Chapter 5: Nearly Down for the Count

Jud Wilson is no .216 hitter, and he proves it.

I’m sitting out our first game with the Basies at Comiskey, so scribble up a letter in the dugout just for good luck:

Dear Blossom:

I hope this gets to you, because I don’t know your address in Birmingham and am sending it to the Governor Mansion in Montgomery, but hopefully your father or one of his staff will be kind and deliver it to you.

Thanks for your nice note after my foul ball skipped off your head. I hope the gash you got is all healed now. I’ve been following your Armstrongs and it seems like they have the stuff to win this thing. Oscar Charleston is a good leader and they’ve been pulling out the close games.

I see that they’re scheduled to play us up here the second week of June so was wondering if you might be traveling to Chicago to see them. If so, I would very much like to have a lunch or a reefer or maybe even a dinner with you, if you’re open to that sort of thing. I realize this is something we need to keep very hush, but I have to admit I’ve been thinking about you a lot since my foul ball and even if we just met for a talk or something that would be okay, too.

Hope to hear from you,


“Better put that away, Lover Boy.” It’s Cullenbine, elbowing me as Appling glares in my direction. Thornton Lee gives K.C. a single and double in the 1st but gets out of the jam, and after DiMaggio grounds out our first four have gone down for Sam Streeter.

CRACK! King Kong Keller suddenly skies one deep to right…Red Parnell is back on the track and it’s gone! I can’t believe Keller hits one out before I do, playing a lot less time and all, but hell, it’s 1-0 us. Make that 2-0 us when Streeter curbs himself by walking four Dorseys in the 5th. Lee has been amazing so far, and takes a 2-0, 5-hitter into the 9th. Got a chance here to knock the Basies two games behind us.

But Willie Wells leads with a walk. Jud Wilson, their scariest hitter who is only batting .216 with no homers so far, then pops one over Ted’s head in right for a double and just like that the tying runs are on. The few of us left in the dugout get real quiet, but here’s Judy Johnson flying a ball out to medium left. Keller circles a little, puts up his glove and the ball clanks off it! Damn him! Both runs score and it’s 2-2 for no good reason. Not that I haven’t done that before but, but at a time like this? Brown singles Judy to third, Thornton out of his mind on the mound now, and Appling pulls him for Spud Chandler while the crowd just stares at the field in shock.

Spud ain’t mud, though. Gets Creacy on a liner and a 6-4-3 twin killer out of Streeter, who can flat out hit. Appling pinch-hits Sam Chapman to start our 9th. Sam, if you don’t know, is the only guy on the Dorseys who openly hates black persons, and Luke likes to trot him up there to get the other teams riled up and hopefully do the same for us. Anyway Chap gets in the box, throws out a few cusses at Streeter, gets a ball over his head before he swings at a bad pitch and grounds out and so much for that idea today. Appling and Vernon also make outs and we’re into the 10th.

Al Benton takes the mound with his usual wild problems and walks Pete Hill right away. Fats Jenkins singles before Benton gets Parnell and Wells, but then Jud walks, Judy singles in two, and we’re behind 4-2. Incredible. Ted singles to begin our 10th but Joe, in a bad slump all of a sudden, raps into a DP and kicks the stuffing out of the first base bag on his way back to he dugout. Keller walks, though, Hayes singles and Appling points his finger at lil’ ole me.

I grab my bat, hurry out there. Almost all the fans who haven’t bailed on us are standing. I try and see myself smacking the game-wining homer, my first of the year, cheers pounding in my head. K.C. manager Wells has brought in Ted Trent to face me. Trent’s a breaking ball man, who throws a “long curve, short curve, and shorter curve.” So at least I think I know what’s coming.

Except he starts with a fastball, I’m too anxious, give it a half-cocked swing and the ball skids out to Creacy at second, who throws to first and we’ve lost a real flamoozy. Keller’s so upset in the club house after he looks like he’s going to cry, and Jimmie Foxx has to talk him out of the showers.

We do our best to recover for Game 2. Appling starts our 1st with a single off Webster McDonald, before I smoke a triple between Torriente and Blackwell to put us ahead. DiMaggio hits one out to center with one out, I get the tag-up sign, but Spoony Palm blocks the plate perfectly and Torriente’s throw nails me by an inch. Still, we take another 2-0 lead for Sid Hudson through four, and then the Dorsey world explodes.

They get a sac fly in the 5th, a homer by Blackwell, triple by Creacy and homer by Palm in the 6th. A Jud Wilson grand slam in the 7th. Charlie Wagner comes on, Appling makes two errors in the 8th and they score four more. It’s a massacre of a slaughter, folks, and Tommy Dorsey kicks out the reporters later and slams the clubhouse door.

“We’re playing awful, boys. We know that. But it’s not all our fault. Those major leaguers are just too loaded and we need some help.”

“No changing league rules, Tommy,” says Appling, “Too late for that.”

“Well, Greenlee has to listen to me. They made it crooked from the start by keeping out our players from the National White League, right? Meanwhile they’re using everyone and their brothers-in-law to stomp our heads. If I threaten to yank us out of the league I don’t think President Hughes would be too thrilled, do you?”

Appling just shrugs, Dorsey nods to himself and leaves to get on the telephone and set up a meeting with Greenlee and league officials.

Meanwhile, we play the third game, and can’t hit a lick off Bill Drake for five innings while the Basies take a 1-0 lead. Then Drake botches and throws away an Appling grounder with one gone in our sixth. I step up there, 0-for-2 with a DP so far, and swing like blue hell at a second pitch fastball. I make good contact and the thing flies down the right field line. Blackwell to the fence and it’s in the seats for my first of the year! Not wanting to show up the Basies I keep my head down the way you’re supposed to, trot around the sacks real quick, shake Ted’s hand at the plate and hop into the dugout. Ted’s inspired, whacks one higher and farther than mine and we’re up 3-1!

After another Spoony Palm dinger in the 7th (the varmint has five already!) Spud got Ruffing out of a jam in the 8th and now it’s Al Benton’s turn again. And he falls on his face again. Torriente doubles when the ball lands fair by less than an inch. Blackwell creams one into the seats seconds later and we’re down 4-3.

Willie Powell comes on, but DiMaggio continues his horror movie with a flyout starting our 9th, another 0-for-4 day. Foxx whiffs. It’s up to Cecil Travis to avoid us getting swept. As he gussies up his bat, Stringbean suddenly appears from the dugout tunnel and hands Appling a telegram.

“He did it!” is all he yells at us, and we know right away what happened. Dorsey met with Greenlee, called his bluff, and got what he wanted. The commissioner is so sure his players are better than ours no matter what the hell we do that he set up a huge bet to prove himself right. We can now add five guys from the National White League, and if we win the Bragging League pennant, one of our players will get the call and become the first white to play regularly in the major leagues. Wow!

The news charges our dugout like nothing ever has. Travis rips a single, and so does Dickey to get him to third. Joe Gordon, who at .133 can’t hit a rock into lake Michigan, works himself a walk to load the bases. The Comiskey crowd is goo-goo! Mickey Vernon is our best pinch-hitter left. He walks up, picks out a Powell curve and slams it into right for a two-run single and the ballgame!

A double miracle, folks! All Dorsey and Appling have to do now is pick the right new players and maybe we’ll have a chance in this league. —J.G. Heath

K.C. 000 000 002 2 – 4 9 0
CHI 010 010 000 0 – 2 6 1

W-Streeter L-Benton SV-Trent HR: Keller BONEHEAD: Keller

K.C. 000 014 451 – 15 17 2
CHI 100 102 001 – 5 11 1

W-McDonald L-Hudson HRS: Blackwell, Palm, Wilson, Torriente

K.C. 000 100 102 – 4 11 1
CHI 000 003 002 – 5 8 1

W-Benton L-Powell HRS: Blackwell, Heath, T. Williams

*   *   *

with Jupiter Dobbs
Pittsburgh Courier Baseball Blabber


CALLOWAYS 5-12-0, at JORDANS 1-8-2
CALLOWAYS 8-13-0, at JORDANS 0-5-0
CALLOWAYS 4-7-0, at JORDANS 1-4-2
Got nothing to say. Can’t even utter a keystroke. All I know is they have to rename Greenlee Field Skid Row Stadium, because we are not just 0-6 in our home graveyard, but dying of run starvation like no one ever has or will. Two—I say TWO—crumb digits on our table in the last FOUR games! And these three were against Redding, Davis, and Dihigo, mind you, good pitchers all but not exactly a satchel of Paiges. Turkey Stearnes has no answers to my questions, being he’s the main culprit in this Jordanian heist of all things scoring. At 14-for-52 he’s .269, far better than Dobie Moore’s .229, Buck Leonard’s .212 and Rap Dixon’s .143, but he couldn’t get a big hit if you set the dang thing on a dinner plate and garnished it with parsley. Good news, meaning the ONLY good news, is that we’re off to Chicago now to take it out on those Dorsey boys. And yeah, I heard that rumor about them getting a few more players, but I don’t care if they get Moses Fleetwood Walker himself, they are about to take away our pain.

Well, we ALMOST had a 3-way tie for first, but those dastardly Birminghammers did it again, coming back on a 4-1 Newark lead in the last of the 9th in the last game to score four runs off Double Duty Radcliffe and two relievers, Oscar Charleston smoking a bases-loaded double to win it. This after Nip Winters had bamboozled them in the opener and Leon Day had returned the favor in Game 2. Anyway, the Calloways of Detroit have hereby hi-de-hoed their way into second place, just one floor under the Armstrongs, who they now pay a 3-game visit to down in the stickier environs.

More leaders follow below. Per usual, team hitting, team pitching and assorted miscellany can be accessed via handy Portable Document Formats. Until next week, baseball bees and flowers!

1.323 Spoony Palm, KC
1.163 Chino Smith, DET
1.152 Ted Williams, CHC
1.088 Biz Mackey, BRM
1.058 Home Run Johnson, DET
1.038 Oscar Charleston, BRM
1.035 John Beckwith, DET

.434 H.R. Johnson, DET
.396 Smith, DET
.391 Williams, CHC
.389 Blackwell, KC
.387 Torriente, KC

5 Palm, KC
5 Beckwith, KC
3 Wright, NWK
3 Monroe, NWK

19 Beckwith, DET
16 Smith, DET
11 Pennington, PIT
11 Suttles, NWK
10 Charleston, BRM

1.04 Roosevelt Davis, DET
1.33 Nip Winters, NWK
1.69 Leroy Matlock, PIT

0.88 Davis, DET
0.96 Winters, NWK
1.09 Lee, CHC

21 Smokey Joe Williams, NWK
20 Bob Feller, CHC
20 Slim Jones, DET

Foster and Day BRM,
Winters and Williams NWK
Dihigo, DET all 3-0

Birmingham Armstrongs 9 3 .750
Detroit Calloways 8 4 .667 1
Newark Ellingtons 7 5 .583 2
Kansas City Basies 4 8 .333 5
Pittsburgh Jordans 4 8 .333 5
Chicago Dorseys 4 8 .333 5

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Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 6:35 am  Comments (3)  

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Detroit looks like tough competition for the Armstrongs, who will need to keep the game close and count on their Assorted Miscellany dominance in one-run games and comebacks.

    Will we find out which new players the Dorseys get from the National League before next Sunday?

    • Jupe Dobbs might know, except he might be spending his nights at the Yinzer Hash Parlor these days. I’ll shoot him a time tunnel e-mail but can’t promise an answer before next Sunday.

      • Fair enough. I’ll wait for the scoop from Jupe.

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