On August 1, 1914, the front page of the Times announced that Austria had declared war on Serbia in retaliation for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir apparent to the Austrian throne, and his consort. Few people in Apalachicola or anywhere in the US could have imagined the impending horrors of World War I.
Next to the grim news about Europe, was a column that was probably more widely read in the little seaside town. That summer, there was baseball every night of the week in Apalachicola. The following column is the breathtaking account of a tripleheader Apalachicola lost to Arlington, Georgia.
Arlington takes two games out of three from locals
The Bald-Headed Reporter and the Squint-Eyed Photographer on the job
Apalachicola fell down good and hard on the second and third days. Georgians were shown a good time while in the city. Come again boys!
The midsummer snooze of this dreamy little bailiwick was suddenly disturbed Monday afternoon when its denizens suddenly perceived Harry Fannin, paint pot in one hand and a mop in the other, excitable hurrying to and fro, defacing nice clean windows downtown, by applying in great globs of paint monstrous and most absurd hieroglyphics announcing thus: Arlington Vs. Apalach, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The infection was spontaneous. Bill Buzzett jerked his straw Katy down to the top of his ears, crunched a brand new stogie to the bone and murmured, “I’ll be ____.” George Ramsey drew two hitches on his britches and yanked up his belt about four holes, while Bill Lovett gulped down a titanic wad of “Tiger” and groaned. Even wise, serene old Doc Weems forgot his dignity hanging on a hook in the office, while those inevitable gauntlets had entirely disappeared. Charlie Lovett chattered like a magpie and drew out his Ingersoll to note the time for the beginning of the game, though this was Monday, and last but not least the press bunch began to ransack the pockets of old discarded vests and coast for a last season’s pass book, for they too were infected with the spirit of baseball and this season’s “compliments” had not yet materialized.
So, Wednesday came at last, and with it came the Arlington bunch. They did their little do and departed again leaving behind them aching hearts and empty purses.
Veni, Vidi, Vici was the message Caesar sent to Rome after he had conquered in Pontus. “Wea-wawa—hitchka was the message sent home by the Arlington bunch last night meaning “We got their Goat, their Bacon and their Money,” for truly there is no one to gainsay that they didn’t. They stole in on us like a thief at midnight; they came down upon our little fold and sheared the wool from our little flock leaving them to die a lingering death from despair.
But such are the fortunes of baseball. Stop the hanker in human makeup for baseball and in a generation or two men all go to grass like Nebuchadnezzar.
The Arlington boys showed up to be one of the fastest and cleanest bunch in their line we have had the pleasure to cross bats with. They played the game from every angle and seemed to hit almost at will. They were generous too, for they passed up the first game to us by a neat margin of 2 to 0, but the second game they had reserved for themselves and took it by the delicious score of 9 to 1. The third was the rubber and, of course, the most interesting one, but this they grabbed too, but not without the most strenuous kind of a scrap by a score of 6 to 5.
The game opened with three stiff raps in succession, each one of them directly between first and second, in which territory was camped our friend and second baceman Albert Hickey. This very much abbreviated specimen of the genus homo delighted to be fed just such things as these and in turn scooped them up in one-two-three order after the fashion of Hans Wagner with “narry an error.” Later in the game this same genius accepted two more chances, regular grass cutters, handling them in most approver fashion. All of which makes this poor scribe’s heart feel glad within him and creates a desire to deposit on top of that bald pate of his one long, sweet, lingering, old time kiss, “like Mother used to make.”
In the second inning occurred a series of wallops which brought in two runs for Apalachicola, the only runs of the game, after which Hodge pitching for Arlington, tightened up and wrapped them around the batters necks so closely that they were unable to touch him for the remainder of the game.
In the fourth the spectators had the rare pleasure of seeing one of the nearest plays that have been pulled off on the local lot for several seasons--a double. It was an infield hit, and a stiff one too, but the pride and idol of the fans, Rodman Porter, who starred as pitcher was the boy to put a stop to the ball’s migratory tendencies in regular big league style, whiffing it to second, Johnnie Theobald being camped thereon, who in turn snapped it to first where “Long John” Nedley had one of his No. 12s slapped on the bag and the other about fourteen feet over towards second, with his arms making up the rest of the distance to a point half way to the latter. Let us say, by the way of parenthesis, that it must be a mighty wide ball that this elongated individual can’t make connection wit, once he draws out all the kinks in his spinal vertebrae and extends to their full capacity the remarkably long antennae with which nature has so generously provided him. Go it, Old Scout, there are no more like you in Apalach.
Again, in the seventh there was executed a neat and very quick double, which caused spectators to squint at one another in approving manner and heave a sigh, not of sorrow, but of delight and admiration. The opposition had a man on third and one on second with only one man down. The next batter up heaved a mighty one, about neck-high which left a trail of blue smoke and green fire in its wake the fumes of which virtually permeated the atmosphere of even the bleachers, straight in the direction of our invulnerable and speedy little shortstop Johnnie Theobald. This little demon pulled it down out of its fiery trail and., like a catapult, shot it into the middle of “Buster” Porter who was covering third, nearly lifting this lad off his feet. The runner had started for home with the crack of the bat, but lo, what a weeping and wailing, for both men.
En fin, the game tarried along until the beginning of the ninth with a perfect string of goose eggs for Arlington, but right here clouds began to gather, and we feared a repetition of the last inning of the last game played here with St. Joe, when they piled up four runs on us. It happened thus: First man up made a hit, stole second and finally got to third some way or other. Next man up bunted to Rodman Porter, he being unable to pick it up. The ball seemed to wiggle around in the sand like Josh Billings’ flea: “They spring from low places and kan spring further and faster then enny of the bug brutes. One flea will go all over a man’t suburbs in 2 minnits. It is impossible to do ennything well with a flea except to swear, and they ain’t afrade of that; the only way is kwit bizzness of all kinds to hunt for the flea and when you found him he isn’t there. This iz one uv the flea misteries, the fakulty they uv being entirely lost jist as sune az you have fownd them.” However, he eventually found the ball, but his man was safely on first and took second in less than a minute afterwards. The status of the game at this point was one man down, one on second and one on third; then things begin to look hazy and it seemed to us that the smile of confidence which Rodman had been wearing thus far had disappeared from his countenance. Then, the next man up smashed one way into the empyrean, but oh, what a relief when we saw it drop safely into a big sack which Maddox was holding for just such as these out in deep center. Status now was better, but still looked dangerous. The next ball hit was a high bounder over Rodman’s head, he nailed it squarely over his head and pegging it to first, thus retiring the side and salting the first game down for keeps.
With the scalps of the visitors dangling from their belts, and whetting their appetites for another feast, the local association of alleged ball players trotted on the field to make one more good meal off the unsuspecting Georgians. But often, the “best laid plans of mice and men gang oft aglee,” and the out come of the second game was one of these occasions. In fact, the plotting villain was “hoist by his own petard,” and instead of crunching the bones of the helpless Arlingtonites and running them around like a bunch of sheep, the tables were turned and it became a game of shell, or, shell game. There the ball was and there it was not and Josh Billings’ flea was once more brought to mind. It seemed as though some person in sympathy with the visitors fed the locals on monkey food, who at once began to chatter in good fashion in the first inning when the visitors shoved two runs across the pan.
Sangaree poked the food to the visitors and they pounced on it like hungry beasts.
Poor old “Mother” Coombs! She waddled about her little bunchlet and piped around the first hoarse whispers and again in unmistakably impatient cackles then again when some of her little bunch seemed to need a little encouragement she would coo a soft and gentle assortment of notes peculiar to herself, but alack and alas! Her little tribe was dying an ignominious death, and out of shame she, like the ostrich, buried her head in the sand that she might not see the heavens fall upon them.
Our infield and outfield were kept on the run during the entire game, and always the ball went where the fielder was not.
In the third inning the visitors annexed four more runs, while our little brave bunch had as yet not scored.
Doctor Fate prescribed the same dose again in the fifth when two more of our strenuous visitors completed the circuit.
In our half of the fifth, this man whom we were once pleased to call friend, and whom we now delight in calling “brother,” by the skin of his teeth or to be more accurate, by a frog hair split four times, came home with that measly run, which was the first and also the last time the locals had the pleasure of circling the bags.
The little band then wended their way to their own little domicile, where Ma was asked to pour oil on the troubled waters of a defeated spirit.
The result of this bame so demoralized the local fans mental equilibrium, that one, who seemed more perturbed than the others, sent in to ye scribe the following lamentation: “Luck is sure a woman and how she hates Sangaree. Sangaree, you must be an ugly fellow, for Miss Luck just can’t smile on you.
Without doubt Sangaree is one of oure best slab artist. He has the goods and delivers them but if he wins a game it is up to him and the catcher. Beautiful support is afforded all of our twirlers till the luckless Sangaree steps upon the mound. The boys then become pill chasers booting the ball about, fumbling, muffing and cussing. Say, why not argue the case with Miss Luck and give the four-eyed pitcher a chance?”
The third game was a most exciting scene. “The sun was in the sky. The wind was in the air, and the birds were nowhere and angels of both genders fluctuated past to and fro, here a little and there a good deal.”
The game opened promptly with two hits on the part of the visitors, a series of errors and some loose fielding, during which interim the ball was being hurled first over the catcher’s head and then over into the gardens. “Long John” Nedley let an easy grounder foozle between his feet and stubbed his toe on another, while Frank Martina slammed the ball from center field over the catchers head, and by this time pandemonium reigned supreme.” Theobald put a stop to this aggressiveness on the part of the visitors by making a magnificent stop of a grounder at third and a few moments later duplicated the performance at second. Jean Hickey made the third out by negotiating a fancy catch in right field, retiring to the side.
In the second we scored. Martina opened the pot for a nice single, Theobald running for him after first base, this individual promptly stealing second. Coombs bunted safely for first, stole second while Theobald camped on third. Maddox singled beautifully, scoring Martina and our Captain Coombs, then stole second. Buster Porter took first on balls and Hickey went out on an infield fly. Maddox stole third but died there, as Theobald threw out.
Again in the fifth Albert Hickey hit to deep left for two bases. Floeger whizzed. Theobald bunted, while Hickey took third, having to take a header in order to negotiate the bag, and Theobald in the meantime stole second. Hickey came home on Jean’s bunt, while Theobald was pegged out at home plate. Then came “Long John” Nedley who bunted, stole second while Jean was stealing home. Martina fanned.
In the sixth Buster evacuated the fort and Rodman assumed command, this gent holding the bunch down to a string of goose eggs for the rest of the game. In our half of the 6th we scored one more run. Coombs got to first on balls and was promptly caught napping. Maddox reached first in the same manner, stole second and either by hook or by crook, negotiated third and finally came home on a passed ball. Hickey whizzed.