Thursday, May 27, 2010

Surprising Things in the Middle of Nowhere

Last Saturday, me and the boys took a long drive west to Homer. There was a Graham Parker concert that I was covering for Over an hour into a boring drive, something happened.

"Truxton! Truxton!" I yelled, genuinely excited by the small white on green sign announcing our entrance into yet another tiny town along State Route 13.

Joey thought, "Why is he shouting? Is there a movie reference here or something?"

Still talking to myself, but aware of Robbie and Joey, I said, "This is the birthplace of John McGraw, the legendary Giants manager. I think there's a monument in the middle of town." And there was.

I pulled over to a small spot right next to an imposing granite obelisk. The front showed McGraw's face in relief, with a bit of historical info below. (You can read it yourself if you zoom in). "A great American?" By what standards?

The back cited an exhibition game between the Jints and a local Truxton nine, held on August 8, 1938, as the funding source for this erection. Baseball as the pre-Viagra cure for ED? I'd never dreamed that nine innings could have such a solid result.

I checked back to Charles C. Alexander's definitive bio of McGraw and here's a brief summary of that day. The New Yorkers took a train to Cortland, then school-bused it over to Truxton. The semi-pro locals, also dubbed Giants, took on the big leaguers at John McGraw Field, situated on a plot of land that Muggsy himself had paid for and donated. The game was well-attended, 7,650 fans making their way from all points to place their fannies on bleachers hauled in from Cornell and Syracuse Universities.
The monument made its way skyward in October 1942, placed on the past site of Mary Goddard's hotel, where a much younger McGraw sought refuge from his violent father and skipped town for good, fame and fortune never having a prayer when confronted with his fiery and determined personality.

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