Saturday, April 19, 2008

Purple Prose Enlivens a Tale of the Emerald Diamond

I've been checking through old newspapers at the Library of Congress' Chronicling America site. I'm searching for references to my various forebears; it is a low-return fishing expedition, but great fun.

For example, a search for references to any Mahaffies in California in newspapers from around the turn of the 20th Century has turned up several sports-page notes about a baseball umpire named Mahaffy. I doubt that he is a direct relative, though he may be a very distant cousin. What's great about this, though, is the prose in which I find him.

Here are two paragraphs from Page 42 of the September 30, 1906, edition of the San Francisco Call. William J. Slattery writes about a game between the Portland Beavers and the San Francisco Seals (in first and second in the standings at the time).
Neither team played anything that looked like high art. Errors happened frequently and did a deal of damage. Neither pitcher was there any too strong and and both of them delayed the game as much as possible by indulging in a series of senseless winding ups and warming ups between the rounds.

Maybe it was because of the banishment of Cousin Park Wilson that San Francisco did not perform according to the tips of the wise brigade. Cousin Park assayed to engage in an oratorial contest with Umpire Mahaffy in the eighth spasm and before he realized that the worst was yet to come, the indicator man had already made a mysterious high sign and given Park notice to skidoo. He also informed the leader of the Seals that his pay envelope will be shy five dollars when the next day of reckoning with Cal Ewing is at hand.
The Seals were not doing well in their season series with the Beavers in 1906. The Beavers won this game, 3 to 1, moving to a record of 98-47 and a won/lost percentage of .697. The cellar-dwelling Fresno team, by contrast, was at .335 percent at 51-101.

No comments:

Post a Comment