Chapter 11: The Joints are Jumpin’

Our first game in Pittsburgh continues a theme we heard far too much when the Jordans visited us in Chicago, namely “Jumpin’ Behind the Woodshed.” Red Ruffing gets ruffed up something awful, as the three Jordans who’ve been stuck in the slump room all break out with vengeances. Rap Dixon homers, Buck Leonard drives in two, and Tank Carr rolls over us with two triples, two singles and five runs batted in during the 12-6 mashing.

I contribute nothing, except misplaying Tank’s first triple into an inside-the-parker, and go zip-for-four at the plate with two whiffs. Appling has me and six other lefties in there due to the one-foot-high cinder block “wall” and short wooden bleachers in right here at Greenlee, but only Mize and Reiser come near it with triples of their own. DiMaggio gets all huffy again because of Reiser taking his place, but I talk him into going with us to the Jordan Club later on Bedford Avenue so I don’t have to listen to him mope all night.

Not that the Jordan Club helps any of our moods. Two minutes after we find a table, the always-colorful Jupe Dobbs swings by for some more handshakes and choice words.

“It ain’t just the salad, boys. It’s the choppin’ and dressin’ and tossin’ you gotta do to get that business on your plate. See, everyone knows, and probably you Dorseys the most, that this is a tough journey you got handed, and it’s pretty please possible you’ll be finishing in last place. But I like your gumption out there. You’ve just about proven you belong.” He looks straight at me. “Just keep whatever choppin’ you do all nice and clean, and enjoy your ride.”

“Gee thanks, Jupe,” says Jimmie Foxx, grabbing a half dozen peanuts and opening the shells with a mere crunch of his hand. “Now why don’t you go tell your bedtime stories to someone else?” Jupe cackles, slips out a wink and wanders deeper into the club to no doubt repeat himself.

DiMaggio is out of our rooming house the whole first night and the next, short-sheeting with some fancy white waitress, so I don’t have a chance to go over things we might try differently for the last two games. Well, turns out the less we say the better. Whit Wyatt is just about untouchable in Game 2, dishing out three walks, two singles by Dobie Moore and nothing else. We hold a 2-0 lead on the tough Max Manning for eight innings until Ted Williams steps up in the 9th with two aboard and drives one over those wooden bleachers and halfway up the hill to a factory. It’s the first time we’ve beaten these guys in five tries.

Thornton Lee’s a little less spectacular on Sunday, but with me on the bench again we get four right away off Matlock with the help of a big Foxx triple, peck away for a few more and survive homers by Warfield and Superman Pennington to win fairly easy. So we go 5-4 on our first long trip, but we’re not going home to face the Calloways and kick off the second half just yet. Tommy Dorsey’s waiting for us as we board the bus with a huge grin on his face. Appling asks what’s up and Tommy pulls a folded up letter out of his pocket. We all crowd around for a look.

It’s on official government stationery, and signed by President Langston Hughes himself.

“Is that what I think it is?” asks Appling.

“We’re invited to the Nation’s Capitol, boys! Louisville! Lunch at the Beige House with President Hughes!”

None of us can believe it, and a fair amount of back slapping goes on. Guess we’ve been proving we can play with these major leaguers after all.—J.G. Heath

CHI 000 030 300 – 6 13 3
PIT 412 030 20x – 12 12 3

W-Salmon L-Ruffing HRS: Ruffing, Dixon GWRBI-Leonard

CHI 011 000 003 – 5 8 0
PIT 000 000 000 – 0 2 2

W-Wyatt L-Manning HR: Williams GWRBI-Dickey

CHI 400 011 020 – 8 13 1
PIT 002 001 001 – 4 7 2

W-Lee L-Matlock HRS: Pennington, Warfield GWRBI-Foxx

*   *   *

with Jupiter Dobbs
Pittsburgh Courier Baseball Blabber

ELLINGTONS 10-11-1, at BASIES 9-12-3
at BASIES 5-12-0, ELLINGTONS 2-5-1
ELLINGTONS 10-14-0, at BASIES 4-11-1

Missed out on the annual First of July Band-off in Kansas City between team owners Duke Ellington and Count Basie, but what’s a holiday weekend without it? Thusly, here’s what I could jigsaw together from a few of my personal dispatchin’ emissaries out west…

First two battles were a fine set-up for the Event, with the Ellies outlasting the Basie-men 10-9 despite Double Duty Radcliffe getting pancaked most of the game, and then Satch Paige winning his fourth straight with a full domination show on Saturday. As is custom for the Band-Off, Duke’s entourage set up musical shop in the lower third base grandstand, with the Count’s band taking the first base side. The idea, for those not wise, is for each band to play a song at the end of each inning, with the owner who’s in the lead getting extra tunes at the half innings, and whoever gets the most hoots and hollers and people dancing by the 7th Inning Stretch and Shake is deemed the winner and Band-Off Champion for the year.

With smoky chicken and pork smells filling the place from every food stand, it was all Duke music at the start, “It Don’t Mean a Thing” leading into “C Jam Blues” when Spoony Palm made a big two-base error and the Ellies scored four times in the 1st. The Count countered with “Swingin’ the Blues” but Josh Gibson tenderized one over the fence to make it 6-1 Newark, and “Flamingo” serenaded the park. “One O’Clock Jump” was next for Basie, but a Wild Bill Wright tater (he went 4-for-4 and got hit his last time) made it 8-2 in the 4th and no one in the stands felt like dancing much. So roundabout the 6th, after Duke’s “Mood Indigo” tried lullin’ everyone to sleep, Satch Paige himself burst from the Basie dugout, the fine and limber Helzapoppin’ Cheerleaders in tow, and hit the dugout roof with Satch cookin’ his cleats right along with ’em and Muehlebach Field went berserk in a flash.

The local nine managed 11 hits off the now 7-0 Nip Winters, but couldn’t leave the yard like those Newark balls, and by game’s end the crowd was out on the field, just fine with Duke winning the Band-Off Cup but dancing up infield dust to that joint version of “Swingin’ the Blues” Ellington was graceful enough to play along with. The Basies might be tied for last at the half season mark, but fireworks and food and flying feet were all that mattered on this roaring First of July!

ARMSTRONGS 7-13-0, at CALLOWAYS 3-8-0 (10 innings)

Bound to happen, said the Lords of Bad Dice, as the Armstrong hitting slump continued until Game 3. Shutdown Man for Detroit was Slim Jones, while Home Run Johnson, John Beckwith and Chino Smith found their lost Calloway sticks. Callows also came within a bug’s breath of sweeping the Birminghamers, but Cool Papa Bell batted Candy Jim Taylor for the hitless Ghost Marcelle in a 2-2 tie with two aboard and two gone in the last of the 9th. Candy grounded out (Ghost would have pounded the pitch for a double, take it from me), and the Armies scored five runs in the top of the 10th on Charleston and Lloyd homers to win it. Sometimes, you saddle your horse just right and he still kicks you in the head.

BIG STATISTICAL TREAT! League leaders will post next week, but here are complete half-season numbers for each and every squad. BATTING: BIRMINGHAM, CHICAGO, DETROIT, KANSAS CITY, NEWARK , PITTSBURGH. And the PITCHING: BIRMINGHAM, CHICAGO, DETROIT, KANSAS CITY, NEWARK, PITTSBURGH. In the batting ledgers, the numbers below each player name are game-winning RBIs.

Finally, per usual, Team Hitting, Team Pitching, and Assorted Miscellany

Newark Ellingtons 21 9 .700
Birmingham Armstrongs 19 11 .600 2
Chicago Dorseys 13 17 .433 8
Detroit Calloways 13 17 .433 8
Pittsburgh Jordans 12 18 .400 9
Kansas City Basies 12 18 .400 9
Published in: on May 22, 2011 at 6:25 am  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. your swing dancers make fred astaire and ginger rogers look flat-footed

    • Thanks. We were working on those moves all night!

  2. Tasty stuff here. The terrific videos you embedded add a fantastic soundtrack to your prose, which reads like poetry.
    They don’t make nick-names like these anymore: Ghost Marcell, Spoony Palm…my God, our era seems so sterile in comparison.
    C Jam Blues is sweet, real sweet.
    Love this series,

    • I thank you, Bill, as does Jupe. And you’re right about the nicknames. Even the 1920 Cubs had Virgil Cheeves, Sweetbreads Bailey, Speed Martin, Hippo Vaughn and Chippy Gaw on the same roster.

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