"Mr. Hoffmeister," he said, "what I'd like this morning is a soup bone."
Automatically, Mr. Hoffmeister took another glance around like a man about to sell a pint of whiskey in a dry state.
"I've got a dandy for you, Red," he said, keeping his voice low.
If a stranger had come in and asked for a soup bone, Mr. Hoffmeister might have delivered a few remarks on the subject. He might even have suggested that the stranger try one of the supermarkets. The fact is that the supermarkets don't bother with soup bones anymore. Most people buy canned soups and to get a soup bone a man has to be on very good terms with an independent butcher like Mr. Hoffmeister.
Mr. O'Reilly's daughter
As Mr. Hoffmeister was wrapping the bone, Red picked out what vegetables he was going to need and, after a final word of reassurance on the prospects of the Braves in the stretch drive, he waved goodby to Mr. Hoffmeister and went out and got in his car and drove to a two-family flat on Martha Washington Drive. Red has a permanent home in St. Louis, but he rented the Milwaukee flat so his wife and three children could be with him for the final weeks of the season.
Back in the flat, Red slipped into the kitchen without saying a word. Mary Eileen O'Reilly Schoendienst (Jim O'Reilly's daughter and as pretty a bride as ever walked down the aisle at St. Margaret's in South St. Louis) looked in after a while, took in the picture of Red thoughtfully peeling potatoes and onions for the soup.
"Soup," said Mary approvingly. "A very good idea, Red." And then she went on about her housework, keeping an eye on the three children: Colleen, 6; Cathleen, 5; Eileen, 6 months. Red, by the way, has announced to friends that he intends to name the first boy Hans. Mary Eileen O'Reilly Schoendienst has also announced that he wouldn't dare.
Seated at the kitchen table, getting all the vegetables ready, Albert Fred Schoendienst—still boyish-looking at 34—didn't particularly resemble a star who was credited with turning a mechanically superior team into a pennant winner. But when he came to Milwaukee in midseason from the Giants, he was accepted as just that; the town took him to its heart as warmly as Mr. Hoffmeister, the butcher, had. They delighted in Red's highly individual style of playing second: standing loose-limbed, glove held almost casually in the wrong hand until the instant of the pitcher's wind-up, then his sudden tensing, crouching, shifting of the glove and readiness for the play whatever it might call for—charging a slow roller, going far to his right for a smash, making the double play in such a variety of ways (each one with the instinctive reaction of a perfectly coordinated mind and body—that up in the stands bratwurst and rye rolls were frequently flung to the winds in spontaneous explosions of applause and cheering. At the plate, Red—choking the bat, hitting to all fields from either side of the plate—edified the fans no less. It seemed almost miraculous and mystically meaningful that in this city, so heavy with German tradition, the Braves had found their missing ingredient in a modest and amiable young man whose German name translates as "beautiful service."
Incongruously, Red's contributions to the Braves could not be precisely proved on paper. Although he was hitting well over .300 and fielding with his customary brilliance, he had missed ball games (because of injuries) that the Braves had won, had played in many they had lost. Even so, the canniest of baseball men agreed that his mere presence in Milwaukee uniform had provided a vital intangible of spirit that the Braves sorely needed. The fact that Red was around—even if he was on the bench—had had its uplifting effect upon every other member of the ball club.