August 21, 1924
I learned a bunch of stuff today. All of us did. But I'll get to the life lesson junk later.
Let's start with the all-night train party we had out of St. Louis. The first-string colored players were back from their two days at the horse and dog tracks, some flush with dollar bills like Cannonball Redding and some broke as hobos like Turkey Stearnes. The plain fact was that the Black Phillies who were supposed to be worse trounced the Cards in the last two games and were invited along to Cincy, meaning there were about 49 Negro players stuffed into our three train cars and almost no room for any of them to sleep.
Not that we could've anyway, because Cannonball had a huge dice game going halfway across the Mississippi and Oscar's club of girlfriends who got seats behind our dugout yesterday were parading through the cars and Biz Mackey had a phonograph cranked up and the hollering and hooting and dancing and Louis Armstrong trumpet and thick cigar clouds from Smokey Joe's Havana made it hard to breathe, let alone sleep.
Charleston hadn't told his players who was going to play against the Reds, mainly to keep them all juiced up and ready to go, but we all knew Carl Mays and Eppa Rixey were set to face us and those guys wouldn't be afraid of nine Babe Ruths.
We pulled into Cincinnati mid-morning, climbed onto two special buses Rube had rented for us, and headed right to Redland Field. No one had eaten breakfast but boxes of sticky muffins from the station were passed around and the jokes were flying just as fast.
And then we got to the ballpark, where two dozen cops holding billy clubs and pistols blocked the players' entrance gate.
Rube Foster stood waiting for us right in front of them, looking more sad than a man could possibly look. "Black Phillies gotta close up shop, darlins," he said, his voice all chokie, "Rutledge wired me from New York and I have to agree with the man."
"What are you talking about??" screamed Benny.
"We're just too damn good, that's what I'm talking about. And if we lay the same kind of lumber on the Reds and Pirates, the whole pennant race could turn into a joke. Much as I like showin' up these folks, you can't say it's all that fair."
We were all stunned or shocked. Everyone knew Judge Landis was still in his coma and figured this fun might go on forever. The rest of the white Phillies were standing just inside the gate in their street clothes, waiting and watching, and I caught Heinie Sand's eye as he shrugged his shoulders at me. Oscar stepped up to Rube and puffed up his chest with all the dignity he could muster in the moment.
"Least you could do is get us good seats for the game today."
"Can't do that, boy" It was August Herrmann, the owner of the Reds, also standing inside the gate, "We have sold out games in this town and no colored section to put you anyway."
Oscar looked like he was ready to bust, but Mule Suttles poked him in the side and said, "Forget it Oscar. Let's just find us a good alley." Benny and me looked at each other but it was clear there was nothing we could do. That's right: I was a batboy again.
So Jimmy Ring took our ball, back after a nice little vacation with his 5-15 record, and went up against Carl Mays and his 17-6. The Reds fans were all buzzing in the stands, expecting to see the colored stars they'd heard so much about, and the German Over-the-Rhine Boys were as quiet as could be out in the right bleachers. We managed a few hits in the first five innings but basically rolled over and died while the Reds were busy scoring one in the 1st and two in the 4th on the usual Edd Roush triple.
I was kind of in a fog and had to remind myself how to arrange the bats because it had been so long. When Harper and Holke singled with two outs in our 6th I got a little touch of excitement, but this was still Carl Mays, after all.
Then big Cy Williams walked up there, his face all tense. I had a funny feeling about the at-bat but before I could even think about it Cy belted the ball right down the line for a double and our first run. Mays got shaky and threw a wild one that scored Holke and made it 3-2. I think Mays must've known how lucky he was not to be facing the coloreds, but what it did was soften him too much against us, because Mokan, Ford and Ring all doubled in a row with one gone in the 7th and we were ahead 4-3!
And we didn't stop. Holke and Cy singled to start the 8th, and after a ground out, Bressler dropped a fly in left for another run. Mays then did what he's famous for and put a fastball in Mokan's back. Mokan dropped his bat, ran to the mound and swung at Carl's head and the battle was on! Mays was the only one who got kicked out, which got the fans throwing more garbage than we'd seen in St. Louis, and poor Jakie May got smacked around too for a Ford single and second Jimmy Ring double.
Jimmy couldn't even be touched after that, and the White Phillies had picked up where their colored brothers had left off.
Benny and me looked around for Oscar and Biz and whoever outside the field later, but couldn't find them. We went back to the train station on a hunch and sure enough, there they all were about to board for Chicago, Rube's home and the place they could all get connections to wherever they came from. We shook hands with as many players as we could and even embraced a few, and it was hard to talk without crying a little.
"You two and your friend Roy and that Butterboat feller, you all deserve medals," said Oscar. That was good to hear, because from my point we deserved kicks in the rump for starting a project that was so bound to fail.
"Frogs can't get tasty flies unless they come out of their holes," said Rube, his eyes fighting back wetness, "Maybe some day we can all try this again, darlins." And with that he boarded the train after letting every last one of the colored players board first. Heavy mist was rolling in off the Ohio River with the sunset, and me and Benny stood there next to the track and watched until the train hissed and rolled and clacked and finally vanished straight into it.
Good night from Sad Cincy, reader-people.
PHL 000 002 240 - 8 14 0
CIN 100 200 000 - 3 8 2
Other National League games today:
BRAVES 3-7-0, at PIRATES 2-6-0
The second Miracle of the day. Boston comes back on exasperating southpaw Emil Yde with a Cunningham single, McInnis triple and Sperber double in the top of the 6th to steal the game. Jesse Barnes gives the Bucs only one single in the last four innings as the Braves beat them for the just the fourth time, all of the wins at Forbes Field.
at CUBS 9-9-0, ROBINS 0-6-0
Pete Alexander keeps Brooklyn from gaining ground with another fabulous outing, bumping his record to 15-4. Tiny Osborne is just awful for the Robins, walking ten guys in less than six innings of "work."
at CARDINALS 11-15-3, GIANTS 10-15-5
Hold on to your hats, because this Giant stink bomb smells worse than almost every other Giant stink bomb this season. How about a 4-1 lead that quickly becomes a 5-5 tie thanks to McQuillan's typical rotten pitching and New York's swiss cheese infield defense? McQuillan makes an error of his own, then throws a wild pitch to help the Cards take a 6-5 lead in the 7th, which becomes 9-5 after Hack Wilson bounces a fly off his drunk face to kick off a 3-run Cards 8th, only to have the Giants wake from the grave against Dickerman and score five times with two gone in the 9th to take the lead. Only to have Wayland Dean get practically nobody out in the last of the 9th as St. Louis wins it after a hit batter and bases-filled walk to Ray Blades. "Maybe a night without dinner and 8 o'clock bedtime will do these dolts well," McGraw supposedly said afterwards. As if that will help.
|NATIONAL LEAGUE through Thursday, August 21|
|New York Giants||63||55||.534||12.5|
|St. Louis Cardinals||57||61||.483||18.5|