Red Being Red

“Red” Eldredge’s name came up the other day, and I began to laugh to myself as I remembered the kind of baseball player he was. He played back in the days when the Orleans Cardinals were a town team, consisting, as you may have already gathered, of guys from the town only.
Red Eldredge - back row, far left

Lots of readers will recall the names of “Junie” Lee, Chet Landers, the Bremner boys, the Wilcoxes, the Gages and the Clarks (they were from Brewster, but they were allowed to play for Orleans because Brewster didn’t have a team then), Whitey Dunham, Prince Hurd, and, briefly, one tall, skinny Sherman kid.

“Red” was a “colorful” player, one might say, not just for the tint of his hair, but for his enthusiasm for the game. He never was caught out of place, not thinking, and not going for the tough play.

However, some might agree that at times his enthusiasm was just a wee bit over the line. For instance ….., I was pitching this one Sunday afternoon. “Red” was catching. Calling balls and strikes was this feisty umpire by the name of “Smokey” Kelleher. “Smokey” was the kind of umpire that you didn’t argue with. If you openly disagreed with “Smokey” on a judgment call, you might not see a call in your favor for the rest of the summer.

“Red” was not happy with “Smokey” that day and he wanted to let him know it without breaking the rules. “Red” would call for a high fast ball. Just as the ball arrived at the plate, “Red” would drop his glove just enough so that the ball would slam into the umpire’s chest protector.(the chest protector was the old kind that was full of air, and the ball might bounce ten feet in the air if it hit it.). It wasn’t painful at all, but it sure did shake him up a bit. Anyway, the game went on like that, “Smokey” calling ’em bad and “Red” dropping the glove.

In the interim, it was a close game, and in the late innings, through oversights by all my teammates, they got a man on third, and “Red” suspected a squeeze play. He gave me the sign for a high fast one. He didn’t want the batter to have any chance to get it on the ground and was hoping for a pop-up. I threw it as hard as I could, and the batter grazed the ball just enough so that it went over top of “Red’s” glove and lodged in “Smokey’s” face mask.

“Smokey” hadn’t yet made any call when “Red” turned around to face him. Knowing that the runner was coming in from third, and seeing the ball stuck in “Smokey’s” face mask, “Red” was overcome by that enthusiasm I was talking about. “Red” jumped on top of “Smokey”, yanking at “Smokey”s” face mask, ripping and tearing at the ball so that he could tag out the runner.

Finally, “Red” let “Smokey” up; even helped dust him off. We were all waiting for “Red” to be given the rest of the day off, but “Smokey” looked around, picked up his face mask, and yelled, “FOUL BALL”!!!

Sam Sherman