A MID-WEEK RESPITE AT HENRY FORD'S ESTATE
By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber
August 5, 1924
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Few were as shocked as I to receive a phone call from Henry Ford's staff manager this morning, inviting me to a spontaneous dinner banquet for "American Legends" at Fair Lane, his grand Dearborn mansion. I imagined he had been reading my daily reports in the Free-Enterprise for some time, and thought I was worthy of covering the event. Or maybe he had another motive. Regardless, after today's dreadful game at Navin Field (Yankees 8, Tigers 3, Ed Wells wretched, Babe Ruth typically impotent) Bonnie helped outfit me in my finest supper attire, and off I rode down Michigan Avenue.
I doubt there are even a handful of dwellings in this country as opulent as the one Henry Ford assembled. Not only are there 56 rooms, but as you drive through the high gates onto his 1300 acres, you pass a man-made lake, summer house, pony barn, a skating arena, entire working farm and the five hundred birdhouses that satisfy the owner's ornithological interest.
The carved oak entrance hall, library and living room are stuffed with guests and tobacco smoke. I only recognize a few other local wordsmiths, but do catch a glimpse of Thomas Edison conversing with Clara Ford, motion picture star Will Rogers telling a story next to a stained glass window, as well as Michigan State football coaching greats Chester Brewer and John Macklin.
Then I hear a familiar bellow of laughter coming from a cavernous fireplace across the living room, and I walk over to see Babe Ruth, looking unusually stiff in his bulging suit, puffing on the largest cigar in North America and telling a no-doubt randy joke to a crowd of reporters. He recognizes me instantly from our one-sided billiards match in New York back in May, yells "Hey, kid!" at me, and takes me aside for a private word.
"Can you believe the size of this joint?" he begins, flicking a dollop of cigar ash on the carpet and making sure to snuff it with his heel. "All from making that joke of a Model T. I'd shoot another rack with ya but I hear old Clara took over the pool room 'cause she needed a place to write her girlie letters." Will Rogers strolls by to shakes his hand, and he pulls me further away, against a window.
"Hey listen. There's a rumor floatin' around that a bunch of star players are gonna play against some pretty good coloreds outside of Philly this weekend. Hear anything, kid?" I am flabbergasted, and profess my ignorance of such an event. "Well, keep those big ears open and let me know tomorrow if you do. My club rots this season and I can't seem to hit my weight when it counts, so a nice little fake game with them colored boys might relax me a tad."
A dinner bell gongs, we're whisked into a lavish main dining hall, and take seats around the long grand table. Ford enters, takes the end seat at the far end, raises his glass of Maine spring water (which we have all been served), thanks us for coming, and toasts each and every "American legend" at the table. Then he fires his steely gaze straight at me.
"And from the esteemed fourth estate, we have none other than Calvin J. Butterworth. While I cannot condone his recent anarchistic behavior, I have admired his writing skills for some time, and see now that his inherently rebellious spirit harkens back to the brave patriots of Lexington and Concord. I salute you, sir!" Glasses clink, tears flow from my eyes, and I settle before my braised duck stuffed with soybean pate.
To my immediate right sits one Dean C. Smith, a young, handsome and notorious air mail pilot, famous for delivering a letter after crashing his plane last year. His senses appear to be juiced with illegal liquid from a hidden flask in his vest pocket, but I enjoy his humor and company and being a loyal follower of air achievements, it isn't long before I discover it was he who buzzed his de Havilland biplane over Navin Field yesterday. He offers to take me on a ride any time I wish and write about it, but my height-challenged nerves and lack of incentive force me to decline.
Ruth stands before dessert is served to rekindle laughter and offers "a big thank-you to Hank Ford over here for not inviting Ty Cobb." Most of us know Ruth and Tyrus get along just fine, but despite his reputation as a Jew-hater, Henry Ford is a most devout man and has no interest in entertaining a notorious scallywag like Cobb in his home. Ruth himself may be as safe to have around as a grizzly bear on a motor cycle, but he is still universally loved.
As the crowd departs, after I thank Ford for his blessed honor, and with the taste of soybean and duck still gracing my palate, all I can think about is the Babe's inquiry about this rumored Negro game. What if it were true?
NYY 020 004 020 - 8 19 0
DET 002 001 000 - 3 9 0
THE DAY'S OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS:
at BROWNS 5-9-0, SENATORS 0-5-2
Base ball amazes us again, as Ernie Wingard, loser of six of his last eight starts, allows the first-place Nats just five singles and denies Walter Johnson his 17th win. Jacobson and Ken Williams hit long homers and the Great Goslin commits a ghastly 3-base error to let two critical runs in. Astonishingly, it is also Wingard's fourth blanking of the season.
RED SOX 6-11-2, at INDIANS 0-2-0
Ike Boone goes 4-for-4 off Shaute with a homer, double and four knocked in, and Jack Quinn hurls a masterpiece against the fierce-hitting Indian warriors.
ATHLETICS 2-9-0, at WHITE SOX 1-9-1
In a bout of missed opportunities, the Mackmen prevail with two runs plated in the 1st frame as two of the three second place contenders fall.
|AMERICAN LEAGUE through Tuesday, August 5|
|Chicago White Sox||55||51||.519||14|
|New York Yankees||53||53||.500||16|
|St. Louis Browns||51||57||.472||19|
|Boston Red Sox||46||60||.434||23|