Palm Springs Softball (Continued for the 3rd time)…
Whoever heard of 3 continued’s for one little story? But at least there were more “reply’s” received so I was all thrilled about that.
You should all go back to the August blogs about the softball in the Springs to bring yourself up to speed. You know what! I went back to read a bit and discovered I was making flagrant error in talking about the tennis club. Not the one I meant at all – the famous one was Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club up on the north end. He and his partner Ralph Bellamy have been rumbling about in their mausoleums yelling and screaming: “How could Melitas, of all people, make such a grave mistake?”
Before we were scheduled to return to PS for the final game to decide who was the champion, most all of us went out shopping to find some new duds. We had become so famous by now, we just couldn’t be caught in the same old rags. I know I took a trip to Robinson’s in downtown LA (with Aunt Mae) in navigator’s seat and holding the money bag) and we found a nice, slick new outfit. None of us had extensive wardrobes at this time in our lives.
We arrived at our “official” headquarters at the Desert Inn, took some down time to not squander our good health and strength, then enjoyed a very QUIET dinner. this quiet stuff was mandatory – no night clubs and out till all hours. No siree, this was a quiet night with all getting rested for Saturday at 2 pm. Besides, it came as a blessing, we could all use a lot of beauty sleep – it wouldn’t hurt at all.
The big day arrived and we kind of “slow-motioned” around all morning, had a substantial breakfast to give us the strength for the afternoon’s battle of the sexes on the dirt field.
We went out to the ball park a little earlier than usual. Since this was the most important game we wanted to get those muscles which had been quiet for so many hours, to wake up and face the challenge. We spent time warming up, taking field practice and batting practice, a little jogging – only once around the outfield. We would be on over kill if we didn’t slow down all this activity.
We hadn’t been paying attention to the guys doing their warm-ups. So it wasn’t until I stood in at home plate, to lead off our batting order, bat on shoulder, and taking a look at the pitcher. Hey, wait a darn minute – who was this guy? this was not the one we had been up against in the 2 previous games – we were just getting used to him, and here was this guy out there on the mound a head taller and his jersey announced “Buick” across the front.
Where had he suddenly appeared from? What sand dune had he crawled out of? All this going through my head as I waited for his first pitch to get this game going. The umpire called “Play Ball” so it all began, “Buick” must’ve thrown his first pitch – I didn’t see it, but I did hear it when it hit the catcher’s mitt with a very loud pop. “Strike one,” the umpire called, so now I knew it was for real. That at bat for me was a nightmare. After a few more pitches, there it was – I had struck out – without even getting the bat near the ball. The “Buick” guy meant business and was not about to throw 4 balls to me to give me a walk. the next 2 batters didn’t fare much better, however, one of them managed to hit a couple of foul balls. So the 1st half of that first inning went “3 up, 3 down.”
When the fellas had their turn at bat, they didn’t do any better than we had since our pitcher, Terry was really “on” and burning those pitches right by them.
This went on for a few innings, and in the meantime, the men had managed to eke out one run against us. This was serious – many a softball game was won with a score of 1 to nothing. It was just about time for my young brain to have a storm and I went into the dugout and gathered the team around, and this is what I told them: “Hey, gals, we’ve been trying too hard to get to that “Buick’s” pitch. When we do make contact, we barely get anywhere because we’re not hitting it squarely, so let’s try to just meet the ball – no big swing – then if we meet it it will definitely go somewhere with the velocity he has on it. So, let’s go, gang, just meet the ball!”
Well, whaddaya know! We suddenly got a few runners on base – just meeting that pitcher’s bullet – the ball went off the bat just far enough to get over the infield, and it would drop in for a hit. There’s not much more to say – we ended up winning the game, and now those Palm Springs men were really p.o.’d It served them right. They had paid Mr. Buick one hundred dollars to sneak over from Riverside to pitch against us. Now, then, Riverside was a member of the So. California Men’s Softball League – big time stuff. Teams, to name a few, were from Santa Ana, Fullerton, Long Beach and Anaheim. So we sent them off with their tails between their legs.
Palm Springs was alive that Saturday night! You can bet we celebrated to the wee small hours, and the lookers-on were treated to seeing us in some new ensembles.
Sunday was unbelievable for us. Roger Stables, of course, for the big brunch, and later, we stopped at the El Mirador to check the action there. We were out and about poolside and when Fred (our sponsor) spotted someone lounging there, he called us over to be introduced to Al Jolson. He was smitten with us, chatting, joking – it was such a thrill. His wife, Ruby Keller, joined us and more fun. Al said he wanted to adopt Terr and take her home with him and Ruby.
So, we had that 15 minutes of fame in Palm Springs, and we all gloried in it. I met some wonderful people who remained my friends for many years. If I can gather up the strength, I will hopefully write a few stories about them – Vic Claridge, his wife Charlotte, owners of Claridge’s Grill, Irwin and Virginia Shuman of the Chi Chi Club and the Riviera Resort Hotel.
Hope you have enjoyed this travelogue to Palm Springs in the early forties. It was a highlight in my softball career.