My favorite baseball story
This year’s all-too-brief prospect of an all-Chicago World Series would have renewed one of the few longstanding disagreements between my dad and myself.
I have been a Cubs fan since I was a kid. He pulled for the White Sox.
I started following the Cubs because they played only day games in the 1950s and their broadcasts came in loud and clear in Lake Charles most summer afternoons.
I spent most of the time on most of my vacation days in a bathing suit, splashing in the lake. But it was decreed that I had to stay out of the water during the hottest part of the day — something about the threat of polio — so I started listening to Vince Lloyd’s broadcasts of the Cubs games. They were lovable losers back then, and for a long time after, but I stuck with them through thin and thinner.
My dad’s allegiance to the White Sox began with his friendship with their Hall of Fame pitcher Ted Lyons. Ted (b.1900) was older than my dad (b.1909), but they were neighbors in the small community of Vinton and the whole town followed Ted’s career after he joined the White Sox in 1923. He won 260 games for what was then a traditionally mediocre club and his fans say he would have won 400 playing for a winning team such as the Yankees — the other team involved in my favorite baseball story.
My dad got his degree from Notre Dame in 1929 and was at the university during some of Ted’s best years. From time to time he would go up to Chicago to watch Ted pitch, and one of those games, probably in 1927, was against the Yankees.
Dad went to the dressing room after the game and, by chance, he, Ted Lyons, and Babe Ruth walked out of the stadium together. According to my dad’s story, a group of kids rushed up to Ruth and Lyons, asking for autographs, and one of them handed a scorecard to him. He scrawled his name just below Babe Ruth’s.
The kid puzzled over the signature, looking back and forth from the scorecard to my dad, trying to place the name with a player, according to dad’s story, until Babe Ruth leaned over and, in his gravelly voice, said, “Second base.”
The kid’s eyes lit up, and he ran off, happy with his autographs.
That’s the way the story was told to me by my dad, and I believe it, even though he was known to sometimes embellish a fact or two for the sake of a good tale. He told it several times and mostly the same each time.
So now, if one day you should be digging around in a musty attic and come across an old scorecard signed by Babe Ruth, Ted Lyons, and that mythical second baseman Bill Bradshaw, you will know how it came to be.
A collection of Jim Bradshaw’s columns, Cajuns and Other Characters, is now available from Pelican Publishing. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.