Baseball season has just wrapped up with the Washington Nationals beating the Houston Astros to win their first World Series title ever. It reminds me of a baseball game played here in Perry back in 1922.
In October of 1922, Babe Ruth and a less popular but still very successful player in his own right, Bob Meusel, came to town to play an exhibition game. There was a lot of hype and excitement, as you can imagine, leading up to the event. The Perry branch of the American Legion had organized the event and hoped to make a tidy sum of cash off of ticket sales. Unfortunately, the day ended up being cold and dreary, and even though the rain mostly stopped an hour or so before the game began, the attendance was much lower than hoped. Ruth and Meusel ended up taking most of the profits home with them. I guess that’s what happens when you play a baseball game on Friday the 13th.
The game was against Pella, and Meusel played for them while Ruth played for Perry. Meusel hit a homerun and Babe hit a couple of triples. You’d think “The Sultan of Swat” could have managed at least one homer, but apparently the outfield wasn’t enclosed by a fence, which enabled the outfielder to get to the ball and throw it back in before the lumbering Ruth could get past third base.
I hadn’t realized until recently that the Ku Klux Klan was very active in Perry around that same time. I also didn’t know that the KKK was extremely anti-Catholic. Babe Ruth was Catholic and is said to have even visited St. Patrick’s School while in town. You would think given the fact that, according to a The Perry News article, a KKK grand master lived in town, there would have been protests and maybe even a cross burning. In reality, Babe Ruth coming to town was such a big deal that KKK members decided to forgo their prejudice for the day and instead sat in the stands and cheered for him and the hometeam along with everyone else. I guess that’s what happens when you play a baseball game in Perry. God bless America.
Hello Readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage Blog!
Since it is Memorial Day this weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to share another story about a veteran from our Oral History collection today. Leo-LaVonne Carr shares this story about learning code and the end of World War II:
“[W]e lived in an apartment. We…five miles from where we worked and this lieutenant and his brother lived in the same apartment building so when they would call them they would run down and they’d get me and we’d go down to the signal corps and decode it you know. So the….very day before the day was over with the Japanese we decoded it and we got the message that five o’clock the next day the war would be over. So we had to make up messages to ever tributary all over the whole United States….the Marines, the Navy, the Army…the everything. But we couldn’t tell anybody. They locked us in there and we was in there all night and all day and even the girls that worked daytime, they couldn’t come to work. They had to go back home ‘cause we was getting all this stuff ready you know. And so at five o’clock that night we had all these empty tapes. We had the policemen were this way. The teletype…or telegraph company was this way and the fire station was this way and down below us was the radio station and we took empty tapes and we threw it out and we said the war was over. Well all those tapes got caught on the streetcars and the buses and the messages just went through just like that. Well then we sent the message to Fort Leonardwood and all the smaller places where they had the service guys and they stole the jeeps, knocked the fence down, stole the trucks, came to Saint Louis and you could buy booze in any drugstore and everybody got drunk and the roads were wider than this kitchen and by the time we got all the messages sent out and could go home all these people hanging on each other drunk, going up and down the street singing and then all the bands came to the big park right in the middle of Saint Louis town…the city of Saint Louis and they played and everybody was dancing. Everybody was drunk and I was dead on my butt.”
It sounds like it was one of the biggest celebrations anyone has seen all over the country, but unfortunately for Leo he was too exhausted to join in! You hear a lot of similar stories about parties happening in the streets when the news was announced (and even a few famous pictures). Most of you readers are probably too young to remember the end of World War II, but do you have any other stories (or maybe stories from your parents and grandparents) about the end of different wars? Let us know in the comments, and join us next week for another Hometown Heritage blog!