal Al Capone back in his front row spot next to the Chicago dugout. Me and Benny ran into a peck of trouble when we did a driving job for him last time here, and I didn't even want him seeing me so I pulled my hat way down over my eyes before the game started and kept it there.
Elmer Jacobs was on the hill for the Cubs, and he's no good. Fletcher switched Harper and Heinie in the lineup, with the idea I guess that Harper had a better chance to get on base and then Heinie could bunt him over. Well, guess what? Ten seconds after I spattled on his bat handle, he swung at an Elmer curve and popped it high and deep to left. Hack Miller went back to the wall but the ball floated right over for a home run! Heinie ran so fast around the bases he almost reached third by the time the ball had bounced twice in the street, and when he ran by me he grinned and yelled "patooey!" at me.
Jimmy Ring and his stupid 3-12 record was going for us, so we knew a 1-0 lead had little to no chance of lasting, But Sand's homer just gave everyone in the dugout hope. Mokan did a little jig before he ran out to left field, and I swear I saw Wrightstone smile. Ring meanwhile was the best anyone had seen him in a while, scattering three singles, three walks and nothing else for his first seven innings.
In the top of the 6th, everything got sunny for us. Cy led with a double, Wilson singled him to third, and a Mokan fly got another run in. Then Ford and Ring both singled, and a ball hit out to Sparky Adams at short by Harper went right through the Spark's legs for a two-base error and we were up 4-0!
It was then that the first peanut shells hit my back. I didn't turn around, because I knew it was some wiseacre Cubs fan taking out his losing worries on me. "Go back to Philly-dilly, you punk!" a voice shouted, and I stopped, because there was something familiar in the accent. I whipped my head around, and there was Benny! He'd snuck right into an empty front row seat and had his shoes up on the rail while he whipped shells at me. "You bum!" I yelled, ran up and shook his hand. He'd been riding boxcars all the way from Pennsylvania, just to spend a few days in Chicago with me. I asked him why and he said, "I'm your best friend and isn't it your birthday tomorrow?"
Geez, he was right! I'd been so busy batboying I'd forgot all about it. He said he got me something special, and it was tied up in his sack which he'd hidden a few blocks from the park, so we made plans to hook up after the game outside the visitor club house.
Heathcote doubled and Grimes homered in the 8th to put the Cubs back in the game and put Ring back in his usual trouble, but Wrightstone socked one out in the 9th, Huck Betts finished up for Jimmy and we had the 5-3 win. We were now just four games behind Chicago in the standings, so Harper's bet was still alive, and everyone wanted to celebrate again with me as the honor guest because I had spit on Heinie's bat. I told them about Benny and they invited him along, but when I went outside to find him he wasn't there.
I waited a good ten minutes, and was about to give up when two scary-looking mugs in hats and suits came up on both sides of me and stood there.
"You the bat kid?" asked the shorter, uglier one. I nodded and they took my arms, walked me to the corner and shoved me into the back of a long, fancy car.
Where Alphonso Capone was sitting. Not looking all too happy and smelling like garlic. He said one of his boys had recognized "your buddy Benzini Olio," when he leaned over to talk to me, and then he recognized me too. Just what I was afraid of. Benzini was what Benny called himself when we met Capone out here last time, and he wasn't nuts about the way we left town so fast without thanking him for our last job. They had Benny a few streets away in another car, and according to Capone he'd already agreed to "help us out" again and wanted to make sure I would too. He also didn't seem too happy about the Cubs losing to us again, and didn't give an owl's hoot that I was their batboy.
There was "an associate" who was being fitted for some new "very heavy footwear" and needed to be dropped into Lake Michigan late that night to "test them out". I said I was too scared to do something like that, then got an idea and asked Capone if we could "warm up" by doing something else, like helping them get some bootleg whiskey. Al looked at his creepy guys a second, who chuckled at each other, and Capone seemed to buy the idea.
They let me duck back in the club house to "get my things," and I told some players I would meet them at the hotel later with a "bottle of something wicked". Heinie saw a scared look in my face but I was afraid to mention anything about Capone and said everything was fine. Capone's creeps then walked me to their own car, where Benny was stuck in the back with his hands and feet tied. They let me untie him and explain what we were doing, and it took a good five minutes for me to calm him down.
Benny had his bulging sack with him, and as we got drove up the north end of the lake, he took out my birthday present, a brand new Royal typewriter and three new pens. He said he got them from this rube of a Detroit reporter named Butterworth who he was still angry at for writing bad things about the Phillies in his before-the-season report. You mean you stole them, I asked? Yeah, but I don't think he knew it was me, was his weak answer.
I then made the mistake of asking Shorty Creep how and when we were getting the whiskey, and he said, "2 a.m. Which one of yous can drive a boat?"
Oh criminy. Help us, reader-people!
TO BE CONTINUED...
PHI 100 003 001 - 5 12 0
CHI 000 000 021 - 3 8 1
Only National League games today:
GIANTS 11-17-3, at PIRATES 5-11-2
Let's see, the Giants cream the Bucs in the opener, make six errors the next day and lose, then cream them again. How's that for normal? Ross Youngs bats second off lefty Cooper and gets four hits with a double, homer and four knocked in. Kelly bats fifth and tags a homer, but New York needs to take the last one to gain real ground.
ROBINS 4-8-1, at REDS 1-9-0
Cincy isn't allowed to win when the Bucs lose, so we all knew what would happen here. Doak goes all the way for his tenth win, and Andy High smacks a 3-run homer off Donohue in the 8th that just scrapes over the fence and Roush's glove.
BRAVES 5-10-1, at CARDINALS 4-11-0
One of St. Louis' most frustrating games of the year. All the scoring is done in the first three innings, and the second Stuart relieves Flint Rhem the Braves stop hitting, but the Cards wreck chance after scoring chance the rest of the way and lose to Jesse Barnes and his 5-12 record.
|NATIONAL LEAGUE through Friday, July 18|
|New York Giants||51||37||.580||6.5|
|St. Louis Cardinals||44||45||.494||14|