William Zimmer, in fact, is such a fan that his company gives a second ticket free to every employee who buys one. C.G.& E. bought $16,000 worth of tickets this spring, and William O. DeWitt promised to sell them more if they ran out. It pays to have a good utility man on your team.
Happiness is re-creating days of wine and roses, and one might say that I blew half a day hunting for hoopla in a town with an avowed pennant-winning ball club. Cincinnati, of course, is an extremely conservative town. William Zimmer had said: "'People here expect more for a dollar than any other community in the country." William O. DeWitt had said: "People here have to have a place to park their cars so they can see the ball game." The Gibson barber had said: "People here demand a winner. The Reds blew two games to L.A. this week, and we're all disgusted."
Give or take a few, 18,000 more or less disgusted fans showed up at Crosley Field on July 30 to voice their extremely conservative opinions as the Reds played Houston. Hundreds of Shriners, robed in tassled silk, marched round the diamond, banging drums and blowing horns. At a pregame ceremony they honored Joe Nuxhall, the starting pitcher for the Reds and a current hero in town. For 22 years Nuxhall has pitched off and on at Crosley Field. There was a time back in '59 when Joe would have been forgiven for thinking the fans were a bunch of faithless finks, full of boos. Fans full of four-letter words have left a permanent blush on Nuxhall's neck.
"Makes me look mean," he says. "And me such a nice guy."
Nuxhall had shut out Houston on one hit July 24, and the least he could do for himself on his 37th birthday was repeat the performance. While Shriners tooted, Nuxhall carried his birthday cake to the dugout, and said loudly, "I wonder if you guys are gonna leave me a piece of this cake after the game?"
With the help of seven Red runs Nuxhall defeated Houston, had his cake and ate it, too.
"Nobody pitches so well at 37," I told him in the clubhouse, swiping a bit of icing as he grinned.
"Well, I'll tell ya," said Nuxhall, scratching the gray hair on his temple. "Tonight I had lousy stuff, and no curve ball at all. And the older I get the less I can figure this game out. So there."
"You going to win the pennant?"