Chapter 15: Fatherly

My dad didn’t talk to me much. He worked as a tree sapper for Crawford Maple Industries, which just about owned the city of Thunder Bay up in Northern Ontario. He played third base for the company’s Syrup League team, and was probably a worse fielder than I am. Anything he did say to me at the supper table about playing baseball had to do with hitting, and I thank him for that after every double I put in the gap.

Dad had a wobbly left knee, so he knew he didn’t stand a chance of ever making it in one of the scattered white leagues, but it still didn’t keep him from trying out with the Chippewa Rascals and the Joeboy Lake Gupps two different times. “If you don’t believe, you won’t,” he’d tell me over and over, whenever we chopped firewood in the summer or shoveled out the house in winter. When I got picked to play for the Dorseys three months ago, he was already deathly sick with severe maple diabetes, but I went to see him in the hospital before our first game. He did nothing but smile at me through his tubes.

Anyway, I decided before we hit the field this time against K.C., that no matter how little Appling plays me the rest of the year, I was going to do Dad proud and hustle my ball and bat sack off every time I was in there. Some lefty relief pitcher once said, “You have to believe,” but I think my dad came up with that one first.

* * *

So I go to Appling before Game 1 at Comiskey and say “Ted Trent is in there. If I can’t hit that rag-arm I can’t hit anybody.” Well, I barely hit Rag-arm, but my single does drives in Arky Vaughn for our second run in the 3rd inning. Max Lanier from the St. Louis Whitebirds gets a start for us, but Willie Wells and Red Parnell have their ways with him, and it’s 2-2 when Jud Wilson singles to start their 6th. I’m playing left today because Appling wanted to try Ted Williams’ slightly better arm in right, something I wasn’t doing cartwheels about. Anyway, Wells then pounds one high and deep to my left. Reiser was shaded to right-center so I race to the fence and cut the ball off before it bounces to the wall. Wilson is chugging around third. I turn, dig my back cleat into the turf and fire one toward home.

Dickey barely moves. Catches the ball on one bounce, swipes and nails Wilson on the ankle a second before it hits the plate. Yeah!! How’s that for old No-Arm Heath?

I whiff my last two times up, but Arky’s already knocked in our go-ahead run and I’m fine with Keller taking my place in left like he usually does. Our new relief man Howie Pollet blows away Fats Jenkins with two aboard to end it, and we take the opener.

Then it’s Satchel Time. Paige hasn’t lost in a month and a half, and I gotta say we smash him around pretty good. None of it includes me though, because Appling wants all the righties in there against his screwy pitches. Still, it’s the lefties who give him grief. Keller gets three hits including a homer, Ted gets a double and homer, and after Wells puts them ahead with a grand slammer off Wyatt, we score three times in the 6th to tie it up 5-5.

Wyatt is just Whitless today, though. Judy Johnson, Spoony Palm and Sammy Highes all single to start the 8th, Paige of all people hits a sac fly, Torriente and Pete Hill single and that’s pretty much that. Satch wins his sixth in a row, up to 7-3 now, and he’s the main reason the Count’s Basies are flirting with the .500 mark.

With lefty Sam Streeter going in the final game, I’m on the pine again. Williams, who’s just been berserk for us, doubles and homers again, but Thronton Lee is off his track, and it’s 3-3 in the last of the 6th. Ernie Lombardi stinks a lazy fly out to Parnell in right with one gone, but Red loses it in the Chicago clouds and it drops for a 3-base error! “Heath! Get your behind out there!” yells Appling, and I’m tearing out there to run for Ernie.

Streeter glances at me over his right shoulder a few times, and I decide to give him the business he’s asking for. Between every pitch I run a foot or two to home and run back, just like I’ve seen Cool Papa Bell do a million times. It works. Streeter loses his concentration, throws a fat pitch to Ken Keltner, who rips it past me into left for the go-ahead run! The dugout slaps my back silly when I get in, and then I have to sit and watch three sweaty innings of of Lee and John Humphries trying to keep the Basies at bay.

We’re 18-24 now, only two games behind K.C. for that third place money, and for the first time in a while I feel good about my place in this outfit. The Jordans visit us next, and put me in cold, coach! —J.G. Heath

K.C. 000 200 000 – 2 8 2
CHI 002 000 11x – 4 6 0

W-Lanier L-Trent SV-Pollet GWRBI-Vaughn

K.C. 000 140 030 – 8 12 1
CHI 200 003 010 – 6 12 2

W-Paige L-Wyatt HRS: Wells, Keller, Williams GWRBI-Paige

K.C. 101 100 000 – 3 8 2
CHI 002 101 00x- 4 8 0

W-Williams GWRBI-Keltner

*   *   *

with Jupiter Dobbs
Pittsburgh Courier Baseball Blabber

at ARMSTRONGS 2-4-2, ELLINGTONS 1-10-1 (12 innings)
I stayed home in the comfort of my press box and smoking jacket for this one, due to Alabama summer heat and me knowing full well of the possible perils for the home team. The B-Hams just have not been hitting for whenever, and it is righteously possible their early success was the result of a smoky mirror. Double Duty Radcliffe had chinks in his work in the opener, but the Armies solidified his position with two key double play balls struck by Messers Brown and Rogan. The second tilt was a big Southern miracle, as Josh Gibson failed to hit safely in six tries and the Ellies squandered scoring early and too often. Winner was plated in the 12th off Smokey Joe on a Mackey walk, rare error by Dandridge and Radcliff single. The finale was an execution with nine blindfolds pure and simple. Birmingham collected one extra base hit to Newark’s nine. Nip Winters became 10-0. And the white-shirted B-Ham crowd filed out by the 7th, their garb and expressions turning funeral black. Oscar Charleston is still carrying their lone hitting torch, but Bullet Joe Rogan is down to .230, Willard Brown is .239, and Biz Mackey, my vote for league MVP not too long ago, has dropped to .224. Enough said.

at JORDANS 7-11-0, CALLOWAYS 6-15-0
CALLOWAYS 4-9-0, at JORDANS 1-4-1 (10 innings)
CALLOWAYS 8-12-0, at JORDANS 2-5-0
For this I stayed at home? Matters looked sunny after the opener, a thrilling spectacle. We tied it on a Turkey homer in the 8th, won it on a bases-loaded walk to Hurley McNair in the 9th. Then ennui settled over Greenlee. Slim Jones 4-hit us and fanned eight, before Cannonball Dick Redding started his own winning 7-run rally with a deep homer off the dreadful Leroy Matlock. Pains me to break the news to my readers, but when you have a 6-15 mark on your own home patch, you don’t deserve to eat dinner.

Blab to you next week from downtown Dorseyville, baseball bees and flowers!


+53 Newark
+47 Detroit
+1 Kansas City
–18 Pittsburgh
–21 Birmingham
–47 Chicago

Per usual, here are Team Hitting, Team Pitching, and Assorted Miscellany

Newark Ellingtons 27 15 .643
Birmingham Armstrongs 23 19 .548 4
Kansas City Basies 20 22 .476 7
Pittsburgh Jordans 19 23 .452 8
Detroit Calloways 19 23 .452 8
Chicago Dorseys 18 24 .429 9
Published in: on June 19, 2011 at 6:52 am  Comments (6)  

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m not ready to give up yet, but am hurting on the disabled list with a puffed
    “-ham -strong” Yikes! Missed a chance to close the gap at home. Ugh.

    I wasn’t one of the white-shirted to leave after the seventh inning against the Duke-Ellies, though I was tempted to much earlier than that.

    Maybe Blossom can get her daddy to issue an executive order or something to get the B-Hams playing “stronger.”

    As for me, I’m beside myself, which at least means there was one more of us in the stands to the end of the Newark series. But I fear the end is near.

    • Jupe Dobbs replies:

      Hear your velvety thoughts loud and clear, Master Graf. Let your devoutness pertaining to the B-Hams be a rolling model to all Bragging League cranks, and relish every grain of sand left in your second place hourglass…As Poppa Dellington Dobbs once learned me, if you don’t cut the onions, you can’t cry in the sauce.

      • What a compliment to get a reply from the great Mr. Jupiter Dobbs himself. Greetings to all the Pittsburgh partisans and good luck to the Jordans against the Dorseys!

        Over here among us B-Hammers, we’re waiting for the invention of the corked bat. Ours seem to be filled with pudding.

  2. Another great post, my man. Keep ‘um coming.

  3. One of the most entertaining series I’ve ever read about baseball.

    • Your kind words warm my soul, William. Pass the word!

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