HOW I FOUND THE BAMBINO AND MADE IT BACK TO YANKEE STADIUM WITH HIM
By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber
August 24, 1924
The operator put my telephone call through to Miller Huggins' office, and it took me a few moments to speak.
"Mr. Huggins? It's Calvin Butterworth...The writer?"
"Yeah, Cal. Is there a problem?"
"Yes...You might say that. I'm not sure how to say this, but I'm afraid I've lost the Babe."
"Whaddya mean 'lost him'? We have a game to play in three hours!"
ONE HOUR EARLIER
I awoke on a hard white surface, half undressed, my legs bent upward behind me in an odd fashion. My head and neck throbbed with agony, and when my eyes finally focused I realized I was lying face down in a bathtub. My spectacles were beside me, one side of them askew, and when I climbed out of the tub and went to the mirror to put them back on, I saw in horror that one of my entire sideburns had been shaved off! Where was I and what had happened?
I threw open the bathroom door and took in the upper West Side apartment suite the Babe and I had made merry in with his new "friends" from the roadhouse The place was in shambles, spilled liquor and food everywhere, and when I opened the door of an adjoining bedroom, a raccoon with a bandaged leg flew at my leg and nearly chewed it off! I shut it back in the room and tried to remember everything that had happened last night, but could not. And now the Bambino was gone.
After placing a call to his residence at the Astonia and mollycoddling an angry, suspicious Helen, I made my contact with Miller Huggins at the stadium. Then it was time to take action. What if he was merely waiting for me at my hotel? After locating my wallet under one of the apartment suite beds, I secured a taxicab and made my way to the Waldorf, fighting nausea with every turn. After inquiring about Ruth with the desk man, I went up to my room, and there found a crude note slipped under the door:
BABE IN GOOD HANDS. TELL RUPPERT HE IS DEAD MEAT
UNLESS HIS TRADE FROM RED SOX IS REVERSED. WE ALSO
TOOK YOUR SIDEBURN SO YOU KNOW WE MEAN BUSINESS.
--CHOWDER AND BEANS ANONYMOUS
So! Those conniving fiends! Here to do nothing but befriend and lure Ruth from that Long Island roadhouse, the young "revelers" were in fact a secret contingent of Boston terrorists, out to steal Ruth back with a diabolical plot. I thought I detected a strong New England accent when one of them said "Where'd you pahk the cah?"
But now what? How could anyone possibly think Ruppert would "reverse" that famous trade? Where was the Bambino that very moment? And how does one explain the lame raccoon?
My first mission was to go back to my desk man and ask if he had seen any strange individuals enter the lobby. When I arrived at his station, however, a private phone call was waiting for me. "Butterworth? Leave a copy of the New York Sun in the bushes outside that apartment by 11 a.m. if Ruppert agrees to the deal and we'll tell you where the Babe is. And don't try anything smart, yuh bastahd." Click.
Afraid to contact the Yankees' office, I returned to the West Side, and located a 24-hour newspaper stand around the corner from the apartment. I purchased a New York Sun, then had a thought and asked the dealer whether he had seen anything unusual in the adjoining alley early that morning, such as a kidnapping. He said no but suggested I ask his partner Gab,e who worked all night and was asleep at his place in Greenwich Village.
Keeping the paper under my arm, I made haste to Gabe's address, woke him with hammering door knocks, and learned that he did hear some odd noises and strong Boston accents in the alley before a car drove out. They said something about "leavin' him tied up" somewhere, like the name of a hotel, but Gabe couldn't remember the hotel's name. Frantic now, I made him a strong cup of coffee, threw some cold water in his face, and got him to remember the "Hotel Essex." Essex? That was the name of Ruth's car!
I raced back to the apartment neighborhood, scoured every inch of each neighboring street, and found Ruth's Essex parked in the shade of another alley three blocks away. Someone was pounding from inside the trunk, and after obtaining a crowbar from a nearby auto garage, I forced it open.
Out jumped the Babe, wearing nothing but his high black socks, ripping off the remains of the cord that bound his wrists. He was still booze-weary but enraged beyond belief. "Where'd those yellow sons-of-bitches go, I'll murder 'em!" he yelled, and I had to coax him into the car and calm him down while I went up and fetched his clothes.
The execution of the kidnappers' plan was as badly conceived as its muddle-headed concept, and after helping get Ruth dressed and unable to find his car key, we took a taxi to the Bronx a bare thirty minutes before game time.
I was too embarrassed to make a press row appearance with my one sideburn, so sat in the deep stands and watched in amazement as the Yanks turned in their most agonizing game of their three-day flop against my Detroiters, if that were even possible after being bashed to smithereens twice.
With the 20-3 Collins throwing against the 14-13 Pennock, an Ernie Johnson error with two outs in the 3rd led to four quick unearned Tiger runs. After Ruth skied out with two aboard in the 1st and doubled with no one aboard in the 3rd, he butchered a Heilman fly in the 5th for a two-base error and two more Tiger runs. The fans even didn't have to know he was half-soused to boo him, and when he stepped up in the 7th and belted one of the longest homers ever seen in this new park, nearly out of the bleachers in right, I was convinced he had swung with his eyes closed.
Nevertheless, all it did was make the score 6-3 and set up the maddening 9th. Two doubles and a single with one out brought Cole in from the pen to face Ruth, who grounded out meekly before Meusel whiffed for the third time with men aboard to end the debacle.
Normally it would be a relief to journey up to Boston now, but with that being the home of those infamous chowder-heads we narrowly escaped the clutches of, and with it being the site of my recent mental departure from my duties, I believe I'd be happier with three days in a steam room...accompanied by a bandaged raccoon.
DET 004 020 060 - 6 7 2
NYY 000 000 302 - 5 10 2
Other American League games played today:
WHITE SOX 3-8-2, SENATORS 2-7-1
Chicago turns around yesterday's late Nat uprising, as the speedy Maurice Archdeacon pinch-hits a 2-run single off Zachary with two outs in the top of the 9th for the game-winners and keep the Sox from sinking below the .500 mark. The Tigers are only ten games out, for what that is worth.
BROWNS 8-16-0, at INDIANS 1-4-1
A strange one-game series finds the inexplicably employed Elam Vangilder allowing the Tribe no hits for the first six innings. while Joe Shaute is being knocked all over League Park. Joe has six straight losses and has now allowed over 300 hits on the year, including three by George Sisler in this game.
Only National League games today
(young Master Spanelli's Phillies are idle in Pittsburgh):
BRAVES 5-9-1, at REDS 3-5-1
The Cincinnati Death March resumes, as Tom Sheehan is beaten by the lowliest of teams, and Edd Roush breaks a wrist and will sit out for two weeks.
GIANTS 5-11-3, at CUBS 3-7-1
The worst fielder in either league, shortstop Jackson of the Giants, commits two errors leading to two unearned Cub runs but Bentley holds off the enemy until Jonnard can take over and save the contest.
at CARDINALS 10-16-1, ROBINS 4-13-2
Suddenly nothing is going right for Brooklyn, losers of two straight in horrible fashion. It is Bill Doak's turn to have scant mustard on the ball as he surrenders triples to Cooney, Holm, and Sothoron at the bottom of the order, while his mates bounce into four twin killings to wipe away any production possible out of their 13 singles.
|AMERICAN LEAGUE through Sunday, August 24|
|Chicago White Sox||61||60||.5040||15.5|
|New York Yankees||58||62||.483||18|
|St. Louis Browns||59||65||.476||19|
|Boston Red Sox||57||65||.467||20|
|NATIONAL LEAGUE through Sunday, August 24|
|New York Giants||66||55||.545||12|
|St. Louis Cardinals||58||63||.479||20|