Friday, May 4, 2007

Sunday May 4

Attended <2> games at Polo
grounds, and after that attended Maccabean
meeting at Pennsylvania

I am glad to notice
that my beloved camp
is progressing even if
slowly, at every meeting
it is my pleasant duty
to initiate new members.

Our meeting was visited
by guests of various O.B.Z.
camps in the city.


Matt's Notes

I enjoy the ironic, playful tone of the New York Times' baseball writing from Papa's day, but I think the anonymous New York Giants beat writer is my favorite. Here's how he (presumably not she) opens his account of the double header Papa saw:

If 42,000 persons had not been present it would be kinder to say nothing about what happened at the Polo Grounds yesterday. But by this time it is no secret that the Giants brutally assaulted the hapless and helpless Phillies, winning both ends of the Sunday double-header, 13 to 3 and 12 to 3. Not all of the 42,000 saw the massacre through, for some were faint-hearted and others wanted to get home while there was still daylight enough to find their way there.

He goes on to wonder why anyone would see the Phillies in the first place, "even though they were twice offered for sacrifice at the nominal price of $1.10." This serves as a great example of the resourcefulness required of baseball writers to say essentially the same thing 154 times a year (the length of the season in 1924) and also answers my question of what Papa paid for tickets. The Polo Grounds would have had over 10,000 empty seats that day, but I think this photo of the more crowded stands on opening day of 1923 still gives us a good idea of what the field looked like from Papa's point of view:

polo grounds

I also continue to be amazed at how quickly baseball games were played back then. The double header described above wrapped up in four hours (yesterday's Yankees double header took 6) allowing Papa plenty of time to hop on the IRT at 155th Street, head down to Penn Station, and make his "Maccabean" meeting at the Hotel Pennsylvania.

"Maccabean," as noted before, refers to Papa's chapter of the Zionist mutual aid society B'nai Zion. It looks like the meeting he attended was larger than usual and included members of other B'nai Zion camps (it must have taken place in one of the Pennsylvania's private dining rooms) because it was an induction ceremony for new members. Papa would have run the meeting and conducted the initiation rituals in his capacity as Master of Ceremonies.

On minor quirk in this entry is Papa's use of the initials "O.B.Z" to refer to B'nai Zion. This must be an inadvertent conflation of the group's Hebrew (B'nai Zion) and English (Order Sons of Zion) names, unless I'm reading his handwriting wrong:


Additional Notes:

The Jewish Daily Forward, descendant of the venerable Yiddish daily that Papa most certainly read in his youth, published a story about Papa's Diary Project in this week's English language issue. It's called "Dear Diary: Back in Time" and you can read it here.




Image source:

Opening Day, Polo Ground, 4.26/1923. Library of Congress #LC-B2- 5982-1

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