John P. Carmichael on Gabby Hartnett’s Homer in the Gloaming

This is a column by John P. Carmichael of the Chicago Daily News, writing for the September 29, 1938 edition about Gabby Hartnett’s Homer in the Gloaming to put the Cubs on the verge of winning the pennant:

We surrender to inadequacy. This Cub-Pirate pennant fight has gone far beyond our poor power to picture in words. When you squirm to fashion the proper pinnacle for a “Dizzy” Dean only to find that you need at least its twin, that a Gabby Hartnett may also brush the stars, word-painting becomes a magic art not given to the mine run of mortals to diffuse.

So let this be, today, a confession of helplessness to treat an afternoon which beggars description; an afternoon in the life of a stout-hearted Irishman who, as darkness almost wrapped him from the sight of 35,000 quaking fans, changed the map of a baseball world with one devastating blow. And that he is alive and in one piece at the moment, ready to carry on from that smash, is no fault of a Cub team and a Cub populace gone mad.

For a second successive night we stood in a clubhouse of crazy men in play suits. Only this time they weren’t even articulate. We can still see ’em fighting for words, staring at one another with glazed eyes. We can still see ’em pushing Hartnett from wall to wall with the irresistible force of robots gone wild. We can still see Gabby trying vainly to free himself from idolatrous teammates.

We can still see Billy Herman, standing in the middle of the floor, arms akimbo. When he could talk it was first just a whisper of awe: “Lord God Almighty.” Dawning consciousness of the moment brought it out again, louder, hoarser: “Lord God Almighty.” Then the full realization of the terrific sight he had just watched in the twilight smote him. “Lord God ALMIGHTY;” he suddenly screamed and hurled his glove he knew not where.

He wasn’t even swearing. It was as though he was asking the heavens above to witness that this thing he’d just seen with his own eyes could really happen to him and those caught up in the maelstrom around him.

Dean’s day was great. This one was greater. This was everybody’s day until Hartnett wrested it from them all with that miraculous, breath-taking blow in the ninth with two down, two strikes against him and a tie game about to be put over for a double-header today because it was no longer possible to see in the gloom.

Far out in the stands a mailman caught the ball and even while Gabby struggled in the arms of his men, it appeared in the clubhouse with a plea for the Hartnett name. “Give him a new one and I’ll sign it,” ordered Gabby. “I want to keep this one forever. I’ve had the greatest thrill of this old life now.”

Over in a corner “Rip” Collins, himself one of the day’s heroes at that plate, tried to break the hysteria with his inevitable gag. “I get some credit,” he yelled. “Gabby used the Collins stance at the plate.” Elbowing his way to Gabby’s side strode Trainer Andy Lotshaw, a comic figure with his cap awry and wiping away at streaming eyes with a huge towel.

“You big lug,” he wept, “you hit it just like I used to do.” He was shoved aside, sniffling, and “Dizzy” Dean leaped upon the managerial desk behind which Gabby had sought refuge. “Diz” teetered there back and forth on the balls of his feet, matted gray hair hanging over his forehead like an old crone’s disheveled locks.

“Oh,” he moaned. “You… you Gabby.” He tried to talk with his hands, but lost his balance and fell back into unsympathetic arms. Sheer exhaustion at relief from the tension of what they’d gone through finally drove some to their chairs, where they slumped like marionettes whose guiding strings had let them down. Through the half-open door came the frenzied roar of the crowd from which, only minutes before, Andy Frain’s ushers had barely saved Hartnett in his entity.

Now up, now down, now up again, the Cubs and Pirates went all the heart-straining day. The tide of battle surged bitterly through breaks, good and bad. It was almost too much for human flesh and blood to watch. And that hat we do not own is off once more to HIM and THEM.

Published in: on September 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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