August 17, 1924

The Black Phils might have been welcome to play at Cubs Park the last two days, but the big hotels in town still wouldn't put them up. Which is why we were holed up at the Esquire in the Bronzeville section of South Chicago when word got to us this morning that Al Capone wasn't happy.

Benny showed up at my room in two minutes, sweating like a death row prisoner. We'd already messed with Capone twice this year, the last time almost getting us killed out on Lake Michigan, and if Capone knew we had anything to do with the Charleston Boys rubbing out his favorite ball team, there'd be hell to pay and we'd be the first ones cashed in.

Lucky for us, Rube Foster had another one of his famous plans. "My shoeshine buddy Nips over on Wabash stocked me up with enough brown Kiwi to Negro-fy Jefferson Davis, so Benny darlin', all you gotta do is stay in a seat five miles away from that monster mobster heel." I hated the idea of wearing a disguise until Rube reminded me that Capone was away on some special heel business and missed the first two games or we might already be dead.

The Kiwi polish was sticky and smelled awful, but Roy did a great job putting it on my face and neck and hands, so by the time I ran out to the third base coaching box in the top of the 1st, I almost believed my name was Cool Papa Spanelli.

The other Big Rube Idea was to let up on the Cubs today to keep from riots starting or baseball shutting us down or Capone pulling out his gun. So Charleston started Judy Johnson at third and Rev Cannady at second instead of Jud Wilson and Tubby Scales, and he also gave bashers Turkey Stearnes and Mule Suttles the day off.

We got a run off Elmer Jacobs anyway right off the bat when Heathcote kicked around a leadoff single from Bell and Oscar scored him with a fly. I looked over at slimy Capone in his front row seat and saw him fold his arms and bark at the goons sitting next to him.

Cannonball Redding was firing for us, but he wasn't as fast as the last time I'd seen him and four Cub singles in the 1st scored two and got Capone out of his seat clapping. I was relieved for the first time in three days. Would we have a real game?

Umm...nope. Bullet Joe Rogan led our 2nd with a single. Johnson got one, too, and after Cannady grounded them over, Jacobs flubbed a weak dribbler by Biz Mackey to tie the game 2-2. Cannonball then blasted one high over the left bleachers for three runs, another dead quiet crowd and the sight of Al Capone tearing his program in half and tossing it on the field. When Charleston walked and Dobie Moore homered, it was 7-2 and a third straight Chicago massacre was off and running.

The boos were louder than I'd ever heard. The sweltery heat was starting to melt the polish off my face and down the back of my jersey, and I tried to keep my shoulders hunched so Capone wouldn't notice. After we made it 9-2 in the 6th, I did see him whisper to some big ugly men and disappear down a grandstand tunnel, which was even more scary because we couldn't see what he was up to.

The Cubs came back with a run to help their pride a smidgen, but Rogan, Johnson and Mackey got us two right back in the 9th with three doubles off Wheeler, and we ended up outscoring them in the sweep 42-9 and hitting ten home runs. Ye gads. These characters can't play lousy even if they try.

Big shiny cars with their engines running were parked outside our club house door like we figured they'd be, so it was the Black Phils' turn to dress up. They snuck out a side service door with a cleanup crew's push brooms, me right in the middle of the line. We got onto a bus back to Bronzeville and then the train station without the mobsters seeing us, and Mackey had booze bottles for all of us in the first five minutes.

Now all we have to do is start a series in St. Louis tomorrow, where there's supposed to be more racists in the stands than anywhere. The players were pretty quiet on the train, wondering what was going to happen there, and Rube didn't even leave the station with us, telling Oscar he was doing the short drive separately by car with Benny and Roy.

My guess is that they're up to something. Again.

160 002 002 - 11 14 1
200 000 100 - 3 11 4

Other National League games today:

ROBINS 3-8-1, REDS 2-6-2 (10 innings)
Brooklyn skipper Robby holds back Vance to face the Bucs and starts Ruether against Mays, and the crafty gamble pays off, as Dutch throws his only good outing of the year, giving up just two singles in 20 batters at one point. Mays is fantastic again, too, but a Critz two-base error and Andy High single make it 2-1 Reds in the 6th, a Jimmy Johnston single ties the game in the 9th, and a Fournier single off Dibut wins it in the 10th to put the Robins back alone in second place.

BRAVES 7-12-0, at CARDINALS 6-12-1
Getting shellacked two days in a row finally gets Boston mad enough, and they score five off Dickerman in the 2nd, give it right back when the Cards score five off Barnes in the 5th, then get two late runs and hold off St. Louis with Fowler on the mound.

NATIONAL LEAGUE through Sunday, August 17
Pittsburgh Pirates7439.655
Brooklyn Robins6947.5956.5
Cincinnati Reds6848.5867.5
New York Giants6252.54412.5
St. Louis Cardinals5658.49118.5
Chicago Cubs5460.47420.5
Philadelphia Phillies4571.38830.5
Boston Braves3184.27044


  1. This is an intriguing idea. The history student in me is against it, for aesthetic reasons.

    The fan of the Negro Leagues in me likes it.

    The regular baseball fan in me is confused by the many possible outcomes.

    Can you say novel?

  2. Sure, would you buy one? The three literary agents I've queried so far about the project didn't seem to think there was a market for a book this "specialized". But there's still time to prove them wrong...

  3. If it came out in novel form, I would buy it. Of course, I collect baseball balls. Or like to think I do. Of course, that's just me.

    Why not add a poll and see how much interest you get.