White Sox-Giants World Tour: Dec. 25, 1913

The St. Albans

Homesick tourists are able to put together a traditional Christmas with tropical geography

Unlike the voyage from North America to Japan, the tourists encountered no issues with nature as they sailed on the St. Albans from Manila to Brisbane, Australia. There was a man-made outdoor pool, which was more like a tank, and the players found ways to compete at sea with shuffleboard leagues and "deck cricket."

In "The Tour to End All Tours," James E. Elfers pains a rather idyll picture of this segment of the tour as they crossed the equator on Dec. 21:

Earlier in the day they had sailed past the Celebes, with active volcanoes visible on the horizon. Natural wonders abounded. Dolphins leaping and dancing off the bow of the Albans were a daily occurrence. One simply could not have ordered better weather. Clouds only occasionally obscured the brilliant blue sky, and the seas were never less than flat calm.

Still, various forms of travel fatigue crept in among the White Sox and Giants. In The Sporting News, Joe Farrell writes about the ship's menu, "This tour will long be remembered because of the serenity of the seas and the underbreath of the food." Elfers singles out a dish named "Bubble and Squeak," which players speculated about but nobody tried.

Landing in Australia required another round of vaccinations, the third of the trip. Farrell's report says Tris Speaker, Buck Weaver, Sam Crawford, John McGraw, Charles Comiskey, Hooks Wiltse, and Bill Klem's wife, Marie, all suffered awful reactions from the shot, and yet another shot was possible.

The men didn't care for the ship's barber, who was of Chinese descent (Farrell's account phrases it in two worse ways). The safety razor had just started coming into vogue, and the barber struggled with it -- especially with the upper lip area. Many of the players grew mustaches, rather than risk their skin.

All of these various nuisances added up to serious homesickness on Christmas Eve, but the wives of the men in charge thought ahead. Josephine Callahan (wife of Jimmy Callahan) bought a Christmas tree in Manila, as the Callahan children worried that Santa wouldn't be able to find them. Josephine Callahan, along with Nancy Comiskey and Blanche McGraw, ordered an "all hands on deck" to decorate the tree and wrap presents.

When the Callahan kids checked the tree on Christmas morning, they discovered hundreds of gifts, as every member of the party bought something for them. In Baseball Magazine, Frank McGlynn says the players also delivered gifts for emigrant Russian children traveling to Australia in the ship's steerage.

Sam Crawford made his own Christmas discovery. Scanning the sights with his binoculars, he saw a distress signal raised by a three-masted schooner. Captain Bakie steered the St. Albans to the ship -- an ancient German trading boat with a Malaysian crew -- and discovered that the schooner had lost its bearing. Farrell says it's because the commander fell ill and the crew was lost without him; McGlynn says the ship had drifted of its location and couldn't see the sun well enough to navigate.

Elfers says Farrell's account is more believable, given the descriptions of outstanding weather and clear skies. Either way, Capt. Bakie provided coordinates and the whereabouts of Thursday Island, and they parted ways with a "Merry Christmas!"

McGlynn found Christmas dinner to be remarkable, if only because everybody they had reached the Tropic of Capricorn and were dressed for the occasion. After the meal, the tourists created their own entertainment program. McGlynn writes:

In the evening the usual singing program indulged in by the boys [note: the Sextette] was varied to the extent that it was begun by singing religious Christmas songs in a most impressive way, after which a general program of music was carried out in the cabin, Mrs. Callahan and Mrs. Wiltse officiating at the piano, and Mrs. Louis Comiskey rendering several beautiful selections on her violin. Several of us discovered that one of the ventilators from the hurricane deck was directly over the piano, and smoking the choicest brand of Manila cigars from a Christmas box presented to each by Mr. Comiskey, we enjoyed a moonlight trip over the glassy waters as we listened to the beautiful arias that came to us from the mouth of the ventilator.

And to all a good night.

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