By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Airborne Base Ball Freescriber
August 9, 1924
SOMEWHERE OVER OHIO—Flying at 18,000 feet is not the choicest place to learn what cold rain feels like. In two words: icy daggers.
Dean had lifted us off from our foggy airfield outside Detroit without incident this morning, despite my wobbly nerves, and once we had broken above the cloud layer and caught the eastern sun in our faces, I was finally able to marvel at the wonders of flight.
The marveling has been going on for hours now. Smith's Airco D.H. 9A is a mere 45 feet from wing to wing, and as I sit in the nose seat of the biplane I enjoy an eagle's view of the sky. Buildings below are mere match sticks, and autos slow moving ants. The wind stings my cheeks, futilely tries to slip under clamped goggles, and I have drop my head on occasion to warm my vision back up.
"Cal! Take this!" It is Dean, holding out his silver flask behind me with a gloved hand. I shake my head as a fierce wind gust drops us fifty feet and right back up in less than five seconds. I suddenly understand his imbibing and grab the flask from his hand.
We have been following the south edge of Lake Erie for some time, and I can make out farms and small crafts through the cloud wisps. I assume Dean has telegraphed the Philadelphia air field ahead of time, but at our speed of 120 miles an hour I have no idea how long this route will take.
We cross over Buffalo and the beginnings of Lake Ontario, and Dean veers us southeast. Within minutes, the sun vanishes behind a bank of black clouds, and the ice-rain commences. Dean tries to lift the plane higher, thinking we can stay above the foul weather, but the engine strains horribly as he attempts this.
We have no choice but to endure the barrage and pray for the best. Nature's fury reaches its pinnacle, and the rising and falling and bumping seem to last forever. I lean over the edge at one point to empty my stomach. Dean ducks the flying contents at the last moment but seems obscenely calm. I long for a photograph of Bonnie and the children mounted on the panel before me, and am reduced to imagining one there. The wind in my ears howls angrily. I am cold and drenched beyond belief, and sick to my bones.
Then, without warning, as if a stage curtain has risen on a third act, the rain lessens, dissipates, and glorious patches of blue sky appear above. Dean lets out a whoop and lifts us heavenward. We are over the rolling green of New York State, heading south into Philadelphia. I may in fact live to see this white-colored classic!
Yet there is still the small matter of landing. Dean apparently never wired ahead to announce our arrival, so as the spires of Philadelphia gleam at us in the afternoon sunshine, Dean is forced to drop the plane severely and eyeball the landscape. The clouds are now stacked cotton balls, guardians of the sky, and I almost feel we need to ask their permission to land between them.
The little airstrip on Hog Island is just past the center of the city, and I shut my eyes when we seem to be on a collision course with William Penn's statue atop City Hall. Wind gusts pick up again, though, and we are forced to circle and circle the field at a hellishly low altitude.
"Tell me when we are on terra firma!" I yell to Dean, but all he does is laugh. When our wheels finally bounce on the grass and settle down for good, I say blessed thanks to every deity I can think of. A small gang of air field attendants are there to shepherd us in, as well as a handful of local reporters. For reasons I can't begin to fathom, Dean and I are suddenly minor celebrities for doing this flight. When asked why I've come to Philadelphia, I cannot lie, and mention a certain whites-coloreds game out in Darby tomorrow. The reporters stare at me for all of five seconds, then rush off en masse to find telephones. Hmm.
THE DAY'S AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS
THAT SOMEHOW ESCAPE ME:
RED SOX 8-11-2, at TGERS 7-10-3
I am thrilled to be 18,000 feet above this one. Syl Johnson falls behind 6-0 and the Tigers roar back to score five times in the last two innings, including four in the 9th, but lose when Rigney skies out with two men aboard. It is Detroit's second one-run home loss to the second division Sox, a bad omen indeed.
YANKEES 7-19-1, at INDIANS 4-11-1
This is now three straight Yank wins at League Park, highlighted by Ruth's game-changing 2-run double in the 3rd. Like over two dozen other star big leaguers, he should be coming down with acute stomach pains in the next twelve hours.
SENATORS 5-10-0, at WHITE SOX 1-6-1
There is no word yet from Big Train Johnson concerning his presence in Darby tomorrow, but if he is going to show he tunes up sweetly today with his 17th win of the year at Comiskey Park to pull the Nats out of their torpid play.
at BROWNS 12-20-1, ATHLETICS 7-17-2
It is 11-2 St. Louis by the 4th inning as the Browns pound A's "pitching" for seven extra-base blows.
|AMERICAN LEAGUE through Saturday, August 9|
|Chicago White Sox||58||52||.527||12|
|New York Yankees||56||54||.509||14|
|St. Louis Browns||54||58||.482||17|
|Boston Red Sox||49||61||.445||21|