Saturday, July 26, 2003

[7/26/2011] Ring Lardner Tonight: "You Know Me Al" II, Part 3 -- A surprise for Jack (continued)


Plus the real Charles Comiskey

Charles Comiskey c1910: Since tonight's You Know Me Al installment is relatively brief (the next letter is longish, so I'm reserving it for Part 4), I thought this would be a good time to take a brief look at one of the crucial supporting characters of our story, Jack's boss, Charles Comiskey, the owner of the Chicago White Sox. You did realize (didn't you?) that the "notoriously stingy" Charles Comiskey, as Wikipedia describes him (see below), really was the owner of the White Sox?

From Wikipedia (lots o' links onsite):
Charles Albert "The Old Roman" Comiskey (August 15, 1859 – October 26, 1931) was a Major League Baseball player, manager and team owner. He was a key person in the formation of the American League and later owned the Chicago White Sox. . . .

As owner of the White Sox from 1900 until his death in 1931, Comiskey oversaw building Comiskey Park in 1910 and winning five American League championships. He lost popularity with his players, whose views of him became hateful, and that is seen as a factor in the Black Sox scandal, when eight players on the AL champions conspired to "throw" the 1919 World Series to the NL champion Cincinnati Reds. Comiskey was notoriously stingy (his defenders called him "frugal"), even forcing his players to pay to launder their own uniforms. . . .

Despite popular allegations that his poor treatment of White Sox players fueled the conspiracy, Comiskey was inducted as an executive into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. . . .
You might wonder how Ring dared to incorporate the real Comiskey, in hardly flattering form, into his busher fictions. You've got me. You can be sure that today the publisher's lawyers would throw a fit the second they heard about it. And if they fell down on the job, the modern-day Comskey's lawyers would have Ring's sons, born and unborn. (In 1914 John and James Lardner were born, Ring Jr. and David yet to be born.)

"[The kid] asked me how much I was going to get in the big league and I told her I would get a lot more money than out here because I wouldn't play if I didn't. You know me Al."
-- Jack sure seems adamant about that pay hike he
won't play if he doesn't get, doesn't he? (Stay tuned)

Part 3 of 12

Sacramento, California, August 16.

FRIEND AL: Well Al I got the supprise of my life last night. Howard called me up after I got to my room and tells me I am going back to the White Sox. Come to find out, when they sold me out here they kept a option on me and yesterday they exercised it. He told me I would have to report at once. So I packed up as quick as I could and then went down to say good-by to the kid. She was all broke up and wanted to go along with me but I told her I didn't have enough dough to get married. She said she would come anyway and we could get married in Chi but I told her she better wait. She cried all over my sleeve. She sure is gone on me Al and I couldn't help feeling sorry for her but I promised to send for her in October and then everything will be all O.K. She asked me how much I was going to get in the big league and I told her I would get a lot more money than out here because I wouldn't play if I didn't. You know me Al.

I come over here to Sacramento with the club this morning and I am leaving to-night for Chi. I will get there next Tuesday and I guess Callahan will work me right away because he must of seen his mistake in letting me go by now. I will show them Al.

I looked up the skedule and I seen where we play in Detroit the fifth and sixth of September. I hope they will let me pitch there Al. Violet goes to the games and I will make her sorry she give me that kind of treatment. And I will make them Tigers sorry they kidded me last spring. I ain't afraid of Cobb or none of them now, Al.

Your pal, JACK.

* * *

TOMORROW NIGHT IN PART 4: Back in the bigs


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