Poker is Preserver of Peace

Damon Runyon

New York American/April 4, 1917

Impassable Barrier Between Giant and Tiger Trains Bars Further Hostilities—Storm Halts Game

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., April 3.—Jim Thorpe’s adopted townspeople did not get a chance to see him commit right field in a big league uniform this afternoon, as was threatened by the exhibition schedule of the Giants and the Tigers. A sandstorm spilled itself over the local baseball orchard with such violence that the game was called off before it started.

A good crowd had collected in the ball yard, and the gate money was returned, which was a terrible heart wrench to Secretary John B. Foster, of the Giants. It was clear enough over head, and the ball players went out in full regalia prepared to pastime, but it was soon discovered that the instrument of amusement could not be located when it was knocked into the air or along the ground, on account of the profusion of the wind-wafted sand.

Teams Have Separated

Without a baseball ball players are practically helpless, so the game was abandoned, and the athletes returned to their prospective hotels. Up to this time the boys have inhaled their ham and beans at the same hostelries, but now they have been split out.

It was feared that the practice of inviting one another to private rooms for private pugilistics might become a custom if the lads were permitted to remain in close contact. It can still be done, of course, but the separation makes it more difficult.

The Giants are at the Lee Huckins Hotel, and the Tigers are around the corner at the Kinkade. It would involve a walk of at least a hundred yards did a Giant yearn to punch a Tiger in the puss, or vice versa, and it seems unlikely that a ball player would indulge in that much exercise just for a fight. En route each club occupies two separate cars, and between these cars has been placed another car containing the club officials and the Detroit and New York baseball writers.

This car is neutral territory. The athletes cannot get at each other across this Belgium of the baseball, because a poker game in the middle of it forms an impassable barrier. The New York and Detroit baseball writers do not fight each other, as they esteem fighting a low and ungentlemanly practice, and, besides this, the Detroit writers look like very tough guys.

 Tyrus Visits the Giants

Tyrus Raymond Cobb, who expected to leave the tourists at Wichita Falls, but who failed to make train connections, appeared in the lobby of the hotel where the Giants are stopping today, and made inquiry for mail. None of the Giants were present at the time, having gone on out to the baseball corral, but it is not likely the Georgia Prune would have encountered trouble even had they all been there.

Most of the Giants studiously avoid conversation with Tyrus, but they are not violently disposed toward him off the field. Anyway, the cause of all the turmoil was finally removed this afternoon, as Cobb went on to join the Cincinnati Reds. Allowing Tyrus to train with a National League ball club when he has the option to work with his own outfit is bound to meet with more or less criticism.

Jim Thorpe, who made a good showing at Wichita Falls yesterday, was brought along with the Giant regulars for the express purpose of satisfying the desire of Oklahoma City to see Jeems in a large league livery. Jim does not originate in Oklahoma City, being indigenous to a place called Prague, Okla., but he spent last winter here, owns an abode here and calls this his home town.

Thorpe a Hard Swinger

When he is not booting footballs for Canton, Ohio, or baseballs for New York and Milwaukee, he punches the bag on convenient corners hereabouts with the natives. Jeems has come along in baseball the past couple of years. He can go fetch ’em out in right field with anybody in the country, and he can take as hard a swing at that old apple, as the lads call it, as the next man, and maybe harder.

He is liable to fan out and he is liable to but up the pastime, but never can it be said of James that he is not trying. If ever a man lived who is entitled to get by in big league ball it is this simple-hearted, laughing Indian He never quits on himself. It will be a real tragedy of the game if it is his fate to again fail to make the big line.

The tourists leave here at midnight for Tulsa.

(Source: New York American microfilm archive)

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