Thursday, January 10, 2008

Remembrance Of Things Past

We were very proud of our St. Louis Browns, and equally jealous of the Chicago White Sox. One never gets this partisanship out of the blood. Only last Saturday the sculptor, Ruckstull, now sixty-eight, and sunk deep in the hollow of a library leather chair from which he was freely reading Montaigne's archaic French, paused at some mention of memory and said: "What a heaven sent gift memory is!" And then, with an accusing challenge, "Can you name the whole nine of the first St. Louis league team when they won that first series from Chicago in 1874?"

And trying to beat each other to it, we alternated and interfered and reached a flushed crescendo in a run of competing explosions, telling: "Bradley, pitch; Miller, catch; Dehlman, Bannon, Hogue, on bases; Dickey Pierce at short; and in the field? Cuthbert, Chapman, and-and Haight."

But we couldn't remember Chicago. We remembered the whiskers on some of those Lake Front athletes, as luxuriant as those now worn by the Cough Drop Brothers. And all the time the sculptor was commanding attention with a hand on which the hypnotic feature was an ossified contusion of the first phalange of the little finger, pitched to him on our old railroad nine of that epoch.
-From The Print of My Remembrance

Augustus Thomas (pictured above as a young man), author of The Print of My Remembrance, was a playwright and journalist who was born in St. Louis in 1857. As a young man, he worked on the railroad in St. Louis which explains the reference to "our old railroad nine."

I guess I should point out the irony of discussing how wonderful a thing memory is and then not being able to remember correctly the year the Brown Stockings joined the NA. Thomas and Frederick Ruckstull also misidentified the Brown Stockings starting nine. "Bannon" was Joe Battin and I don't know who "Haight" was but the name they were looking for was Lip Pike.

1 comment:

Richard Hershberger said...

Also, "Hogue" is an idiosyncratic misspelling. Early in his career his name was usually spelled "Haug" and later as "Hague". I have never seen an explanation for the change.