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White Sox-Giants World Tour: Feb. 2, 1914

The tourists bring baseball to the pyramids, then take it to each other on the field

The White Sox in Cairo, from Ted Sullivan's "History of World's Tour." You can pick out Buck Weaver in any picture.
The White Sox in Cairo, from Ted Sullivan's "History of World's Tour." You can pick out Buck Weaver in any picture.
Feb. 2 in Cairo, Egypt: Giants 6, White Sox 3

We've seen plenty of Frank McGlynn's writing throughout this series, but sadly, the footage shot by the filmmaker has been lost to the ages. Its absence is no greater shame than on days like today, when the White Sox and Giants had a day made for moving pictures.

It started with a stop by the Alabaster Mosque, which is picturesque in its own right. But as they left the citadel, McGlynn had the White Sox and Giants change into their uniforms before heading back to the Giza Plain. The day before, the tourists wore regular apparel and studied the site like any other curious visitor. Today, they were going to baseball it up, starting by riding camels and donkeys in full team regalia.

Besides taking footage of the caravan, McGlynn said he also took footage of a pretend game between the two teams, as well as Ivy Wingo and Steve Evans playing catch over the Sphinx. The long way, not over the sides.

Nature also demanded its share of airtime. Before McGlynn could start filming, a sandstorm forced everybody to take cover for 15 minutes.

While the novelty of the staged action would be a sight to behold, the game itself sounded just as gripping, thanks to Jim Thorpe and Buck Weaver. Thorpe dominated the Egyptian leg of the tour, following up his three run-scoring hits the day before with a 4-for-4 performance. He stood out as the best player on the blazing, hardpan field.

But Weaver made his own impression on the Cairo series for a couple reasons.

The first: his mouth. Over the course of this series, we've become accustomed to Weaver as a notable jockey. He ramped up the competition between the teams in the very first inning of the very first game by betting Christy Mathewson $100 that his first pitch wouldn't get past his bat (indeed, Weaver tripled on his first swing).

After that, he had several run-ins with umpire Bill Klem, the language becoming so fierce that newspaper writers scoffed and Klem threatened to kick him off the tour. He also held no special esteem for John McGraw, especially since he thought Klem gave the Giants manager preferential treatment.

All of the vitriol came to a head under the sun at Heliopolis Sporting Club. Weaver gave a sample of it to Hal Totten in the collection "My Greatest Day in Baseball." Don't take it as a pristine historical account -- Fred Snodgrass stayed in California -- but the underlying sentiment holds up.

Back in the winter of 1913 and '14, Charles Comiskey and John McGraw took a couple ball teams around the world. I was on one of them and we were playin' for keeps -- ridin' each other and there were plenty of hard feelin's.

Well, we hit Cairo, Egypt, and things got so bad we almost had a free-for-all right there. We got to ridin' Fred Merkle and Fred Snodgrass and callin' 'em boneheads and the whole National League team got up in arms about it. Finally McGraw got in his two-bits' worth-- and that's the start of my story.

He started tellin' us off -- and when McGraw told somebody off, they usually stayed told. But not us.

"Go-wan," I yelped at McGraw. "You got a powder-puff ball club. You're yellow. You ain't got the guts of a canary bird. I only hope we get you guys in a World Series. Then we'll show you what a real fightin' call club is -- you and your yellowbellies."

With time running out on the tour and the White Sox holding a 22-19 edge over the first 43 games (two ties), the games started to mean more to McGraw, and Weaver and the White Sox responded in kind.

McGraw's Giants picked up their 20th victory of the tour today, but he didn't get the satisfaction of truly shutting up Weaver thanks to one brilliant play. James E. Elfers describes it in "A Tour to End All Tours":

With no outs, the Giants had runners on first and second. Both Mickey Doolan, occupying second, and Fred Merkle, on first, possessed speed. "Laughing" Larry Doyle, the Giants team captain, strode to the plate and worked the count to three balls and two strikes. Doyle then blasted a screaming liner on the next pitch; both runners took off at the crack of the bat. The White Sox's Buck Weaver leaped into the brilliant blue Egyptian sky and snagged Doyle's liner on the fly, tagging out Doolan as he touched the ground; then, sleek like a desert cat, Weaver turned and threw the ball to Tommy Daly at first. Daly tagged the base before Merkle could get back to it. A triple play! Had Weaver had the presence of mind, he could have, in the opinion of several witnesses, turned the triple killing unassisted.

A crowd of 5,000 fans -- more than double the previous day's attendance -- had no idea what it saw, according to Joe Farrell's account in the Chicago Tribune.

Flies caught in practice and a really marvelous running one handed catch by [Lee] Magee were appreciated. A triple play, the first possibly ever made outside of America, became a part of baseball history with scarcely an exclamation of "admiration" or a "hand," although the assemblage was highly interested and remained seated throughout the entire game

McGraw remembered it, though, and it would be one of many sore spots the teams would carry into their World Series matchup three years later.

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