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Pic O' the Week, 20 August 2006

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    Pic O' the Week, 20 August 2006

    On 12 October 1960, when the inscriptions were entered onto the front pages of Miss Eifert's book, the DELTA QUEEN was in Vicksburg, but I was on the AVALON on the upper Ohio River, in Pittsburgh, with Captain Ernie Wagner and Mate Doc Hawley. On that same day, the Pittsburgh Pirates won game six of a seven game series with their American league opponents, the New York Yankees. My nineteen birthday had passed uncelebrated the day before, and on that same date, nineteen years into the future, Captain Wagner would die.

    The next evening the "Bucs" took home their first World Series pennant since 1901 when Bill Mazeroski sailed a fireball over the left field wall of Forbes Field in the bottom of the ninth. Several of us listened to that historic baseball moment as we gathered around Leroy Batteau's portable radio, down on the Main Deck, while the AVALON made its way back toward the city on a moonlight cruise. By the time we landed, all the lights were on in the tall skyscrapers in the "Golden Triangle" of downtown Pittsburgh. Some voice on the radio commented that it was only the second time that such a glitzy display had been done; the first was for Nikita Kruschev's visit to the Iron City only a few years before.

    Unlike the names of the DELTA QUEEN crew members written on the right-hand page and remembered by just a few steamboat buffs who personally knew them or by others who heard of them from those who did, the names of many of the baseball players in P'town that day have only to be called by their last names and the world still remembers: Maris, Mantle, Stengel, Berra, Burgess, … Mazeroski.

    The 1960 World Series has been studied, recalled, recited, and immortalized in innumerable writings and other forms of mass communication, and the thrill of those crisp autumn October days will, and have been, remembered by generations of baseball fans. But only a handful of us will keep alive the memories of Wagner, Kelley, Briscoe, Stouder, or Edgington.

    Five years after the prize book was won and the lucky new owner had inscribed her comments inside the front cover and the signatures of the crew were entered onto the opposite page, I, myself, started working on the DELTA QUEEN with every one of these same people. And so I count myself fortunate, too, that I was able to play a very minor role and bear witness to the historic events, in Pittsburgh, on October 12, 1960, and eventually meet and work with those same folks who autographed the book that Franz now owns.
    Last edited by Shipyard Sam; 08-20-2006, 10:54 AM. Reason: Tense Change

    Very nice rememberance, Sam!