The Squire of Flatbush

Damon Runyon

The New York American/February 9, 1917

The Mornin’s Mornin’

A Baseball man was talking yesterday.

“Maybe Charley Ebbets was a little arbitrary and ruthless when he let fly with his old snickersnee at the salary roll of his Brooklyn Dodgers,” he said, “but I am for him if”—

He paused.

“If what?” demanded one of his auditors.

“If he goes through with it,” said the baseball man, “but.”

Again he paused.

“But what?” asked the auditor.

“But he won’t,” said the baseball man.

And that is the general feeling of the baseball world about the Old Squire of Flatbush.

If Ebbets stands pat in his little private war with his pennant winners, the baseball world will have to admire his nerve, however much it may question his judgment. Yet few of the close-ups of the pastime expect the squire to “carry on.”

That is the trouble with the squire. He is always starting things which he does not finish. Ebbets is one of the last of the old line baseball men, and as such is entitled to the respect of baseball people, but he is certainly unfortunate in some of his moves.

It has been freely predicted that if a break came in the organized baseball front presented against the Players’ Fraternity it would come at the National League wing, with Brooklyn as the specific spot. If Ebbets should now go through with his defi to his players and open the season without the mutineers it will be a big surprise.

And yet it will be the biggest thing in the eyes of his baseball associates that Ebbets has ever done, no matter what the fans may think of it.

The Fistic Moses.

Candidates for the job of fistic Moses to lead the old fighting game out of the wilderness seem to be in order. There appears to be an impression abroad that the much-advertised impending death of boxing was premature, and that all that is now required to save the patient is a little spiritual and physical uplift.

Meantime, some of the gentlemen responsible for shoving the game into the slough of despond go on profiting in one way or another off the declining diversion; meantime, we note that matches are being arranged for fighters who are persona non grata elsewhere, and for fighters who should be persona non grata here on the strength of their past performances.

Aided and abetted they are by promoters who should be dashing around assisting in the uplift. They are the very same promoters who are deploring the prospect of trouble for the game. As a matter of fact, it is said, a lot of promoters are hoping that the legalized game will be dispensed with, so they can go back to the old club system, claiming that it is the more profitable, but perhaps it has not occurred to them that if the Frawley law goes some way may be found to also abate the club idea.

Maybe it isn’t a Moses that the game needs, anyway. Maybe it is a Hercules. Wasn’t Hercules the guy who had the stable cleaning job?

Foreign Born Fighters.

Replying to a query, that we have dealt with before, there are undoubtedly many more foreign born boxers than there are foreign born baseball players, and many more different nationalities following the ring than the diamond.

This is undoubtedly for the reason that baseball is an American game, while boxing is followed in many other countries. Taking no account of the many foreign born fighters who have gone before we have in America today representatives of a score of different nationalities.

We have four fighters of more or less prominence who were born in Austria. They are Johnny Ertle, claimant of the bantamweight title: Charley Weinert, Kid Alberts and Soldier Bartfield. Jack Root, who was something of a fighter years ago, was born there also.

Battling Nelson, Pete Hartley and Kid Williams were born in Denmark; Albert Badoud comes from Switzerland, where Frank Erne, former lightweight champ, first saw the light of day; Terry Martin was born in Norway; George Knockout Brown, among others, in Greece; Johnny Dundee and Young Zulu Kid are the leading representatives of Italy just at present, and Joe Azevedo stakes Portugal to a place on the fistic map.

Johnny Creeley, a featherweight, who boxed Kilbane last year, and Charley Miller, the San Francisco motorman, were born in Rumania. Otto Charley Miller, the San Francisco motorman, were born in Rumania. Frank Mantell and Rudy Urholz, now dead, originated in the land of the Kaiser.

Russia Is Represented.

Russia is, or was, up to recently, represented by Phil Brock, Benny Kauffman and Charley Goldman, but they seem to have faded from the record of activity.

There are any number of boxers over here who were born under the British flag. Some are still subjects of Great Britain. Freddy Welsh, of Wales; Tom Cowler and Ted-Kid Lewis, of England, and Les Darcy and Mick King, of Australia, have achieved the most notoriety.

There are no French-born fighters of any note now in America, although Ledoux, Piet and de Ponthieu visited this country before the war.

Jim Coffey and Bill Brennan are among the present-day representatives of Ireland, the land that gave the ring some of its greatest fighting men. Johnny Coulon was born in Canada, Charley White and Matt Wells in England, and Sam Langford in Nova Scotia.

There have been Mexicans, Maoris, West Indians, Chinamen and at least one Jap in the ring in other years. Baseball has never in its history had the diversified following of the ring. And maybe it is all for the best, at that.

The works of Damon Runyon and other American journalists are now freely available at The Archive of American Journalism. Visit our bookstore for single-volume collections–-ideal for research, reference use or casual reading.