Me and Mama both got woken up this morning by an auto horn honking its head off. I stuck my head out my bedroom window and who do I see down in the street? Good old Benny! Sitting with Roy in the front seat of a fancy topless car, both dressed like traveling wiseacres and smoking cigars.
"Breakfast's on us, kid!" he shouted, and in seconds I was throwing on a shirt and overalls.
It was about a week since Benny had stayed behind to try and cough up money for a colored vs. white players exhibition game, and by the looks of his rented car and new duds I figured he had a bit of luck. Except Benny was in a mischief mood and wouldn't tell me a thing until we got to some little restaurant in North Philadelphia where our "guest "was meeting us.
Lizzie Mae's was a homey little breakfast spot in a mostly colored neighborhood, and when we got there, a huge, friendly-faced colored man in a suit and tweed cap was waiting for us in a large back booth. I thought I recognized him from a photo once but wasn't really sure, but when he introduced himself as Rube Foster everything clicked into place for me. Rube was the same Foster who ran the Negro National League and the Chicago American Giants, and he used to pitch, and here he was buying us flapjacks and eggs and fat bacon strips and whatever the heck else we wanted.
Like most people involved with colored baseball, he'd been wanting to see how some of the black-skinned players would fare against some of the whites. Benny and Roy and Roy's brother in Chicago had spent the last week tracking Rube down and talking him into bankrolling a game, and now it was all set. All he needed was an "inside person" like me to get the word out to the Phillie players. I said none of them would probably do it and he said for the right amount of cash a ballplayer will do anything.
They even had a place and time all set up. A week from this Sunday, on August 10, only four National League teams are playing, and the Phillies aren't one of them. It seems that Foster made arrangements with people in Pittsburgh and with Ed Bolden of the Eastern Colored League to book either Forbes Field or Hilldale Park in Darby for the entire day and into the night.
That's right, the night. They know a way to rig up electrical generators and searchlights like they have outside motion picture theaters, and with most ball games being less than two hours, there's a good chance the players can have at each other three times. The only thing I needed to do was keep everything secret, because of the baseball commissioner ever found out he might try and shut the whole thing down.
So my brain was doing somersaults all day at Baker Bowl as I tied to figure out who to talk to. Heinie seemed like the right person but he wasn't close to a great player, and even though I didn't even know who the colored team was going to be yet, I knew he wouldn't stand a chance against them.
Either way, it had to wait till after our game with the Cards, Ray Blades got it going for them with a 2-run poke off Jimmy Ring in the 1st. Ring gave them two singles and a walk to start the 3rd, but then whiffed the slumpy Hornsby and got killer Bottomley to rap into a double play! From there Jimmy turned into a classical music conductor and serenaded them to sleep.
Meantime, we were pecking away at Bill Sherdel, with single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th and a monster of a 3-run bash by Jimmie Wilson in the 5th toi put us up 6-2! I was glad because I could crouch there by the bat rack and go over my upcoming words to Heinie for the rest of the day. Ring gave up only one more hit, a pinch single to Les Bell, and all in all might've had his best start of the year. The other good news is that the Cubs lost again, and we've picked up ground on them for three straight days.
So there I was leaving the club house with Heinie afterwards. As I figured, he thought I was completely nuts for bringing up an idea as crackers as an exhibition game with coloreds, but when I mentioned that Rube Foster was in town and had the cash to do this, he got a lot more excited and said he'd bring it up with a few of the Phiilie players later on.
I found Benny down at Mort's, buying cigars and drinks for his cronies, and told him what Heinie was doing, and that it might be a good idea to save whatever cash Rube had given him because we might need it. Knowing how fast he lost his dead uncle's money earlier this year, it seemed an important thing to do.
Good night if I can sleep, reader-people!
STL 200 000 000 - 2 5 1
PHI 011 131 01x - 8 12 1
Only National League games today:
at GIANTS 2-7-0, PIRATES 1-7-0
Tell the newspapers and call out the riot troops! The Giants beat the Bucs again in an actual baseball game. Of course, it's still a struggle. A leadoff triple from Irish Meusel in the 1st gets them nothing, the same with a lead double by Jackson in the 6th. Cooper and Watson pitch tough, but New York ropes three singles together in the last of the 9th to take this thing, Groh's being the winner.
at ROBINS 4-8-2, CUBS 3-7-0
Dazzy Vance has a rough time all day but squeaks out his 15th win against Elmer Jacobs. Brown gets the big hit, a tie-smashing triple to score Fournier in the 5th.
REDS 4-10-1, at BRAVES 1-6-2
A very rare win for Cincy on a Bucs-losing day. Who else but Carl Mays does the smoking, getting his record to 15-6 and his league-best earned run average down to 2.14. The Braves are about a week and a half away from being booted from the race.
|NATIONAL LEAGUE through Friday, August 1|
|New York Giants||57||44||.564||9|
|St. Louis Cardinals||52||50||.510||14.5|