A COMEDIC SITUATION
August 18, 1924
By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber
WASHINGTON—Griffith Stadium was erected in back in 1911, and a by far its oddest feature, in addition to its nearly unreachable home run barriers, is a rectangular parcel of land just past center-field its owner refused to sell. Thus, the wall there zigs a little zag around the property, consisting of a row of apartment housings and giant leafy tree.
It is quite amusing, and so for another change of pace I decide to watch the penultimate game in the series, our final affair in the Nation's Capitol, with the owner of said parcel, A. S. Lord, from the high porch of the closest dwelling to the stadium. My writing cohorts naturally think I am daft, removing myself so far from the surely-to-be-scintillating action, but I know I have been through a lot of personal trauma this season, and a more peaceful surrounding on occasion is a good tonic for me.
Little do I know that a folded note is tacked to the door near the corner of 5th and Elm Streets when I arrive at precisely one o'clock:
Dear Mr. Butterworth:
Deep regrets, but an urgent matter arose I needed to attend to. I have left you a key to Apartment 3 below the flower pot.
—A. "Slim" Lord
Most intriguing, if rude, but I locate the key right away and climb the inner staircase.
It is a humble living space, to be sure, with the minimum of furnishings and without even curtains on the tall back windows. I slide open the porch door and step outside. The giant tree takes up most of the view, but the center-field flagpole is just to the right, and beyond, one can clearly see home plate, much of the infield, the Senators' dugout behind third base and much of the left grand stand. Mr. Lord has even left me a fine wicker rocking chair and pair of binoculars. The stands have filled up, the Washington players have taken the field in their crisp white uniforms, and the resulting noise is warm rather than deafening. I do believe I'm in heaven.
Then a buzzer sounds, for someone is at the downstairs door. Puzzled, I hurry back down to open it.
It is my lovely wife Bonnie, flanked by my darling children Callie and Cavendish, a large travel bag on the stoop behind them! "The reporters said you were here, Calvin, and we've missed you so terribly!" A surprise visit from my family is not at all what I envisioned or particularly desired, but marriage is a solemn oath one must adhere to.
"And I you, dear, but the first inning has started." We kiss, I embrace both children, and usher them inside.
By the time I reach the porch again, Cobb has reached base somehow because Rigney is batting against Ogden. He fans, Manush lines out to Harris, the crack of his bat striking my ears a full second after his swing. Heilman then walks, and Bassler steps up with a good chance to put us ahead.
"Calvin? Do you know where the drinking glasses are?"
I truly don't, and advise my wife to look around for herself. Bassler dribbles out to short, the rally is quenched, and I duck inside to do the same for my children's thirsts. They have their travel bag open, and little Cavendish has his toy wooden trains out on the floor. "How long will this game last, Daddy?" asks my daughter, and I have to remind her it is just beginning. I pour a glass of water for myself after fetching theirs, and run back out on the porch.
Bob Jones flubs a Harris grounder to begin the Washington 1st, and the crowd is ignited. Whitehill appears unnerved already, even from 500 feet away, and throws single balls to Leibold, Judge, Goslin and Rice in succession. The grand stand roars come in perfectly spaced waves, and that is before Rice robs second base. Three runs are across without an out—
"I don't know how you can sit out here," says Bonnie over my shoulder, "It's frightfully hot."
"And how can you see anything with that big tree in the way?"
"I can manage, dear."
WHACK! Bluege hits a tall arcing fly to right, and I do lose sight of the ball, but I can tell from the groan and immediate cheer that he's hit a sacrifice fly.
"See? You can't see a blessed thing from here!" I whirl around, teeth gnashed for the first time in weeks.
"You don't fathom it, do you? The idea is for me to write today's story from a different perspective. As if I am living in one of these houses."
"You call this a house? It is a dwelling, Calvin. A tenement. Certainly not a house."
The crowd roars again and I've missed a Peckinpaugh single for Washington's fifth run. As it turns out, I have just seen 95 percent of the contest's action, a perfectly executed Senator outburst: six singles, speedy base running, five consecutive hitters with one run batted in apiece. My wife cannot begin to understand the beauty of this.
"I do hope you are not watching this entire game, Calvin," she says, as the second inning begins. "Callie and Cavendish will need supper soon after our long train ride." I placate her by agreeing we've been apart too much lately, and my plane journey and entanglement with the colored exhibitions in Darby have certainly added to our longing and tensions, and everything seems fine again until I see the metal wheels of Cavendish's toy train putting deep gouges in the wooden floor.
"Cavendish!" I snatch the train away from him, producing little screams. Callie tries to stop his crying by hitting him. Bonnie throws herself into the fracas, and then the horrible violin practicing commences on the floor below. It is an off-tune, screechy bastardization of Vivaldi, and it is enough to propel me out onto the porch and onto the nearest limb of the giant tree.
I climb as high as I can, keeping a field view through its leaves, until Bonnie's pleading voice is almost out of range. Ogden and Whitehill have settled into dueling effortless mastery by this juncture, as batters on each side drop like cordwood, and the innings sail along. After the 1st inning's calamities, Whitehill gives Washington nothing but a Sam Rice single, but Ogden is even more superb, allowing no hits until two singles in the 9th. Two walks and a Bluege error give Detroit their lone tally in the 8th, but the humid air and green canopy lull me in and out of short afternoon naps throughout.
"Calvin?? Are you still in that godawful tree?"
"Yes, dear! Thank you for letting me watch the game!"
I do not hear the grumble she no doubt utters, but I am not bothered. In two hours we will all be dining at a fine Washington eatery, the content traveling Butterworths again. The Tigers now have two days off before resuming play at Yankee Stadium, a destination I missed on their last time through there, and I look forward to taking in Manhattan again. With my family, of course.
DET 000 000 010 - 1 4 1
WAS 500 000 00x - 5 7 2
Other American League games today:
at YANKEES 8-15-0, WHITE SOX 7-13-2 (12 innings)
A magnificent game, which hopefully alleviated Bronxian anger for the time being. Meusel's 3-run homer in the first helps give New York a 4-0 lead on Sloppy Thurston. It is 6-0 in the 6th when Joe Bush crashes like a tray of wine glasses again, giving the Sox six runs in two innings to knot the game. Kamm homers in the top of the 10th but the Yanks tie it on a pinch Ward fly in the bottom half. Then, with two retired in the 12th, Scott singles and pitcher Beall doubles into the gap to plate Scott with the winner.
INDIANS 6-10-0, at ATHLETICS 3-13-1
Luther Roy wins only his third game of the year against 11 losses, and the A's waste 13 hits. With Speaker about to return, Glenn Myatt fills in handily with a big 2-run clout in the 9th.
at RED SOX 3-9-1, BROWNS 1-5-1
The Bostons stay scalding, as Wingfield takes over for an injured Ferguson and hurls 4-hit ball for seven innings.
|AMERICAN LEAGUE through Monday, August 18|
|Chicago White Sox||60||58||.508||14.5|
|New York Yankees||58||59||.496||16|
|St. Louis Browns||57||61||.483||17.5|
|Boston Red Sox||55||62||.470||19|