OLD SENATORS (425)

In those days players could have you allowed in the clubhouse. Pete would join his post game teammates for clubhouse beer. My favorite was Frank Howard. This was because Frank, the biggest guy I’d ever met, roomed with Frenchie (Jimmy French) the smallest guy on the team. Frenchie had been Pete’s favorite catcher all through baseball. Pete loved Jimmy, as most people did. He defined the term “spark plug”. We stayed with them, and Pete and Frenchie would have so much in common, Frank would be stuck talking with me over “several Heinekens”.
Frank was a big man. And a kind, kind, talented player. He hit 54 home runs one year. We visited him a lot that season. He and Pete fought over the tab.
One night I asked Frank a question. I knew he’d not only played all-star level pro baseball, but he also was a star basketball player at Ohio State. “Frank, I asked, who would you least like to fight both in baseball and basketball. Frank looked away for a while and finally said “Tommy, I can’t really think of anybody.”
That August the Senators were thirty-five games out of first place, when we showed up for a Saturday night game.
The post game tested my drinking mettle. These guys were big league! Frank got pretty drunk, late in the evening, and when he started falling he yanked the Venetian blinds off the apartment windows. We tried to get him up and to bed, but three of us couldn’t do it. Frank finally suggested “Frenchie, just cover me up with the blinds, I’ll just sleep here.”
They played a day game the next day, Sunday. How I’ll never know. I could hardly function as we drove back to Wilson that late afternoon.
Monday, three o’clock a.m. my phone rang. Startled, I answered and Frank, sounding pretty damn drunk again, asked “Tommy, where’d you guys go?” “Frank is that you? I had to get back to work. Are you guys drunk again?” Frank said, “Yeah, I guess the pennant pressure got us.” (35 games out!)
Dick Bosman, Casey Cox, Smoke Lines, Tim Cullen, were Pete’s mates. Frenchie introduced me to Ted Williams; the first year he was the Senators, then Rangers, Manager. I was a Boston Red Sox fan, with Ted being a god. Thanks, Frenchie.
They all had a “Pete” story.

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