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· Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge:
The Yankees and The Long Count·
It’s Saturday, October 1, 1927, in the Stamey Hotel’s coffee shop at 5th and Main, Hutchinson, Kansas, just a half-block east of the temporary courthouse. When you walk in the door, you can smell the aroma of fresh coffee.
“Would any of you gentlemen like more coffee?” asked Peggy, the waitress.
“You can top mine off, thanks,” said Fay Brown, 30, Reno County sheriff.
“Babe Ruth has done it again,” said Fay, “another record broken, this time, his own.”
“I don’t know if anyone will ever hit 60 homers again in a season,” said Ewing King, 30, Reno County commissioner. “Babe is one-of-a-kind.”
“The Yankees have been in first place all season long. Now they need to finish the year with a World Series win,” said Fay. “Anything less will be a huge disappointment.”
“They’ll be tough to beat with their powerful hitting and pitching,” said George Gano, 57, grain man.
“Ruth and Gehrig, rightfully so, get a lot of attention,” said Fay, “but let’s not forget Wilcy Moore. With his sidearm pitching, he can sure save a game.”
“Good thing he broke his wrist a couple of years ago,” recalled George. “After his recovery, he was trying to limit the pressure on his pitching arm. That’s when he developed his deadly sinker and a better curve ball.”
“When I watched him pitch for Okmulgee in 1924 in the Western Association, he was good,” said Fay, “but he’s become a real fireman on the mound.”
“That’s why they call him ‘Doc’,” said George. “He brings an ailing ball game back to life with his superb pitching.”
“He sure doesn’t do it with his hitting,” said Ewing, which caused all three men to laugh out loud.
Wilcy Moore had the reputation for being the worst hitter in the major leagues. He was so bad that Babe Ruth made a wager with him. Ruth bet that Moore wouldn’t hit a home run during the entire 1927 season. If Moore did hit a homer, Ruth would pay him $300. If Moore didn’t, Ruth would collect $15. On September 21, at Yankees Stadium, Moore surprised everyone in the ball park, including himself. After he hit one over the right field wall, Ruth nearly had a heart attack, but paid up.
“Wilcy’s from Hollis, Oklahoma, son of a cotton farmer,” said Fay. “I admire the way he fought to make the majors, especially because he’s no spring chicken. He must be 30 years old, but he won’t reveal his age. Old or not, as a rookie he’s on his way to having the best EPA in the majors.”
“Speaking of fighting,” said Ewing, “the Tunney-Dempsey match was worth the trip to Chicago.”
“That it was,” agreed George.
“In the darkness at Soldier Field,” said Ewing, “looking around the arena, one could see nothing but the smoke, and the flickering of the thousands of glowing cigarettes. With the glowing and smoke, it looked like a prairie after a fire has burned over it.”
“It must have been a sight,” said Fay.
“When the crowd cheered, it was like a great bellow or roar,” said Ewing.
“I’ve always been an admirer of Jack Dempsey, but I saw he was up against a better man from the start,” said George. “I knew it was going to be a good fight from the first round.
“There will always be an argument, of course, whether Tunney wasn’t really knocked out in the seventh round,” George continued. “He was down more than the ten seconds, but he was taking the count of nine. It was Dempsey’s own fault that there was any delay in the count. He seemed to be surprised that he had knocked Tunney down. He hesitated, instead of going over to the neutral corner.
“Then the count started. When the count of five came, Tunney started to get up. I had a front seat at the ringside, just feet away. I heard his man Jimmy Bronson tell him, ‘Stay down and take nine.’ And that’s what he did. But he could have got up, I believe at four, five, or six. Of course, there will always be an argument, but there wasn’t any question in the mind of those who saw it as to who was the winner.
“Tunney came right back and from then on was the aggressor and Dempsey had no chance,” said George.
“Tunney knocked Dempsey down in the eighth. It was as pretty a knockdown as you ever saw. Some claimed Dempsey only fell. He was knocked down. I was close up to the ring and saw it. It was a straight right to the jaw that sent him down. He got up but he never was the same after that. It was the first time he had ever been knocked down.
“In the ninth, Tunney took the aggressive and Dempsey was bewildered. If that tenth round had lasted twenty seconds longer, Dempsey would have been knocked down and out. As it was, he didn’t know when the fight was over. He was out on his feet. There wasn’t any question on the part of the 125,000 people who saw that fight as to who won it.”
“More coffee?” asked the waitress.
“No thanks,” the men agreed.
“Sheriff Brown,” said Peggy. “I heard that Charles Everton was arrested and he’s in your jail. Is that right?”
“That’s correct,” answered Sheriff Brown.
“Is he a bigamist?” asked Peggy.
“He’s in jail on a charge alleging he’s a bigamist,” said the sheriff.
“I was just wondering,” said Peggy. “Two weeks ago he asked me out on a date, said I was special.”
“You’re special,” said Fay,” but Everton’s got two wives that aren’t too happy with him right now.”
“I thought he was a two-timer,” said Peggy. “I hope he pays for his deception.”
Until next time, happy writing and reading.
Jim Potter says