clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

White Sox-Giants World Tour: Happy Thanksgiving

The globetrotting ballplayers who can stomach eating on rough seas celebrate the holiday

R.M.S. Empress of Japan
R.M.S. Empress of Japan

Remember Ted Sullivan saying the first six or seven days of the transpacific voyage proved tough on our tourists? That looks like a bit of an understatement, as multiple accounts suggest that the storms didn't abate until November turned to December, which would be anywhere from 11 to 13 days.

The first half to the journey took its toll on some of the travelers. Charles Comiskey had it twice as bad, since he carried a stomach ailment onto the ship, and day after day of storms made him miserable.

As for the rest of the traveling party, the players were at least able to entertain themselves below deck, bonding over food (when they could eat), card games and songs. From James E. Elfers' "The Tour To End All Tours":

A shipboard singing group, seven men who humorously dubbed themselves the "Sextette," was assembled in short order. The product of a bygone era, when every home had a parlor with a piano and singing was a primary means of family entertainment, the choral group contained a most eclectic group of tourists. Buck Weaver, James Scott, Joe Benz, Andy Slight, Steve Evans, Fred Merkle, and Germany Schaefer made up the "Sextette." The group sang a variety of songs, from ragtime to somber ballads. Irving Berlin's current hit songs were also popular choices. Their repertoire also included "Garten House," an original composition by Germany Schaefer.

Musical ability set the standard for joining the "Sextette," not team, league, or experience. The seven were Giants and White Sox, grizzled veterans and green bush leaguers. Andy Slight, who without a doubt had the best singing voice, was not even a major leaguer. Slight had spent the 1913 season in Des Moines, Iowa, playing for the local Sox affiliate. Although destined to never make a Major league Roster, as a tourist Slight was a star.

Thanksgiving sprung up on them a day early, as they crossed the international date line at such a time that Tuesday, Nov. 25 became Thursday, Dec. 27.

Given that it's Thanksgiving, I know what you're thinking:

Did they eat the 125-pound fruitcake?

(If that's not what you're thinking and you have no idea what that means, a refresher: When the White Sox and Giants arrived in Seattle, the Northern Pacific Railway Company commissioned the creation of a cake that would go to the winner of the final game of the tour. When that game was rained out, they took the cake with them for the trip.)

Now that I've built up some suspense ... no, they didn't. According to Elfers, the tourists were so travel-ragged that they couldn't stomach the idea of shoveling down (and holding down) something that dense. Instead, they decided to save it for the end of the tour, cutting one half in New York and sending the other to Chicago. In essence, the travelers may have started the tradition of holiday fruitcake re-gifting, launching a million jokes in their wake.

The seas started to get worse. Later in the day, The Sporting News says that a wave slammed into the side of the ship, causing injury to a few members of the traveling party. Hooks Wiltse was the lone player injured, as a trunk fell on his hand, opening a "good-sized" cut.

The day after Thanksgiving -- 100 years ago to this date -- offered no such tumult, but it would turn out to be the proverbial calm before an even bigger storm.

Previous stops:


Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah. Thanks for everything you bring to the table, even when it resembles the Spilly Potluck. May your gravy contain zero Mad Dog 20/20 today, or any day for that matter.