AND THE FANS SHALL DECIDE!!
By C.J. Butterworth
Base Ball Writer of the People
July 28, 1924
Publishers! Editors! Who needs these blind, bloated buffoons? Followers of this glorious game hunger for freshness and daring in their daily accounts, not stodgy, predictable grammar lessons! Some dark day the newspaper form could perish altogether, and it is the craftsmen with vision, the ones who speak for the ordinary base ball fan, who will survive.
Thus, here I PRESENTLY am on Trumbull Avenue outside Navin Field, waiting in a lengthy cue which snakes up to the right field bleacher entrance. There are half-asleep working men here, dirty-fingered boys fresh from newspaper hawking or morning play, all eager for the cheapest and farthest admissions Navin can offer.
It is a small, stuffed island of fans, here in deepest right center field. Separated by yards of fence from the main grand-stand, we feel removed from most of the public yet deeply embedded in the field action. Ty Cobb patrols the grounds directly below us, and his most devoted followers on all sides of me.
"Get these bastard Mackers, Ty!" screams one impartial sort, waving his scorecard in mock Connie Mack fashion at the Philadelphia dugout. "You can take this one, Ty!" yells a boy not much older than my own, "I know you can!" When the game begins their pleadings appear fulfilled. A Rigney walk and revolting error by Galloway on Lu Blue's grounder put Tigers at second and third from the outset off Stan Baumgartner. Cobb keeps them there with a ground out, but Heilman whacks a ringing single into left, scoring them both! The bleacher section explodes with joy, a niose as deafening as I've heard all season. Woodall then doubles, Manush is hit with a pitch, and when Pratt skies a ball toward us in deep right, the sphere arcing through the blue sky like a firework rocket, Heilman scampers home and we have a 3-0 lead.
Syl Johnson is pitching splendidly for us, and with the field goings-on slowing down into the middle innings, I get to know more of my plank-mates. Reggie Drake helps assemble autos at the Ford plant, and he has been looking forward to taking this Monday afternoon off for months. Edward Snick is in his sixties and has been following local base ball for so long he attended a few games during the 1887 Detroit Wolverines' championship campaign. The situation does not present itself today, but whenever a Tiger strikes a home run, Edward removes his dentures and makes a series of bellowing shouts that can be heard in all sectors of the park.
Heilman is at his best in this affair, and doubles home Rigney in the the 5th for a 4-0 advantage. It is around this time that rumors of the great Walter Johnson being shelled from the pitching box in the very first inning down in Cleveland spreads through the bleachers like a wild fire, and the exciting anticipation of a win here doubles for all concerned.
Syl Johnson is noticeably fatigued, however. Even from my distant vantage point I can see his curve balls hanging, his fast pitch slowing down. He gives up a single and walk in the 6th but escapes free of harm. Hauser then walks to start the Philadelphia 7th, and Sammy Hale drives a ball deep over Heilman's cap, then the entire left fence and the lead is 4-2. Groans and curses fill our island, and worry etches across every sun-bleached face. Cobb summons Hooks Dauss, who retires the Athletics in succession, but the sunny mood of the proceedings have been altered.
As much as I attempt to calm the throng surrounding me, my efforts are dashed in short order. Singles by Dykes and Lamar in the 8th, a frightening double off Lamar's bat and 2-run single by Hale puts us behind by a 5-4 count. Faces are buried in hats and hands. Language I shall not utter darkens the air.
Yet all is briefly forgotten when Heilman smokes his second double leading off our 8th. After a walk and force-play, Pratt gets the knotting run home with a grounder. O'Rourke then singles, Edward Snick removes his teeth and deafens me with bellows, and the home nine are back on top 6-5! Dauss whiffs pinch-batter Welch to begin the 9th, and after a Bishop single, Dykes fans. The entire bleacher section stands to shout. If I had teeth of my own to remove I certainly would. Bing Miller is all that separates us from being eleven and a half games away from first place!
But Bing isn't listening. He clubs the first Dauss offering on a vicious parabola, straight toward the bleachers. Cobb and Heilman give chase but the ball knocks off the wall, rattling our wooden rows. Bishop races all the way around the diamond, the dust under his cleats visible even from here. Tied at 6-6! The thrill has overwhelmed me, despite the outcome, and when Lamar then singles off new pitcher Bert Cole, Philadelphia leads 7-6 and the air about me fills with lividness. Sandwich wrappers, drink bottles and other objects litter the outfield grass. I stand, turn to face my base ball neighbors, and implore them to stop. "We still have a chance!" I yell, "In life there is always the next at bat!!" "Sit down, four-eyes!" yells one crank, and I do, but my message may have influenced some.
Harry Heilman certainly may have heard it, for he works out a free pass from Roy Meeker with two outs in our 9th. Woodall does the same. Up steps Heinie Manush, burdened with a too-quiet day. The bleachers stand again, shower the field with nothing but noise this time. Meeker spins, hurls...and Manush whiffs.
The bleacher section evaporates around me. I remove my hat to feel the late afternoon sun on my face. It feels wonderful. And despite the heart-cracking loss, it shall tomorrow.
PHI 000 000 232 - 7 11 1
DET 300 010 020 -6 7 1
OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE GAMES TODAY:
at INDIANS 8-15-0, SENATORS 6-13-0
Strange occurrences in the Washington camp of late. Big Train Johnson allows four singles and three doubles to the Tribe before being yanked from the hill by Bucky Harris with two outs in the 1st, a humiliating event for the famous mound master. It is a tragedy the Nats cannot recover from, despite plating six runs in the final three innings off Shaute and Messenger. Speaker has another fine day with three doubles and three knocked home.
YANKEES 9-17-0, at WHITE SOX 5-14-1
Has the Real Bambino finally arrived?. Down 2-0, he ties the game with a 2-run double off Lyons in the third, leading to five Yank runs. In his last nine at bats with runners in a scoring location, Babe has seven hits, including two home runs and thirteen runs batted in. Waite Hoyt gives up two quick runs and three at the conclusion, but is masterful in between as New York gains a full game.
RED SOX 8-15-0, at BROWNS 6-10-1 (12 innings)
A valiant try by the Brownies, who fight back from a 6-0 deficit to tie the score, then lose when Boston scores twice off Hub Pruett in his sixth relief inning of work. Ted Wingfield also throws nearly six frames to get the win, and the Scarlet Sockers pick up a rare road win.
|AMERICAN LEAGUE through Monday, July 28|
|New York Yankees||51||47||.520||14|
|Chicago White Sox||51||47||.520||14|
|St. Louis Browns||46||54||.460||20|
|Boston Red Sox||41||57||.418||24|