By Hodgkins Ruddy
Special to the
August 22, 1924
It has been over a month now since my last investigation into the mysterious disappearance of base ball reporter Calvin J. Butterworth, but I am thrilled to inform the public that I am as close to discovering his whereabouts as I've ever been.
But let me elaborate. A young, vivacious Boston woman named Lizzie Dorset welcomed me into her home that sultry July afternoon and despite weeks of private scrutiny into her innermost drawers, I surfaced with nothing but a lighter money sack and marriage proposal. And then—
A tip from a gin-guzzler in Miss Dorset's neighborhood that someone named Butterworth had recently flown on an aeroplane from Detroit clear to Philadelphia piqued my fancy. When he added that this same chap had published articles about a secret set of ball games with Negroes, I realized how far he had let his mind cart roll, and after wrapping up my myriad of personal affairs in Boston I was off to New York City on the next train, the Detroit ball club's next destination...
8:29 a.m. My suite here at the Shelton Hotel is on the nineteenth floor, high above Lexington Avenue and all its foot and motorcar traffic, yet I am woken from an idyllic sleep by a chambermaid's knock. She is of Oriental creed, gentle of nature, and politely asks if she can tidy my room. As I am standing there in my velvet robe, hair uncombed, I decline, but her visit reminds me there is much one can learn from a willing servant, and in short order I am riding a taxi to the remote New York neighborhood called The Bronx.
9:51 a.m. As the Fenway Park was in Boston that same July day, the Yankee Stadium is oddly quiet for a Friday afternoon. I am told by a broom pusher on the outer sidewalk that visiting ball writers tend to stay in the same hotel as their visiting team, and after a modest amount of cash bribery he contacts a lowly friend inside the stadium, who hikes to the upper newspaper perch and returns with the hotel name I seek: the Waldorf-Astoria.
11:14 a.m. Success! After a 10-minute conversation with a slightly bored hotel desk man and a methodical half hour retort with a comely Irish maid on the 15th floor, I have the clues to propel me forward. Yes, Mr. Butterworth checked in three days ago, a striking woman and two wee ones in tow, and yet while the writer is allegedly occupying his room, he is not within, has not been seen all day, and the woman and children have gone missing as of a day ago. Where have they gone? Will they lead me to Butterworth himself?
11:33 a.m. The lass allows me access to the Butterworth chamber, and two items tickle my faculties. A pair of discarded candy wrappers by a bedside table, both from Meetle's Sweet Emoprium on 2nd Avenue, and a name and address scrawled on the edge of one of Butterworth's sheets in fine pen as if he hurriedly had to jot it:
Hun Li Fong
12 Pike Street
Fascinating. I re-copy the name and locale and am out the door.
12:49 p.m. At Meetle's Sweet Emporium, a fetching young lady at the payment counter seems to recall a striking woman and two temperamental children buying the same candies attached to my empty wrappers, and that the young boy was finishing off a Chinese egg roll when they entered the store. Aha! Was it given to him by Mr. Fong?
2:24 p.m. After a fair amount of foot-searching, I find the Pike Street establishment cleverly named Fong's Laundry, and spend nearly an hour questioning the suspicious proprietor and his mysteriously beautiful daughter. We have some difficulty understanding each other, but when I mention Meetle's emporium Mr. Fong says "Yes! Yes! We have oporium!", and sends me into a back room with his daughter. There are other men inside, all lying on sheetless beds and smoking a strange substance out of long pipes. I decide if I am going to solve this case, I need to partake in these exotic customs, and I let the silky-haired girl settle me down on a bed...
9:12 p.m., I believe: Is it night already? How unusual. Fong is gone, off on another mission of foul play no doubt, and after some effort I pick up a sales tag lying at my feet. The Golden Spire, it says, at a Pier Street address I cannot make out. How bloody foolish to leave this massive clue at my disposal!
11:12: The Golden Spire Hotel is not where I expect it to be, but after some time turning in wrong directions I stumble upon the massive, boat-like structure. I see a delivery truck backed up to its rear supply door, fresh sheets marked with Fong's name being toted inside. I am close to the solution!
11:28: I scour rooms from one floor to the next, many of them smaller than your average hotel chamber, when suddenly I feel motion beneath my feet. Is it an earth tremor? The effects of Fong's smoking substance? I scramble to the top floor and find myself outside, only to discover the entire Golden Spire Hotel floating away from Pier Street, out onto the Hudson River! So this is how dispatched with his concubine and her unfortunate tots! I have no clue where the ship is headed, but if I just lay down a while...right here in this starwell...I should find the answer in due...time.
ONLY AMERICAN LEAGUE MATCHES ON THE DAY:
at ATHLETICS 1-5-0, BROWNS 0-8-0
Edward Rommel is the mound master, vanquishing the efforts of one Urban Shocker when Hale and Miller strike consecutive two-sack hits in the 6th section of play.
INDIANS 10-14-0, at RED SOX 5-10-1
The Boston club stages a rousing comeback when trailing by a 5-1 count, only to have six straight Tribesmen reach the bases to begin the 8th section, and pull away hastily for their brave twirler Uhle.
|AMERICAN LEAGUE through Friday, August 22|
|Chicago White Sox||60||59||.504||15.5|
|New York Yankees||58||60||.492||17|
|St. Louis Browns||58||64||.475||19|
|Boston Red Sox||57||64||.471||19.5|