It's a curious process of any reunion weekend that the participants will revert to their old pecking order, no matter where the years have taken them. This reunion was no different. Herrnstein, for instance, is one of the most successful of the bunch—a bank executive in Ohio—yet he receded into the background, as befitting a role player, while Dalrymple and Allen and Callison and Bennett held court. At one point, Cater, who has a very responsible government job, walked into Room 501, the hospitality suite, and suddenly became a rookie again. "I came back to feel part of the gang," he said as he sat down.
"Hard to do, though, huh?" said Baldschun with a smile.
"Yeah, always was," said Cater.
The players spent the early part of Saturday afternoon in Room 501, autographing the caps for Short. When somebody asked where Roebuck was, Rojas said, "He's in the Chinese restaurant." Everyone chuckled, and suddenly it was story time.
Bennett and Dalrymple recalled the time they dived off the top deck of a riverboat in Cincinnati in their underwear. "I had caught both games of a double-header that day, lost like 12 pounds, so I'm drinking beer to put it back on," said Dalrymple. "On a bet, we tried to swim across the Ohio River, but halfway across, I said to Dennis, 'Now, I know I can make it to the other side. But I don't know if I can swim back across, and I'll be stuck over there in my underwear. If we swim back to the boat, I think we proved our point.' "
The tales continued until, just as in the old days, somebody in the room asked, "What time does the bus leave?" The 3:15 bus would take them to the Old-Timers' Game at Veterans Stadium, and among their opponents that day would be some ghosts from 1964: Menke, Bob Gibson, Hank Aaron, Vada Pinson. "I hope they have the champagne ready," said Allen. "This time we're going to win."
As the 1964 Phillies walk through the bowels of the Vet, Baldschun says, "It's not Connie Mack, but it'll do." In the clubhouse, which was actually the visiting football team's locker room, they find replica '64 uniforms waiting for them. "It still fits," Dalrymple yells with delight. Somebody had the hindsight to put Wine and Rojas in adjoining cubicles—the Days of Wine and Rojas was an oft-used phrase back then.
"I have nothing but good memories of this uniform," says Roebuck, as he puts it on. "I've heard all the excuses over and over, that we'd have won it if Gene hadn't started Bunning and Short so often, or if Chico Ruiz hadn't gone on his own, or if Frank Thomas hadn't been hurt, or—and this one is real bull—if I hadn't been hurt. But Gene did a tremendous job that year. He got the most out of us, and people forget he was so young at the time. I think, plain and simple, that we were a good club that wasn't good enough, and the fact that we got so close was a tribute to him."
Out on the field the players take, or rather attempt to take, batting practice. Only Allen looks comfortable up there, which is funny because he never did like batting practice. He hits no BP home runs today, but he does rattle the wall.
Then it's time for the introductions, and each player is greeted with applause from those in the crowd whose memories reach back far enough. At the end of the intros, the P.A. announcer asks that a prayer be said for the recovery of Chris Short. Short's picture eerily appears on the television screen in left centerfield, and a hush falls over the stadium.