Episode 7 — Chapter 6

| Jun 8, 2020 | Baseball Immortal | 1 comment

Episode 7 — Chapter 6

by Roland Colton | Baseball Immortal

Chapter   6

Entering from stage left, a mustached, tall man appeared, dressed in a tailored suit and derby hat. His swagger spoke of the West, not Wall Street. The crowd exploded with applause as they instantly recognized the celebrity ball player in the role of Billy Bolton.

BOLTON:
How do you do, young gentlemen?

ALL:
Good day, sir. How do you do?

BOLTON:
Is President Witherspoon’s office in this building?

PEARSON:
Yes, sir.

BOLTON:
And this is the main building?

PEARSON:
Yes, it was built in 1850.

BOLTON:
Looks smaller than it used to—been a good many changes in thirty years.

LARRABEE:
Indeed. You were here thirty years ago?

BOLTON:
I guess yes. We used to play baseball right where the observatory stands now. Had to pitch underhand. Score usually about forty to twenty-five. Catcher used to take the ball on the first bounce.

The Cobb smile was in evidence throughout almost the entire play. The audience was Cobb’s personal possession for the first inning. At the conclusion, he stole home.

Curtain call followed curtain call after the first act and a succession of five or six at the end of the second spasm elicited a notable speech from the blushing celebrity.

It was earlier that day, on November 23, 1911, that the steam locomotive chugged into Atlanta’s Terminal Station. Cobb and other members of the theatrical group waited for the train to come to a stop. A large contingent of prominent businessmen from the Ad Men’s Club greeted the group as they emerged from the hissing train to the accompaniment of a four-part band. Automobiles driven by members of the Club then transported the party to the Piedmont Hotel.

Cobb had finally succumbed to play the lead role of the swashbuckling halfback, Billy Bolton, in George Ade’s play, “The College Widow”, an offer that had first been proposed by Jimmy Callahan on the train ride from New York to Detroit in June. He had repeatedly rejected offers to join the cast, until finally offered $10,000; true to his word, he accepted the tender after the theater owners realized that Cobb would not take a penny less. As the circuit toured the southern cities, Cobb’s distaste for the rigors of acting grew.  Nevertheless, he did his best to give the audience and critics their money’s worth, receiving far better reviews than most athlete-actors.

 

***

 

After the play’s performance at the Atlanta Theater, Cobb and the theatrical group were welcomed by another large reception at the Piedmont Hotel. With every bigwig demanding time at the rostrum, the event continued until two o’clock in the morning.  Although most cast members had rooms at the Piedmont, Cobb had made a special request for a room in the newly constructed Georgian Terrace Hotel, located a short distance from the Club. The Parisian-styled hotel had been open only for a month and Cobb looked forward to experiencing Atlanta’s finest accommodations.

By the time the festivities ended, Cobb was exhausted.  He had indulged himself with too much drink and he was grateful to have a comfortable bed waiting nearby. Entering the hotel, he became transfixed by the massive crystal chandelier in the reception area, which he had barely noticed upon checking in prior to the play’s performance. Passing by the clerk’s station, he asked for his key, by room number. He recalled the number easily, since the hotel clerk had selected a room that held a special meaning for him.

As he passed by the elevator, Cobb was mildly disappointed that the contraption had not yet been placed in service, though the devices were becoming increasingly commonplace in newer hotels. Instead, he began his trek up the long flowing marble staircase.

When he reached his floor, Cobb walked down the corridor to the end of the hallway.  Taking out the key and looking at the number on the door, Cobb had to admit to himself, That was a damn fine year, all right! 

Too exhausted to undress, Cobb slumped onto the bed and was immediately consumed by a deep sleep.

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