It appears that
the game is about to end in the first inning of the day, which is, in fact, the
25th. The Cubs immediately load the bases against a creaky O'Reilly, who does
not appear to be firing the ball the way he did yesterday. A double down the
rightfield line by Chance scores three runs. The Cubs are only three outs away
from victory, but they manage to kick it away.
Confederacy batter grounds out. But Swan walks, and third baseman Harry
Steinfeldt makes an error on Pulvermacher's easy two-hopper. Bad News Galloway
then lofts a fly to right center, which should be caught, but neither Wildfire
Schulte nor Jimmy Slagle can decide who should take it. The ball falls and, as
if it has eyes, rolls 50 feet toward the horizon. Galloway, Swan and
Pulvermacher score. The game is tied at 9-9.
They have played
nine more innings by 8 a.m., and at noon the game is still tied. The Cubs score
single runs in the 36th and 40th innings, only to have the Confederacy come
back each time and score. As the 51st inning ends, Mott lifts his hands and
says, "Gentlemen, I suggest we adjourn for lunch."
It is at this
point that Chance makes an important decision. He sends all his reserve players
back to Chicago. "We have a league game to play tomorrow," he tells
them. "If for any reason we don't get back in time, you fellows will give
them a good game, I'm sure."
The teams play 34
more innings between lunch and darkness, for a total of 85. The game should
have ended in the 84th inning. With two outs and Chance on second, Three Finger
Brown slaps a single through the box and over second. Dean, the Confederacy
centerfielder, charges the ball and makes a remarkable throw to the plate.
Chance slides and his foot crosses the plate just as the ball is hitting
Pulvermacher's glove. Pulvermacher puts the tag on Chance's thigh, and Mott,
who is halfway between the pitcher's mound and home plate, gives the out
Chance moves like
lightning. He is face-to-face with Mott before the umpire moves a step. The
Cubs all rush from their bench and surround Mott and Chance. We had all leaped
to our feet after the call, first in surprise, then in jubilation. Chance backs
Mott toward second base, a step at a time, nose in his face, mouth rasping out
obscenities like coal pouring from a scuttle.
But Frank Mott
remains silent, refuses to be drawn into the confrontation. The decision
stands; the Cubs eventually retreat to the bench. O'Reilly strikes out the next
batter. The Confederacy goes out in order at the bottom of the inning. But for
the bad call, the Cubs would have won the game. Frank Chance knows it. We know
it. And I suspect Frank Luther Mott knows it.
When play ends
that night, Chance and the Cubs return to Iowa City, where Chance gets on the
telephone, not to the executives of the Chicago Cubs, as might be expected; he
ignores the batch of telegrams from them. He calls an old friend-enemy of his,
begs, pleads, threatens, uses the ransom of friendship and finally hangs up
with a half smile on his sunburned face.
A small, brisk
man catches the night train from Chicago to Iowa City. He is white haired,
might be a banker, or a preacher. Chance will pay for a cab at the station the
next morning, and the incorruptible Bill Klem, the most honest umpire in the
history of baseball, will arrive to take charge of the game.
Next morning, it
is raining seriously—not the downpour of a shower, but a steady drill of chill
rain. "Won't be anyone there," I say to Stan. "This is about the
only thing I can think of that will get the Cubs back to Chicago; they're
scheduled to play again this afternoon."