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White Sox-Giants World Tour: Feb. 11, 1914

The first of three dates in Rome is rained out, allowing the tourists to direct all their attention to the Vatican

The entire traveling party after their reception with Pope Pius X, as shown in Ted Sullivan's "History of World's Tour."
The entire traveling party after their reception with Pope Pius X, as shown in Ted Sullivan's "History of World's Tour."
Feb. 11 in Rome: Rainout

Over their two days in Naples, the White Sox and Giants pretty much divided and conquered the area.

The bachelors -- Tris Speaker, Steve Evans, Germany Schaefer and Fred Merkle -- went to the island of Capri for days and nights out on the town, and "returned with evidence of the power of garlic," according to Joe Farrell's account in The Sporting News. Though the increasingly xenophobic Ted Sullivan told the players to "remember that we are now in a 'Christian country' and that we should begin to behave," some players wanted to keep finding the debauchery that entertained them in Cairo.

But it wasn't all crazy. Many went to church, followed by a day at the races (in "The Tour to End All Tours," James E. Elfers writes that Bill Klem lost his shirt). Jimmy Callahan and his family drove 150 miles to Salerno, Amalfi and Sorrento. Merkle, Frank McGlynn and Mickey Doolan saw "Madame Butterfly" at the Teatro di San Carlo. They hit the museums and aquarium, and the women spent a day shopping.

While the itineraries varied, they did all get together for a dinner on Feb. 8 hosted by the hotel's namesake, Cavaliere F. Bertolini. He had a gift for each of the team's presidents -- John McGraw received a replica sculpture of "The Gladiator," and Charles Comiskey one of "The Discus Thrower."

From what I can gather, the tourists had their most vacation-like stay of the trip in Naples. They then headed to Rome on Feb. 9, and Comiskey's vacation came to abrupt halt on the train ride there. From the Chicago Tribune:

Shortly after the train passed Caserta he was seized with a chill and grew worse so rapidly that his wife, son, and daughter-in-law were greatly alarmed.

Dr. John Edward Jones, the American consul general at Genoa, was returning on the same train from an inspection of the consulate at Naples. He hurried to Mr. Comiskey's compartment and found that the latter was suffering from an acute attach of indigestion with marked cardiac symptoms.

Elfers says that Comiskey might have developed his sudden, intense stomachache for good reason. Around the same time of the journey, the train conductor nearly guided the train into the Volturno River, having missed the warning signs and the frantic flagging of railroad workers trying to tell him the track spanning the river was out of commission.

Fortunately, the railroad dervishes captured the engineer's attention. He stopped the train, put it into reverse, and pulled onto a parallel track before heading north again. The tourists shuddered as their train passed the detour point. Beneath the twenty-foot gaping maw of nothingness was a sixty-foot drop, a raging river, and hard, unforgiving rocks. It was not difficult to the tourists to imagine themselves the victim of a grisly train accident with no survivors.

(This wasn't the first time they narrowly avoided a catastrophe on a train.)

When the tourists arrived in Rome, Comiskey underwent an examination, leaving McGraw, Sullivan and Callahan to explain to Roman authorities that baseball was not a "brutal" sport. The game had not been introduced in Rome. In fact, the closest it came was when Albert Spalding's baseball carnival rolled through the city. They never played a game, possibly because Spalding laughably requested to use the Colosseum.

Anyway, the officials wouldn't take it at face value. They required a demonstration, and after hours of negotiating, the parties agreed on a game to be played the morning of Feb. 11, but with a net separating the players from the fans. That sounds familiar nowadays.

In Naples, the tourists did tourist things the first two days. In Rome, the celebrities did celebrity things the first two days.

While Comiskey was laid up, the rest of the party accepted an invitation from Italian king Victor Emmanuel to his royal palace, the Palazzo Quirinial, where they soaked in all the royal appointments.

The next day, their host had an even more impressive title: His Holiness. Comiskey wouldn't miss out on this one.

Cold and dreary weather canceled the first of three planned games, which allowed the travelers to direct all their attention to meeting Pope Pius X. Limousines shuttled the tourists to the Vatican to meet the pontiff at 11 a.m. The members of the party wore their finest evening attire, although that posed a problem since tuxedos were not technically appropriate. However, Gus Axelson in the Chicago Record-Herald noted that the men had shipped off their better suits ahead to London, so white ties had to do.

Two American clergy members gave the tourists the rundown on what was appropriate (besides the tuxes), and with that information and a ticket, they were escorted through the Vatican to the Hall of the Conclave to await the pope.

Most of the travelers were Catholic, so the opportunity was immense. But even those who weren't waited just as raptly. From Axelson:

There was no announcement. There were no heralds announcing, "the King." No, not a sound. A pin dropped on the mammoth cardinal rug would have made a sound. Before reaching the threshold could be heard the shuffled walk of Pope Pius X, whose seventy-nine years undoubtedly hung heavy on his shoulders. This man, whom millions of devoted followers call "father," hesitated just for an instant as his kindly eyes roamed over the congregation in front. There were old and young, from white hair to curly locks. There were creeds represented not his own, but there were no exceptions made, and the apostolic benediction fell on all.

The pontiff had advanced toward the center of the room. Having given the benediction, he stopped for an instant, but there was no awkward pause. Monsignor O'Hearn immediately approached the holy father, and in Italian gave the pontiff the name of the party, the import of the visit to Rome, told how they had traveled two-thirds around the world.

There was no question about Pius X being interested. He listened intently to what Monsignor Hearn had to say, replied that he hoped for a safe journey home and that they would be victorious in their undertaking. He also announced that he would bless them individually and also their relatives and friends and any religious articles they had with them.

That he took more than an ordinary interest in the visitors could be seen from the animated manner in which he replied to Monsignor O'Hearn, but his effort was really more than a compliment to the Americans. It was apparent that he was a weary man, that the exacting and multitudinous duties are gradually sapping his strength where in years gone by he msut have compared favorably to the athletes before him. [...]

There was not one in the room who would not have liked to wish him a long and happy life, but etiquette forbade any outward manifestation, and slowly the successor to Saint Peter turned toward the exit.

As the pontiff reached the door leading into his private apartment he noticed the youngest members of the party for the first time, Margaret and Danny Callahan. Stopping directly in front of them he patted them on the heads, gave them his blessing and with a farewell nod, disappeared.

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