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RIGHT IN THE KISSER

BadBenDear Markie:

We’re in Chicago now and St. Louis after that, but I told our mail guy to make sure I get any letters arriving from you passed along. In the meantime, thought you’d like to hear about the three-game series we had with Boston. Not because of the baseball so much, seeing we got swept and my manager Mickey Cochrane got the heave-ho yesterday, but because of the run-ins I had with Ben Chapman.

The Boston right fielder is a horrible Jew-hating menace, and never lets me forget it. He singled to open the series on Friday and immedately started mouthing off as I held him on the bag.

“Sounds like your tribe’s having a rough go of it overseas these days, huh?”

I wouldn’t even answer. Instead signalled to Vern Kennedy and he whipped a pickoff throw over. I nearly nailed Chapman on the rump before he got back, and he hopped back up, spit in the dirt about an inch away from my cleat.

“Nice try, yid.”
“What’d you say?”
“Whaddya, deaf AND cheap? I said ‘Nice try, kid’.'”
“The hell you did—”

Joe Vosmik thankfully dropped a bunt down to move him up to second and get him out of my hair. He grinned at me like a dumb clown the whole time he stood out there, which wasn’t long because Cronin knocked him in with a double.

We were down 4-0 to Joe Heving when I started off the 8th. I could still hear Chapman out in right, yelling to his center fielder Doc Cramer: “On your toes, Doc! This guy might hebe one right outta here!” Heving’s first pitch was a fastball, but it wasn’t fast enough for me to not see Chapman’s face on the seams. It left the yard in no time, and as I rounded the bases I saw Chapman give me a “heil” salute. We scored three more to tie it at 4-4 but they scored two in the 9th to beat us and I was steamed.

Lefty Grove pitched for them Saturday, and boy is he ever tough. No hitting tips I give you would ever help against old Lefty. He won his 14th by a score of 3-2 but Chapman must have filled his ear with poison before the game because I was walked three times. The one pitch I could actually hit in four at bats was this dipsy-doodle curve thing that I struck out on.

In the Sunday finale against Jim Bagby I hit my 44th homer, but the Bosox scored six times off Benton in the first three innings and sailed along to their sweeping win. Chapman went zero-for-four but never stopped riding me from right field.

“Can’t believe they pay this jewbaby all that money on a team going nowhere!” was one beauty. Another was “Nice homer there, Hymie! Too bad it won’t save your little hymie pen pal!”

That did it. After the game I dressed before anyone, went through the Briggs Stadium tunnels, found Chapman heading for his team bus. Called his name, waited for him to turn around and hammered his jaw with my fist. He dropped like the cowardly rag doll he is, and a few of the Boston players grabbed me. Player/manager Cronin pushed through the crowd and pulled me aside.

“Hey. Listen to me. I know he’s a dumb jerk sometimes, Hank. But he’s OUR jerk. Get me?”
“Yeah…”
“Anyway…Nice punch. And good luck with that homer thing.”

I shook it all off, and felt pretty good later after a whiskey on the train. I think it pumped up my teammates, too, because in the first game at Comiskey today we scored two in the 9th and beat the White Sox 7-6, even though they got 14 hits to our 9.

Like I’ve been learning from you, sometimes no matter what, you always have to do the correct thing.

Best,
Hank
8.9.38

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