The Brotherhood's Revolt and Baseball At The Pyramids

I'm back on Deadspin today, with a bit of forgotten baseball history that I've been digging into for the last few months. It's got it all: moustaches, old-fashioned racism, and a cloak-and-dagger labor war. What more could you want?

The bulletin was posted on the evening of February 8, 1889, in the lobby of Cairo's Hotel d'Orient:

Base-ball at the Pyramids. The Chicago and All-America teams, comprising the Spalding base-ball party, will please report in the hotel office, in uniform, promptly at ten o'clock to-morrow morning. We shall leave for the hotel at that hour, camels having been provided for the All-Americas and donkeys for the Chicago players, with carriages for the balance of the party. The Pyramids will be inspected, the Sphinx visited, and a game played upon the desert near by, beginning at 2 o'clock.

Around the notice huddled 20 travel-weary ballplayers, baseball missionaries brought by Albert Spalding to spread the national pastime around the globe. They had traveled from Hawaii to Australia, from Ceylon to the Suez, exhibiting their game—and Spalding's sporting equipment—whenever they got the chance. In Australia they had played for thousands, but in Cairo they were curiosities who passed their time like all American travelers: shopping in the bazaars, screaming at beggars and complaining about the food. Tomorrow would come an exhibition that nobody asked for, which remains one of the strangest in the history of American sport.

Among them was one whose mind was not on sightseeing. John Montgomery Ward—shortstop, lawyer, and president of the nascent players' union—was transfixed by a short item in the American newspaper, the first he had seen in months, which said that the National League had taken advantage of his absence to enact a salary cap that would cut his income in half. As his teammates prepared to greet the Sphinx, the most remarkable mind in baseball was taking the first steps to a revolution.

The Stunning Return of Stella Starlight: Queen of Space

Hooray!

The world's prayers have been answered. Children sing in the street. Trees erupt into bloom, and not because it's springtime, but because of theater. And by all that I mean, I've got a goddamned play going up! Once again, I've combined forces with the brilliant women of Squeaky Bicycle to bring you theater the likes of which you've never seen, unless you've seen some of our work before.

And not just one play, but three plays. Three not-very-long plays which, like Voltron, combine to make a supercharged evening of theater that can crush monsters and knock over power lines. Three plays which operate under the combined title of:

Tales of Love & Lasers

Sounds pretty all right, right? I thought that baby up myself. So, just what are these Tales of Love & Lasers? They are as follows:

Hyperion Calling: A saga of a woman stranded in space, with nothing to comfort her but the knowledge that this 10 minute short is way better than Gravity

R. For Roxy: First produced in last fall's Bad Theater Fest, this story about love aboard a derelict space cruiser will make you laugh, cry, and hunger for liquified cake.

Stella Starlight: Queen of Space: Oh boy, this is the big one. The one y'all have been waiting for. The one with jokes, and fighting, and dancing, and leaping, and, oh my god I'm just too excited.

So, when does this magic come to pass? Just under two weeks from now, at the Drilling Company on the Upper West Side. We'll be running Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays (May 6 - May 21) at 7 PM. Come on May 6, and afterwards you can watch me get drunk around the corner at The Dublin House. I promise, it's just as exciting as the play will be.

For more details, see the Facebook invite here. Please do RSVP, so we can let you know when tickets go on sale, and so on.

 

Leo the Lip, Arky Vaughan, And A Holdout Called Frenchy

70 years ago this month, the Brooklyn Dodgers found themselves fantastically inconvenienced by a European tiff known as World War II. Rather than travel south for spring training, they went north, and not very far, to the upstate resort known as Bear Mountain. It was cold, it was stressful, it was baseball.

On March 21, 1944, as the Nazis occupied Hungary, the Japanese pushed into India, and the Allies assaulted the ruined Italian hamlet of Cassino, manager Leo Durocher watched the snow, and dreamed of Florida. In deference to the army's need for trains, the sternly patriotic commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had decreed that no club would travel south for spring training. And so, for the second time, Durocher's Brooklyn Dodgers wintered at the Bear Mountain Inn in New York, where the fires were warm, the steaks were thick and the practice fields were covered in eight inches of fresh powder.

They could work around the snow. While other teams shivered, West Point allowed the Dodgers to use its massive field house whenever the cadets weren't drilling. Durocher's problem was his infield, which had been so savaged by the draft that Branch Rickey had suggested his manager play second base or shortstop. Although ostensibly a player-manager, the Dodgers' skipper hadn't played a full season since 1938. His knees were bad, his bat was slow and he had acorns in his elbow.

If you're asking, "What the hell do you mean, acorns in his elbow?" then you have something in common with the sporting public of 1944. To find out what the hell Leo's talking about, click here, to be taken on to Sports on Earth.