Author: Andrew V

Goose Island


Tonawanda, New York
June 7th, 1889

The warbling call of the Tonawanda Express bade farewell over the fanfare of a bustling Seymour Street, overburdened with the canal pilots and lumbermen who shuffled about the river town like so many insects consigned to an insatiable American industry.  It was a particularly sweltering day, wrought with all the humidity the Niagara could muster from her balmy depths, and yet Mr. Thomas James Lawson stood upon the boardwalks between Seymour and Niagara Street in his three-piece tweed, sweating profusely, fanning his crimson cheeks with a large bowler.  He frowned, puffing his large and bristling moustache as he checked a silver-chained pocketwatch with some annoyance. 

“You need to calm down some, Grover-boy,” Kirby Spencer chided with a facetious and patronizing tone, garbed in a dirty shirt and suspenders like a suspect saloon keeper.   He leaned on the railing of the Lumberman, indistinguishable among a dozen Seymour Street saloons, save its corner proximity to the Eerie Canal and a large, amateur sign nailed above the door.    

Mr. Lawson’s frown grew deeper as he scowled at his poorly dressed compatriot, lifting his chin.  The two days aboard the New York Central-Buffalo Express had been, by all reasonable accounts, miserable with this frontier mercenary—this drunken, card-playing criminal with his unruly hair and poorly shaven face.  William Shakespeare could not assemble two more opposite characters to share a corner of this canal town—the portly Virginia gentleman and his wiry, frontier antagonist, who had taken early in the journey to calling Mr. Lawson nothing but “Grover Cleveland,” which the Virginia man objected to in both a physical and political fashion.  The only similarity the two men bore seemed to be their age—both settled beyond undeniable middle-life, perhaps fifty-five each, with all signs of youth departed from the pair.

“Are you certain the gentleman telegrammed for this specific saloon?”  Lawson asked, ignoring Spencer’s jibe as he scanned the busy street.  A wagon conveyed a towering assembly of wooden planks before the pair, with several young and exhausted boys riding atop.  Lawson watched them pass with a wary eye. 

“He’ll be here,” Spencer replied, thumbs in his suspenders as he leaned on the wooden railings.  He sniffed loudly and spit a thin stream of tobacco juice into the street.  “he’s on the village council, so I’m told.  Says he’s got a catcher that can land a summer pea with a nurse’s thimble.” 

“I’m sure I have no idea what you mean.”

“Lots of folks can catch a baseball,” Spencer continued, ignoring his companion as he looked about the street.  “But finding one with the spring to guard a bunt, who can hit the average, that, Grover, is as rare as a cabaret in Dakota territory.” 

 “Ah yes, another reference to your intrepid life on the frontier,” Lawson answered sardonically.  “One must wonder, Mister Spencer, why one would abandon such a wondrous adventure in the west.” 

“Had my fill of the cavalry life,” Spencer answered with a shrug.  He produced a flask from his shirt that caused Lawson to scowl dubiously. 

“The Confederacy may have lost, Mister Spencer,” Lawson said, “but under General Jackson’s command, an officer would have been flayed alive for the sort of impertinent debauchery so embedded in your archetype.” 

“Well, it’s a damn good thing I wasn’t in General Jackson’s command,” Spencer answered with a humorous grunt.  “Tell me, what was the good General’s stance on gluttony?” 

“I was not always an old man,” Lawson replied, straightening his suit jacket.  “In the First Virginia, a gentleman’s honor still meant something.” 

“Sure it did, so long as you was a pasty plantation boy with six or seven good house negroes.” Spencer laughed to himself.  “Yes indeed, I know all about you gentlemen and your honor.” 

“I won’t reduce myself to a debate with a failed drunkard.” 

Before Spencer could reply, a tall and well-dressed man with an oiled moustache and splendidly fashionable mutton chops appeared, approaching from around the corner and taking off his hat as he looked from the saloon to the two men. 

“Pardon,” the man, perhaps thirty-five, said politely, removing his bowler.  “I am searching for Colonel Spencer, of Monroe Tobacco?” 

Lawson was unable to withhold a scoff, to which the man frown and turned his head with a confused expression. 

“At your service,” Spencer replied, spitting a bullet of brown juice into the steps.  The fashionable man looked between the pair, still perplexed.  “I’m sorry, you mean, you’re–”

  “Indian Jack,” Spencer replied with a short and dramatic flourish.  “that’s me, pal.  Who are you, the Bonnie Prince Charlie?’

“Lattimer,” the man answered, dipping his head.  “Horace Lattimer, gentleman.  Of Lattimer Mill.”

Stepping forward with an annoyed expression, Lawson reached out his hand to the man.  “Thomas Lawson, sir, practitioner of law and representative of Mr. Michael Monroe, of Monroe Tobacco Enterprises.” 

“So, this is Kirby Spencer,” the man said, stupefied, shaking Lawson’s hand absently as he gazed at Spencer.  “They say you rode through a dozen Lakota braves at Rosewater to save a captured Soldier.” 

“It was more like two dozen,” Spencer replied, spitting again and pushing off from the column impatiently.  “Now listen, mister, I just spent three days in a cheap train car with this nothing but this  fat confederate bastard to keep me company.  Are you gonna show me a damn ballgame, or what?”

“Of course,” the man said, lifting from his haze.  “Of course, sir.  Please, follow me.  The game is on Goose Island.” 

————-

“It isn’t really an island,” Lattimer explained as the trio crossed the wooden bridge over the Eerie canal.  A low-bearing freight boat drifted along under the bridge, with a tip of the wide-brimmed straw hat from the negro pilot that ferried the goods westward.  “It’s just the tip of the town that they cut off when the Eerie was built.”

“How fascinating,” Lawson said flatly, chewing on a cigar as he watched a pair of rouge-cheeked women in cheap dresses eye Spencer with coy expressions, fanning themselves.  Spencer, for his part, seemed oblivious to them, frowning at the narrow boats that drifted across the shallow canal. 

“it’s not the—ah—most reputable corner of our fair town,” Lattimer explained as they walked, a bit embarrassed.  “mostly Irish and Italians.  They don’t let the darkies stay in the boarding houses, but they run about like cats.”  He turned an eye to Spencer.  “Say, Colonel, if you don’t mind, I’ve always wondered—why is it exactly they called you ‘Indian Jack’ in the papers, years ago?”  

“I killed Indians,” Spencer replied flatly, scratching at his stubble.  “Kill enough Indians, they start calling you one.  I believe that’s called a paradox.” 

“Ah,” Lattimer answered, paling.  “Ah, yes, of course.  Well, gentlemen, if you’ll follow me.” 

  The three men entered a weaving and largely disorganized corner of the river town, wrought with lopsided shacks and rotting canvas.  Near the shore, where a small, rolling flood plain gave way to the rolling waters of the Niagara, an impromptu set of viewing stands were erected on either side of a poorly kept field.  The resonant crack of a bat filled the air with exhilaration—as through the impoverished commotion of Goose Island, a large and rambunctious crowd cheered a ballgame into the afternoon.  A pair of marked deputies leaned against a handful of crates near the stands, watching the game. 

“They call him Fat Man Rogers,” Lattimer said, nodding toward the game.  A defense garbed in faded white uniforms with a bright blue “D” over the breast hollered and whopped as an enormous man, perhaps two hundred and fifty pounds, emerged from the crowd with his bat—not unlike an ape—nearly dragging it as he approached the plate.  He had a wide, slackjawed face, with small eyes and  a hawkish, aquiline nose. He seemed twice the size of a normal man.  The crowd grew unruly, cheering the heavy striker on, as the outfielders all turned on a heel, shouting to each other and running near to the banks of the river. 

“We had to fashion a custom uniform for him a the mill,” Lattimer explained proudly, rubbing his black moustache.

The pitcher, visibly shaken, threw out his leg in a corkscrew motion and delivered a splendid pitch—a powerful fastball that would have seared beyond any normal man before he could even raise his bat. 

However, Spencer cursed in pure wonder as this enormous man came to life, delivering a punishing blow upon the ball that could be heard, perhaps, in Buffalo.  The crowd erupted into salvos of joy, and the baseball arced like a shooting star well into the river.  Even the deputies clapped politely from the crates, smiles across their features.

“best player in the Lake Leagues,” Lattimer said proudly, his hands behind his back.  “Most clubs refuse to play Tonowanda unless Fat Man Rogers sits it out.  And he is shockingly limber, for his size.  Watch how he grazes the bases.” 

Indeed, both Spencer and Lawson were speechless as the massive man ran the bases with surprising speed. 

“Any experience in the major leagues?” Spencer asked.  Lattimer shook his head. 

“Not even a day, sir.  The man emerged from the Minnesota wilderness like a work of fiction.  Found his way down the canal last year looking for work.  I pay him five dollars a month to hit the ball.” 

Spencer turned, with a suspicious eye, to the lanky businessman. 

“So what’s in it for you, Lattimer?”  Spencer asked.  “Every city from St. Louis to Louisville’s looking for hidden gems.  Why Monroe?  Why us?” 

“Well, normally, a customary finder’s fee would be in order for these sorts of discoveries,” Lattimer replied.  “I have, as I’m sure you surmised, some experience as a chaser in the National League.  I own one of the textile mills in Buffalo—but to be frank, I make more money selling tickets to come watch Fat Man Rogers hit balls into the Niagara.” 

“Go on,” Spencer said. 

“Gentlemen,  I believe I have lost my taste for the textile industry.  Send a telegram to your friend, Mr. Monroe.  His endeavors in Richmond are no secret among the old scouts.  Tell him that if he will have me as his Head Scout, I will show him a new frontier of baseball talent, waiting just out of sight of the old guard.” 

Folding his hands behind his back, Lattimer smiled politely at the pair. 

“That would be highly irregular,” Lawson answered hotly, puffing his moustache.  “Mr. Monroe has already hired Mr. Spencer to conduct our scouting, sir—hence our presence in this sweltering town.  The idea—”

“It’s a deal,” Spencer replied, extending a tan hand to Lattimer.  The younger man smiled warmly and took it.  “Grover, wire Richmond and inform Mr. Monroe we require a one-hundred-dollar advance for Mr. Lattimer.”

One hundred dollars?” Lawson demanded.  “That simply will not do, sir.  This is Monroe Tobacco, not some slipshod Hoboken financier’s hobby cart.” 

“Two hundred would be sufficient,” Lattimer replied,  “we’ll be gone quite some time, and I shall have to advance some subsidiary costs here.” 

“Of course,” Spencer replied. 

“That will not do at all,” Lawson continued, red in the face. 

“It’ll do fine,” Spencer answered.  “Now, Mr. Lattimer—if you find the terms agreeable—where shall I tell Mr. Monroe to wire funds for tickets?” 

“Oh, it’s right up your alley, Mr. Spencer.”  Smiling, Lattimer rubbed his mustache again, eyeing the pair.  “Gentlemen,” he said, removing an envelope from his suit jacket, “we’re going to Montana.”  

Founding Committee: Official Register

The following LBL members are considered official LBL Founding Committee members, as ratified by the League Commissioner:

Andrew V, Montana (Inaugural Commissioner)

Brendan H, Colorado (Inaugural Board)

Steve, Michigan (Inaugural Board)

Scott R., Alabama (Inaugural Board)

Drew D, Texas (Inaugural Board)

Martin P, Netherlands (Inaugural Board)

Andrew R, Texas

Patrick G, Illinois

Jeff S, Ohio

Anthony K, Texas

Bill M, Michigan

Michael E, New York

Josh D., Louisiana

Anselm Mine #3

(LBL Writing Prompt #2)

Butte, Montana
Anselm Mine #3, Anaconda Copper Company
January 23rd, 1889

The cold, blaring lurch of the steam elevator tilted the tightly-packed workers, at least one dozen, who shuffled drearily under the glow of oil-wick caps as the monstrous lift groaned and surged heavenward—up through geological eons—escaping at last from a long shift in the copper mines. 

In the very back of the lift, a wincing and wiry man—tall enough to require his neck crooned in the elevator—kept his eyes shut tight with a hand clutched to his chest. He was shaking, near-uncontrollably—though the uneven jilting of the elevator masked it well.  He whispered to himself in a methodical grimace– Ave Maria, gratia plena, dominus tecum.  He shuddered, his ears pulsing with hot blood as the air around the cramped mine cooled, giving way at last to reams of blaring light.  At last, Cormac Allan-Timothy Kennedy opened his eyes. 

“Alright, blokes!”  The hoarse call of the foreman boomed over the wide and busied Lift Room to the Anselm Mine.  He was a Welchman—a damned incorrigible bastard—and he had a large gap between his front teeth so vast that his involuntary whistle upon the termination of consonants had a mind and habit of its own.   

                “Oi!”  The foreman frowned, pointing his barrel-chest forward and pushing his way through the dissipating miners.  He prodded the tall, looming man with his large wooden stick, frowning and whistling as he spoke

                “Out’a the lift, ye towerin’ mick!”  The Welchman called angrily.  “Arse out a’fore it’s back in the earth wit’ya, now!” 

                Stirring, Cormac blinked like he’d forgotten where we was.  The tall, sandy-haired man tilted his head, frowning at the foreman. 

                “I’ll not say twice, ye albatross taig!  Ye know what an albatross taig is, eh Kennedy?” 

                “Yes,” the tall man replied softly, in a gentle, decidedly neutral American accent, “An irish bird?

                “Just so, Kennedy, ye feckin’ papist bastard ye, it’s a feckin’ baird.    Bad luck, ‘tis, and popery besides!”  The foremen spat angrily on the floor.  “Now get’off me feckin’ lift, paddy, or so ‘elp me god, not even tha’ Samson arm a’ yours’ll save ye, th’true Cornish God as me witness.” 

                Nodding, Kennedy stepped softly from the lift and beyond a frowning, squat foreman, who spat again for good measure and began beating the next shift of bleary-eyed, lantern-hatted men into the depths of the Anselmo Mine of Butte, Montana. 

                “Cat!”  a new voice, low and confident, called from the entrance to the lift house.  Kennedy winced, frowning, wondering what he’d done now. 

                “Hey, Cat!” the voice repeated, closer, and now Kennedy recognized it as Cameron Robbins, a friendly face, grinning at him beneath an oil-wick lantern hat with his bent nose and large, perpetually amused eyes.  Coming off shift as well, Robbins worked Mine #2, and seemed in particularly high spirits this evening.  He paused when he saw the waxy pallor of his friend and raised a brow.

                “You alright, pal?” 

                “Never better,” Cormac Kennedy replied, forcing a smile.  He removed his cap and lifted his old coat from the hook of his small, shared peg, looking with some dissatisfaction to the flurrying scene of evening snow that gripped the pale and coal-clattered cityscape of a mining city in 1899. 

                “Better watch your step around that old Corny,” Cameron mentioned darkly , throwing his own coat collar up above his neck.  “If you weren’t such a hotshot ‘round here, Cat, I think he’d of sent you packing already.”    

                With a small frown, Cat gathered his lunch pale and sighed, looking again out the window at the pale swaths of glistening snow that spread out over the valley—rushing to meet the daunting conveyance of mountains in the distance—towering, southern exposures of granite and limestone.  Aerial displays of the same geological inconsistency that made the valley so crowded with precious metals. 

                “The foreman say he had it in for you?”  Cameron asked conversationally, shaking as much dust free as he reasonably could.  Cat shrugged.

                “Maybe—never understand a word he says.” 

                Laughing brightly, Cameron shook his head and the two departed, heading out into the cold and the orange glow beneath the large electric lights that illuminated the evening yard of the mine.  The two continued down the hill, beyond many outbuildings and wooden shacks into Walkersville—the small community just outside the city proper, and as the walked Cameron whistled a lilting air and sighed. 

                “You’re a damned terrible miner, Cormac,” Cameron said at last, which put a confused expression on Cat’s face as he turned.  Cameron laughed.  “No offense, ‘course.  It’s just…a man’s gotta wonder, Cat.  What the hell’re you doing here?” 

                “Don’t know what you mean, Cam,” Cat answered, shoving his hands in his pockets and pulling his neck down to stay warm beneath his collar.  The sun was setting, and he felt positively exhausted.  “Man’s gotta make an honest living, doesn’t he?” 

                “Well, sure,” Cameron continued, shaking his head.  “But it’s just…look Cat, there’s still summer and amateur leagues in the east, right?” 

                “I don’t want to talk about baseball,” Cat replied, darkly, shoving his hands even deeper into his pockets. 

                “Sure you don’t,” Cameron answered politely, his hands up.  They turned a sharp corner onto Excelsior Avenue, a few gaslights blooming in the twilight.  “It’s just…well god damn, boy!  You’re Cat Kennedy!  Don’t you ever—”
                “No,” Cat said, loudly, “I do not.” 

                “just look—” Cameron stopped, turning to face a perturbed Cat against the glow of a closed shop window.  He removed a newspaper from his coat.  “My aunt sent this all the way from St. Louis, Cat.”  He shoved it into his friend’s hands. 

                Raising a brow, Cat snatched the newspaper with one hand and looked at it, lips pursed.  A headline shined across the front pace of the wrinkled article: 

RUMORS OF A NEW BASE-BALL ORGANISATION TO REPLACE FAILED NATIONAL LEAGUE

Working his jaw, Cam looked up at Cameron for a moment, and then shoved the newspaper back at him.  His cheeks flared crimson, and he turned on a heel to continue walking. 

                “So what, Cam?” 

                “So what?”  Cameron yelled, his voice echoing off the bricks of the surrounding buildings.  It was so loud that Cat, despite his agitated state, paused, and turned again to see his friend standing, bewildered, on the snowy avenue. 

                “Aw, Jesus, Cat!  You know how much any drunken bastard in Butte would do to be you?  You tall, idiot bastard?”  He took a step forward.  “Ain’t one man from Denver to god-damned Seattle that can throw a base-ball like you can.  What did they pay you a year, four, five hundred dollars?”

                “Doesn’t matter,” Cat answered through gritted teeth.  Cameron’s eyes lit up.

                ‘Oh, the hell it doesn’t matter.  It matters to me, Cat.  It matters to us.  To every other Mick-Cornish-French bastard in this godforsaken city, and every other town like it.  If there’s a new league, you should be in it.  And not just for you, Cat.  But so maybe some kid with a ball down A Avenue can dream about some besides taking over his pa’s shift in Anselm Mine.” 

                Cat blinked.  He’d never seen his easygoing, pub-crawling friend so agitated.  He was breathing heavy, hands on his hips, and he shook his head with a scowl. 

                “If I was you, Cat, I’d be on my way to St. Louis right now.”  He shook his head with a cold, bitter laugh.  “Shit, Cat.  I was always jealous of how you can throw the ball.  Remember when we was kids, out behind St. Mary’s?  I’d tell my folks, if I was Cat I’d get the hell out of this town and stay there.” 

                “I remember,” Cat said distantly. 

                “When you signed with St. Louis it was all anyone talked about ‘round here for a year,”  Cameron said, motioning around the quiet, evening neighborhood, spackled with dust-caked miners moving to and from Anselm.  “I remember saying, god, if I was him.  If I just had that damned fast-ball.”   He shook his head again.  “And here you are, back in Butte, godforsaken Montana Territory, mining yourself to the grave like a damned idiot with the rest of us unlucky bastards without a fast-ball.”

                “Well, you’re not me, Cameron,” Cat answered—soft, but resolute.  He sniffed, looking to the veil of stars that began to unwind above the winter mountaintops. “You’ve never killed a kid with one.”   He put a hand on his friend’s shoulder and gently returned the newspaper.  “I said I’d never throw again, and I meant it.”  He turned, continuing down the alley and out of sight. 

Founding Committee Formed

The Official Founding Committee of the Legacy Baseball League has been formed.

The following names represent the original creators of the LBL, who first contributed to its creation and development, and who will forever receive exclusive privileges and rights as determined in the LBL Constitution:

Andrew V, Montana

Brendan H, Colorado

Steve, Michigan

Scott R., Alabama

Drew D, Texas

Martin P, Netherlands

Andrew R, Texas

Patrick G, Illinois

Jeff S, Ohio

Anthony K, Texas

Bill M, Michigan


This list represents the first voices that shaped the LBL. Even if they are not serving on the LBL Board, these players will be granted a collective voice to represent one board seat in all future constitutional decisions.

To become a member of the Founding Committee, new contributors must be voted in by the current FC with a simple majority vote.

LBL Board Announced

After over 1000 messages worth of discussion in the last couple weeks, I’ve appointed the official Legacy Baseball League Board. These individuals–each talented and committed to the league vision, will be the first-ever LBL Board. They will lead the Founding Committee in guiding and shaping the LBL, voting on new members and each item of the League Constitution. The appointed Board members are as follows:

Steve –Michigan

Scott “Snowman” R. –Alabama

Martin P. –Netherlands

Brendan H –Colorado

Drew D. –Texas

Congrats to the new Board members. Future members of the Board will be elected by the GMs and ratified by the Commissioner.

Remember, Founding Committee Members still have a significant voice in the shaping of the League. From this moment on, all published Founding Committee Members are the only individuals that may propose constitutional articles, which the Board will ratify. Founding Committee members who actively contribute to the league development will also receive preferential points on their applications to start a team when the league launches.

Phase II is upon us, fellow baseball nuts! Time to get to work.

–Andrew

League Commissioner

Introduction: New Members Start Here

Welcome to the Legacy Baseball League!

This league is in the very early stages of development. We are currently recruiting a team of passionate writers, baseball enthusiasts, and history nuts to compose an alternate version of baseball history in the United States.

For those of us viewing from forums outside OOTP, this league is a fantasy baseball simulation league, with the PC game “Out of the Park Baseball” (OOTP) as a medium. OOTP is an incredibly intricate, engaging, immersive, and customizable baseball league simulation engine. Think of it as a combination of Fantasy Baseball and a Role Playing Game.

What makes this league different?

If you’re familiar with OOTP, you know that there are hundreds of leagues to choose from–and historical leagues rise and fall each month.

See our core philosophy here. We are a community of baseball nuts/history dudes/enthusiastic writers looking to share a collaborative community.

What makes this league unique is the scope of the project, the selective nature of the Board, the focus on writing, role playing, and immersion, and passion of the administrative team. This is the pet project of many passionate, talented, and experienced writers looking to use this wonderful baseball simulation game as a medium for their many interests and hobbies.

How do I join?

This league is open to players of all levels of experience–whether you’ve never played a single season of OOTP, or you’ve been playing for 20 years.

For now, we are looking for all interested parties to join our slack channel and contribute to the formation of the league. Simply join the slack channel and introduce yourself on the forums–the more you participate in the project, the better your shot at managing a team!

I still have questions.

No problem at all. Shoot a message to @vish1990-2 on this website, or join the slack and look for @Andrew V.

History is in Your Hands.

I hope you’ll join us in this passion project. I look forward to creating with you.

-Andrew V, League Commissioner

The Baron of Richmond

Hotel Chelsea
Manhattan, New York
January 4th, 1889

The tumult of flurrying snow followed Michael J. Monroe into the lobby of Hotel Chelsea with an icy vengeance—as if struggling to tear the fabric of civilization into a frozen and forgotten past. Patrons looked up from their meals to see the oddly-dressed man enter—beneath a large overcoat, his suit was too loose and his lapels too wide for a respectable denizen of Manhattan. Also, he wore a large pocketwatch with a silver chain, though they had long fallen out of style in New York—and one or two young socialites actually chuckled at the sight of this beard-trimmed vestige—for though the man wore conservative clothing, it was clearly of a fine cut and neatly tailored. Likewise, he did not appear all that ancient to be garbed like a Missouri Compromise Senator; an only slightly aged face (perhaps fifty-five) held a cropped, graying beard that fell handsomely over his features—a soft expression through gray eyes that observed the heated café with mild interest, removing his hard-brimmed bowler and scarf and handing them gently to a portly fellow in a similar outfit behind him .

The general clamor of silverware and china resumed, as interest faded on this unfashionable gentleman and his rotund, spectacled assistant, who was flubbering clumsily with a sheaf of papers and blowing warm air into two pink, frozen hands.

“The very place, sir!” the portly fellow said with some certainty, smacking one of the papers in a decisive matter and looking around the room once again. “Utter misery to find a cab to Manhattan at this hour, utter misery…”

Nodding, the taller stranger watched a consigliere approach in a neatly-fitting black suit, his black hair slicked back and shining under the electric light.
“We welcome you to L’hôtel Chelsea,” the man said in an undeniably over-pronounced French accent, his hands folded gently behind his back. He looked to the tall man, and then the red-cheeked assistant behind him “Are we expecting you, Monsieur…”

“Monroe,” the tall fellow replied, “Michael Monroe.”

Monroe had a clearly-ringing Carolina accent—to sharp to hail anywhere south of Charelston, yet rolled and rich enough to denote a southern education. The attendant visibly recoiled.

“Monsieur Monroe, my sincere apologies, we were not…ah…expecting you for some days.”

“I like to surprise people,” Monroe replied, sniffing, reaching a hand back and snapping for his assistant to hand him a document.

“This is Mister Lawson,” Monroe told the concierge. Lawson smiled, his large cheeks still red and glistening under the lamp-glow. He bobbed his hat in salutation. “He will see to the details. Has Colonel Spencer arrived?”

“Oui,” the waiter replied, still jarred. “Ah, yes, monsieur, la colonel est..ah…occupied. In the rear lounge.”

“I shall unoccupy him,” Monroe replied with a nod. “Which room?”

Still baffled, the Frenchman turned awkwardly and pointed to an ornate double-door to the rear of the café. Immediately, Monroe nodded and walked beyond the waiter, headed for the door.

Looking to Mister Lawson, the waiter whistled and shook his head.

“That is Michael Monroe, no? The Tobacco Baron of Richmond, they call him?”

“Oh, they call him many things down there,” Mr. Lawson mused humorously, patting his pockets until he found a cigar. “Light for a freezing fellow?”

Snapping out of his daze, the waiter looked down. “Ah? Oh, of course.” He removed a box of matches from his jacket and stooped to light the whiskered assistant’s cigar.

Chuckling, Mister Lawson watched his employer walk confidently for the doors of the back room, puffing on his cigar and coughing slightly.
“In just a few months,” Lawson continued, “They’ll be calling him the savior of baseball”

I know not what I was playing
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music
Like the sound of a great Amen.

*****

The phonograph blared Arthur Sullivan’s organ ballad in the warm room—an open fireplace in the far wall. The windows of the room were frosted over, with the dredge of an evening city under the salvos of a vengeful blizzard contrasting the warmth of the well-decorated lounge. The bright electric chandelier overhead scattered light in the many liquor bottles that lined the hearth of the fireplace and the table, at which three gentlemen sat playing cards—hundreds of dollars scattered across the table.

The trio showed little interest in Mr. Monroe, who entered quietly and observed the scene with mild interest.
At the table, a uniformed man in his late thirties, perhaps, slouched in the ornately carved chair. He wore the golden epaulettes of a Lieutenant Colonel in the Regular Army, his hair slicked back above a pointed goatee. His eyes were watered and unconcerned as he took another pull from an unlabeled brown bottle, tossing his cards down on the table. Happily, the man across from him laughed and slid the large pot of money to himself.

“Early in the evening for poker,” Monroe noted as he approached the table, his hands behind his back. “Your reputation precedes you, Colonel Spencer.”

Gruffly, the unshaved officer looked up, wincing against the light of the chandelier.

“Who the hell are you?”

“We’ve met before,” Monroe replied, lifting the unlabeled bottle off the table and observing it with some interest.

“It’s possible,” Colonel Spencer said, shrugging and pulling the bottle back from Monroe. “I owe you money?”

“Possibly,” Monroe answered. “Many men do.”

The two players across the table exchanged dubious glances as the conversation continued.

“Wasn’t in the Army,” Spencer said with a sigh, filling two glasses with the amber liquor and sliding one to Monroe. “I’d remember a tall, arrogant bastard like you.”

“Actually,” Monroe replied with a small smile, taking thee glass and offering a toast to the drunken officer, “it was.” He downed it and sighed, smacking his lips. Spencer tilted his head, confused.

“Petersburg,” Monroe continued, sniffing the glass with a dissatisfied expression, “You fought under Chamberlain, if my research is to be believed.”
Unable to stifle a laugh, Spencer guffawed and drank his own glass. “You a damn reb? What, here to exact vengeance, johnny-boy?”

“In a way,” Monroe said with a small smile. He turned to the two other card players with a wave of his hand. “You gentlemen may leave now. You’ve occupied enough of the Colonel’s time.”

Nodding the two men rose, gathering their earnings and hurrying past Monroe. Confused further, Spencer watched the pair.

“Now wait a minute now,” he said, attempting unsuccessfully to rise. He sat back down, dizzied, patting his head. “We was just getting ourselves into a good card game. Who are you, barking orders at a respectable trio of sporting gents?”

“They men are in my employ,” Monroe replied. “It was my instruction that they find you and occupy you long enough for me to arrive.”

Spencer blinked at the strange, southern man. “Well god damn it all,” he hissed. “Did you order them to take my last nickel, too?”

“I prefer a broad approach to issuing orders, Colonel. It makes for better leadership, I find.”

“Yeah, worked out fucking fantastic for you folks, didn’t it?”

“Mistakes were made.”

“You don’t fucking say.”

“Colonel Spencer,” Monroe answered, his voice rising just a bit. He paused, rapping his knuckles on the table. “Your army days are done. I have it on good authority they won’t let you within one hundred miles of a cavalry command—with good reason.”

“porkbelly crooks,” Spencer croaked. “Politics and ass-polishing, that’s the United States Army of 1889, stranger. Give my fucking regards to the god-damned—” he took another pull of whiskey, “—Indian Affairs bureau.”

Listening quietly to the drunken officer, Monroe nodded again.

“They say you were quite the player, in your lieutenant days.”

Spencer guffawed again.

“is that what this is about? Better read the papers, Monsieur Dixie-Land. If you’re trying to hire me to coach a ballcub in 1889, you’re drunker than I am. National Leagues’ dead.”

“I’m hiring you to build a ballcub,” Monroe answered simply, examining his fingernails. “Let me properly introduce myself, Colonel. I am Michael Monroe, president and executive of Monroe Tobacco.”

Staring, Spencer laughed, then stopped, waiting for the declaration of some large joke, then laughed again, leaning back in his chair.

“Well hol-ee shit. The Grande Viscount himself. In New York City, of all places. Ain’t it a bit cold for you southern boys way up here?”

“Colonel, I am in a position to secure the funding for a replacement to the National League. The future of baseball in America is either doomed to the monopolization of the magnates, or relegated to the past. Unless, that is, we can save it, today.”

“National League was doomed from the start,” Spencer replied. “Those fat bastards shoulda known the players would unionize and split into a hundred damn leagues. Tried to have it all.”

“As I said,” Monroe replied, “I can save baseball. But I have a condition.”

“Is that so?” Spencer folded his arms.

“The land of my ancestors is under attack by the soliciting and amoral villains who fill the corrupted chambers of government,” Monroe continued. “They would bleed the south dry, salting the earth like Scipio Afcricanus.”

“Breaking my heart, boss-man,” Spencer rolled with a laugh. “If I recall it wasn’t you pretty-boys working that earth to begin with.”

“I saw a skirmish in Louisville last summer that drew three thousand,” Monroe continued indifferently. “Not even in a league. Just a few boys, a ball and a bat. Folks forgot about everything in their life to come watch those muddy river-boys play ball.”

Spencer listened, working his jaw. Monroe seemed lost in thought.

“Colonel Spencer, there are talks behind closed doors of a new league—one with power to the players, not the magnates. And I can make all of that happen. A baseball utopia, for the players and the folk who watch the game.”

“Well ain’t you a telegram messiah,” Spencer replied. “You got a point somewhere in all this.”

“I have a condition.”

“For who?”

“The solicitors of the new league, of course. See, they need money that the northern banks won’t offer. After what happened to Spalding, they won’t risk another loss.”

“Understandable.”

“So, if this new league—these new entrepreneurial northern gentlemen—would have my coin, the would have my condition.” Monroe smiled slightly, his hands in front of him.

“Which is?”

“A Richmond club,” Monroe answered simply, “funded by me—with the hero of the Battle of Petersburg, the legendary Lieutenant Kirby Preston, serving as President.”

Dumbfounded, Spencer stared at Monroe. Eventually, he burst into uncontrollable laughter, nearly falling from the table. He shook his head, tears in his eyes.

“You want to start a professional baseball club in Richmond, with a disgraced union officer as your president? Mr. Monroe, I think you are drunk. Drunk or insane. My, oh my.” He laughed again.

“Strange, on the surface, perhaps,” Monroe replied. “But if the club was to perform, Colonel, think of the good work we might do to heal the wounds between north and south—you are quite popular in the collective memory of the border states. Your reputation may be sullied in New York, but Virginia—Virginia is different.”

“So you want to give them Maryland and Pennsylvania boys a front-man they can stomach. Convenient.”

“It will be a challenge, certainly,” Monroe continued. “But if successful, we would see the growth of professional baseball from Virginia down to Florida.”

“I see your angle,” Spencer answered. “You put someone the ignorant masses can trust at the head of your confederate baseball outfit. If it takes off, you’re the father of baseball in the south—with a new economy to capitalize on. Smarter than you look, johnny reb.”

“Likewise,” Monroe answered with a nod. He rose, removing an envelope from his pocket and sliding it to Spencer across the table. “There are the details to my offer, Colonel. Think it over. I believe you’d find life on the frontier as a circus reenactor rather uneconomical.”

With that, Monroe left the room, closing the door behind him and leaving the drunken colonel to his thoughts.

Clumsily, Spencer watched the man leave, turning to the envelope and tearing it open. His brows raised as he read from the paper.

“Well I’ll be damned,” he said, whistling and leaning back in his chair. “I’ll be god-damned.”