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At The Cottage on the North Side, at Batt's on the South Side, at the Billy Goat Tavern and even in the boutiques and beer joints of Old Town, the people of Chicago—that toddlin' town—were talking about baseball last week. And at 3:22 p.m. last Sunday in Wrigley Field, they were screaming about it, for last year's last-place Cubs had beaten Cincinnati and moved ahead of St. Louis into first place in the National League. The win was the Cubs' 13th in 14 games, and it proved that this year they were put together with muscle and bone instead of silly putty. Since the White Sox already led the American League by 4� games, it seemed as though Divine Providence was repaying the nation's Second City for a winter so cruel that people had to put on chains just to walk.
Some exuberant Chicagoans were dreaming out loud of an Elevated Series—some of the games on the South Side, some on the North Side and all reachable by that ugly intracity railroad called the El, which loops around downtown Chicago and then snakes its way that way and this. Should the Cubs and White Sox toddle their way to pennants, it would be the first all- Chicago World Series since 1906, when the Cubs of Peerless Frank Chance were upset by the Hitless Wonders of Fielder Jones, four games to two. Until the West Coast stole two of its teams, New York was relatively blas� about crosstown classics, but for Chicago it would be a greater coup than playing host to the Democratic, Republican and D.A.R. conventions all at once. Mayor Richard Daley could present the participants with special mementos of the city, maybe autographed photos of Al Capone.
The historical rarity of having both home town teams in pennant races (the Cubs have not even finished in the first division since 1946) was the most surprising thing to happen in Chicago since a Brink's truck with $300,000 in cash stood stuck in a snowdrift for two days and nobody bothered to rob it. People were fascinated by the possibility of a confrontation between Leo Durocher of the Cubs and Eddie Stanky of the Sox, those combative managers who are also known as The Lip and The Brat. The Brat, Stanky, had no superstitious qualms about mentioning an Elevated Series.
"It would be wonderful," he said. "It would be great for the city. It's good for a city just to have two clubs in contention. Some people like a monopoly, but I don't. And I guess I think it would be nice, too, because of my fondness for Leo.
"Why, Leo calls me every day," he added, with a mock serious expression. "He says, 'We got ours today, now you get yours tonight.' "
Of course, Eddie's chances of making the Series are being taken a lot more seriously at the moment than are Leo's, and he knows it. Earlier in the season Stanky said, "If we're within a couple games of the lead at the All-Star break, we'll take the pennant"; and, after a big victory, "Plays like those we made tonight are why the Sox are going to win."
But last week the White Sox were on the road, and it was Leo basking in the glory at home, resplendent in light-blue cashmere sweaters and buckled shoes, hurrying from the park to keep a dinner engagement with Frank Sinatra, not once forgetting a statement made by Dodger General Manager Buzzie Bavasi when The Lip was second-guessing on TV: "The game has passed Leo by."
Leo was feeling so good he was even contemplating a book to counter the attack against him in the newly published autobiography of ex- Umpire Jocko Conlan. Only it would not be ghosted by a mere sportswriter. He was going to get a real writer, "a guy Frank knows," name of Truman Capote.
Cub fans were feeling good, too. Little old ladies were coming out to ring bells, toot horns and curse the opposition. Police were speculating that maybe it was because of the Cubs and the Sox, and not the unusually cool weather, that there had been no racial strife thus far. Around Wrigley Field they were selling lapel pins labeled CUB POWER, and the club had to open the second deck for a weekday game for the first time in five years. A kid sitting behind home plate wore a dirty gray sweat shirt that said, "How can we lose when we're so sincere?"
What was particularly amazing about the sincere Cubs was not merely that they had moved into first, but that they had done it despite the loss of their best pitcher, Ken Holtzman, to the Army. He had a 5-0 record when he departed last May. Of course, they did bring up a relief pitcher, and he's something to see—if you can see him. His name is Chuck Hartenstein, but they call him Twiggy. Lack of muscle doesn't bother Twiggy; he claims his sinker gets better as he gets tired. "The slower the ball gets to the plate," he says, "the more time it has to dip."