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A WINK AT A HOMELY GIRL
Mark Kram
October 10, 1966
No one looks at a town with more anger—and fierce affection—than a man born and raised there. The author, a native, submits a penetrating appraisal of Baltimore, host this weekend to the 1966 World Series, remembering what another Baltimorean, H. L. Mencken, said: 'To please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl'
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October 10, 1966

A Wink At A Homely Girl

No one looks at a town with more anger—and fierce affection—than a man born and raised there. The author, a native, submits a penetrating appraisal of Baltimore, host this weekend to the 1966 World Series, remembering what another Baltimorean, H. L. Mencken, said: 'To please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl'

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The town seems finally to have realized that Brooks Robinson is not counterfeit, and when his bat sags and his glove goes stiff it forgives him. But that's because he came to them when he was quite young, and he belongs to them. He is, they feel, a Baltimore product, a "First," so to speak, and the city likes to remind others of its firsts: the First umbrella, the First city to receive the First message by Samuel Morse, the First to light its streets with illuminating gas, the First Mergenthaler Linotype and the First icecream factory. It also might claim another first. It might be the first town ever to be embarrassed by the presence of a World Series.

"No chance," says Horse Thief Burke. "The people here got no beef with the city the way it is." The Thief, a former tout ("adviser," he says), who has been exiled from the tracks, acquired his name for picking up a rope—with a horse on the end of it. "I never stole a horse in my life," he told the desk sergeant. "Where would I hide it?" The Thief now runs a "bookstore" and spends his time watching Search for Tomorrow and telling people that, no, he does not have that Dreams of an Egyptian Witch number. "Why should people here have any beefs?" he says. "We got more tracks here than anywhere."

"Sure, but what about accommodations?" he is asked.

"What you mean, accommodations?"

"You know, hotels. The ones you sleep in." (The explanation is necessary, because The Thief remembers hotels as bivouacs for crapshooters.)

"So, we got one."

"No, there are three."

"One, three, 20, who needs hotels to sleep? You can fall asleep right on a corner here."

"You mean it's dead?"

"Is Lord Baltimore? That's the way they like it here. No Series is gonna change it."

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