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White Sox-Giants World Tour: Nov. 19, 1913

Two Washington dates are canceled, but it's just as well for the Japan-bound ballplayers

The RMS Empress of Japan.
The RMS Empress of Japan.
Nov. 19 in Tacoma, Wash.: Rainout
Nov. 19 in Seattle: Rainout

At Safeco Field, they only have to use the roof about nine times a year. Had retractable roofs existed in 1913, the White Sox and Giants would have needed to close it in three of four games.

The rain that had swamped the ballparks in Oregon awaited them into Washington, and after 31 games over 31 days across more than 5,000 miles, the ballplayers really didn't feel like playing two more in a steady rain and wind. They decided to call off the Washington doubleheader, and that didn't sit well with the Olympia Daily Recorder. From Nov. 21, 1913:

It was somewhat damp, but not beyond playing possibilities, and the expectations of the fans ran high, not a few coming from considerable distances to get a glimpse of their heroes of the diamond in action. But the aforesaid heroes merely gave both cities the merry "ha ha" with more or less boorishness thrown in, and went their way, followed by the hearty "cussings" of fans and press.

The articles goes on to accuse the players of being hungover from the banquet in Portland the night before. The Daily Recorder has a point -- while trying to play the Tacoma game likely would have proven a folly, the rain had cleared out by noon. Fans in Seattle didn't believe the conditions were unplayable as word of the cancellation spread, and hundreds showed up to Dugsdale Park on the chance they were mistaken.

But the Daily Recorder also couldn't relate to trying to play a morning game, then hustling to an afternoon game, then jumping on a boat to connect to a boat that would take them across an ocean. It was a thought that many players hadn't been quite able to put into perspective until they saw storm warnings and whitecaps on the sound in Seattle.

But you have to think they would have played if the conditions were closer to pristine. I mean, look what was on the line:

Epicures and others capable of appreciating the beauties of the art of cookery and baking, no less than baseball fans of all ages, persuasions and sexes, intermittently crowded the sidewalk in front of Cheasty's this morning to pause in admiration of a huge fruit cake baked in the Seattle bake house of the commissary department of the Northern Pacific Railway Company, an, by direction of the Superintendent H.J. Titus, designed as a trophy for the winner of the Giants-White Sox game in this city.

The cake weighs 125 pounds and is stuffed full of "goodies" besides being encased in a thick coating of a sweet preparation which is apparently pure maple sugar prepared in some new and delicious style.

That's from the Seattle Daily Times on Nov. 19, and that's an 84-word sentence for a lede.

Having abandoned the games, the players boarded the S.S. Prince Rupert, which carried them to Victoria, British Columbia. There, they would transfer all their belongings to their transpacific carrier, the R.M.S. Empress of Japan.

The transfer took quite a bit of time, because they weren't just moving all the luggage required for 67 people on a worldwide journey. They also had to make room for the trophy they never played for. From G.W. Axelson's account:

Coming on board the boat, the party found a 125-pound fruit cake presented by the Northern Pacific Railroad. It was decorated on top with pictures of Comiskey Park and Polo Grounds. It will be cut Thanksgiving Day.

First Old Man Killgore gets a lift home, and now the cake is coming along for the journey. They truly left America with all loose ends tied.

They -- at least Charles Comiskey and John McGraw -- also left the states with quite a bit of cash. A report in the Springfield Daily News on Nov. 21 said the tour netted nearly $100,000, and very little of it went to the players, who received their $300 deposit and a check for $250.

At least they had deluxe accommodations on the Empress of Japan. The newlyweds who enjoyed the room on the Honeymoon Special received separate suites, and Axelson said there were few other travelers on board, so the group of 67 basically had the run of the ship.

At 11:30 p.m., the Empress of Japan set sail from Victoria for Yokohama. I wonder how many players wondered if they were ever coming back.

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