The old man was
there to throw out the first pitch of the 1958 World Series. He threw the ball
right-handed with a two-finger grip and a lot of wrist action, an action
practiced from dealing five-card stud on the green baize poker table of the
Phoenix Press Club. The pitch went 15 feet and Braves Catcher Del Crandall
caught him fine and brought the ball back to the old man so he could give it to
his grandson, Jodie Hayes.
got to throw out the first ball because 50 years ago, on the last day of the
1908 Series (the Chicagos took the Detroits, four games to one), in a Detroit
hotel room, 40 men sat down, hoisted a few and then formed the Baseball
Writers' Association of America. Jim was one of the 40; only a handful are
covering baseball for the old Chicago American, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and
Chicago Tribune—where he broke the details of the Black Sox scandal—New York
Daily News and Chicago Daily News and writing sports for CBS in Chicago, Jim
retired. Since 1948 he has been wheeling a Ford Tudor right behind the flocking
birds, to a two-room apartment in Phoenix in mid-October, to roosting places in
Chicago and other parts of the Midwest in mid-May.
After Bill Bruton
hit one true and clean to the fence in the 10th inning and the first game was
over, Jim Crusinberry lit a cigaret and sat back at his ease. In 43 years of
baseball writing, he had asked the questions. Now, someone was asking him. He
kind of liked it.
drag out too long," said Jim. "Pitchers have a tough time because of
that lively ball. That lively ball! The people just wait for someone to hit the
ball over the fence and jog home.
see a three-base hit finish in a cloud of dust. Why, I haven't seen an
outfielder throw a man out at the plate in 10 years. They have to play out too
far with that lively ball. There was more strategy, more base running, more
thrills with that old ball. That's the game I prefer. I like to see 'em battle
for that one run."
The old man
looked up to the press boxes where a few reporters lingered over their
typewriters. Most of them were in the clubhouse now or headed for the Schroeder
Hotel's Crystal Ballroom for food and drink.
a drink of whisky in 22 years," said Jim Crusinberry. "Got disgusted
with the way my hands shook some mornings. You know, sometimes at night I dream
about working on the Trib again, and I'm having a hell of a time getting my
story in the paper, bucking the deadline. Sometimes I wish I were a young man
The old man
tugged his topcoat about him with slender, veined hands.
"I hope that
press bus is right outside the gate this time," he said. "I hate to
walk across all that gravel. Hurts my legs. The legs aren't what they used to