| CHAPTER TWO- - CRAB STEPS AND LOBSTERS
The series in Pittsburgh got off to a good start as Matty won, beating the Pirates 8-4.
It was not sleeping with horseshoes under our pillow that we needed, just playing good
baseball, which we did that day. Of Course I can not be sure if Marquard did not take up
Muggsy’s advice. I should not assume what I do not know.
If anyone was sleeping with a horseshoe, they must have misplaced it the next two
nights because we lost both games 5-3 and 3-1. Pittsburgh was one of the teams we
needed to beat to win the pennant and the other team was Chicago, our next stop on this
road trip. McGraw was quietly seething on the train trip to Chicago. Just staring out the
window and smoking his pipe.
I left the car, went into the next one and saw a dice game going on. Now mind you I
can not tell everything I see and hear about players and their goings on, especially
where women are concerned. After all, young men, married or not, when away from
home, sometimes seek and easily find the companionship of ladies. After a big win, some
men want to celebrate and a woman is a young mans fancy to celebrate with and after a
tough loss, they want to feel good, take the sting of the loss away, and a woman is a
young man’s fancy to take the hurt away, don’t you see. So I can’t get into these types of
things. I do not indulge myself in this type of road activity, because I am loyal to Eveleen
and I admire Matty’s loyalty to his wife. He is a straight arrow in that regard. Also I am too
shy and have concerns about certain diseases which some women seem to carry with
That being said I must tell the truth about one of our national heroes in revealing that
Mr. Mathewson is a bit of a gambler. Okay, he loves to gamble. There it is. Not such a bad
thing really. Matty always carried $1,000 with him for such occasions, such as this dice
game now in progress. He frequently wins, whether it is cards, dice, or checkers, but
despite wanting to be one of the boys, I rarely indulged myself in this passion.
“You want in Koski?” asked Matty as he pulled a half burnt cigar from his mouth as I
entered the car.
“No thanks. I don’t have the money you boys do. Can’t afford to lose what little I have.”
“You a piker?” asked Herzog. “Dick here is playing and he’s the batboy.”
“You got money Dick?”
“Mr. McGraw gave me some. But I don’t seem to be doing very well. Mr. Mathewson
keeps throwing craps, which is hard to do, and he keeps winning.”
The players looked up at me and though I don’t know much about dice games I
figured from their looks that the score was stacked against Dick, so I wished him luck and
left the car to sit quietly out of the way of Muggsy. Let sleeping dogs lie, whether they
are your manager or your teammates.
We lost the first two games to the Cubs, 8-6 and 3-1, which gave us four losses in a
row. The miracle was that Muggsy didn’t get thrown out of a game. It was not unusual for
him to bait and intimidate umpires, especially when we were losing. But he could be
unpredictable. He was crafty and maybe his genius was in keeping everyone on edge
wondering what was coming.
There was a game earlier this year against the Cardinals when Bugs Raymond, at the
time still on the wagon, or at least not completely fallen off, was pitching. Bugs got off to
a rough start. Miller and Hauser, the first two Cardinal batters both singled before Ellis
struck out. Art Wilson, who was catching for us that day then let a ball get past him and
the runners moved up to second and third with Miller soon scoring on a fly ball by
Konetchy. That brought up our friend Steve Evans, the charming watch giver. There were
two strikes on Evans and Bugs threw what McGraw thought was strike three. Too be
honest the pitch looked good to me too, so I can’t blame Muggsy for being upset.
He stormed out of the dugout screaming at Bill Finneran, the umpire calling balls and
strikes that afternoon. “What did you do Finns, blink your eyes?” bellowed Muggsy.
Finneran calmly said, “The ball was low.”
“Are you nearsighted you dumb ox? That ball was belt high. You got something
against my pitcher? How can you call that a ball?”
“I can call it a ball, because it was low and it was outside.”
“OH, so now it is outside as well as low. Funny you never mentioned that the first time
you dumb jack ass.”
First Finneran was a dumb ox, then a dumb jack ass. After that Muggsy called
Finneran names which would make ladies blush and can not be repeated by me out of
respect. For the ladies that is, not for Finneran.
They went toe to toe, both men’s faces turning so red you could see bulging veins in
their necks. When Mac got mad his light blue eyes- for whatever reason and I don’t know
how it could happen-nonetheless turned a cold grey. It was just weird.
The argument continued as Muggsy would start to walk away, then come back with
more blue invectives that suddenly sprung to his ever fertile mind. They bellowed back
and forth for five minutes before Finneran finally had enough and said farewell to
Muggsy. “You’re gone McGraw! You’re out of the game!”
Now either Muggsy was so steamed he didn’t hear Finneran or he decided to ignore
him, because after Evans grounded out and we came to bat, Muggsy went out to coach
third base. I know he had been ejected for I clearly heard Finneran say so.
Finneran was in his first year of umpiring in the league and most likely Finns was so
disoriented from the nightmare of arguing with McGraw that he didn’t notice Muggsy in
the coaching box. I don’t know. I just know the game continued.
In the top of the second Bugs was knocked out of the game as the Cardinals scored
four runs. Finally in the bottom of the inning Finneran spotted Muggsy coaching third. He
yelled out to him, “What are you doing McGraw? I threw you out of the game last inning.
Get out of here!”
Muggsy threw his hands up in the air. “You never kicked me out.”
“The hell I didn’t.”
Muggsy stormed to the plate and once again Muggsy was toe to toe with Finneran.
“That proves my point Finns,” he screamed. “If you threw me out of the game, you had to
be blind as a bat not to see me in the coaching box last inning and since you are as blind
as a bat,-Muggsy was big on animal insults-that pitch to Evans must have been a strike
like I said it was.”
“We already had this argument McGraw and I am not going to do it a second time. Now
get off the field.”
“Finns, you can’t kick me out of the game!”
“You can’t kick me out of the game because only an umpire can kick me out of the
game and you’re no umpire you blue nosed gopher.”
“What are you talking about? What the Hell do you think I’m doing here?”
“I think you’re auditioning as a clown for the circus that’s coming to town you monkey
assed fool.” McGraw could not have been angrier if Finns had called him Muggsy. But
since I did not hear every word Finns said, for all I know, he may at some point have said
So Muggsy left the ball field. But not before calling Finneran every animal insult that
he could think of, including a couple of animals I never heard of. He ranted and raved for
ten or fifteen minutes and while insulting Finneran, he threw dirt on home plate and
more dirt on Finns before spitting on him. He spit on Finns in order to politely clean the
dirt from his jacket he had thrown on him in the first place. It was quite a show.
Muggsy may have picked up the habit of calling umpires animal names when as a
young player he was nicknamed “The Yellow Monkey” by Cuban baseball fans whenever
he played in Cuba. I don’t know why the Cubans called him that, if it was meant as a
compliment or an insult, nor do I know if Muggsy liked it. I do know I am not going to call
him yellow monkey.
McGraw got suspended three days for his performance. We were used to it. Wasn’t
the first time Mac got suspended, nor would it be the last. He was a fireball who hated to
lose. I mean really hated to lose.
One umpire said of McGraw, “He eats gunpowder for breakfast and washes it down
with warm blood.”
So with his history and with the way we played during our four game losing streak I
was kind of surprised at his quiet disposition.
He may have been contemplating the bad luck going our way. The first game of the
series had the usual pitching match up between two great pitchers, Matty and the Cubs
Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown. The game started in a bad way when Brown beaned our
leadoff hitter Josh Devore. He just lay there on the ground still as could be. We all
rushed out to Josh with unease in our hearts. When we got to him he already had a red
welt on the side of his head. He was unconscious, but breathing. A doctor came out of
the stands and pronounced him to be okay, but he sure didn’t look it. Finally Josh stirred
a bit and after a minute or two staggered to his feet and wobbled off the field. He was
done for the day.
The next day after we lost again, Doc Crandall, one of our pitchers, and a good one
too, along with Buck Herzog, returned to the hotel to find their money had been stolen
from their room. Since their door was locked, I thought it must have been one of the
cleaning people, but the hotel manager, though he said he questioned all the
appropriate people, did not find the guilty party.
I did hear whispers that Bugs Raymond, having drunk himself off the Giants, was in
town visiting Muggsy hoping to get his job back and there was rumors he might have
taken the money because someone saw Bugs in the hotel dining room and he looked to
be picking up tip money on tables, so some thought he might be behind Crandall’s and
Herzog’s stolen money. I hope that is not true for I would hate to think a teammate, even
a former teammate, would steal from another. But when a man has a drinking problem,
Ball players have problems like everyone else and for some reason are more prone
to be superstitious, more so than the average bug sitting in the stands, though they too
are not immune from steering clear of ladders, avoiding black cats, carrying a rabbits
foot, having lucky numbers [mine is five] and so on. It is interesting to note that people
who claim not to be superstitious still look for four leaf clovers, will wear their lucky shirt,
or have a certain way of doing something because they believe to do otherwise is to
tempt fate. But they are not superstitious.
We in the baseball world will admit it, because we know there is good and bad luck
and there are ways to increase your odds. The problem is finding what works and
sticking with it until it loses the magic. Take Red Ames, one of our pitchers. He was our
hard luck pitcher. For instance, he once had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning but
lost the game because we could not score him any runs. That was a common occurrence
when he pitched. Not the no-hitter part, but our lack of scoring runs when he pitched. He
was jinxed. Or maybe we jinxed him, I don’t know; but for whatever reason, the stars
were not aligned properly when he pitched as our bats continually failed Red. It sort of
explains how he got the nickname “Kalamity.”
He tried a different routine before each game he pitched. Sometimes he would run
before the game, but that did not work, so he stopped running. He tried sitting on a
certain spot on the bench. He tried spitting over the foul line as he came off the field. He
came up with all sorts of odd things. Nothing worked. Then he got a red tie from some
bug back home as a gift. It was magic. Then and only then were we able to score runs for
Red. He took to wearing that tie on the day he was going to pitch which gave him new
found confidence in our ability to score runs for him so he would get some wins. It
worked. It may take a while, but good luck will come your way. If you’re lucky.
The final game in Chicago was a laugher as we beat the Cubs without mercy winning
16-5. We had eighteen hits, getting three each from Snodgrass, Becker, Herzog, Fletcher
and Meyers. Our boys ran wild stealing eight bags with Devore getting three and Doyle
two. Muggsy was so sure of a win that I got to bat for Devore in the ninth inning.
It had been so long since I had an at bat I wanted to savor the moment. It was hard to
enjoy though, when your teammates are giving you the razz, saying “Do you know your
way to the batters box?” Or “Do you remember which side of the plate to stand on?” I
smiled back at my Giant brethren as I stood and spit into my hands and rubbed them
together before grasping the bat and stepping into the box. “From the right side,” I
yelled. “I still remember.” I wanted to take a few pitches, hoping to foul off a few to
prolong the moment, but McIntire, who pitched the last four innings giving up eleven
hits and ten runs, threw a fat one down the middle of the plate. There was nothing on it,
no break, nothing. Straight and fast. I could not resist and swung making solid contact.
The ball bounced harmlessly to Zimmerman at second and I was easily retired.
As I walked out to left field for the bottom of the ninth, I heard Snodgrass as he
headed towards center say, “You need to oil that rusty gate of yours Koski. If you’re not
careful the hinge will fall off.”
“Hey. I consider it a great at bat because I hit the ball. Before you know it I’ll sneak
one past a fielder.” You got to keep your sense of humor.
Sixteen runs is a lot to score, but this year a new baseball introduced in our league by
the Spalding Company has a cork center in it. The ball is livelier and jumps off the bats,
mine excluded, and carries a lot farther. Before we got to town, Wildfire Schulte, the
Cubs right fielder hit his fourteenth home run of the year against Brooklyn. Last year,
Schulte, along with Beck of Boston, led the league with only ten homers.
In that upstart American League runs went up one a game and Cobb and Jackson were
both hitting over .400. I do not think this lively ball will change the game too much
though. It is still one of bunting, hitting and running, and stealing bases. It is a game of
speed and strategy and will no doubt stay that way. They can hit it harder, but the ball can
only go so far.
I was looking forward to getting home. Our new Polo Grounds Park was finally
finished and ready for us to play on. We had opened our season at home against
Brooklyn on April 12th, played two games and then the park burned down. We played
some games there in late June, but there was no roof yet and the park was far from
finished. But now it was done.
But thoughts of fires were far from my mind as I got into town. Tomorrow we were
playing the Phillies, but tonight belonged to Eveleen and me. She was in between acting
jobs at the moment and her nights were now free.
Last year she was in the chorus for the “Jolly Bachelors” at the Broadway Theatre and
her latest show, where again she was in the chorus was “The Hen-Pecks” which closed
last month at the same theatre.
Eveleen was twenty, two years younger than me, and she had shoulder length red
hair and the biggest, brightest and greenest eyes you will ever see. When our new
century was born, she arrived here with her parents from Ireland with, as she says, a
song in her heart. She would always tilt her head to the left with the sweetest smile on
her face when she said “a song in my heart.” I would ask her what the song was, but
doing so took the smile off her face and straightened out her head.
I don’t think she would tell me because there never was a song in her heart, but I
think she believed it a cute coy affectation for job interviews, especially when she
wanted to lay on the Irish accent a bit when she said it.
After courting her for a few weeks I got the impression that going out with an actress,
even an aspiring one, was dangerous, for you did not always know when they were
But she was hard to resist. Her green eyes glistened with joy and innocence, hinting
at an inexplicable mystery that promised to take you to wonderful places you did not
know existed. If I was not under the spell of her eyes, I was under the spell of her long,
perfectly shaped legs that led to a beautiful…well you understand.
Some women are like a shaman, someone in this world who through their unknown
magic seemed in control of your entire soul, making you act and do things you would not
normally think of doing. Eveleen was one of those women. I do not know if I loved her,
but if it wasn’t love, it was better.
Eveleen had taken the train from Flushing where she has a room on Roosevelt Av
enue. After meeting me in my lobby, I took her to the St. George Hotel which has a roof
garden and wonderful dance floor. I felt in the mood for acting like a big spender, though
my salary hardly allowed me to act that way. I also wanted to impress Eveleen on another
For some reason, women like dancing and most men don’t. I feel kind of silly doing it
and am not much good, but Matty had been giving me a few tips and I thought Eveleen
would at least appreciate my effort.
Eveleen was wearing something new. It was a dark green Hellenic tunic with a lot of
chiffon recently introduced by Poiret. I never heard of him and I really didn’t know too
much of what she was talking about as fashion is not my strength, but I, like any
intelligent man would do, properly complimented her on her taste.
Though the evening was cool I was uncomfortably warm as I led Eveleen onto the
floor. They were playing a tune that called for a fox trot but I coaxed her into a crab step
variation, which was all the rage. Eveleen wanted to try the Kangaroo Dip, but I had not
practiced that move. Even doing the crab step, I felt like I was facing Walter Johnson with
two out in the bottom of the ninth inning in game seven of the World Series and we are
trailing by a run, with the tying run at third and the winning run at second.
“You look a little flushed Chet. Are you okay?”
“Yes. Fine. Swell.”
I took her in my arms and we began to move in magnificent rhythm-at least for me- to
the music. “Whoa, Mister! How did you get so smooth with your footwork? There another
dancer I don’t know about?”
“No. What a silly notion. After spending one evening on the town with you, no man
would entertain thoughts of another woman Even if I did not know you, I would still go to
every play you were in, just to watch your beautiful, graceful movements, and listen to
your sweetly melodic voice. You are worth the price of admission, more than the price of
“Slow down young buck. The night is young.”
I thought she meant I was dancing too fast, so I slowed my footwork, which quickly got
us out of sync stumbling through some clumsy steps and bumping into another couple.
“Sorry,” I said. I received a quiet harrumph from an elderly gentleman and Eveleen and I
tried to resume our dance.
Eveleen calmly said, “Its okay. Just hold on and relax. Look me in my eyes and don't
think about anything. Just you and me, no one else.” Looking in her eyes always had a
soothing effect and I was soon relaxed with my crab step showing recuperative powers
that only a moment before I thought was lost. Having regained my form and rhythm, we
danced to a new tune and then sat down at our table.
I had wanted a steak dinner, but Eveleen urged me to live wild and have lobster.
When the waiter brought our plates, I just looked at the clawed beast, wondering how to
go about eating this thing, as I had never eaten lobster before. I grew up on a farm
where meat and potatoes ended up on our table. Other than eating fish we caught in
nearby lakes and streams I had never had real seafood.
I poked it with my fork and as it did not move I figured it was dead and after tapping its
hard shell I looked at Eveleen who was trying to stifle a laugh, but she quickly let loose a
charmingly warm giggle when I looked at her.
“I’ve got the female. What sex is your lobster?” she asked.
“What? How do I know what sex it is?”
“See these feathery things here below the tail on my lobster. This one is soft. And it
has a wide tail so she can carry eggs.” Holding up her lobster in front of me, she pointed
to a small rectangular shape, saying, “And this is where the male deposits his sperm. So
I've got the female, let’s look at yours.”
I can’t believe this young woman, barely out of childhood, would use the word sperm.
She is getting more daring the more I get to know her. And why did I let her talk me into
lobster. My desire for steak was increasing by the minute. It is meat. It has no sex. You
don’t’ have to wonder who or what you are eating.
She held up my lobster and smiled approvingly. “Just as I thought-yours has a narrow
tail.” Pointing to just below the tail, she said, “and if you feel this, you will see it is hard
and bony where my lobster is soft and more feathery. Do you want to switch or would you
rather eat the male.”
“I’m really not hungry.”
“Oh don’t be silly. Now watch me. Hold the lobster by the back and gently twist the
leg until it breaks off.”
I followed her lead, but I must have been leery of breaking off the legs, because twist
as I did, the stubborn male legs would not break. Eveleen grabbed my lobster and with
one quick twist completed the task.
“This is the crusher claw and this is the tearing claw.”
I wondered how she knew so much about lobsters, but figured I was better off not
knowing, so did not ask.
“You twist off the claw here at this first joint and remove all the loose claw parts. Don’
t throw anything away because they are very tasty.”
I did manage to get these things, whatever they were removed, but it took some time
and was hoping, if I eventually got to the part about eating, the establishment would not
have closed for the night.
Eveleen then took a nutcracker and broke off the tip of the large claw. “And here is
meat,” she said. “Now I take my finger and push the meat from the tip of the claw like this
and push it through this end here. See how simple it is?”
She continued to dissect the lobster like a cadaver, pointing out all the edible parts
including the mouth, antennae, and how, once you separate the tail from the back, the
small flippers also have choice meat to indulge your taste buds.
Eveleen inserted her fingers into the small flipper, which she called a telson and
pushed out the meat with expert ease.
“Before you eat the rest of the meat in the tail you must remove this part here. It is
the digestive tract. And look at this red stuff. It’s the unfertilized eggs of my lobster.
She was like a doctor on the operating table moving in and out of the prostrate body
on the table with grace and confidence. I picked and prodded, not wanting to find any
other organs, eggs, or body parts which should not be eaten, not that I wanted to eat
anything of this beast anyway. I wanted dessert. I thought of having apple pie, but the
visual picture in my mind of crust with gooey stuff underneath made me think of this
lobster and thought cake might be better.
While she ate with coolness and poise she told me about an audition and interview
she had yesterday. Whenever she got like this, animated, excited, talking faster than a
carnival barker, you could see someone who was truly in a state of sublime happiness. I
would smile, trying to listen, in case she might ask my opinion, which was rare; but more
often than not, I would nod my head and simply lose myself in her happiness. “OH! I
forgot to tell you,” She exclaimed.
The quick jump in her voice roused me from my trance. “What?”
“I am sorry. I forgot to tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“When I was in your lobby waiting for you, that nice older gentleman, the bell boy-
though he is hardly a boy-well you know what I mean, he recognized me. I guess he has
seen us a lot. We need to be more discreet, don’t you think? Anyway, he said to tell you
this gentleman was looking for you. He introduced me to a kind of goofy looking man that
spoke with an accent, German, I believe. Said he met you in St. Louis. He was going to
wait, but he said he had not had any apple pie all day and was going to search the city
until he found a nice piece of apple pie.”
“What in the world are you talking about?”
“Charles Victory Faust. Your new pitcher. At least that was who he said he was, but he
doesn’t really act right, you know.”
“Charlie! Here in New York?”
“Yes. He said Mr. McGraw told him the Braddock was a good hotel for ballplayers. Said
Mr. McGraw gave him some money and got him a room. You know him?”
“Yeah. I know him. I can’t believe he’s here, that’s all.” I could not have been more
surprised if she told me Jesus Christ was waiting for me. Throughout the rest of our
dinner and on the way to my hotel, I told her about Charlie and everything that happened.
I had the feeling Eveleen must have gotten the story wrong, for I could not believe that
McGraw would give him money and bring Charlie to my hotel. Our new pitcher? Eveleen
must be wrong, but I would not question her story. That would be bad form. The guy was
a nut. Maybe dangerous.
We walked into the lobby and there sitting in a nice comfortable chair was Charley.
And with him was the New York Globe sportswriter, Sid Mercer.