I had it all figured out. First I'd get me, Rachel and her father great seats behind the Brooklyn dugout with Heinie's help. Then I'd count on Dazzy Vance winning his 20th game of the year against Jimmy Ring, which is kind of like betting on a leopard to handle a bunny. Then I'd get Saul alone in the fifteen or twenty minutes between games with a new cold lemonade and ask him if I can marry his daughter.
I would wait till we go out to dinner later, except like that day here in July when I asked Rachel the question in the first place, second games of double-headers are high-scoring and don't go the way you want them to, and I don't want him in any kind of mood like he was yesterday. I also thought about asking Heinie to "go easy" on the Robins for me, but that's about as illegal as you can get and I wouldn't feel good about myself if poor Heinie had to hunt raccoons with Shoeless Joe Jackson the rest of his life.
Autumn was definitely in town along with the Robins, though. I wasn't even sweating until the third inning. Rachel was wearing this peach-colored dress and hat and had a pretty sweet smile to match them. The stands were packed for the holiday, and during the little flag-marching parade I noticed Grover our old club house man who they must've talked out of retirement, toting bats around again in place of me. Oh well, I had to grow up sometime.
I was a little nervous the first few innings because Ring with his 6-16 record suddenly decided he was going to pitch well, and shut down the first six Brooklyn batters easy. Then Jimmy Johnston singled to open the 3rd, Zack Taylor got him to third with another single, and Dazzy walked to the plate and ripped one over Heinie's head, who jumped high enough to convince me he wasn't laying down. A Bernie Neis single and Ford error on Wheat's grounder made it 3-0, and Vance probably had all he needed.
I went and got Saul a sausage roll, and he asked me if it was "kosher meat". I said I had no idea if Kosher was the hog farmer's name, but that I'd been eating them all year and they were delicious, so who cared? He went for a popcorn bag instead, so I ended up eating my second sausage roll of the game. Rachel hardly ate a thing, being as nervous as me, and her plan was to go the ladies room between the games and leave us alone.
After a Neis scoring fly made it 4-0 Brooklyn, Vance settled down to business, getting 14 Phillies in a row at one point, whiffing six of them. He has a curve that you can't hit with a tree trunk, and sitting that close made it clear why he leads both leagues with 226 strikeouts. Saul was more excited every inning. "A shutout for his 20th win? Just imagine that!" he said a few times, and then the 9th inning rolled around a bit too quick.
Harper walked for starters, and Saul squirmed his behind around on the seat. Oh great. Was he going to lose his brain if Dazzy didn't throw a shutout? Heinie walked up, gave me a little nod from the home plate area and then cracked one into the left field corner. Phils on second and third! Dazzy struck out Holke, and it was Cy's turn. Now he knew I was sitting there but wouldn't look over at all, and I got the idea he wasn't too keen about me walking off the batboy job and probably didn't even want to go out with my mother anymore. He waited on a big Dazzy curve, whacked it deep to Wheat in left and Harper ran in to break the shutout.
I couldn't believe it, but Saul took off his hat and said something dark and yiddish, and even when Wrightstone lined out to end the game and give the Robins the win, he didn't look all that thrilled. Certainly not ready to listen to a giant question from me.
"I'm going to find a powder room, if that's what I can call it here," Rachel said with a wink, and hurried up the aisle. And there I was, three inches away from her father, with probably no better time to do this. So I sipped more of my lemonade, cracked open a peanut or two. Or three. Then wiped my salty, sweaty hands off on my pants and turned to him.
"Umm, Mr. Stone? I need to ask you for something."
"Popcorn? I think I finished the bag but there might be a bit more—"
"No, no. It's about Rachel. I um, love her a lot, you see. And I was wondering—
"You want to kiss her? It's only a natural thing, my boy. When I met her mother I couldn't even speak about doing that until we'd gone out to see half a dozen shows. There was a burlesque playing at the—"
"I 've already kissed her, Mr. Stone. And now I wanna marry her."
He squinted at me with one eye, then the other. And the sun was behind a cloud.
"How old are you?"
"Eighteen at the end of the month. But I'm finished with school, and I'm going to start looking for a real job, and—"
"And you'll become a Jew?"
"Umm...s-sure. I mean, how hard can it be? I'm sure I can find us a Kosher Brothers hog farm somewhere."
He turned away with a wave of his hand, mulling this over. Some of the players were already coming back on the field to warm up.
"Please, sir. I love Rachel more than anything."
"More than baseball? I don't believe that—"
"It's true. Watch this." I stood and turned my back on the field. "Let's go right now. I'll even miss the second game."
Suddenly there was a loud cheer that shot from one end of Baker Bowl to the other. Saul looked around me and saw fans pointing to the scoreboard:
The Cubs had beaten the Pirates 8-3 in their first game.
"Are you crazy??" He grabbed me by the wrist and jerked me back in my chair. "You can marry Rachel and come live with us in Brooklyn if you want, but we are not missing the second game!"
And so I became a soon-to-be-married half-Jewish man. Rachel returned and we hugged, and then both Stones screamed themselves silly for two hours as Jack Fournier got two singles, a homer, drove in five, Dutch Ruether made us look stupid and the Robins put Clarence Mitchell through a meat grinder 18-5 in the second game.
I hate to say it, reader-people, but the outcome meant nothing to me. Rachel's warm hand was in mine even while the fans around us were booing, throwing things and finally giving up early and going home. We went and got Mama after, and she was so shocked by the news she didn't even notice we were celebrating at a restaurant that wasn't Italian.
And did I mention the Bucs lost the other half of their double-header? Well Saul did, over appetizers, salad, the main course, and dessert.
BRK 003 100 000 - 4 9 0
PHL 000 000 001 - 1 3 2
BRK 402 200 604 - 18 22 0
PHL 100 000 031 - 5 6 2
Other National League twinbills today:
CUBS 8-14-3, at PIRATES 3-5-1
CUBS 3-8-1, at PIRATES 2-9-1
After winning seven straight decisions and eleven out of twelve, Lee Meadows gets creamed for a change in the opener, and Vic Keen pitches his best game of the year as the Cubs come back from being behind 3-0. In the nightcap, hardly-ever-used Del Lundgren gets the start for the Bucs against Sheriff Blake, and nearly beats them but Rip Wheeler throws four tough relief innings to save the day and make the rest of the league very happy.
CARDINALS 16-23-4, at REDS 5-9-4
CARDINALS 3-8-0, at REDS 2-9-0
Cincy slips under the .500 mark, and they do it in god-horrible style. First Dolf Luque pitches like he's brain damaged and Hornsby goes mental himself with a 6-for-6 game: two singles, two doubles, a triple, homer and seven knocked in. The with Pete Donohue pitching the game of his life, 2-0 into the 8th, the Cards glue a walk and four singles together for three runs and the ballgame. Bottomley's winning hit comes after Hornsby is walked, even though Sunny Jim has 12 game-deciders of his own.
GIANTS 6-8-2, at BRAVES 1-11-1
GIANTS 3-11-2, at BRAVES 1-8-3
The complete holiday sweep for the road teams ends with this one. Virgil Barnes gives the Braves eleven hits, which they do nothing with, before Wayland Dean goes all the way in Game 2. The red-hot George Kelly goes out for three games, but with the Braves being their enemy this probably won't amount to much.
|NATIONAL LEAGUE through Monday, September 1|
|New York Giants||71||57||.555||10|
|St. Louis Cardinals||64||66||.492||18|