White Sox-Giants World Tour: Feb. 12, 1914

The Colosseum in 1909 - Library of Congress

Persistent wet weather spoils any chance for baseball, so the athletes have to settle for wrestling

Feb. 12 in Rome: Rainout

The rain that canceled the game the day before persisted into today, spoiling any chances of a game between the White Sox and Giants taking place once again.

The wet weather did break long enough for the players to compete in another way. Frank McGlynn, looking for striking footage to shoot for his movie, persuaded Fred Merkle to wrestle Jim Thorpe.

At the Colosseum.

Although neither Merkle nor Thorpe were wrestlers, they did take the challenge seriously. At least Merkle took it seriously, and Thorpe had to withstand yet another challenge from somebody who sought to pin the world's greatest athletes. The ballplayers never could. Sure enough, Thorpe prevailed, and the setting of the match didn't escape him. From Joe Farrell in The Sporting News:

At the Coliseum, Gladiator Thorpe and Merkle indulged in a desperate wrestling match. The Olympic games champion finally placed his foot on the conquered first sacker and looked towards the emperor's box (occupied by Steve Evans) for the fateful thumbs up or thumbs down. The "Emp" was in good humor and Fred will be seen at the Cubs' park this season with the Giants.

They continued to see the sights in the absence of baseball, wandering around the Colosseum and making a stop at the Forum, where it was Germany Schaefer's turn to inject baseball into ancient history.

Upon the site of the wonderful Forum right where Marc Antony stood and delivered his famous oration, "Prince" Herman Schaefer arose almost 2,000 years later and spoke words of caution, telling his hearers "be wary before deserting Caesar and parleying with the Federal League."

(Schaefer didn't heed his own advice, signing with the Newark Peppers of the outlaw league for the 1914 season.)

While the tourists traveled about Old Rome, the Old Roman didn't join them. Charles Comiskey was still miserable (or more miserable than usual) due to his stomach woes, and he packed up and took a train ahead to Paris. In "The Tour to End All Tours," James E. Elfers notes that this wasn't exactly out of character -- even though Comiskey had close family members and friends with him on the tour, he still required an entire railroad car for himself. He tried to travel alone even when traveling with others.

Given this, I have a feeling John McGraw was whitewashing history a bit when he wrote for the New York Times, "The illness of 'Commy' has had a noticeable effect on all the tourists, as he is extremely popular."

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