#Hot Corner

Pining for Ernie Bonham

So Turner Classic Movies has been running long stretches of Hitchcock movies on the weekends, and I've been saving them for November. I did indulge in one already, though: Lifeboat (1944) in which there's a baseball connection and some excellent baseball references. The connection is William Bendix, who plays a sailor in Lifeboat. Four years later, Bendix would play the lead in The Babe Ruth Story, which is terrible. By then Bendix was 42, but the casting was apt in one sense: He'd supposedly spent years serving as a Yankees batboy during Ruth's career (although I don't have a good source for this, which sounds like something concocted by a Hollywood press agent).

Anyway, Bendix's character in Lifeboat is named Gus, and Gus has his leg amputated. Which leads to a bit of delirium, especially when the sun's out. Which leads to this delightful exhange ...

Gus: What a day for a ball game. St. Looie's the team to watch this year. St. Looie's got hitters. Look at the way Stan Musial's been clouting 'em out.

Rittenhouse: How about Ty Cobb? He's pretty good too.

Kovac: Got some A-1 pitchers.

Gus: Yeah. If the Dodgers only had a guy like Ernie Bonham, or even Johnny Humphreys.

Joe: Pittsburgh's the team to watch.

Gus: Only 17 points below St. Looie. If we beat the Pirates and St. Looie loses to Boston ... Hey Kovac, who do you think will pitch for Pittsburgh today.

Kovac: I don't know. I haven't been following the games much this season.

Gus: Probably Wyatt for the Dodgers. Sewell for the Pirates.

Joe: Yeah, probably so, Gus.

Gus: I think I'll take Rosie.

Joe: Where to, Gus?

Gus: Ebbets Field. It's gonna be a good game this afternoon.

This is candy for a guy who loves old baseball names and old movies. Ernie Bonham was a rare practitioner of the forkball, while Humphries was considered the fastest pitcher in the American League when he came up in '39. As for Musial and Cobb ... well, you know about them. Oh, and St. Looie did win the pennant in '44.

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