Wow. Never saw this barreling down the highway.
Here we are, all jumpy and nervous and expecting the Jersey fans to attack me for crossing the racial love line a few weeks ago, but the only thing they care about right now is how their Newark Ellingtons’ pitching staff disintegrated before their eyes.
It started when the K.C. Basies rolled into Ruppert Stadium recently and pasted the Ellies by a combined score of 42-13. Smokey Joe Williams has been pretty wheezy all year, and the only reason Nip Winters is 12-0 when our series starts is because his batting mates have been using those days to punish the scoreboard.
Luckily, we’ve played Newark tough with a 4-5 record coming in, and Appling sticks me in left for the opener to take care of any egg-throwing right off the bat so we can concentrate on the games. He also leads himself off instead of Arky Vaughn, a shrewd way to set an example for us, I guess. Anyway, he walks, and I whiff stupidly, and Ted Williams walks, but Mize bounces into a DP and we’re feeling low out of the chute.
Doesn’t help when a Monroe double, Dandridge triple, and Lundy double off Higbe give them two quick ones in the 2nd. But in the 3rd, I rip a two-out single into center. Williams walks again and Mize clubs a double over Wild Bill Wright’s galloping head. I race home easy but Williams tries to tie it up behind me and gets gunned down at the plate with DiMaggio coming up. Oms triples and Suttles homers five seconds later it seems, and we’re down 4-1. Did I mention that if we lose one game to these behemoths, we’re eliminated from the pennant race? Well, I just did.
Double Duty Radcliffe is huffing and puffing for them, though. We don’t score every inning but we’re certainly getting folks on the bases. And I’m on fire (for me), whacking a double to knock in Appling in the 5th and creaming a triple between Oms and Oscar Heavy Johnson in the 7th to bring us to a 5-3 deficit. Bill Byrd takes the hill, and gets Dickey on a liner, but then Appling’s brain punches in to work. Dolph Camilli bats for Benny McCoy and doubles, scoring Joe. King Kong Keller hits for Feller, who pitched a scoreless relief inning, and singles down the line for two runs and the lead! Even Cullenbine follows with a pinch single, his first hit since forever, before I save the Newark crowd from suicide by grounding into a force.
And we ain’t done, readers. Ted singles and Mize bashes one 440 feet in the 9th, and the place gets quieter than Bernheim’s Funeral Home. Humphries closes the Ellies out with two great relief innings and we run like school kids into the clubhouse tunnel.
When you can’t lose any more games, every win is your biggest of the year, and this one has our locker room exploding in shouts. We hear that Duke Ellington visited the home clubhouse to make an encouraging speech, but was so upset about the game he couldn’t get one word out. Can’t really blame him. Eight of Newark’s ten hits went for extra bases and they still couldn’t win.
I’m rooming here with DiMaggio again, but even though he’s out buying Keller dinner at Vesuvius and invited me along, I’m still too nervous about local ruffians to wander far from the rooming house. Plus the Armstrongs beat the Jordans today down in Birmingham, are suddenly just two games out, and the streets might not be safe for anyone, let alone me.
I’m back in the second spot again for Game 2 against Smokey Joe, and it starts pretty much the same way, except this time I draw the walk and Ted hits into the DP. Joe’s a bit hungover after his night at Vesuvius, though, so Pete Reiser starts in center and shoots his first homer of the year out of the yard in the 2nd to get the home fans booing early.
Meanwhile Whit Wyatt must’ve had his Whit Wyatt Wheaties for breakfast. An Oms double and Monroe single are the only safe knocks he allows in the first five innings. Smokey smokes me my next two times up, but Ted hits a smash homer leading the 6th, his league-leading 18th, Mize walks, Travis triples, Dickey singles, we’re up 4-0 and Big Smokey is derailed for the afternoon.
The ballpark steams with sweat and worry, but cools off a bit when Gibson powers out a 2-run shot the bottom of the same inning, and after Lundy doubles in a run in the 7th, Howie Pollett relieves Wyatt and Neil Robinson greets him with a bomb high over the scoreboard in left to put Newark ahead 5-4.
Appling storms around our dugout between innings, cracking almonds open with his teeth and spitting out the innards. “We can’t lose this thing, men. Not here. Not today. Not ever.” He’d already taken himself out for Boudreau’s defense, so feels doubly helpless to do anything about our situation. He goes pinch-hitter happy again in the 8th, bringing a woozy Joe, Ernie Lombardi, Sam Chapman and Jimmie Foxx off the pine in the same inning, and despite a walk, single, and double off Andy Cooper, Travis’ DP ball kills the rally.
But the 9th is the other side of the rowboat. Boudreau rams a triple down the left field line to start us off. This brings up Keller, having replaced me for defense three innings ago. Charlie waits on a Cooper curve and plants it high and deep to right and GONE!! 6-5 Dorsey Boys! Rapid Robert Feller throws his second 1-2-3 inning for the win and we’ve done it again.
And the Armstrongs win again down south, are one game out now, and Joe takes Keller and the entire team out for dinner this time. and it’s the best eggplant I’ve ever had. There’s some angry Ellington fans milling around our neighborhood later, and Joe and me have to get back to our room up a back staircase.
And after Game 3, it’s a damn good thing our bus is gassed up and waiting outside the Ruppert Stadium exit door. Appling is feeling so cocky he puts our whipping boy Joe Gordon in the leadoff spot. It’s a full moon on the calendar, and the unbeatable Nip Winters’ other cleat finally drops. We scratch out a run in the 1st, five straight two-out baserunners for five more runs in the 2nd, Foxx adds a homer and double later and we roll the Ellies 11-4 with hardly a lick of perspiration. Keller gets the start in left field against Winters, racks up two singles, a walk and homer, and it’s a good thing I watch it all from the safety of the dugout because the eggs I thought would be coming in my direction are hurled at the home players by the 7th inning.
And guess what? Birmingham sweeps the Jordans and believe it or else, there is a tie for first place with the Armstrongs here next weekend for the Showdown of the Year. I’d sure like to stick around and watch, but hell, we’ve still got a mathematic breath in this thing and got business of our own in Kansas City, including a Satchel Paige date in the third game.
Soon as our bus rolls out of town, I talk the driver into stopping at an Eastern Union telegraph office, where I dash off a quick note to Blossom:
POUNDED ELLINGTON KEYBOARD TODAY FOR SWEEP.
NEVER SAY I DON’T LOVE YOU. —GEOFF
Chances are she’ll never even get the telegram, but it’s a chance worth taking, right?
CHIC 001 010 133 – 9 15 0
NWK 022 010 000 – 5 10 0
W-Feller L-Byrd HRS: Mize, Suttles GWRBI-Keller
CHIC 010 003 002 – 6 11 0
NWK 000 002 300 – 5 8 0
W-Feller L-Cooper HRS: Reiser, Williams, Keller, Gibson, Robinson GWRBI-Keller
CHIC 150 010 202 – 11 12 2
NWK 000 011 002 – 4 4 1
W-Humphries L-Winters (12-1) HRS: Foxx, Keller GWRBI-Foxx
* * *
with Jupiter Dobbs
Pittsburgh Courier Baseball Blabber
at ARMSTRONGS 11-12-1, JORDANS 3-5-3
at ARMSTRONGS 1-5-0, JORDANS 0-4-1
at ARMSTRONGS 11-12-2, JORDANS 4-7-1
Nothing more unpredictable on Earth than baseball, and that’s a Dobbsian Fact. Who would’ve wagered on those clowny Dorseys cleaning out Ruppert Stadium this weekend? This one here I would’ve predicted before the season started, but look at that rare ruby of Game Two! Max Manning and Big Bill Foster hurling goose babies at each other for seven innings, before a two-out Rogan single in the 8th followed by a Charleston-chewed triple that lands one thumbprint fair scores the only run of the game. My squad couldn’t win at home and now they’re embarrassing themselves on the road, so next week I’ll be abandoning Pittsburgh’s schooner for good to take in all three pennant-palooza games in Newark, and whatever happens on the final weekend. By the by, that will involve the Ellingtons in K.C. and/or the Armstrongs at Mack Park in Detroit. Speaking of…
at CALLOWAYS 8-11-0, BASIES 7-11-1
BASIES 6-9-0, at CALLOWAYS 1-8-1
BASIES 13-18-1, at CALLOWAYS 9-13-2
More surreal stuffing for your morning pipe: Even the mighty Basies cannot be Counted out! After dropping a tough opener, Satch Paige wins his 9th straight to get K.C. cooking again before they lay waste to Cannonball Redding, delivering eight extra base blows to his head and the surrounding area. The Basies now get the annoying Dorseys before hosting Newark, so Good Lady Fate rests in their brawny arms.
Until next unforgettable weekend from Newark, baseball bees and flowers!
|BRL STANDINGS (August 27)||W||L||PCT||GB|
|Kansas City Basies||29||25||.537||2|