It's All In The Game
by A. Charles Corotis


It's All In The Game: A selected Collection of Gay Essays
on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Mnemosyne,
Assayed from the Provocative Pages of
New Jersey's Literate Review Weekly, The Argus

By A. Charles Corotis



I''m thoroughly disgusted with myself that it has taken me all these months to remark upon the passing of my first baseball hero: Grover Cleveland Alexander.

I've meant to, but too many topical subjects crop up for this space. Now I'm impelled to the task by the revelation that they're filming the colorful life of the big, convivial, party-lovin' Nebraskan.

I was all of eight when I first saw Alex fling those side-arm slants in the bandbox at Broad & Lehigh known as Bak­er Bowl. A pitcher had to be super to keep popflies from clearing that short right field wall, and old Pete was. It was an exception when he didn't turn in a shutout; today goose eggs in baseball are as rare as virgins in the Virgin Islands since Joe Twomby went to St. Thomas.

Anyway, Alex was one of the half dozen best hurlers in diamond history. How I worshiped him for the calm ease with which he mowed down John McGraw's snarling, fero­cious New York Giants and the rest of those tough, hateful National League clubs. That sharp-breaking curve of his was a thing of beauty; his control was uncanny.

So it was through the retrospective eyes of an impression­able eight-year-old that I sat in the press box one hot Sunday afternoon many years later and saw an aging Pete shuffle to the mound to fan Tony Lazzeri with the bases full, and go on to win the world's championship for Rogers Hornsby and his St. Louis Cardinals over Babe Ruth and the other mur­derous Yanks. That was the most dramatic moment in all baseball history for me.

Mine was the supreme, sublime thrill as my thoughts turned to Philadelphia and a more youhtful, slimmer Alex who earned a permanent niche in a tender young heart with his feats of diamond legerdemain. Almost single-handedly he pitched Pat Moran's nondescript gang to a pennant and won a World Series game from the greatest club in baseball an­nals, the 1915 Boston Red Sox.

Had Alex been as abstinent as those other two pitching greats, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson, his wonder­ful career probably would have attained the miraculous. As it was, he can't be kept off any all-time all-star team.

Matty and Barney and Pete

What's that stir up above? Do you sense it:
That concert of voices so tense? 
More audible now: Why, they're calling
For Matty and Barney and Pete.

Hear that murmur of pent-up excitement?
The atmosphere's charged with suspense;
And the sounds that reverberate 'round us

Say Matty and Barney and Pete.

Yes, there's action in heaven today, folks:
The big baseball game's due to start. 
The Chief's got his aces unlimbering,
There's Matty, and Barney, and Pete.

The buzzing becomes a great roar now,
A thunderous wave of applause; 
What a thrill to see stars of such brilliance
As Matty and Barney and Pete!

That's a staff to delight any skipper,
With slider, the hard one, and hook;
They had everything: savvy, stuff, moxie 
Had Matty and Barney and Pete.

How they mowed doivn the hitters on earth here,
What class they could show on that mound;
The kingpin of all in their heyday

Were Matty and Barney and Pete.

Big Six . . . the Big Train (how he fogged 'em) . . .
And canny old Alex the Great; 
Ah, what memories they bring to us oldsters,
Do Matty and Barney and Pete.

When the day comes that ends life's long journey, 
I'll eagerly leap at the chance

To see them once more toe that rubber-
Old Matty and Barney and Pete.

National Spotlight

I had no idea of the furore I had caused until Governor Driscoll got me on the 'phone in Newark Thursday. A long while ago— it's been well over a year, I think— I reported on a clandestine meeting in General Eisenhower's office at Columbia U. Conferees were reported to be the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Obviously they weren't talking about the relative scholastic merits of Colum­bia, Penn, and Princeton.

I had occasion to refer again to this alleged session six or eight weeks ago. It appears that Carl Ring, who is opposing Alex Smith for the Senate nomination, picked it up and hung it around Mr. Driscoll's neck. It was supposed to prove Alfred has selfish motives— the vice-presidency— behind the rug-pulling that discomfitted and discombooberated Robert Taft.

"Your column is the 'secret document' Mr. Ring claims he has to prove the plot," the Governor told me. "The Argus isn't secret, is it?"

"It's more secret than I wish it was," I admitted ruefully, with circulation statistics in mind.

What really had upset the Governor was not Mr. Ring but the subsequent national prominence given the whole thing by Fulton Lewis, Jr. The famed radio commentator is an ardent Taft man, and probably no booster of Driscoll any­way, because Al is too far over to the left by his standards, a

CIO-lover and advocate of public this-and-that. Everything is relative, anyway, as I've remarked so many times, and noth­ing more so than ideologies.

Anyway, Lewis used my story to give Driscoll a resound­ing whack in the aspirations, and Al turned to me. The story, he assured me, wasn't accurate. He was over at Columbia that day, sure enough, but for the purpose of lecturing at the School of Journalism. The honorable governors of New York and Pennsylvania weren't there, not to his knowledge, anyway. At least, he didn't see them or talk politics with them.

Well, if Al says it isn't so, it isn't so. He should know.

Of course, my intelligence came from one who should know also. Someone very close to His Excellency. But that someone could have been "pulling my leg," as the Governor suggested. Or could have had two fingers too many. Or may­be just likes to talk in big and mysterious ways.

Maybe I should employ a device like the Joan News Letter which carries the legend: "This letter is based on information compiled from sources generally considered to be reliable. While we believe the facts to be authentic, we can make no guarantee as to accuracy."

Anyway, the thing has repercussions which haven't died down yet. But it did get The Argus publicity in newspapers and on radio broadcasts around the country.

For a day or two it was hot and hectic. I left Newark for Dover after my conversation with Driscoll, and upon arrival found a call waiting from Washington. It was Ab Herrmann, of Republican national headquarters. He was upset, too. Another caller from Washington to Dover was Senator Smith. He was calm; merely wanted to confirm a dinner date for the next night.

In Camden next day, I found Chicago had been trying to reach me for two days. The call came through: it was Bruce McFarlane of WGN. While I was rehashing the whole situation with him, Mrs. MacDonald told me Washington was on the wire.

By this time, having a more-than-full day ahead of me, I was beginning to sour on the whole thing. But when I took the Washington call and heard the pleasant voice of Mary Thompson, it sweetened me immediately. Mary is Senator Bob Hendrickson's secretary.

"I'm in trouble," she began. "I suppose it's my fault, but it was an act of God, too

"Why, Mary!" I interrupted her in my best vocal leer.

She quickly set me straight. It appears that a small fire in the office had damaged her desk and destroyed a few papers, among them some correspondence I had had with the Senator. I was so glad 1 didn't have to go through the Eisenhower-Driscoll-Dewey routine again that I could have kissed her— and will when I see her next. Meanwhile, I assured her no harm had. been done at all; I would have Miss Drill send her a copy of the communication from Newark.

But the fuse I lighted still sputters and crackles. Do you suppose it will be Eisenhower and Driscoll in Chicago next June?

Horrible  Thought

I guess I'm not as young as I used to be. Time was when I could work far into the night and arise at dawn full of pep and vigor. Every election found me working the clock around at the Courier-Post, all night and right through the next day.

I'm afraid those days are gone. I am forced to that reluctant conclusion because it is 9 a.m. of a Saturday and truthfully I'd rather have stood in bed.

I suppose it really started Wednesday. The meeting of the state pharmacy leaders at Elizabeth didn't break up until nearly 1 a.m. Ira Schwarz got me to the Penn Station in Newark in time to catch the 1:33, which didn't get to Trenton 'til 2:30, so it was after three before I got home. I'd have stayed upstate but I had to be in Camden the next morning, so nothing to do but come on down, as Nellie Lutcher puts it.

Friday was even worse. By the time I could get away from South Plainfield it was pushing 2 a.m. The 2:02 at New Brunswick was nearly three quarters of an hour late. I finally hit the downy 'long about four.

No, I'm not exactly full of vim and vitality today.

I suppose one reason for my sluggishness is my well-known propensity for over-indulgence, gastronomically speaking. Somehow victuals have an irresistible fascination for me. A recent high spot was dinner at Townley's in Union, one of my favorite eating places. What food. And what por­tions! By the time I polished off half a dozen butter and poppyseed rolls, a plate of green tomatoes, pickles, ripe olives and such, I couldn't handle more than two hip steaks.

The very next night found me at Oak Hill Manor in Metuchen, another paradise for the porcine.

Ah, gastronomy.

Award  Reward

One of the pieces of business on my agenda that busy Friday when the calls were coming from Chicago and Washington was a dash over to Temple in Philly for my third succes­sive Freedoms Foundation awards presentation at the Chapel of the Four Chaplains.

It was full of surprises. I was delightfully surprised to find Judge Donges and his charming lady there. Unknown to me, the veteran jurist-scholar had served on the twenty-eight member distinguished panel that judged the tons of material in the Americanism competition.

Then, to cap the climax, who should come marching in but Hazel, her mother, and my mother. They had been over to the Commercial Museum for the flower show, and since they were in town anyway they thought they might as well drop in and see me sweat out the ceremonies.

I don't know what they thought of it, but I know that all the way home they talked only of the flower show! It must have been a gorgeous sight indeed. Wish I had been able to make it. .