Gehrig Aims For The Old Man
Thursday - July 27, 1972
"Praying Hands" salt and pepper set as example of "pious slob art"
"Within every civilized man there is a slob sitting around waiting to be heard" JS
Bullet proof Bible and "Last Supper" tablecloth
Distinction between sports and games
Salute to the soreheads and the "boobirds" - "It's not how you play the game, it's whether you win!" Philadelphia as "boo" capital of the world
Old Man's love for the White Sox - losing teams produce loyal fans
New York Yankees as the "ultimate winners" and Chicago White Sox as the "ultimate losers"
Beauty of Comiskey Park - looking down at playing field before the game - "pregnant with possibilities - the grass, white lines, foul lines angling off, fantastic green, enormous cliff of the stadium..."
A baseball outing with the "Old Man" at age 6 to a double header on a hot July Sunday against the Yankees at Comiskey Park is the subject of a story forming Shep's whole attitude toward sports.
The Old Man leads a group of about 20 anti Gehrig fanatics using his "tremendous diaphragm" with jeers of "Lou, you bum!" at their seats about 5 feet inside the foul line at upper deck right field. Gehrig nails one about 30 feet behind them, and scores three runs. The "boos" continue with "eyeballs bulging!" Three innings later Gehrig slams one on a direct line to the Old Man which hits the railing just below him. The OM becomes "white as a sheet" realizing that Gehrig was aiming for him! "The next one will decapitate us!" He felt responsible for the defeat of the White Sox that day for goading Gehrig into a superhuman effort, and shuts up for two games for fear of being hit. "Kinda took the wind out of the OM as a boobird" - until the next game with hated Cleveland!
Shep talks about becoming a Yankee fan through the back door, "because the Yankees represented the avenging wrath that would come out of New York periodically and decimate the White Sox... They were so fantastic that you couldn't help but go out and watch them!"
This story was used in the 1985 Jean Shepherd's America Series in an episode called "Chicago, Chicago That Toddlin' Town"