SI Vault
Frank Deford
July 18, 1988
AMAZING FINISH! Mighty Casey Fans Slugger Didn't Arrive Till Seventh Inning Beautiful, Evil Woman Seen In His Company WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT Sun Still Shining Bright At Undisclosed U.S. Site
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July 18, 1988

Huge Commotion In Mudville

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"Maybe tomorrow." Pit-too.

"O.K., you just tell Sullivan I'll be at your place tomorrow night."

"Aye, I'll tell 'im." Pit-too. "But I ain't sayin' Johnny'll like it, Fox. Nough said?" said Nuf Ced.

The reason Sullivan wasn't in Boston that Thursday was that he was the featured attraction at the Nantasket Beach show. Why should he defend his title against Jake Kilrain when he could make a king's ransom walking through exhibitions?

Drinkwater had the choicest seats for Flossie and Casey, himself and Phoebe, his niece. Truth to tell, Phoebe didn't look much like a chaperon. While she couldn't have been much older than Flossie, an aura of maturity hung on her no less than the men did. Many of those in the dining room seemed to know Drinkwater's niece as well as they knew Drinkwater. And he was a much recognized man. The Trolley King, everyone called him.

Flossie kept her eyes on Drinkwater, though not, perhaps, quite as much as Phoebe kept hers on Casey. And how raggedy Flossie felt beside Phoebe. Flossie was in her very best Sunday gingham, but it looked absolutely shabby compared with Phoebe's magnificent brown foulard gown, with white polka dots and a parasol to match. No wonder the men stared at her so. No wonder Casey did. Flossie was relieved when they could finally get over to the pavilion to see the show.

And what a performance it was! Though Flossie had believed that nothing could possibly compare to the Gettysburg Cyclorama, this surely was entertainment unrivaled. Here was the bill:

First, Gardini and Hamlet, blackface singers. Then the solemn dramatic recitations of Amos P. Lawrence, followed by John Mahoney, who performed a "laughable trapeze," adroitly mixing humor and danger. Jessie Allyne came next, a brief novelty act. She let her magnificent hair down and down and down, until the golden tresses lay in great coiled rings at her feet. "I seen something like that in a sideshow once," Casey said, "but the lady in question wasn't nearly so grand." This was followed by the Authentic Monkey Orchestra, then Fairfax and Siegfried, human statues extraordinaire, and the ever-popular Willie Arnold, New England's favorite jig dancer.

Then it was time for the fisticuffs. First, before John L. came on, Patsey Kerrigan and George LaBlanche fought under the old ring rules, which the announcer explained meant "anything but biting." Sullivan himself would have none of that. It was odd about John L. As utterly crude as he was—almost barbaric in his personal habits—he preferred gloves and the new Marquis of Queensberry rules, with scoring by timed rounds. Still, even the fashionable Nantasket crowd showed atavistic fascination as Kerrigan and LaBlanche clawed one another.

Drinkwater leaned across to Casey. "Look about," he said. "Look at your Miss Cleary and my, uh, niece. Look all around, and you'll espy that much of the applause here comes from the dainty gloved hands." Casey nodded. "You see, Timothy, if women can favor a raw free-for-all as we've just seen, think how many of the lovelies would be attracted to a fine, clean sporting event like baseball"—Drinkwater lifted a finger—"particularly if it were played in a better part of town."

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