says Klem, drawing himself up, "I need not justify my decisions, any more
than I need justify a call of ball or strike, safe or out. The game will
continue because I believe that it should."
The rain eases,
the sky is close, thick as gray wool. By midafternoon the teams pass the
hundred-inning mark. The Cubs scored a run in the 92nd and another in the 99th,
but each time the Confederacy ties it. Klem insists on a lunch break after the
teams finish inning 111.
By late afternoon
the rain intensifies as black clouds sail in beneath the solid flannel sky and
drenches us all. Klem calls the managers together for a conference. Rain is
strafing the field, hitting the earth and bouncing knee-high. Just when Chance
and O'Reilly seem ready for a brief postponement, the rain eases as abruptly as
it began. A moment later it is only misting, and the game resumes.
Day Three ends
after the 145th inning with the score tied.
Day Four. The
Cubs arrive in two large, gray-timbered wagons, each covered with a new
tarpaulin. All day, telegrams from the Cubs' owners arrive for Chance. All say
essentially the same thing but with increasing degrees of harshness: He is to
return to Chicago immediately along with the other eight starting players. Some
of the telegrams take two sheets of paper.
Chance has sent
only two wires. The first read: WILL STAY UNTIL GAME DECIDED STOP CHANCE. The
second was in reply to a threat by the Cub ownership to send police to return
the truant ballplayers: WILL STAY UNTIL GAME DECIDED STOP DO YOUR WORST STOP
Day Eight: The
game passes inning 500. Still no spectators.
Day 10. Bewitched
is the only word I can use to describe the players. They play on under cement
skies, on an infield slippery as a greased cookie sheet, on an outfield spongy
as a swamp. Stan is on first base when the Confederacy shortstop lashes a ball
toward the hole. It should be a single, but somehow Tinker anticipates the
play. I remember my dad saying, "It was said Joe Tinker could read the
angle of the bat as if it were a billboard with 10-foot-high letters." And
that is exactly what he appears to be doing today. Tinker knows, before the
shortstop swings, where the ball will go, and he cheats several feet in that
direction. He skids across the greasy infield; the ball pops like a pea into
his glove; and moving like a dancer, he tosses the ball to an empty second
base, trusting Evers to be there. Evers is identical in height to Tinker but 50
pounds lighter. He is sometimes called the Crab, and though he's just short of
his 27th birthday, he's gangly enough to pass for a teenager.
Stan begins his
slide far short of second; his big body picks up speed on the lubricated earth,
and from Evers's point of view Stan must look like a train bearing down. But
Evers's foot brushes the bag softly, like a bird landing on a bush without
disturbing the foliage and, launching himself in the air, he fires to first
while hurtling over Stan's whooshing bulk.
Back on the
bench, Stan says, "It's a pleasure to be done in by the best. Did you ever
dream we'd get to see Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance in action? That I'd get to play
against them? I'm playin' in the Bigs, Gid. I'm playin' against the Cubs. This
is the Bigs, man!" He clasps me roughly on the shoulder with a muddy