It doesn’t get talked about much - perhaps just because it’s well known - but there is a simply chasmic difference between the fortunes of a major and minor leaguer in baseball. It’s a difference that, as you might imagine, was only compounded before the Jim Crow laws were repealed in the 1960s.
But the common perception is that while black people weren’t allowed into nice hotels, they were still, y’know, staying in hotels. Not so, says Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins. The longtime Cub has a new book out, and at times, he and his black teammates had unusual housemates: dead people!
MOUTHPIECE SPORTS has the story:
“Another time, for games in St. Petersburg, the black players slept in a funeral home. This was not an old funeral home, or a funeral home converted into a hotel. This was an active, working funeral home. It was just us and the dead bodies.”
Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis would like a word with you, sir.
Jenkins also sometimes stayed with live people. Very lively, in fact. (We mean whores.)
“On a trip to Palatka, where we stayed in black neighborhoods, they put us up in a hookers’ hotel. The team had about five rooms, and in the rest of the hotel they rented rooms by the hour. We saw girls coming back and forth, back and forth. Cars were driving up and parking, and cars were driving away. Sometimes in the middle of the night we got a knock on our doors, and some guy yelled, “Is Julie in there?” or, “Is Barbara in there?” I’d just yell back through the closed door, “No, wrong room fella!” I never told my parents about that experience. Welcome to Class D baseball in Palatka, Florida.”
And you wonder why Florida has its own tag on FARK.
But back to the funeral home. Once you stay there two or three days, doesn’t the macabre novelty of it all wear off? Like, might you even be tempted to screw with the corpses?
We don’t mean actually screwing with the corpses, of course; that’s a medical condition called necrophilia, and only whoever’s married to Otis Nixon has that. But if they’re just sitting there waiting for their makeup, don’t you maybe want to give them a clown look? Or, to bring the whole thing full circle, what about “whore”? You’d think if the family was good-natured, they wouldn’t mind burying someone who looked like Dee Snider.