11.30.2009

THE FIRST-EVER HILLDALE/DARBY WHITE-COLORED CLASSIC


August 10, 1924

By Vinny Spanelli
Phillie Batboy and White Stars Coach

Well, the nice, quiet trolley car I took out here yesterday was nothing but a big, rolling crazy house today. It seemed like every real ball fan, every nearby sports reporter worth his salt and a few more hundred curious types were making their way southwest to little Darby to see how Rube Foster's Colored Stars would fare against our Whites.

Chester and Cedar Avenues were so packed it took me and Rachel fifteen extra minutes just to find where the entrance gate was, Benny and Roy ran out of tickets to sell by ten o'clock this morning but the mobs wanting to get in wouldn't let up and they finally decided to let folks in for free. The Hilldale Park grandstand was puny, so they put ropes up out in the outfield, there were people up in a big tree planted inside the park in deep right field, and at least a hundred more people sitting and balancing on gravestones in the Holy Cross Cemetery past right field.

The great thing was that the crowd was a complete jumble of both races, and everyone seemed to be getting along, making bets and laughing and just happy to be part of such an amazing thing. Rube and Cy had decided to try a two-out-of-three series, and when they flipped a coin, it came up tails to make the Whites the home team for the first and third game, if it went that long. I was wearing my Phillies jersey and cap, and joined Cy in front of our bench to pep talk the players.

They sure didn't need one. There was the Babe, right in front of me and slapping Hornsby's behind. Tris Speaker spat into his hands and worked a bat handle. Goslin and Fournier and Eddie Collins and Heilman and Zack Wheat were sitting a few feet away and I was so dizzy just watching them I didn't hear one thing Cy was saying. The great Walter Johnson hadn't shown up, which didn't surprise anyone, and Mays and Vance were coming late because they had to start in their teams' early afternoon games today.

Looking over at the other bench, where Big Rube was holding court, I could see the colored players were wearing K.C. Monarchs uniforms because Rube won the Negro National championship with them last year. None of them seemed to mind.

Then two umps, a white one and a colored one, called the players out from home plate, the crowd went nuts, and old Pete Alexander grabbed the cleanest ball he could find and headed to the mound.

GAME ONE

The great Oscar Charleston led off for the coloreds, and Pete got him on a short fly to left. Half the crowd cheered, the other half booed. A black Cuban guy named Cristobal Torriente lined a single to reverse all the cheering, and after Bullet Joe Rogan flied out, Mule Suttles, as scary a hitter as I've ever seen, singled Torriente to second. Turkey Stearnes grounded to Hornsby, the Whites were coming up, and there I was running out to coach third base.

It was kind of scary being that close to the action. Joe Beckwith was taking ground balls at third base, singing under his breath in between throws. I turned and caught Rachel's face behind our dugout, smack in the middle of three or four fancy-dressed colored ladies. She looked as excited as me.

Cy noticed how bouncy the Babe had been all morning, and to get him up to bat as much as possible and put the jeebies into the opposition, he stuck him in the leadoff spot. Smokey Joe Williams, a blazing fast righthander, looked about as scared of Ruth as he would be of an ant, took a big windup and whipped one over the plate.

The Bambino swung. The ball went soaring, up and up and completely over the big tree, bounced off a dozen or so gravestones and finally stopped when two fans fell on top of the thing. Ruth took the slowest home run trot of all time, waving at the stands and winking at Smokey Joe. If he didn't get his chin buzzed the next time it'd be a miracle.

The homer rattled Dobie Moore, who muffed a grounder out to short by Speaker. Hornsby then singled Speaker to third, and after Fournier forced Tris out at home on a grounder, Goose Goslin did what he's been doing all year and lined a 3-run homer right down the line for a 4-0 Whites lead! I'm telling you, you never heard such a happy and angry ruckus.

Beckwith tripled to lead off the Colored 2nd and scored on a Moore fly, but our big rally had taken all the steam out of the park. It got worse in the 4th when with two outs and nobody on, Alexander singled, Ruth crushed a double and Speaker singled them both in. Torriente golfed out a solo homer in the 6th, but then Traynor singled, Ruth kept his mashing fever going with a triple and Speaker doubled to put this massacre to bed.

Rixey and Adams gave Alexander some late relief, but there was no softening up the truth. Us Whites had whipped those Coloreds bad.

COLOREDS
010 001 000 - 2 8 1
WHITES
400 202 00x - 8 13 0

W-Alexander L-Williams HRS: Ruth, Goslin, Torriente


GAME TWO

By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber

It is close to 5 o'clock in pleasant little Darby, and after the unexpected bludgeoning of the first game, few know what to expect in the second. A pair of southpaws, Herb Pennock for the Whites and Nip Winters for the Coloreds, will have at each other from the mound, with the darker team enjoying the home advantage. If anything, the number of onlookers has increased, the outfield ropes bulging at the seams, the back-and-forth cheering reaching an operatic crescendo.

The noise shakes the old wood grandstand I am perched atop when with one retired in the Colored 1st, Tubby Scales lofts a fly out to Ruth in right. Whether it is the late afternoon sky or his proximity to the big leafy tree, the Babe drops the ball for a two-base error! Bullet Rogan then pummels a Pennock pitch high and deep and gone out to left, nearly two-thirds of the mob erupts like it's New Year's Eve, and the Whites fall behind for the first time. The Coloreds then load the sacks with two out, but Pennock gets catcher Biz Mackey to line out to Dykes and end further bleeding.

Not so in the 2nd inning, a frame as horrific as anything experienced by this year's National League Boston club. Winters begins it with a sharp single and Jimmie Lyons matches him with another. Scales clubs a double. Rogan skewers a triple. After a Beckwith fan, Mule Suttles singles. After a force out Baby Doll Jacobson drops an easy fly in center. Wright kicks a ball at short and five runs are across with lightning speed.

There is little left to to discuss about this one. The Coloreds rack up five more doubles after that, Winters pitches the game's entirety, and the Whites trudge back to their bench inning after inning like scolded children. Meanwhile the stands throb with euphoria, and delicious smells permeate the late summer air as picnic dinners break out everywhere, even on gravestone taple-tops in the adjoining cemetery. The event takes on the air of a country carnival, with everyone eagerly awaiting tastes of the third and deciding match.

Between the contests I am visited at my viewing spot by two fine lads who helped Mr. Foster organize the spectacle, Vinny Spanelli and Benjamin Wzckoviczy. I instantly recognize young Ben as the one who absconded with my typewriter and writing pen on my last working trip through Philadelphia. Well, it is a pleasure to report that after issuing a heartfelt apology, he has made amends by presenting me with a new writing machine and two replacement fountain pens. Obviously, the boy has been blessed with a fine upringing.

WHITES
001 000 001 - 2 5 3
COLOREDS
250 120 00x - 11 17 0

W-Winters L-Pennock HR: Rogan


GAME THREE

By Vinny Spanelli
Phillie Batboy and White Stars Coach

I made Benny give this Butterworth writer a new typewriter to replace the one he stole before, and even though it was used and bought at a pawnshop the guy didn't seem to care. The important thing is that he came all the way here on an airplane to report the games, so he must be something special, and it's important that the Colored players have a special person to write about them, and not just one of these dozen or so clowns who showed up from eastern newspapers.

Well, guess who joined us on the bench between games. Yup, Big Train Walter Johnson, straight from Chicago. Eager to show these Negro fellows his buggywhip fastball. I made a dope out of myself before he took the mound by asking him to sign a baseball, but he was actually quiet and friendly and hard to believe he's so competitive, too. Charleston got him for a walk with one out in the 1st, but when Oscar leaned too far off the bag, Walter turned and shot him down in one motion! No one on our bench could believe it even happened.

Dick Redding took the hill for the Coloreds. The big Georgia man played for the Brooklyn Royal Giants, had the nickname of "Cannonball" and sure threw like one. Watching his balls explode in catcher Beckwith's mitt it seemed like he was a perfect match for the Big Train, and he was. Both of them gave up a few singles, but the game was scoreless into the last of the 4th, when Hornsby worked a leadoff walk. Fournier golfed one the opposite way out to left but Turkey Stearns got all confused and dropped the thing for an awful 2-base error. Might as well have thrown some blood in shark water while he was at it. Cuyler hit a scoring fly, Myatt got hit with a pitch, Sewell singled, the Train drove in two with another single and the Whites were up 3-0.

Johnson then retired ten of the next eleven Coloreds, whiffing four of them, until Torriente ripped a homer down the right field line with one out in the 8th. Charleston came up, still miffed about being picked off, and started barking things under his breath to try and upset Walter. The Train's face didn't even twitch, but the first ball he threw knocked Oscar right square in the back! Both benches jumped up, along with the fans, but the umps ran in before anything violent could happen. Suttles fouled out to end the inning, and lefty Sam Streeter took the Colored hill.

He shouldn't have bothered. Speaker pinch-hit a walk. Hornsby singled. Fournier rattled the gravestones with a booming homer, before Cuyler hit a fly out to poor roasted Turkey, who dropped it for another error!

You get the idea. Dazzy Vance relieved Johnson for the 9th to keep the colored players from hitting liners at him, and got out of a small pickle to end the sad game and the little series. The sun was just about down, but strange enough, the folks didn't seem to want to go anywhere.

"Not so fast!" said Rube, hurrying over to Cy from the Coloreds' bench. "We spent a lot of dough to haul these searchlights down here, and we got a big old crowd none too happy about those last two innings."

"Well," said Cy, "Train didn't hit Oscar on purpose and you know it."

"Hey, my friend, never said he did. But a plunk's a plunk, and it's a sure sorry way to end a great day. How 'bout we make it three out of five?" Cy just gave him a funny look.

"C'mon," Rube said with a giant smile, "Ain't this supposed to be fun?"

Cy or me or Benny or Roy sure couldn't argue with the man.

TO BE CONTINUED...


COLOREDS
000 000 010 - 1 5 2
WHITES
000 300 04x - 7 8 0

W-Johnson L-Redding HRS: Torriente, Fournier

11.28.2009

PERMISSION FROM THE CLOUDS


By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Airborne Base Ball Freescriber

August 9, 1924

SOMEWHERE OVER OHIO—Flying at 18,000 feet is not the choicest place to learn what cold rain feels like. In two words: icy daggers.

Dean had lifted us off from our foggy airfield outside Detroit without incident this morning, despite my wobbly nerves, and once we had broken above the cloud layer and caught the eastern sun in our faces, I was finally able to marvel at the wonders of flight.

The marveling has been going on for hours now. Smith's Airco D.H. 9A is a mere 45 feet from wing to wing, and as I sit in the nose seat of the biplane I enjoy an eagle's view of the sky. Buildings below are mere match sticks, and autos slow moving ants. The wind stings my cheeks, futilely tries to slip under clamped goggles, and I have drop my head on occasion to warm my vision back up.

"Cal! Take this!" It is Dean, holding out his silver flask behind me with a gloved hand. I shake my head as a fierce wind gust drops us fifty feet and right back up in less than five seconds. I suddenly understand his imbibing and grab the flask from his hand.

We have been following the south edge of Lake Erie for some time, and I can make out farms and small crafts through the cloud wisps. I assume Dean has telegraphed the Philadelphia air field ahead of time, but at our speed of 120 miles an hour I have no idea how long this route will take.

We cross over Buffalo and the beginnings of Lake Ontario, and Dean veers us southeast. Within minutes, the sun vanishes behind a bank of black clouds, and the ice-rain commences. Dean tries to lift the plane higher, thinking we can stay above the foul weather, but the engine strains horribly as he attempts this.

We have no choice but to endure the barrage and pray for the best. Nature's fury reaches its pinnacle, and the rising and falling and bumping seem to last forever. I lean over the edge at one point to empty my stomach. Dean ducks the flying contents at the last moment but seems obscenely calm. I long for a photograph of Bonnie and the children mounted on the panel before me, and am reduced to imagining one there. The wind in my ears howls angrily. I am cold and drenched beyond belief, and sick to my bones.

Then, without warning, as if a stage curtain has risen on a third act, the rain lessens, dissipates, and glorious patches of blue sky appear above. Dean lets out a whoop and lifts us heavenward. We are over the rolling green of New York State, heading south into Philadelphia. I may in fact live to see this white-colored classic!

Yet there is still the small matter of landing. Dean apparently never wired ahead to announce our arrival, so as the spires of Philadelphia gleam at us in the afternoon sunshine, Dean is forced to drop the plane severely and eyeball the landscape. The clouds are now stacked cotton balls, guardians of the sky, and I almost feel we need to ask their permission to land between them.

The little airstrip on Hog Island is just past the center of the city, and I shut my eyes when we seem to be on a collision course with William Penn's statue atop City Hall. Wind gusts pick up again, though, and we are forced to circle and circle the field at a hellishly low altitude.

"Tell me when we are on terra firma!" I yell to Dean, but all he does is laugh. When our wheels finally bounce on the grass and settle down for good, I say blessed thanks to every deity I can think of. A small gang of air field attendants are there to shepherd us in, as well as a handful of local reporters. For reasons I can't begin to fathom, Dean and I are suddenly minor celebrities for doing this flight. When asked why I've come to Philadelphia, I cannot lie, and mention a certain whites-coloreds game out in Darby tomorrow. The reporters stare at me for all of five seconds, then rush off en masse to find telephones. Hmm.


THE DAY'S AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS
THAT SOMEHOW ESCAPE ME:

RED SOX 8-11-2, at TGERS 7-10-3
I am thrilled to be 18,000 feet above this one. Syl Johnson falls behind 6-0 and the Tigers roar back to score five times in the last two innings, including four in the 9th, but lose when Rigney skies out with two men aboard. It is Detroit's second one-run home loss to the second division Sox, a bad omen indeed.

YANKEES 7-19-1, at INDIANS 4-11-1
This is now three straight Yank wins at League Park, highlighted by Ruth's game-changing 2-run double in the 3rd. Like over two dozen other star big leaguers, he should be coming down with acute stomach pains in the next twelve hours.

SENATORS 5-10-0, at WHITE SOX 1-6-1
There is no word yet from Big Train Johnson concerning his presence in Darby tomorrow, but if he is going to show he tunes up sweetly today with his 17th win of the year at Comiskey Park to pull the Nats out of their torpid play.

at BROWNS 12-20-1, ATHLETICS 7-17-2
It is 11-2 St. Louis by the 4th inning as the Browns pound A's "pitching" for seven extra-base blows.










AMERICAN LEAGUE through Saturday, August 9
Washington Senators 7141.634
Detroit Tigers 6053.53111.5
Chicago White Sox 5852.52712
New York Yankees 5654.50914
St. Louis Browns 5458.48217
Boston Red Sox 4961.44521
Philadelphia Athletics 4963.43822
Cleveland Indians 4964.43422.5

11.27.2009

THE BITTERS AND THE SWEET


August 9, 1924

I had to tiptoe over two dozen pairs of hands and feet this morning on my way out the door. Rachel missed the late train last night, so I headed over to Broad Street Station as soon as the bugs were out of my eyes to pick her up.

She had asked her father Saul to come, him being such a huge ball fan, but she said he wasn't feeling well again and wasn't really interested in seeing any kind of "schvartza" game, whatever that was. So there went me asking him the Big Rachel Question again.

Rachel looked as cute as ever, even that early in the morning. She was also real hungry and asked if Mama had made anything for breakfast. "Aw, the house is kind of a mess" was all I said, and hustled her straight to Reading Terminal to get us fresh pastries instead...


By Benny Wzckoviczy
Whites vs. Coloreds Organizer

Good old Rube. Me and Roy still had usage of the fancy convertible he leased for us, meaning we had gotten up to New York lickety-split and a half. Our mission was to make sure Judge Landis didn't know our big exhibition was going on tomorrow, and lucky for us, Roy had an old Caribbean friend to help out.

Skitch Thomas had about twenty kinds of British, Dutch, Jamaican, Bermudian and whatever blood in him, and now lived in New York where he delivered bottles of health tonic made by some old German family living in Venezuela named Siegert. If you can keep THAT straight. The stuff was shipped up from the Siegert factory in Trinidad, where Skitch was from, and was made with something called Angostura bitters that were supposed to clean out your stomach problems if you put it in liquor.

Anyhows, it seems that Landis is a longtime fan of Siegert bitters, and Skitch sometimes delivers bottles of it to his hotel room when he's in from Chicago. And he was in New York again this weekend for some baseball writers banquet at the same hotel.

So we met Skitch out on a Staten Island ferry boat today. He had a little derby hat and blue-tinted glasses on and spoke the worst English I ever heard, and had a little pouch inside his coat packed with bottles he had re-filled and capped himself. You see, Skitch had gotten hold of some of Siegert's bottles and what he thought was their secret formula and had made his own special illegal tonics in his apartment basement as sort of a hobby. According to Roy, he had one that could put a nervous rhino to sleep. So for a decent price we had two bottles of "Sleep-aider XX," one each for me and Roy just in case, and the address of the hotel. Now it was all up to us...



Rachel and me went straight to Baker Bowl after our pastries, where the Big Bad Bucs were there for a Saturday double-header. Cy wasn't around because of his dizziness, so I had no idea what was going on back at my house, but I knew the plan was to get out to Darby later and make sure the field was all set for tomorrow.

As far as I was concerned, I was ready to ditch being batboy after three innings. Lee Meadows gave us a single and error on Harper's first at bat to get us going, but Sand, Holke and Wrightstone left him out there at second scratching his bum hole. Then, as usual, the Pirates scored out of nowhere. Johnny Gooch, the second-string catcher filling in for Earl Smith, tripled, singled and doubled his first three times up to start one 3-run rally and knock in their fourth run. Meadows cruised along from there, winning for the eighth time in his last nine starts. Hubbell was lucky because they more than doubled our hit total and still only scored five runs.

Rachel was bored beyond tears and asked if she could sit in the Phillies dugout with me for the second game. I told her she was cracked, that Art Fletcher was a nice guy and gentleman and would probably let colored Roy sit there before a woman. So Rachel sulked in her great behind-the-dugout the whole time while we tore up Jeff Pfeffer for 13 hits to their eight and still managed to lose. The Bucs went through a miniature slump in the last week but are back to winning ridiculous again, and for the 70th time no less.

I was thrilled when Cy showed up in street clothes near the end to tell me that the colored players needed help hauling the lighting equipment out of their trucks in Darby. Fletcher believed my fake coughing and in a flash I was dressed and back down the street with Rachel. I had no idea what Benny was up to at the moment, but I figured he was busy messing up whatever that crazy plan was he came up with...




Me and Roy snuck into the hotel through a back door and nabbed waiter uniforms from a storage closet. Skitch had given us the number of the room Judge Landis stayed in every time, so I elected myself to deliver a tonic bottle.

There were lots of fancy-dress people walking around, but I have to say I looked awful snappy myself in my long white waiter coat. I knocked on room 381 and waited. And waited. And waited. Then I heard someone coming and ducked around the corner.

It was a chambermaid, who unlocked the Judge's door and brought in some fresh towels. I snuck in when she wasn't looking and left the tonic bottle on a hotel napkin next to his bed.

But then Roy was missing. Or at least from the place in the back alley where we were supposed to meet. I looked and paced around for an hour almost, until he finally came out, all huffing and sweaty. He said he served the tonic bottle to Landis right at his table but it just took a while. "What?? You told me to bring one to his room!" He said he saw him cross the lobby and go into the banquet room so decided he could get him the stuff before I could.

Yikes and a half. We never got away from a place so fast in our lives...




It was nice to discover a trolley line that went all the way to Darby, a township just southwest of Philadelphia. The trolley wasn't even that crowded and the weather was nice, so me and Rachel had time to get off for an ice cream on the way.

Hilldale Park was a funny-looking place with a dinky grandstand that even had a big tree in deep right field. The lights were big and heavy and everyone hoped they'd work. We were only supposed to play three games at the most, but the way the two teams could probably hit, who knows when the games would finish. Rachel got a chance to meet all the colored players and they were all pretty polite to her, but as soon as she took off her hat and jacket and rolled up her shirt sleeves to help haul out the lighting stuff, there was hooting and chuckling for a good five minutes. I guess there'd never seen a white girl doing muscle work before, especially one as nice and smart as Rachel.

We all went to a colored chop house after, and I tried to start a conversation with Oscar Charleston, but he never took the serious look off his face. Rube said he wanted to beat the whites tomorrow something bad, and wouldn't smile about anything again until that happened.

Cy went back to his own place tonight for a change, so Rachel got our guest room to herself after Mama cleaned it up. Benny showed up at midnight to tell us that him and Roy had gotten Judge Landis two bottles of this home-made sleep tonic instead of one. Great. Hopefully they didn't kill him for their troubles.

What would happen tomorrow? I realized Judge Landis might be dead to the world for a day or two, but I was starting to worry that no one else in the country might realize these games were actually played.

I hate to say it, but I think we need a reporter person.
—Vinny

PGH 003 001 001 - 5 15 1
PHL 000 100 000 - 1 6 1

PGH 002 001 001 - 4 8 1
PHL 000 010 101 - 3 13 1


Other National League games today:

REDS 6-13-1, at GIANTS 2-10-0
Your daily New York stink party. Their best pitcher McQuillan can get practically no Reds out, including pitcher Rube Benton who gets three singles off him in four tries, and the elephant-speed Bubbles Hargrave, who somehow hits two triples.

at ROBINS 7-8-1, CARDINALS 4-8-1
You know the Cards are in bad quicksand when they can't even beat lousy Arty Decatur. Hornsby and Bottomley get six singles between them but no one else does much of anything.

CUBS 8-15-1, at BRAVES 4-6-0
CUBS 16-18-1, BRAVES 2-7-2
Geez, at this rate the Cubs might pass the Cards soon. They mop the floor, ceiling and rooftop with the pathetic Braves, as Gabby Hartnett, getting ready to face those coloreds tomorrow, goes 6-for-11 on the day with a homer, triple, double and six knocked in. He can gab all he wants now.










NATIONAL LEAGUE through Saturday, August 9
Pittsburgh Pirates7037.654
Brooklyn Robins6546.5867
Cincinnati Reds6546.5867
New York Giants6048.55610.5
St. Louis Cardinals5455.49517
Chicago Cubs5257.47719
Philadelphia Phillies4269.37830
Boston Braves3080.27341.5

11.25.2009

AN ANGEL IN GOGGLES

TIGERS CANNOT FINISH BUSINESS WITH BOSTON, WHILE I FEAST ON MINE

By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber

August 8, 1924

There he is, circling the batting practice circle like some half-starved lynx. I have borne the brunt of Ty Cobb's surly, vindictive attitude and cowardly blows for the entire season, but his attempt to maroon what could very well be an historic contest in Pennsylvania this Sunday is beyond even his foul persona. After he takes his next series of cuts and lines a few bullets into the open field, I approach him swiftly.

"Admit it, Ty. You're the one who wired Judge Landis."

He snickers under his breath. "Get lost, Butterface. I got more hittin' to do."

"So you won't deny it?"

"Can't deny something I didn't do." He refuses to look me in the eye.

"I think you're lying, Ty. I think you were upset because none of the players invited you along so you decided to turn everyone in."

With this he spins, bat gripped in front of him like a war club. "You really think that, Butterface? Now why the hell would I ever wanna play against a bunch of crazy coons, and why the hell would you wanna write about 'em?"

My neck reddens, my hands tighten. I drop my notepad and pen and rip his bat away, knocking it upside his head in the process. He staggers a moment, then flies at me, punching and clawing. Tiger players and a patrolman are on us in seconds, and it's Heilman who shoves us apart.

"Go write your coon-lovin' novel, you piss-ape!" he yells, as I'm escorted off the field and out the exit.

Attempts to plead my case are met with expected resistance on the telephone from Detroit's management, so I am once again without a place to call a reporting home. I walk down the street to Bertram's Card-Playing Club for a round of gin to distract me and a few small glasses of back room whiskey to calm me. It is then that I hear my name called out, and there, perched on a nearby stool, is Dean C. Smith. The air mail pilot who I sat beside at Henry Ford's estate the other night is a s jovial as ever, and invites me to join him for a third whiskey which he gladly purchases.

I relate the entire Cobb saga, starting with our skirmishes early in the season, and then about my burning desire to get to the Hilldale Field on Sunday to see the white-colored exhibition. "My newspaper will never foot the bill for such a journey, not when they're probably writing about my 'assault' on Cobb this very moment." Smith sets his glass down and looks me in the eye like a true man should do.

"My De Havilland is a two-seater, you know."

"Your what?"

"My plane! I'm going to fly you there, pal!"

I suppose it is a good thing I have three doses of Canadian's best liquid inside me, because otherwise I may have fled. As it is, I am here now at a local air strip waiting to board Dean's bi-plane, which he is filling with fuel somewhere out there in the dark. My small packed bag is beside me, my tearful goodbyes to Bonnie and the children recently completed. At dawn's first crack of light I will be rising into the Michigan sky, pointed east, the promise of an unparalleled game to save me from panic.

TODAY'S TIGER GAME REPORT,
FROM "BRAINY EYES" BRADLEY ON TRUMBULL AVENUE

I couldn't catch everything through our knothole, but did see Harris and Veach homer for them early, and it was 3-0 Boston when Heilman bashed a ball that was either over the fence or bleachers in left but put us ahead 4-3. We were up 5-3 but stupid Earl Whitehill fell out of his tree for us in the 8th. A walk and two singles made it 5-4, and after I pushed some dumb kid out of the way I saw Veach crush another one over our wall for three runs and a 7-5 lead for the Sox. I heard we got one back in the 9th but I had to go home early and clean my underpants so I missed it.

BOS 100 200 040 - 7 7 0
DET 000 040 101 - 6 7 1


THE DAY'S OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS:

at WHITE SOX 9-12-1, SENATORS 8-9-0 (10 innings)
Can you believe it? Another loss for Washington. Ahead 2-0, Martina and Marberry team up to hand Chicago seven runs in the 5th. The Nats come right back on Thurston with four, then knot the game 8-8 with four singles, a walk and scoring fly in the 8th. Russell and Cvengros are both tough in relief, but a Collins walk and steal and Bibb Falk double send in the winner.

at BROWNS 7-14-3, ATHLETICS 3-7-0
Danforth bests Rommel, and three Brownie gaffes do little damage as St. Louis regains their mettle.

YANKEES 6-12-0, INDIANS 4-8-0 (10 innings)
Ruth homers off Sherry Smith in the 1st, a supreme achievement, but it's Meusel's three-sack hit in extra innings that launches a rally to take the game and give New York a one-game standings hike for the second straight day.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: After tomorrow's obvious day off for turkey consumption, 1924 chapters will appear on Friday and Saturday this holiday weekend, with the first ever Hilldale-Darby White-Colored Classic to be reported in two installments beginning Monday. Have a bountiful and wonderful Thanksgiving, readers!—J.P.










AMERICAN LEAGUE through Friday, August 8
Washington Senators 7041.631
Detroit Tigers 6052.53610.5
Chicago White Sox 5851.53211
New York Yankees 5554.50514
St. Louis Browns 5358.47717
Philadelphia Athletics 4962.44121
Boston Red Sox 4861.44021
Cleveland Indians 4963.43821.5

11.24.2009

THE HOME INVASION


AUTHOR'S NOTE: After tomorrow's post, an obvious day off for turkey consumption looms, but 1924 chapters will appear on Friday and Saturday this holiday weekend, with the first ever Hilldale-Darby White-Colored Classic to be reported in two installments beginning Monday. Have a bountiful and wonderful Thanksgiving, readers!—J.P.


August 8, 1924

Oh boy. So Cy was holed up in our guest room all night with dizziness and headaches. Rube called this morning to say he was on his way over with some of his colored team, Rachel telegrammed to say she's probably going to be coming tomorrow for the weekend, and then I open the newspaper with my toast and read this headline:

BASEBALL'S LANDIS WARNS OF NEGRO THREAT TO BASEBALL

Well, we didn't need that. I'm telling you, if school was open today I'd escape to Mrs. Crackerbee's class and bury my head in a Greek history book. What was I supposed to do? Cy was still too deloozy to talk about anything, Mama was busy laying ice-cold strips of cooking foil on his head, and Benny and Roy were nowhere to be found.

So I did the only thing I could, which was distract myself from the whole mess by reporting to Baker Bowl for two hours to watch the Pirates blast us into pieces. With Cy out of our lineup we didn't stand a chance, right?

Well, that's what I thought. But Earl Smith, the most fearsome hitting catcher in the league after Hartnett, was out of their lineup for a while, and Johnny Couch was making a good habit out of putting Bucs on the bases and squirming out of trouble. Heinie started two double plays in the first four innings, and Harper gave us a 1-0 lead with a homer off their ace Kremer in the 1st.

But these rubes don't have 67 wins for no reason. After Kremer bunted Johnny Gooch over to second with two outs in the 5th, Max Carey got himself plunked, Grimm walked and so did Moore and we were tied. Meantime we loused up two great scoring chances in the third and fifth, so it was just a matter of time before the noose broke our necks.

The snap came in the 7th. Kremer, already with two good bunts, whacked a ball to deep right-center for a triple to begin the inning. Carey walked, Grimm singled and we were behind. All that was left was for Wrightstone to thrill the crowd for three minutes with a leadoff double in the last of the 9th, only to have Henline pop out, Wilson line out and Mokan screw himself into the ground whiffing on a bad pitch to end the game.

I didn't even sweep the locker room floor this time, just bolted back to the streetcar to see if our home was still standing.

And that was the problem. All you could do was stand. See, Foster didn't show up with some of his players, he showed up with ninety percent of the team, and there they were sitting around on every piece of furniture or on every untaken inch of floor, eating their hamburgers and chicken and beans and Italian sandwiches that they'd bought from vendors in the neighborhood. Mama was trying to help out by pouring drinks for any of them that didn't bring pop bottles, but I could tell she was rattled and would rather have been on cold cooking foil duty upstairs with Cy.

Rube was excited to see me, shook the heck out of my hand and introduced me to his players. I had only heard of a couple of them and didn't even know where they played on the field, but they were all pretty friendly and joked with each other non-stop. Sam Streeter and Webster McDonald and Nip Winters were pitchers, Dobie Moore and Rev Cannady were smaller so were probably infielders, while Tubby Scales looked like he ate baseballs for lunch instead of just hitting them. Willie Wells, Pop Lloyd and Mule Suttles were all hilarious, and Oscar Charleston had more of a dignity look about him, like he knew he was the best of the bunch and didn't have to act it.

I showed Rube the Commissioner Landis story in the paper, but he'd already heard about it and said it was nothing new. He was sure that if he forked a little more cash over to every white player there wouldn't be a problem getting them to play. Plus there seemed to be a scheme that "acquaintances" of ours were working on.

It was right about then that our door got knocked, and there was a Western Union man. I grabbed the envelope and tore it open, all excited because it might have been from Rachel again. But no, it was from Benny in New York City. What the damn was he doing up there?

WITH ROY IN BIG CITY. MEETING TONIC MAKER ON FERRY BOAT TONIGHT. LANDIS WILL SLEEP LIKE BABY. WE PROMISE.
—BENNY

Rube was all smiles, but I just stared at the telegram in shock because there was nothing I could say. Except good night, reader-people!
—Vinny

PGH 000 010 100 - 2 9 0
PHL 100 000 000 - 1 6 1

Other National League games today:

CUBS 16-14-1, at BRAVES 5-9-3
So much for the great Braves revival. Seldom-used Bob Barrett triples and homers and knocks in five off Larry Benton. Aldridge goes the distance as the three bottom spots in the Chicago lineup go 6-for-12 and drive home ten of their runs.

at ROBINS 4-8-2, CARDINALS 2-5-0
And the St. Louis swan dive continues. Bill Doak singles, homers and pitches a 5-hitter and Brooklyn stays hot and ties Cincy for second place.

at GIANTS 9-14-0, REDS 1-11-1
New York can't seem to beat anyone but the Reds. Youngs drives in five and Virgil Barnes easily escapes the ridiculous 11-single Reds attack.










NATIONAL LEAGUE through Friday, August 8
Pittsburgh Pirates6837.648
Brooklyn Robins6446.5826.5
Cincinnati Reds6446.5826.5
New York Giants6047.5619
St. Louis Cardinals5454.50015.5
Chicago Cubs5057.46718.5
Philadelphia Phillies4267.38527.5
Boston Braves3078.27839

11.23.2009

THE JUDGE AND THE RAT

By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber

August 7, 1924

Safe from the watching eyes of my cohorts in the furthermost bleacher section of Navin Field before today's first skirmish with Boston, I take the time to jot down some rarified names on my note pad:

1B-Judge, Bottomley
2B-Hornsby, E. Collins
SS-Sewell, Wright
3B-Traynor, Dykes
LF-Cuyler, Goslin
CF-Speaker, C. Williams, Roush, Jacobson
RF-Ruth, Heilman, Youngs
C-Hartnett, Myatt
P-Alexander, Vance, Rixey, Mays, R. Collins
Pennock, Adams, Ehrhardt, Big Train?


Surely the most formidable squad in base ball history is planning to take the Hilldale Field this Sunday by hook or crook, and if Walter Johnson decides to pitch, the Negro stars may just as well stay in their rooming houses. How can anyone on earth beat us, let along an amalgamation of untried talent? Regardless, it should be a fascinating event, and as God as my witness I will be sitting in a seat with pen and scribing pad in hand to recount what happens.

My head is so filled with burning thoughts on this matter that I nearly miss the quick Red Sox rally in the 1st off Ripper Collins. Williams and Clark walk to start the game, Harris triples them in, Boone singles him in, and Detroit is behind 3-0. Collins has been nearly impossible to beat all year, and settles down rapidly.

Heilman clubs a long homer off Ferguson to spark a 4-run Tiger bombardment in the 2nd, and the bleacherites around me are ecstatic. The 4-3 lead holds for the next three innings, and the beautiful weather helps everyone's mood. The only blemish is Mr. Tyrus Cobb, his beady eyes and smirking face searching the crowd for me whenever he jogs out to center field. Since he saw me speaking to Ruth after yesterday's game he's seemed even more strange and suspicious than usual, and I have to pull the brim of my hat over my eyes to avoid his gaze.

A Harris double and Veach single in the 6th knots the action, and things stay tense until the last of the 8th. Manush works a leadoff walk, and with one out, Pratt dunks a single in front of Ike Boone over in right. Ike plays a silly game of jiggly-pop with the ball, Manush gazelles all the way around the sacks with the lead run, and Collins is energized all over again. The Ripper snuffs the Sox 1-2-3 in the 9th for his base ball-best 18th win, and Detroit has victory No. 60.

Imagine, then, the unexpected horror of what follows. I stop in the press porch to grab a new notepad after the game, and find a horde of writers standing around a telegraphed statement that has just been delivered. I squeeze through to give it a read:

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE BASE BALL COMMISSIONER:

A recent rumor has crossed my desk that an assortment of fine major leaguers may be participating in an exhibition game soon against a team of dark players for extra pay. This is expressly forbidden by our league bylaws. As the sport's commissioner, let it be said I will not tolerate such ribald, ill-conceived behavior. Any players caught being involved in a game like this during an actual championship season could face serious fines and suspension, and may be asked to apologize to the base ball public at large concerning the errors of their ways.

Sincerely,

Kenesaw Mountain Landis


So Cobb turned us in. I should have known...

BOS 300 001 000 - 4 8 2
DET 040 000 01x - 5 8 1


THE DAY'S OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS:

at WHITE SOX 3-13-1, SENATORS 2-9-1 (10 innings)
Another in a recent series of brutal losses for the first-placers. Down 2-0 to Lyons, the Nats claw back and tie the game in the 8th off Blankenship, only to have Zachary and Russell run into a sawmill in the 9th. Falk singles with one out, Hooper singles him to second, Sheely singles but Falk is gunned at the plate. Archdeacon walks to re-load the sacks and Kamm singles for the winner. The Tigers and White Sox pick up a full game and threaten to make this a race again.

ATHLETICS 6-14-0, a BROWNS 3-7-1
St. Louis cooled off for a day by Baumgartner, and Bill Lamar continues his hot stroking with four hits in five tries.

YANKEES 11-19-1, at INDIANS 2-7-2
Apparently Happy Ruth clubs homer no. 31, a 3-run shot in a six-run Yankee 2nd, as Luther Roy is sent scurrying into his bunker. It may be the best swatting support Pennock has enjoyed all year.










AMERICAN LEAGUE through Thursday, August 7
Washington Senators 7040.636
Detroit Tigers 6051.54110.5
Chicago White Sox 5751.52812
New York Yankees 5454.50015
St. Louis Browns 5258.47318
Philadelphia Athletics 4961.44521
Cleveland Indians 4962.44121.5
Boston Red Sox 4761.43522

11.22.2009

RAGING STARS: EPPA KNOCKS OUT CY IN EIGHTH ROUND


August 7, 1924

So today we all went to a baseball game and a boxing match broke out. Everyone inside Baker Bowl and probably for the surrounding twenty miles figured on a big Reds picnic, with the 15-5 Eppa Rixey going against the 6-9 and usually bullet-riddled Joe Oescheger, but that's why these dang things are played, right?

Four Cincy singles in a row started it off, and their 2-0 lead held up until Cy Williams said enough of this malarkey and bammed a homer to deepest center leading off the Phillie 4th. Cy's been all pepped up lately like I've never see him, and I'm sure the thrill of him player-managing these white all-stars on Sunday has a lot to do with it.

Roush got his third single in the 5th to put the Reds up 3-1, but then got too full of himself and dropped Oeschie's easy fly with one out in our 5th to put Phils at second and third. Part-timer Joe Schultz then whipped a hit into left and the game was tied! Take that, Eppa! Seriously, this Rixey disease has had us sick all year, so it was nice to see us getting some good licks in.

Of course, so were they. Oeschie gave up two quick singles and a scoring fly to put Cincy up 4-3, but then Cy creamed another Rixey pill high over the right train tracks, and it was 4-4. We were in a great one here, and for a while I actually forgot about Rube Foster and this Sunday and all the headaches going with it.

But then Cy came up to start the Phillie 8th. Cincy had knocked Oeschie out with three hits and a run in the top half, but Steineder got out of the mess that was left. Rixey was 15-5 for a reason, though, and wasn't about to let Cy take him out of the park a third time.

So the first pitch knocked him in the head! It wasn't a fastball thank God, but it sure didn't feel good. The crowd moaned as he dropped in the dust. I think I even heard Mama scream thirty blocks away.

Cy got up all wobbly, dusted off his uniform and headed straight to the mound! Eppa ducked the first punch but Cy is a big fellow and had him in a headlock in no time. By the time every player on both teams had reached the fight Eppa and Cy were tearing at each other like mad dogs.

It took almost five minutes to get them apart, and park policemen had to help. Cy was booted out of the game, but was too dizzy to play anymore anyway. Unbelievably though, the umpires allowed Rixey to stay in! Fans hurled trash and a few bottles from the stands, and he had to duck a few other things to make his first pitch to Jimmie Wilson.

Well, he should have come out for his own good, because we weren't about to let him get away with throwing at anyone's head, let alone our best hitter's. Wilson singled. Mokan singled. Parkinson singled. Steineder popped a deep fly for a third run and we were suddenly ahead with justice 7-5! Skinny bastard.

The Reds aren't exactly in second place because someone gave it to them for Christmas, though. In the 9th with one out, they got more patient at the plate than they were all game, and waited for Steineder to crack. Walker, Bressler and Roush all walked. Pinelli made it 7-6 with a single. Bubbles Hargave ripped a 2-run single to put them up 8-7. Daubert singled and it was 9-7 and the crowd was moaning all over again.

Dibut relieved to keep Rixey from being shot, and after a Ford single, Holke dribbled into a double play, Harper who replaced Cy in the cleanup hole, grounded to third and the bout was over.

The doctor checked Cy's noggin after the game and said he had a little concussion and won't be able to play for a few days. Naturally, Mama had heard the news from someone on her block and showed up outside the clubhouse to escort him down the street to who knows where.

He might be okay by Sunday, but this makes two other problems now. Rixey thinks he's pitching with the white stars, so he and Cy better drink some moonshine together, and quick. The other thing is that our best slugger just went out with the first-place Bucs coming in tomorrow. And nobody following this National League race is surprised by that.

Good night, reader-people!
—Vinny

Only other National League game today:

at BRAVES 4-7-0, CARDINALS 3-11-2
Wow. The Cards drop three out of four at Braves Field? What's this season coming to? Cotton Tierney singles in Bancroft in the last of the 10th to finally give Boston its 30th win of the year. Slumping Hornsby gets one one single in five tries and now has to face much tougher pitching in Brooklyn. And probably at Hilldale Field, too, but don't tell anyone.










NATIONAL LEAGUE through Thursday, August 7
Pittsburgh Pirates6737.644
Cincinnati Reds6445.5875.5
Brooklyn Robins6346.5786.5
New York Giants5947.5579
St. Louis Cardinals5453.50514.5
Chicago Cubs4957.46219
Philadelphia Phillies4266.38927
Boston Braves3077.28038.5

11.21.2009

LURKING IN WEEDS, AN EXPLOSIVE MINE


HEILMAN'S WORDS PREFACE LATE AND SHOCKING TIGER RALLY OVER YANKS

By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber

August 6, 1924

As I watch the Tigers take swatting practice before today's finale with New York, the formidable Harry Heilman walks over to me. His usually tan face appears a bit pale, and there is a furtive look in his eye.

"I'm telling nobody else but you about this, Cal. There's a full-blown exhibition game between whites and Negroes this Sunday in Philadelphia, and I am definitely going to play."

So it is true! I then relate what the Babe had told me last night at Ford's mansion, and we spend the next five minutes confirming other rumors. Aside from a treasure trove of great players from the National League, Eddie Collins of the White Sox is interested, as are Joe Sewell, Glenn Myatt and Speaker from Cleveland, Baby Doll Jacobson from the Browns, and Jimmie Dykes from the Athletics. I ask him if any of the first-place Senators have been contacted, but he isn't sure. "The thing is, with such a huge lead in the race, they can afford to skip out on a game." I then ask how in the world all these great players are going to disappear for a day without Commissioner Landis finding out. "There's a young Philadelphia fanatic of a fan involved in this thing named Benny something, and he supposedly has a clever plan."

I look up to see a swarm of other reporters studying us, along with a few of the Tiger players, and Heilman walks me further away from them, down the left field foul line. "Keeping this quiet is the biggest problem," he says, "You can tell Ruth if you want but make sure he keeps his big trap shut. And Cobb? Don't mention one word. He'd probably want to play, too, but no one can stand the son-of-a-bitch so we'd probably end up telling him to stick it." That's an amusing line, I tell him, vowing to remember it.

"If we really pull this off, Cal, we're going to need a first-rate reporter to do it justice. So me and Speaker are hoping you'll be there. We really liked that story you wrote abut the knothole kids the other day. Whoa—gotta hit!" He lumbers off to the home plate area and I repair back to my lofty press perch, a place I haven't seen for a few days.

And with good reason. The cloistered spot feels more removed from the action than ever, and it doesn't help today to have dozens of neighboring writers' eyes glancing at me. Things improve when the actual contest commences, but when the Yanks pepper Ken Holloway for five hits and three runs in the 3rd, a crabby silence permeates the row.

"What were you and Heilman blabbing about?" asks Grover Quincy, a cantankerous word-man from the Grand Traverse Herald. I tell him nothing in particular and go back to my typewriter, but it isn't long before Edward Needlemeyer of the Kalamazoo Gazzette is approaching me at the sandwich table. "Hey Butterworth what's this about Heilman wanting more money?" Again, I say little, reminding him that I have a very cordial relationship with Heilman and even had a fine interview with him on a train trip earlier in the season. But my greatest gossiping fears have surfaced, and when the stooge continues to probe I ignore him, pack up my scorebook and pens and hastily leave the press area.

By the time I settle comfortably into a vacant grandstand seat past first base, it is the bottom of the 6th and the Tigers have made an art form out of stranding runners against Sad Sam Jones. They abandon seven through the first five innings, and three more as I'm watching with Rigney popping to left. Holloway has soothed the Yankee lumber since the fateful 3rd, and Dauss takes over to throw a 1-2-3 7th.

Then Wingo singles sharply in front of Ruth to begin the Detroit 7th. Cobb forces him but Heilman rips a clean safety and Cobb scampers around to third. The recently disappointing Manush lines out, but Bassler walks, Pratt singles home two, the mob explodes around me and Sad Sam takes his tears to the dugout.

The New York relief corps is a sorry lot, possibly the most ineffective in base ball, and Milt Gaston proves this instantly. He walks the free-swinging O'Rourke to re-stock the sacks, and with Cobb unwilling to remove the tough Dauss from the game, he lets Hooks bat. Gaston throws him an impotent fastball, Dauss' bat flashes and the ball is cracked on a line between Meusel and Witt to deep left-center! Three runs are home on the startling Hooks Dauss triple, and the Yanks have coughed up another late lead.

To their credit, they do not succumb yet. Johnson doubles to lead the 8th, Ruth singles him home and Meusel doubles Ruth home, but Dauss squeaks out of the frame without further molestation. To make our fans even more unnecessarily nervous, the Tigers strand the bases filled once more in the 8th, and with two outs in the Yank 9th, reliever Cole walks Ward and Johnson to bring up the Bambino with the winning digits on the base paths.

The Navin throng is on its feet. The knothole pack out on Trumbull Avenue can be heard screaming and shouting past the right fence. Heilman inches back almost to the bordering dirt track. Cole winds...throws...

...and the Mighty Babe pops out to second to end the game.

Later, I manage to get Ruth to myself in one of the club house tunnels, and I've never seen him look so frustrated. "Tough day, Babe. But hey—that exhibition game you asked me about? It's real." A look of absolute heaven fills his big face, and he pounds my back. "Thanks for the tip, kid." I implore him to keep it quiet, and he says, "Aw, you know me. And Pennock and Goslin won't tell a soul." He walks away to catch their train to Cleveland. My thoughts are spinning, and I turn to begin thinking about how I will begin this account.

When I see Ty Cobb, fully dressed, standing with reporters outside the Tiger club house. Staring at me.

NYY 003 000 020 - 5 9 0
DET 000 000 60x - 6 11 0


THE DAY'S OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS:

at BROWNS 5-11-1, SENATORS 4-10-2
Washington finds a way to drop three of the four games in St. Louis, falling to Dixie Davis with the help of two more untimely errors by Prothro and Tate. Mogridge loses his second in a row after a flurry of wins, and the Tigers pick up another rare game on the leaders. The Browns, meanwhile, stand a mere two games away from the Yankees.

at WHITE SOX 6-5-0, ATHLETICS 1-9-2
Your typical Chicago win, as they are outhit for the game yet make the most out of every opponent gaffe. A monstrous two-base flub by Lamar in the 1st leads to three Sox runs and all that Robertson needs.

RED SOX 4-11-0, at INDIANS 2-6-0
On their way to Navin Field, the Bostons give the Tribe another rough time. Ehmke shuts down the potent Cleveland bats and chips in with a game-deciding single in the 9th off the quietly horrific Stan Coveleski. The big Slav has now dropped his last ten decisions and amassed a 4-15 record on the campaign.










AMERICAN LEAGUE through Wednesday, August 6
Washington Senators 7039.642
Detroit Tigers 5951.53611.5
Chicago White Sox 5651.52313
New York Yankees 5354.49516
St. Louis Browns 5257.47718
Cleveland Indians 4961.44521.5
Philadelphia Athletics 4861.44022
Boston Red Sox 4760.43922

11.20.2009

WISH YOU CAN BE HERE

August 6, 1924

Dear Rachel:

Good work on your Robins smacking around those dang Bucs the last few days! Keep up the winning and maybe your boys will make a race of this thing yet, because all we can do at this point is probably spoil things for whoever.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this today in the dugout between innings of our boring stinker of a game against Carl Mays is because I wanted to tell you about a different kind of thing I've been working on with Benny and our friend Roy from St. Louis who we met out there.

I'm sure you know that coloreds play baseball, too, and from what I hear a lot of them are awful good, maybe as much as the players we know in the big leagues. We've all had a pretty big desire to prove this, so this Sunday the 10th we're putting on an exhibition game (or maybe a few of them depending on time) out in Darby at Hilldale Park, which is where the colored Hilldale Daisies of the new Eastern Colored League play. The Phils are off that day so I shouldn't have any problems, except some of the white stars who have said they're playing will have to call in sick as a big group or something. The important thing is that Commissioner Landis somehow doesn't find out because I don't think it would make us his favorite people.

I would just love it if you could come down from Brooklyn that day to take the game in. I haven't seen you in a while and it would mean lots to have your support and see your face in the grandstand if they actually have one there. Maybe you could even bring your father along and I could ask him that big question I've been meaning to right there on the spot or afterwards. I don't think Sunday is the big Jewish day so he'd probably be free to go with you.

Anyway, Rube Foster, who runs the Negro National league and I think is paying most of the dough for this idea, will be back tomorrow with some of his players and hopefully he'll have his whole team picked. We have a bunch of great players so far, meaning the white team which I'm going to help Cy Williams coach, so it should be a heck of an extravaganza, or at least an interesting one. Today I even learned that Tris Speaker from the Indians wants to play!

Let me know as soon as you can and I'll have Mama fix up a guest room for you. She's been dating Cy, by the way, even though I'm not supposed to tell anyone.

Loving and missing you,
—Vinny


CIN 201 400 000 - 7 14 0
PHI 000 000 000 - 0 5 2

WINNER-Mays (2.05 earned run average now!)
LOSER-Ring (5-14 now!)
STAR-Edd Roush (5-for-5, excited about playing those coloreds, I guess)


Other National League games today:

at ROBINS 9-13-0, PIRATES 3-7-2
Grimes matches Walter Johnson with a 16-8 record, and Brooklyn ends up splitting the series. Cuyler is at it again getting two triples and two singles but Burleigh handles the rest of the Bucs' lineup easy. The bigger and better news is that tough Pirate backstop Earl Smith goes out with a 2-week injury.

CUBS 8-12-1, at GIANTS 5-8-1
How much torture must it be to be a Giants fan these days? With the Bucs dropping two straight across town, New York turns in two rotten tomatoes against the crummy Cubs. A 2-base error by Irish Meusel and grand slam homer by Hartnett in the 1st off Mule Watson end this thing early, and Gabby homers again later just to rub it in.

CARDINALS 7-14-0, at BRAVES 2-5-1
Guess the Cards got sick of losing to these clowns. Jesse Barnes' record drops to 6-16 and seems like a good choice to be the first pitcher to lose 20 this year. Hornsby (who's also playing!) gets two hits to float right above the .400 mark.










NATIONAL LEAGUE through Wednesday, August 6
Pittsburgh Pirates6737.644
Cincinnati Reds6345.5836
Brooklyn Robins6346.5786.5
New York Giants5947.5579
St. Louis Cardinals5452.50913.5
Chicago Cubs4957.46218.5
Philadelphia Phillies4265.39326
Boston Braves2977.27438.5

11.19.2009

THE MICHIGAN LORD AND HIS SUBJECTS


A MID-WEEK RESPITE AT HENRY FORD'S ESTATE

By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber

August 5, 1924

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Few were as shocked as I to receive a phone call from Henry Ford's staff manager this morning, inviting me to a spontaneous dinner banquet for "American Legends" at Fair Lane, his grand Dearborn mansion. I imagined he had been reading my daily reports in the Free-Enterprise for some time, and thought I was worthy of covering the event. Or maybe he had another motive. Regardless, after today's dreadful game at Navin Field (Yankees 8, Tigers 3, Ed Wells wretched, Babe Ruth typically impotent) Bonnie helped outfit me in my finest supper attire, and off I rode down Michigan Avenue.

I doubt there are even a handful of dwellings in this country as opulent as the one Henry Ford assembled. Not only are there 56 rooms, but as you drive through the high gates onto his 1300 acres, you pass a man-made lake, summer house, pony barn, a skating arena, entire working farm and the five hundred birdhouses that satisfy the owner's ornithological interest.

The carved oak entrance hall, library and living room are stuffed with guests and tobacco smoke. I only recognize a few other local wordsmiths, but do catch a glimpse of Thomas Edison conversing with Clara Ford, motion picture star Will Rogers telling a story next to a stained glass window, as well as Michigan State football coaching greats Chester Brewer and John Macklin.

Then I hear a familiar bellow of laughter coming from a cavernous fireplace across the living room, and I walk over to see Babe Ruth, looking unusually stiff in his bulging suit, puffing on the largest cigar in North America and telling a no-doubt randy joke to a crowd of reporters. He recognizes me instantly from our one-sided billiards match in New York back in May, yells "Hey, kid!" at me, and takes me aside for a private word.

"Can you believe the size of this joint?" he begins, flicking a dollop of cigar ash on the carpet and making sure to snuff it with his heel. "All from making that joke of a Model T. I'd shoot another rack with ya but I hear old Clara took over the pool room 'cause she needed a place to write her girlie letters." Will Rogers strolls by to shakes his hand, and he pulls me further away, against a window.

"Hey listen. There's a rumor floatin' around that a bunch of star players are gonna play against some pretty good coloreds outside of Philly this weekend. Hear anything, kid?" I am flabbergasted, and profess my ignorance of such an event. "Well, keep those big ears open and let me know tomorrow if you do. My club rots this season and I can't seem to hit my weight when it counts, so a nice little fake game with them colored boys might relax me a tad."

A dinner bell gongs, we're whisked into a lavish main dining hall, and take seats around the long grand table. Ford enters, takes the end seat at the far end, raises his glass of Maine spring water (which we have all been served), thanks us for coming, and toasts each and every "American legend" at the table. Then he fires his steely gaze straight at me.

"And from the esteemed fourth estate, we have none other than Calvin J. Butterworth. While I cannot condone his recent anarchistic behavior, I have admired his writing skills for some time, and see now that his inherently rebellious spirit harkens back to the brave patriots of Lexington and Concord. I salute you, sir!" Glasses clink, tears flow from my eyes, and I settle before my braised duck stuffed with soybean pate.

To my immediate right sits one Dean C. Smith, a young, handsome and notorious air mail pilot, famous for delivering a letter after crashing his plane last year. His senses appear to be juiced with illegal liquid from a hidden flask in his vest pocket, but I enjoy his humor and company and being a loyal follower of air achievements, it isn't long before I discover it was he who buzzed his de Havilland biplane over Navin Field yesterday. He offers to take me on a ride any time I wish and write about it, but my height-challenged nerves and lack of incentive force me to decline.

Ruth stands before dessert is served to rekindle laughter and offers "a big thank-you to Hank Ford over here for not inviting Ty Cobb." Most of us know Ruth and Tyrus get along just fine, but despite his reputation as a Jew-hater, Henry Ford is a most devout man and has no interest in entertaining a notorious scallywag like Cobb in his home. Ruth himself may be as safe to have around as a grizzly bear on a motor cycle, but he is still universally loved.

As the crowd departs, after I thank Ford for his blessed honor, and with the taste of soybean and duck still gracing my palate, all I can think about is the Babe's inquiry about this rumored Negro game. What if it were true?

NYY 020 004 020 - 8 19 0
DET 002 001 000 - 3 9 0


THE DAY'S OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS:

at BROWNS 5-9-0, SENATORS 0-5-2
Base ball amazes us again, as Ernie Wingard, loser of six of his last eight starts, allows the first-place Nats just five singles and denies Walter Johnson his 17th win. Jacobson and Ken Williams hit long homers and the Great Goslin commits a ghastly 3-base error to let two critical runs in. Astonishingly, it is also Wingard's fourth blanking of the season.

RED SOX 6-11-2, at INDIANS 0-2-0
Ike Boone goes 4-for-4 off Shaute with a homer, double and four knocked in, and Jack Quinn hurls a masterpiece against the fierce-hitting Indian warriors.

ATHLETICS 2-9-0, at WHITE SOX 1-9-1
In a bout of missed opportunities, the Mackmen prevail with two runs plated in the 1st frame as two of the three second place contenders fall.










AMERICAN LEAGUE through Tuesday, August 5
Washington Senators 7038.648
Detroit Tigers 5851.53212.5
Chicago White Sox 5551.51914
New York Yankees 5353.50016
St. Louis Browns 5157.47219
Cleveland Indians 4960.45021.5
Philadelphia Athletics 4860.44421
Boston Red Sox 4660.43423

11.18.2009

"HOUDINI" CARLSON'S LATEST ESCAPE ACT


August 5, 1924

Mama ran out of the house this morning before I was even done with my bath, and left a note about meeting Cy at the Reading Market for a "light pastry." So much for me getting to talk to him when I got to the ballpark. I guess I'm happy for Mama having met someone she liked, but why did it have to be the star of the team I'm batboying for and someone I'm trying to do business with?

I rode the streetcar to Baker Bowl with Benny this time. Roy was down at the Western union office waiting for a telegram back from his wife in St. Louis, who he'd wired to try and get her and his kids to join him for Sunday's secret game. I told Benny maybe Roy should wait until the whole thing is officially official, but Benny didn't want to hear any negative stuff right now and said he had all sorts of good feelings about it and I should too.

Speaking of good feelings, Heinie Sand was hopping around our dugout like Felix the Cat. The Pirates-Brooklyn game had an earlier start for Ladies Day (Hello, Rachel! I haven't forgotten you!) and Dazzy Vance had already beaten them 2-1. "That means we're going to win today!" screamed Heinie. I asked how come and he said that the Reds lose whenever the Pirates do, or at least 95 percent of the time lately, "meaning all we gotta do is take the field and the game's in the bag!"

That seemed a little too braggy for my money, but we did have maybe the best pitching escape artist in the league going, Hal Carlson. Think I'm crazy? He's given up 200 hits in 140 innings and somehow has a 7-7 record. Ain't no other way to explain it. Tom Sheehan was pitching for the Reds, and he hasn't exactly had any Irish luck lately. Sure enough, Jimmie Wilson popped one of his sleepier curves over the bleacher wall to lead off the 2nd, and we were ahead 1-0. Boob and the Rube (Fowler and Bressler) got the game tied in the 4th with a double and single, but we went back up 2-1 on a Harper scoring grounder. Ford ran in from third on that and I nearly bumped into him picking up Harper's bat, which got most of the Phillies laughing. Edd Roush even went out of his way to jog past home plate on his way in from the field and give me a wink.

Then Houdini Hal went to work. Critz and Sheehan opened the Reds' 5th with singles, and up stepped Curt Walker. He destroyed a fastball but it was right at Ford, who nabbed it, stepped on second base to put out Critz and whipped the ball to Holke to get Sheehan. It was a triple play! The first one I'd ever seen! Maybe Heinie was right about this Cincy Curse after all.

Bressler and Pinelli singled in the 6th but Carlson got out of it. Wingo led off the 7th with a hit but Carlson got out of it. Boob began the 8th with a single and Rube hit a double play. Hal came in the dugout screaming that he had to do all the work, and the Phillie players must have heard him. Holke singled and Cy tripled. Sheehan got the next two guys, but then Mokan and Ford doubled. Carlson walked. Harper crushed a 3-run homer toward Delaware and Bill Harris took the mound. Heinie tripled! Holke, Williams and Wrightstone all walked in a row, and we had seven runs just like that.

Cy slipped me a folded-up note when he came into the dugout, but I had to stuff it in my pocket because the Reds were already back up in the 9th and knocking the feathers out of the ball. Single-triple-single-triple-single-single and they had four runs but Fletcher wouldn't take Hal out. Either because he'd been shooting his mouth off or because he also believed in the Cincy Curse.

Well, we all do now. Boob flied out, Rube hit into the fourth Reds double play of the day, and the thing was over. Houdini Carlson: 216 hits in 149 innings, 8-7 record.

And then I was in a corner of the club house, reading the note Cy had slipped to me:

ALL IN SO FAR:

Me
Hornsby
Vance
Fournier
Wheat
Alexander
Hartnett
Rixey
Mays
Roush


I almost fell over. No wonder Roush winked at me!
—Vinny

CIN 000 100 004 - 5 16 0
PHL 010 100 07x - 9 13 1

Other National League games today:

at ROBINS 2-9-1, PIRATES 1-5-1
Dazzy wins his 16th with a 5-hitter, the winning run flying home with two gone in the 9th on a Johnny Mitchell single off Cooper.

CUBS 5-9-1, at GIANTS 0-7-3
I guess having New York win on a day the Bucs lose is too much to ask of them. Pete Alexander is excellent, Jack Bentley horrible as usual, the worst fielding shortstop in baseball Travis Jackson kicks two balls, and George Kelly is unconscious at the plate again.

at BRAVES 2-6-0, CARDINALS 1-8-4
I'm telling ya, there has to be a full moon out tonight. Hornsby homers and triples but the rest of the St. Loo lineup is worthless against Marquard. A walk, error, single and Ed Sperber walk off Flint Rhem end the game in the last of the 9th.










NATIONAL LEAGUE through Tuesday, August 5
Pittsburgh Pirates6736.650
Cincinnati Reds6245.5797
Brooklyn Robins6246.5747.5
New York Giants5946.5629
St. Louis Cardinals5352.50514.5
Chicago Cubs4857.45719.5
Philadelphia Phillies4264.39626
Boston Braves2976.27638.5

11.17.2009

TO THE PATIENT IN THE BLEACHERS GO THE SPOILS


TIGERS, SPECTATORS LOLLYGAG IN SUN UNTIL YANKS COMBUST

By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber

August 4, 1924

I thoroughly enjoyed my time outside the right fence yesterday with Navin Field's young ball hunters, but today I need to rest my limbs and feel something solid under my bottom, so here I am at game time back in the distant right-center bleacher section, choosing the back row for better views of the bordering leafy trees should the game disappoint.

And how cordial and generous my fan-mates are today! Apparently many of them read my missive about yesterday's hijinks, and were most appreciative. Some even offer me lemonades or bottles of pop. I decline all offers, happy to just remove my hat and let the August sun rays massage my temple as the game commences below us.

Bullet Joe Bush has been having his way with us all season, and is back on the Yankee slab for another go-round. The recently flailing New Yorkers appear to make it easy for him right away, as Dugan and Ward open with singles off Whitehill, and after Ruth skies out to Al Wingo in right—to the music of junior squeals from the ball pack just behind me on the street—Bob Meusel blisters a ball off the center field fence for a triple and 2-0 lead.

Bush begins his day by firing his usual unhittable shells. Other than a Manush walk, erased promptly with a Wingo double play, and a two-out Bassler single in the 4th, we are essentially dormant. The fans about me sag their shoulders, eye the distant field glumly, feeling the weight of the potentially sorry spectacle before them, yet I am immune to such defeatist nonsense now. Can't they feel the same glorious sun, hear the birds chirping in the trees over our shoulders? Do they not notice the small clump of non-paying spectators perched on their makeshift wooden roost across the street? We are rolling into late summer with a professional ball game to watch. Who even needs an outcome?

And to underline this notion, the Yankees tee off on their private fairway in the 5th. Schang and Bush reach with singles, Dugan knocks in Schang with a safety of his own, and Aaron Ward clubs a ball way over the left fence, as the Trumbull Avenue gang shouts and scampers around the back of the park to fetch the thing. We are behind 6-0, and a deathly silence fills the stands and bleachers, a silence I will not stand for.

"Precisely where we wanted them!" I shout, drawing a bit of laughter, but the exclamation seems to have loosened the surrounding spirits. A few boys in the stands begin lobbing peanut shells at each other, until an older man receives one off his neck, and soon a flock of adults are joining in. At one point there is a profound pause in the shell game, and all of us point to the sky. Heavens! Is that not one of those new mail delivery aeroplanes circling over the city? Its pilot taking in the game from a gull's lordly vantage point! What freedom!

It is then that Manush BAMS a double off our fence. We look back at home plate, just in time to see Bush's next offering scoot past Schang in wild fashion. Bob Jones conks a double for one run, Burke and Whitehill single for another, and the crowd and Tigers are back in the contest.

To punctuate the occasion, Bassler whangs a double to begin the last of the 6th. Heilman and Manush single and it is 6-3. Wingo fans, but Jones rips a triple to the wall below us. 6-5! Burke walks and Whitehill fans, and then Cobb, hitless on the day, grounds one out to Ward at second with a fair amount of english, causing Aaron to field it childishly and throw wide and tie the game! Any hats still on heads are tossed in the air, and our patience has paid off.

The Yanks, meanwhile, faced with yet another horrific loss, have slipped into a ghastly fever dream and halted all of their swatting. Bassler and Heilman keep our express chugging with opening singles in the 7th. Manush forces-grounds Bassler to third, and after Wingo fans again, Jones, the hero of the day, pounds his second double past Ruth, Bassler romps plateward, and Detroit has the lead! Bleacherites all about me pound my arms and back, as if it were somehow of my doing.

Shags Horan doubles to lead the Yank 9th, but this day is obviously not theirs. A line out and fly follow. Ward walks to bring up the hitless and perfectly useless Bambino, who grounds weakly to Burke to end their the Gothams' latest nightmare and drop them back under .500. on the pennant ladder.

I gather the Navin stands will be an even calmer place tomorrow.

NYY 200 040 000 - 6 11 1
DET 000 024 10x - 7 12 0


THE DAY'S OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS:

SENATORS 8-13-2, at BROWNS 1-3-0
Alas, if only St.. Louis had made the day complete for us. Curly Ogden will have none of this pennant race stuff, throwing a 2-hit shutout at Sportsman's Park until Baby Doll Jacobson strikes a homer off him to lead the Brownie 9th. The Nats' two-game losing streak ends with a flourish, as they rattle the chamber with seven doubles and a triple off Danforth and others.

at WHITE SOX 7-6-0, ATHLETICS 4-11-3
A decisive lesson in how not to deserve a victory, the Mackmen nearly double the Chicago hit total but make three damaging gaffes and leave far too many mates adrift while the Sox strand just three to give Sloppy Thurston win no. 15.

at INDIANS 6-10-3, RED SOX 1-6-3
Another frightful fielding display helps give Sherry Smith an easy win and keeps the Tribe from dropping their 60th. For a last place club, Boston can wield the sticks, but tough portsiders like Smith tend to keep them quiet.










AMERICAN LEAGUE through Monday, August 4
Washington Senators 7037.654
Detroit Tigers 5850.53712.5
Chicago White Sox 5550.52414
New York Yankees 5253.49517
St. Louis Browns 5057.46720
Cleveland Indians 4959.45421.5
Philadelphia Athletics 4760.43922
Boston Red Sox 4560.42924

11.16.2009

WE'LL CATCH THOSE CUBBIES YET!

RECENTLY, IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE: Benny and Roy and Rube Foster and Cy Williams over my house for a late breakfast meeting...Not sure who's all in yet for Sunday's exhibition against whites and coloreds...Bucs wipe out Brooklyn on our day off, not that it matters...

August 4, 1924

With all my thoughts from yesterday on my brain, it wasn't easy concentrating when it came to lining up baseball bats in their dumb rack.

The pesky, pitching-heavy Reds were in town trying to stay alive under the Pirates, and even if players always are more energized against the good teams it don't mean us batboys are. We had Bill Lucky Hubbell throwing against one of their Cubans Dolf Luque, and with the warm wind blowing out at Baker Bowl again I figured I was in for a long day. Dolf had light skin and blue eyes, which is pretty strange for a Cuban, and I guess it's helped him stick around in the big leagues because no one ever thinks he's a black.

Hubbell gave him a 2-0 lead today when the Reds walked, doubled, singled and doubled in the 1st, even though Roush was shot down at the plate on Daubert's two-bagger with two out. It gave us hope, and good old Cy ripped one into the corner to lead off our 2nd. After Wilson brought him in with the fourth double of the game, Luque got all nervous and stupid and kicked Mokan's easy grounder to put guys at first and third. After a force at home, Hubbell singled, Harper singled, and presto—we had three runs and the lead!

Luque is pretty famous for his bad temper, and after he didn't get a strike three call on Wilson with two on in our 3rd, he started chewing at the umpire. Wilson tagged the next pitch for a scoring fly and it looked like Dolf was going to pop a bolt. Sure enough, with two outs in the 4th, and the Reds able to put people on but not knock any home, Luque got the first two men and then Harper and my buddy Heinie whacked doubles for a 5-2 Phillie lead. The Incredible Holke then pounced on a boring curve, creamed it over the Lifebuoy sign, and we were up by five!

Cincy skipper Jack Hendricks wouldn't have left Luque out in the sun for another inning even if he was a blonde bathing beauty blowing him kisses. And the move paid off for him. Hubbell fell asleep with his suddenly big lead, gave the Reds three singles and a walk to start the 5th, and Chick Shorten came up to bat for the pitcher. He wasted no time, scorched a triple between Cy and Mokan that rattled around some dropped trash from the bleachers, and after a Walker scoring fly and Bressler single it was 7-7!

The scoreboard showed the Cubs losing up at the Polo Grounds, and that got the Phillie players all hopped up again because we still had that bet with Chicago we'd finish in front of them. If we won this we'd only be seven behind in the losses column. Well, Cy took care of that in the 7th. With lefty Jakie May in to face him, he belted a no-doubt-about-it ball high and far over the train tracks in right, his 20th smack of the year. Harper added a run-scoring single in the 8th, and even though Hubbell gave up 16 hits we won it with 14 because more of ours went higher and further.

Cy was all grins and chuckles in the club house, and players and writers were taking up his time so I didn't get a chance to ask him if he'd heard about any more white players signing on for our secret game. Then Benny took me aside down at Mort's later and asked me pretty much the same question, so I guess I'll have to get to Baker Bowl earlier tomorrow to see what's been happening. I asked Benny if Rube Foster was serious about me being a coach and he said I could ask him myself except he went back to Chicago for a few days to take care of some business. Ain't that great.

I'll tell you, it's nervous-making to be a baseball organizer. Good night, reader-people!
—Vinny

Other National League games today:

PIRATES 3-11-0, ROBINS 0-6-1
A big ho, and a bigger hum. The usually unreliable Lee Meadows smokes the Robins on five scattered singles and a too-late Zack Wheat double, as four Pirate singles off Osborne basically end the game after the first five batters. Dazzy Vance throws tomorrow, and for Brooklyn he can't get to the mound fast enough.

at GIANTS 5-9-1, CUBS 1-6-3
Yowsa! Not only do the Giants finally win another one but they beat the dopes we're trying to catch. Hack Wilson homers off Keen for the big blow and Art Nehf spins a gem until getting tired in the 9th.

at BRAVES 2-9-0, CARDINALS 0-2-0
Isn't this why we love baseball more than anything? You got Joe Genewich with a 2-13 record, 5.58 earned run average, a guy who's given up 168 hits in 121 innings, going against tough Leo Dickerman and a Cards team that hits and scores runs in their sleep. And St. Louis gets shutout on two hits by one of the worst teams ever.










NATIONAL LEAGUE through Monday, August 4
Pittsburgh Pirates6735.657
Cincinnati Reds6244.5857
Brooklyn Robins6146.5708.5
New York Giants5945.5679
St. Louis Cardinals5351.51015
Chicago Cubs4757.45221
Philadelphia Phillies4164.39027.5
Boston Braves2876.26940

11.14.2009

BABES IN BAMBINOLAND


JOINING THE KNOTHOLE QUEST FOR HOMER BALL THIRTY

By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber

August 3, 1924

With Ruth and the Yankees back in Detroit, and with my feelings for Tigers management still at a low ebb, why not take in today's game through the squinty eyes of our local "knothole gang"?

The St. Louis Cardinals began the first organized free admission for children in their bleacher section back in 1917, though it's been said that Abner Powell, owner of the New Orleans Pelicans in the 1880s, allowed city youth in for free once a week if they showed good behavior.

The Tiger knotholers are neither organized nor well-behaved. With the Bambino afoot, they are more like swarms of army ants, rabidly climbing over each other to gape through and under Navin Field's right field fence. A patrolman vainly attempts to keep the peace but gives up five minutes before game time to no doubt stroll a more peaceful neighborhood.

The gaggle of boys eye me with trepidation, imagining I must be one of their fathers, until I produce my writing pad and introduce myself. My guides for the afternoon will be Mickey from Warren Corner, scruffy of dress and hoarse of voice; "Brainy Eyes" Bradley from Highland Park, a slight boy in a white dress shirt with glasses thicker than hockey pucks that fog up in the heat every ten minutes, and the energized, hyena-laughing Beesum brothers, who hitchhiked all the way to Detroit from Pontiac to see the Babe. Mickey seems to be the knothole veteran, the aficionado, so being new at this sport I tend to follow his lead.

"We're supposed to take turns looking through the holes, but with the Babe here, crap on that." he says. I ask him what he'll do if he somehow ends up with Ruth's 30th homer ball, and he says probably sell it to some other kid, or trade it to a man for cigarettes. "He's hit over fifty before, but he might not do that again, so this one has to be worth something. Hey! I was here first—" He shoves a blonde kid about three feet with one meaty hand, turns his cap around and peers through the prize hole. "Rip just took the mound!" he yells, and his junior disciples cheer.

The Yanks are back to playing the dull, ineffective ball they've been showing most of the season, but thankfully have their ace Pennock going against ours, Rip Collins. The Ripper is tied with Walter Johnson for the circuit lead with 16 wins, yet even the little rascals around me know that New York fares better against right-handers.

"Bambino's up!" Mickey shouts, and I'm suddenly drowning in boys. All available viewing portals are gone in seconds, a few new ones are created with pocket knives and fingers, and a handful of wee ones climb on each other's shoulders or risk leg abrasions by scaling telephone poles. Collins walks Ruth on four pitches, though, the throng deflates, and sanity returns to the sidewalk. "Rip's just afraid of the big dope," says one of the Beesums, which brings on a "Rip's not afraid of anybody! YOU'RE the dope!" from a nearby wag, and little fists are flying in seconds.

When the Babe jogs out to play right field, the kids go even more crazy, shouting encouragement at him until he apparently turns, says Mickey, and doffs his cap. The game must be a sterling hurler's duel in the early innings, for little crowd noise emits from the grandstand. So do frankfurter smells, though, and when a sausage roll street vendor rolls his wagon by between innings he is nearly attacked. Most of the boys have coins to spare for the much-needed nourishment, though I'm honored to help a few poorer-ones out of my own pocket.

Another mad rush to the knotholes occurs for Ruth's second at bat, and this time he reaches on a Collins boot but in true Yankee fashion gets stranded on base. On his third time up, though, a rally has been brewing. Ernie Johnson walks to fill the bases in the 5th with one out and bring on Dugan. "Jumpin' Joe at the plate!" yells Mickey, the signal for an imminent Ruth appearance. Dugan grounds into a force at home, bringing up the Bambino with a possible grand slam in the making. Shoving and kicking and squeals erupt, and Brainy Eyes Bradley somehow worms his way to a viewing hole.

"Strike one! A soft curve, I believe." he chirps, then "Ball one, high and outside and nearly off Woodall's mitt!" Two more balls follow, then a strike. Brain Eyes has to pull off his glasses and wipe them off on his sweaty shirt again. "He hits it! A sharp grounder! And it's past O'Rourke for a single!" Groans fill the sidewalk air, and they have nothing to do with the 1-0 Yankee lead.

A Rigney double and Cobb's second single of the day tie the score 1-1 in the 6th, but when Ty is erased by Schang trying to nab second, curses never before heard by this writer out of budding mouths make me wince. Apparently Mr. Cobb also has his detractors among the younger set.

Ruth's fourth trip to the plate is a short fly to center, which has our gang briefly buzzing, but with the game moving to the last of the 8th, a new recipe for suspense is cooked. Pennock and Collins are locked in a classic low-score engagement, one not often seen between these thrashers, and its the kind of affair not often appreciated by young fans. So after bribing Mickey with a hot, salty pretzel, I am allowed access to his prize spot for the Tigers' eighth scoring attempt.

I need to crouch to Mickey's level, and before long remove my jacket to set my knees on. The view takes in home plate and all of the infield, and I witness a Rigney walk and Cobb's third single to start things. Haney whiffs, but Heilman walks to fill the bases, and Manush moves to the plate. "Heinie with the bases loaded!" I announce, and my nose is pushed against the fence. The Tigers have hit very few home runs this year, so even the threat of one, particularly by a lefty, drives the knotholers into fevered anticipation.

I lodge my eye back into the hole just in time to see Manush swing viciously. The crack of bat is delayed a moment by my distance away, and I can make out the ball vanishing into the sky. Ruth turns, speeds to his right, disappears, and seconds later the grandstand explodes in cheers. "One run scores! Two! All three!" as Heinie slides into third with a triple! Little hands yank me away from the hole, and some child I can't see announces Woodall's single to make it 5-1 Detroit. Beall finally replaces the battered Pennock...

...and then the unthinkable happens. "Pratt hits one deep to left!!" yells a Beemus, "Oh geez, it's outta here!!!" The swarm leaps away from the fence as if hit with an electric charge, scampers en masse down Trumbull and around to National Drive. I give chase, weaving around tiny legs to keep up, and am nearly out of breath when I spot a pigpile of boys wrestling for something against a stoop. Out pops Mickey from Warren Corner, hair askew, scratches on his face and Del Pratt's home run ball in his hand. "I got five of these this year now," he boasts, though Ruth's 30th is still in the offing.

The six-run Tiger outburst puts the game's fate to rest, but with Dugan aboard with two outs in the 9th, the Babe tries his last licks against Collins, and the knotholers have swarmed back to the right field corner. Brainy Eyes has the announcing honors. "The Babe hits it deep! Heilman's running back...back...and catches it right in front of me with a nonchalant gesture!"

The game is done, and the boys evaporate from the sidewalk. By the time I've flipped shut my notebook, Mickey and Brainy Eyes and the Beesums have vanished into the bigger and older crowds exiting Navin Field.

And I find myself a year or two younger.

NYY 000 010 000 - 1 7 1
DET 000 001 06x - 7 10 1


THE DAY'S OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE CONTESTS:

at BROWNS 4-10-0, SENATORS 3-11-2 (10 innings)
A magical day, indeed. Trying again for their 70th victory, the Nats do themselves in with untimely fielding misplays by Peckinpaugh and Richbourg in the 10th to hand the Browns win no. 50 instead. This all coming after Goslin knots the score with a dramatic homer off Shocker in the 8th.

ATHLETICS 7-13-0, at WHITE SOX 0-6-2
Chicago has been spiraling downward of late, but have rarely looked this pitiful. Fred Heimach mows them down from start to finish while the Mackmen are occupied pummeling Red Faber.

RED SOX 8-15-1, at INDIANS 5-8-2
A day after their dramatic win in my presence, the Tribe sees their second best starter George Uhle butchered for seven 1st inning runs. Brower's grand slam brings them back to 8-5 by the 4th, but Cleveland cannot score again off Ferguson.










AMERICAN LEAGUE through Sunday, August 3
Washington Senators 6937.651
Detroit Tigers 5750.53312.5
Chicago White Sox 5450.51914
New York Yankees 5252.50016
St. Louis Browns 5056.47219
Cleveland Indians 4859.44921.5
Philadelphia Athletics 4759.44321
Boston Red Sox 4559.43323