RADIO CALL — TAPES #705 & #706 EXCERPTS
Q: Mark Russell Bell
F: Ira Fistell, KABC radio show host of “The Ira Fistell Show”
S: Scott, KABC-AM radio show screener
R: Rob Marinko, KABC newscaster
M: Michael Barr, ABC newscaster
J: Jim Slade, ABC news reporter
B: Bill Greenwood, ABC news reporter
A: Abbe Lowell (news soundbyte)
I: Rick Gilespie (news soundbyte)
G: Gabriel Schechter, guest on “The Ira Fistell Show”
[2021 UPDATE: THIS TRANSCRIPT SHOWS THE CHALLENGES OF ASCERTAINING THE LESSONS TO BE DERIVED FROM SPECIFIC HUMAN ACTIVITIES SUCH AS A PARTICULAR SPORTS GAME SUCH AS BASEBALL.]
F: (broadcast) . . . (gives number) will be the telephone number now. We’ll talk about everything and anything for the next hour. I’m Ira Fistell filling in tonight for Mr. KABC, who is taking the night off. I’m ready to talk. I hope you are and let’s see what people want to talk about in Southern California. (gives number) Now the top of the hour news and traffic —
S: KABC? Please hold.
R: It’s 7:58. I’m Rob Marinko on the KABC news center with your headlines. Don’t expect success with any civil lawsuits accusing the LAPD of being a racketeering enterprise. The LA Times reporting a flurry of recent court rulings by a federal judge indicate that any attempts to recover damages related to the Rampart —
Q: Oh hi.
Q: Yeah, I called earlier by mistake but actually my background is in the unexplained and I have — would have some comments upon Charles Victor Faust’s story.
S: Okay. And what else did you want to talk about?
Q: Well just, since it’s Friday the 13th, I’ve done a lot of research into the unexplained —
S: Okay, that’s right. What’s your name?
S: Where are you calling from?
Q: Canoga Park.
S: All right, so just — we’re going into a commercial but then we’ll get to you when you come back, okay?
Q: Okay, great.
S: All right.
R: . . . to the new Chevy Trailblazer at your Chevy dealer today. On the KABC traffic watch . . . (traffic report and commercial)
M : From ABC News. I’m Michael Barr. The space shuttle Atlantis is expected to dock with the International Space Station any moment now. ABC’s Jim Slade has more.
J: Shuttle Commander Steve Lindsey is standing at the controls in the rear of the cockpit looking straight up at the space station. The camera pointed up through the shuttle’s docking port helps Lindsey sharpen his aim as he moves up at creep speed to gently connect the two orbiting spacecraft. Creep speed in this case is about an inch and a half a second.
M: California Congressman Gary Condit has taken a lie detector test in connection with the disappearance of former intern Chandra Levy. Here’s ABC’s Bill Greenwood.
B: Condit’s attorney Abbe Lowell says a prominent ex-FBI agent conducted the exam and asked all the questions that mattered.
A: Did the congressman have anything at all to do with the disappearance of Miss Levy?
Second: did he harm her or cause anyone else to harm her in any way? And third: does he know where she can be located?
B: Lowell said Condit passed the polygraph exam with flying colors. And he said the media and public should now quit hounding Congressman Condit and focus on the search for Chandra Levy. Bill Greenwood, ABC News, Washington.
M: New satellite photos may have uncovered one of America’s biggest mysteries. A group for historic aircraft recovery says the photos may have found the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s plane. Ric Gillespie of TIGHAR says the photos seem to confirm a story they heard a few years ago.
I: An elderly woman who lives in Suva, Fiji in 1999 told us that when she was sixteen years old and living on that island, her father pointed out red rusty wreckage out on the edge of the reef to her about a hundred meters north of the shipwreck that’s there. And her father told her that the fishermen who had been out near that site reported that that wreckage was actually part of an airplane.
M: You’re listening to ABC News. (commercials and weather forecast follow)
(bumper music is “Close To Me” performed by Cure)
F: It’s six minutes after eight o’clock. I’m Ira Fistell. We’ll take calls now until twelve midnight about anything — not to twelve midnight. I’m sorry. To nine o’clock. About anything and everything you want to say. I’m filling in tonight for Mr. KABC who’s taking the night off. And we’ve got calls lined up. Scott is our screener, Wayman at the controls, Mark is our caller from (BEEP) Canoga Park. Hi, Mark. You’re on the air first this hour.
Q: Good evening, Ira.
F: How are you doing?
Q: Very good. I was thinking — while listening to Charlie Faust’s story — I had intended to call to discuss the paranormal. And I think that his case does show an interactive universe. And there are all kinds of little morality tales you see in — all through his experiences.
F: Well it worked for a while for him.
Q: Well —
F: And then suddenly the magic was gone.
Q: Well I think that sometimes (“THE”) these people are metaphors for others. For example, what really is the difference between, lets say, a Tiger Woods and a Sai Baba or a Uri Geller other than their own awareness or consciousness of the world around them?
F: Well I don’t know. What makes somebody like, lets say, Tiger Woods so tremendously successful for a while, where it’s almost like he can’t lose, and then all of a sudden it’s not there?
Q: Well what I think — what I, myself, have done is I’ve researched a lot of the most famous unexplained cases throughout history. For example, Edgar Cayce, who was ‘the sleeping prophet’ and channeled different spirits. I mean he would end each one of his sessions saying, “We are through.” And then (“LIKE”) there have been talking — various talking poltergeist cases where the haunting Entity would ‘mimic’ voices perfectly such as the Drummer of Tedworth in 1661, England and the famous Bell Witch case of the 19th Century where there are documented accounts of (people) hearing various voices. I, myself, was able to investigate one of these contemporary cases in Oklahoma where the family even heard various alien voices speaking to them.
F: Well probably the most famous case of people hearing voices is Joan of Arc.
Q: That’s right.
F: Who, of course, claimed that everything she did was because the voices were telling her — her voices were telling her what to do.
Q: Right. And then if you equate that with some of the other famous cases like the Messages From Michael case — have you heard of that?
F: I don’t think so. What is it?
Q: Okay. Well there’ve been very many books about it but there’s this Entity that talks through the Ouija Board and gives certain messages. And if you take into mind Cayce’s case and even Nostradamus’s case, let’s say, who talked about angelic — ‘vaticination’ is what he called it. You see this Energy Source that in one poltergeist case, the famous Mary Jobson case from 1839 — and in that case there were different voices that were heard. This one was a very religious one and there was a voice — (“THAT”) said that it was the Virgin Mary. And there was another one that said the Son of God. But if you look at all of these various cases, you do see this amazing, Loving Consciousness that’s sort of directing us to try to realize that our life is a morality test.
F: Now you really believe in voices and things, don’t you, Mark?
Q: Well I’ve spent the last six years or so documenting and interviewing people who’ve had these cases. I mean very many people, for example, have had (an) experience where they hear somebody calling their name and they sort of forget about it but then when they hear someone else telling about it, they say, “Oh I remember that. That happened to me once.” And — for — like on my website I have some of the transcripts at testament.org and (“YOU KNOW”) photos of spirits and bigfoots and things like that. But, of course, (“I”) I myself would not think of (“YEAH”) charging money for it. I mean it’s all — I’ve done it there for free.
F: Yeah. Well, you know, that probably the most famous believer in spiritualism anyway was Arthur Conan Doyle.
Q: That’s right.
F: Who became — oh my goodness, he was just absolutely laughed at because he was such a naive character that he believed in everything.
Q: And you know who his famous creation Sherlock Holmes was based on?
F: Well Dr. Bell probably more than anybody else.
Q: That’s right.
F: Dr. Joseph Bell. But Dr. Bell was a scientist. He wasn’t — in the case of voices or anything. (“BUT”)
Q: It’s amazing, though — especially with bell synchronicity. I remember when Tony Grant was on your show (I should’ve said your station). I mean she’s married to a Bell, for example. And, for example, my pseudonym actually is Bell. But I find that there’s an amazing Bell synchronicity to some of these cases.
F: Well that’ll be a subject for another night. I like it. (or “I LIKE IT”) Thanks for your call.
Q: Thank you.
F: Okay. Bye-bye. Eleven minutes after eight o’clock. Well that’s an interesting start to the hour. Something a little bit different than what we usually talk about. And I’m Ira Fistell at (gives number) and Joe is up next . . .
( . . . )
Q: Now it’s Sunday and I haven’t listened to any of the tapes I recorded of the radio shows on Friday. My impression of my own segment now is that it was not one of my best moments. I just lost track of some of the possibilities that could’ve communicated to people at least — maybe I was trying to do something new — not try to concentrate on so much as the details but just to give an overall impression. For example, I didn’t mention the two nicknames in the poltergeist cases. I didn’t even mention about the Bell name in the family in Oklahoma. It’s just really hard when you’re a caller to these shows because if you say something too way out there they’ll hang up on you. I mean eventually they will hang up on you, anyway . . . so I forgot to turn on my radio cassette recorder so I missed the beginning of Ira Fistell’s show. So you’ll hear what I heard when I began recording.
G: . . . tried to find a team that needed a miracle.
F: It doesn’t do any good with those teams.
G: Apparently not.
F: No, the Red Sox can’t win the world series because they traded Babe Ruth. The White Sox can’t win because they threw the 1919 world series. And the Indians can’t win, I guess, because they just have forgotten how since 1948.
G: That’s right. They tried to burn Lake Erie.
F: (small laugh) But, anyway, we’re going to talk about Charles ‘Victory’ Faust. What an incredible character he was. And the amazing thing about him is he is actually in the baseball encyclopedia. He pitched in two games.
G: That’s right.
F: And even though he was never a professional player, never even a sandlot player really, was he?
G: Right. I would say that apart from Eddie Gaedel . . .
F: The midget. Right. The midget.
G: He was the least athletic player in the record books.
F: And the interesting thing is Gaedel has a perfect record: one at bat, one walk, no times retired. And Charlie Faust has a 4/50 earned run average —
G: That’s right.
F: — which is better than a lot of pitchers who’re in the — who pitched for years.
G: . . . Ted Williams and a lot of other people. And, plus, he came to bat. He did a little better that Gaedel. He actually came to bat and the other team hit him with a pitch.
F: Well Gaedel came to bat and drew a walk.
G: And let him steal two bases.
F: Yeah, Faust stole two bases and that’s a, you know, that’s remarkable for a pitcher anyway.
G: That’s right. Especially one who ran like an ice wagon.
F: (laughs) Well, Gabriel Schechter, I suppose we ought to start from the beginning and talk about John McGraw and the Giants. And what had happened to them. And why they needed a good luck charm. After all, they kind of did after 1908.
G: They did. They had been jinxed themselves with Merkle’s boner in 1908 which cost them the pennant.
F: You can’t just say that. You’ve got to explain what it was.
G: Yeah. Merkle was on first base and the game winning hit knocked in the runner from third but Merkle neglected to go to second base and the Cubs produced the baseball and stepped on the bag and got an out call from the umpire. So the Giants winning the game. They tied. The game was replayed. They lost the pennant. And in 1911 they were still steaming about it.
F: Now that incident—the Merkle incident—really wasn’t Merkle’s fault because —
G: No, it was customary at the time.
F: Right. In those days —
G: Something anybody else would’ve done.
F: That’s right. The reason why it happened is because the same umpire was involved with the same team, the Cubs, in a game three weeks earlier in Pittsburgh.
G: Hank O’Day.
F: Hank O’Day and the Cubs pulled that trick — Johnny —
F: Johnny Evers, the second basemen, pulled the same thing and claimed the force-out and O’Day didn’t want to call it. But they went to the league office and the league office said, “Yeah, you got to call it.” So that when the same play came up again in New York, O’Day was forced to call it.
G: And by the time that the play was made there was a near-riot on the field.
F: They couldn’t continue the came.
G: There were balls and bodies flying all over the place.
F: Right. By the way, you said the Cubs got the ball. The Cubs got a ball. Nobody really knows which ball it was. (small laugh) Because there were about three balls flying around at that point. But, anyway, the Giants felt that the 1908 team had — and should’ve won the pennant and they thought that they had been cheated out of it.
G: They had one coming to them.
F: Yeah. And then in 1909 they lost to the Pirates. And in 1910 the Cubs beat them again.
G: The Cubs again. (“YEAH”)
F: Mordecai ‘Three Fingers’ Brown.
G: The Giants . . . through all those years they won over ninety games a year but they just weren’t good enough.
F: They were like the Dodgers of the early ’50s except they didn’t lose on the last day of the season every year. Only once.
F: Anyway, we’re talking to Gabriel Schechter about Charlie ‘Victory’ Faust. One thing I don’t like about the book is the subtitle because he really didn’t save McGraw’s Giants. He helped win a pennant for them but he didn’t save them.
G: (small laugh) He didn’t save them physically. He may have saved their morale, though. And —
F: Well just for that one year because the next year they didn’t want him around.
G: Yeah. Now — not — now he was there for the first half of the year. You know, everybody’s been talking about the Mariners’ start this year and the team that they were chasing was the 1912 Giants.
F: I don’t think they ever caught them, did they? I don’t think the Mariners were ever quite as good as —
G: No. (or “NO”) No, they got within a game or two of that pace.
F: Yeah, right. Right. (“BUT — BUT THE”)
G: That team started out fifty-four and eleven.
F: Of course, they also lost the world series. (small laugh)
G: Yes. (“AA” or “UH”) Right.
F: And also because of a (“MOUTH”) — a mistake although poor Fred Snodgrass doesn’t get credit for what he did right in that series. He made a great catch (“YEAH”) about an out or two . . .
( . . . )
Q: Here there’s a pause on the tape and I think was just checking to make sure that the tape recorder was working.
( . . . )
F: . . . because we’re not taking any yet. When we do, it’ll be (gives number). And then after Gabriel Schechter (“NOSE” or “KNOWS”) later tonight we’ll have an open forum hour also in the next hour.
( . . . )
Q: There was traffic and the commercials.
( . . . )
(bumper music is “Peg” performed by Steely Dan)
F: F: It’s twenty-one minutes after seven o’clock. I’m Ira Fistell filling in for Mr. KABC tonight. And let’s now hear the story of Charles Victor Faust of Marion, Kansas who “turned the world upside down,” as you say in the book. Gabriel Schechter, tell the story.
G: Yes. Faust went to a fortune teller in Kansas in the middle of a heat wave in 1911. Faust was sort of a real life Forrest Gump. He was thirty years old, unable to take his father’s place looking after the farm, sort of shunned in town. No life. He had enough room in his brain, apparently, for one big idea. And a fortune teller told him he would pitch the New York Giants the championship. So he went to St. Louis.
F: And that wasn’t all — wait a minute. You’ve got to tell the rest of the fortune too.
G: I was going to save that.
F: Oh, all right. You want to save it for later? Okay.
G: Yes. (small laugh) Went to St. Louis, where the Giants were taking batting practice. The Giants were in third place. They’d just lost two pitchers. McGraw was down to five pitchers and needed help. This guy came out of the stands, went up to him and said, “McGraw, my name’s Charles Victor Faust from over in Kansas — tell me I pitch the Giants the championship.” Here was a goofy looking guy wearing Sunday clothes that fit kind of tight. McGraw was very superstitious so he said, “Okay, let’s see what you got” — gave him a tryout. Faust had absolutely nothing. He had a very fancy triple windmill windup and a fancy motion but he had one speed and it was slow.
F: You quote McGraw as saying that, “If a windup was all a pitcher needed, Charlie Faust would beat the world.”
G: “I’d take him against — put him against the world.” Yeah. Well Walter Johnson and a lot of other pitchers at the time used the windmill windup but not quite as exaggerated as Faust or as futile. Joe McGraw thought — it was kind of a joke and he said, “Well go take a few cuts and run one out. We’ll see what you — what kind of an athlete you are.” And it took a while but Faust finally dribbled the ball out to the shortstop. McGraw signaled to the fielders to overthrow each base and they made Faust run around the bases and slide into each base. By the time he got home his Sunday clothes were dusty and torn. And the players had a big laugh at his expense. Then they went out and stole nine bases and won eight to nothing. He showed up the next day. They put him in a uniform, let him practice on the field, go through the same routine before the game. They went out and they won four/nothing that day. He showed up the next day and they won again.
F: And ball players being superstitious, this has an effect.
G: Oh absolutely. Except that leaving St. Louis that night, McGraw gave Faust the runaround at the station and stranded him there.
F: He said — Faust comes to him and says, “Where’s my ticket?”
G: He said, “Yeah. I — we left it for you back at the hotel. Run back — if you’re as fast as you say you are, run back there and get it.” . . .
F: And Faust fell for it. I mean he had to be really — he had to have an IQ of maybe 65.
G: Yeah. He was smart enough to learn a vaudeville act and —
F: Sort of.
G: — provide it over and over again.
G: But he was not smart enough to have a perspective on his own experience, as we’ll get to. The laugh was on McGraw though because the Giants played lousy ball the rest of the road trip. When they got back to New York, Faust was waiting for them at the Polo Grounds. He had hopped a freight because he was supposed to pitch the Giants the championship and he wasn’t going to be denied that easily. So they played a doubleheader that day, put him in uniform. They won a double-header. He came back the next day and from that day he became their mascot and the star of the pre-game show, which was an elaborate show of several hours back in those days. And he’d romp around the outfield, shag flies and get conked on the head once in a while.
F: (small laugh) And run bases and slide.
G: Run around the bases and slide and provide comic relief. Basically, he was a buffoon.
F: And he loosened up the Giants.
G: And that’s the thing. He kept the Giants loose. The key to it though was that they kept winning. I mean if they hadn’t won every day his act might’ve worn thin but from the time he joined them til the time they clinched the pennant they won over 90% of the time when he was there. It was just uncanny.
F: Now that’s phenomenal.
G: Yeah. It’s hard to account for.
F: Gabriel Schechter, there’s also something else about Charlie Faust. Judging from what you’ve written in the book, apparently he could sit on a bench and call the next play and be right most of the time.
G: He got a lot of notoriety for that. Yeah, he would — of course, you have to remember they were winning every game and he kept predicting they were going to win. You know, if they were losing three to two in the late innings, he’d predict they were going to get a bunch of runs and they would. So —
F: Well I can predict the Cubs.
G: Yeah, right.
F: When in — no, I just predict the Cubs will lose every day and I’m right most of the time.
G: (small laugh) He —
F: Speaking as a Sox fan, you know?
G: I can tell.
F: (laughs) (“SEE YA”)
G: He would warm up in the outfield every day during the game so he would be ready to go in if they needed him. There was one famous game where he was warming up in the outfield and Rube Marquard was pitching and ran into trouble. And they called time and they had him run in from the outfield and sit down on the bench and start yelling encouragement to Rube. That was the end of the rally. No problem.
F: And Marquard particularly.
F: Marquard was the guy who Victory Faust really helped the most, apparently.
F: You want to talk about that? You know, Marquard was at that time still thought of as a $10,000 bust.
G: Yeah. He had come up in 1908 and about a week after Merkle forgot to touch second, Marquard made his debut in a game that, if they had won, they would’ve won the pennant. But he got bombed by Cincinnati and traumatized. In 1911 he was still thought of as the $10,000 lemon. That was the record price paid for him. And the jury was still out. In mid-season, he was starting to win games. But after Faust showed up, until Faust left he was thirty-three and three. And Faust was absent for two of the three losses.
F: And the funny thing about that is that after Faust left Marquard was never again a big winner. He was a 500 pitcher the rest of his career.
G: That’s right. It was most dramatic in 1912. Marquard set the record by winning his first nineteen games.
F: Still a major league record. Nobody ever else has touched that.
G: That’s right.
F: Nineteen straight wins in the course of a regular season.
G: By modern records, it would’ve been twenty but it was nineteen for him and he won the nineteenth the week that they finally ran Faust back to Kansas in July of 1912. And inside of a week Marquard lost three games. It’s like Charlie turned a switch off.
F: It’s an incredible story. Didn’t Charlie Faust really have some kind of a magic? How can you say?
G: How can you say? He had — what he had was perfect timing to be in a place where somebody just like him was very much needed. McGraw was such a harsh and difficult man to work for that he terrorized a lot of players. Especially the younger players and it was a very young team. (“THEY THEY”) The lineup on the field was young. The pitchers were veterans. And Faust came along and became the butt of their practical jokes on the field, off the field. Back in those days, the teams — they stayed at the same hotel. They lived together. They were on the long train rides between cities. On the train rides, they’d have him performing the whole time. And they’d play practical jokes on him. The same joke every day and he’d go for it every day.
F: He never caught on.
F: He never caught on.
G: No, so he was the perfect foil and the perfect counterbalance to McGraw’s . . .
F: And everybody was laughing at him. Except he was taking it seriously. And that’s the thing that’s both the greatness and the tragedy of Charlie Faust.
G: That’s right. That’s —
F: Hang on a second, Gabriel Schechter. We’ve got a newscast to do. We’ll come right back to you.
F: All right?
F: Gabriel Schechter, our guest. We’re talking about Charlie — Charles ‘Victory’ Faust. He was called Victory Faust because his middle name was Victor. And we’ll talk about — more about Charles Faust and the incredible legend that he created after we take a look at the latest news and traffic report on Talk Radio 790 KABC. Here’s Rob Marinko.
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F: Twenty-three minutes before eight o’clock. I’m Ira Fistell—filling in for Mr. KABC tonight—talking about the fabulous legend of Charles Faust with Gabriel Schechter, the author of Victory Faust, the book about him. Why didn’t you call it The Faust Legend, Gabriel?
G: The Faust Legend?
F: The Faust Legend.
G: (small laugh) Because for a long time that’s all there was.
F: It makes such a perfect — (“NO”) perfect title because it almost is as if Charlie Faust sold his soul to the Devil or something for these magical powers.
G: Isn’t it? (small laugh)
F: Yeah. Doesn’t it sound like it?
G: Absolutely. I mean you couldn’t invent a better name than Victory Faust.
F: And his name was Victor, which was almost victory. And, of course, the writers in New York turned the C — Charles Victor — into ‘See Victory.’
G: That’s right.
F: ‘See Victory’ Faust.
G: That’s what he did.
F: Yeah. By the way —
G: The writers had a field day with him.
F: Right. I was going to say that’s the next thing we have to talk about. You talk about the way characters are made today (“NO”) in tabloids and through television, whatever. In those days, they were made by sportswriters.
G: That’s all there was back then. There was this — before radio even. And New York City had thirteen daily newspapers. And the writers had to compete with each other so they were always looking for good copy. And two or three of them in particular. Damon Runyon was a rookie in New York that summer also and Faust was one of the first characters that he latched onto. By the end of the summer, he had Faust sounding like Nathan Detroit was going to.
F: (small laugh) Nathan Detroit had not yet been invented.
G: That’s right.
F: The interesting thing about that is Damon Runyon also came from Kansas and was born one day —
G: That’s one of the amazing things about it. One day and sixty miles apart.
G: And they showed up in Manhattan.
F: The same year.
G: And Runyon was one of the guys who made him famous. And only ten to fifteen thousand people went to a game and the only way you could hear about it was through the newspapers. Yet within three weeks of hitting New York Faust already had such a big following that he got a vaudeville gig. So his fame really spread fast. And writers and the word of mouth. (“AND”)
F: Yeah and so — who were some of the writers and what was — (“THEY”) they were out to get — to create a story and Faust was copy.
G: Yeah. The main one was Sid Mercer.
F: Right. Now what — Sid Mercer actually turned — (“AA”) became Faust’s (“ALMOST”) creator. Almost — he almost — as if he invented the story of Charlie Faust.
G: In a way, yeah. He almo(st) — I think he probably became his agent and had a lot to do with him getting into vaudeville. Mercer had an advantage over the other writers. His paper came out in the afternoon and so by the time his readers picked up the paper they already knew what had happened in the game. So he devoted a lot of his coverage to sidelights and features and odd little items. And Faust certainly fit that bill. So he eventually had two or three items a day in there in Faust’s heyday. He would report on everything he did, from what he ate for breakfast, which was usually a huge meal.
F: Apple pie.
G: His apple pie fetish, (“WHICH” or “WITCH”) which cost the team a game in Cincinnati because he went wandering off looking for pie and was late for the ballgame. By the time he got there, Marquard had been knocked out.
F: (laughs) One of those two games that Marquard lost when (“YEAH”) Faust wasn’t there to work his magic. So the Giants went on and won the pennant and then came the tragedy. Because they go to the world series. (“BELL”)
G: First came the glory. First he got to pitch.
F: All right, you want to get — All right, let’s — okay, let’s tell that story next.
G: Yeah, we can’t —
F: All year long he was saying to Faust —
G: He was agitating McGraw to pitch: “Let me pitch. Don’t forget —”
F: “I’m a pitcher. I want to — I’ve been told I was going to pitch the Giants in the pennant. It wasn’t — ”
G: Besides, it was his destiny. How could McGraw deny his destiny?
F: And it wasn’t enough to lead the Giants to the pennant. He had to pitch the Giants to the pennant.
G: That’s right. And McGraw would blow him off. And McGraw, I think, viewed — thought it would be a travesty if this guy got on the mound. He thought he’d probably get killed. And so he would tell him things like, “Yeah, Charlie, you pitch Friday.” And Charlie would get excited and he’d look at the schedule and see they had an off day on Friday. And he just strung him along, paid his expenses, took him on the road and let him be part of the team but —
F: Never let him into a game.
G: Didn’t let him pitch until almost an afterthought. As popular as Faust had been on the road, if McGraw had announced that Faust was going to pitch the game today, they would’ve drawn a huge crowd. As it was, it was a small crowd and he put him in to pitch the ninth inning.
F: At a game in Boston?
G: It was at the Polo Grounds against Boston.
F: He’s — all right, yeah. (“THEY WERE”) Both games were at home night.
G: He got lucky. The first batter crushed the ball and it went for a double but the pitcher was up next so he bunted. And then another guy crushed the ball but it was caught for a sacrifice fly. And the final guy was laughing so hard he grounded out. And when the game ended Faust was on deck. (“THAT AS”) One of the writers put it, “What are three outs to Charlie Faust?” He wanted to bat. The other team stayed in the field, let him bat. They did what McGraw had done the first day he met Faust. He let him hit the ball and ran him around the bases and tagged him out about two feet from home plate.
F: Can you imagine doing that? And the other thing was that, apparently, in those days when they had batting practice, the teams would mix in batting practice. You didn’t just throw to your own team. And Charlie Faust was throwing batting practice to people like Honus Wagner.
G: Right. Honus Wagner let Faust strike him out in batting practice.
F: Eight-time batting champion.
G: Yes. Couldn’t handle Faust.
F: (small laugh) At least, Charlie thought so. (“MAY”)
G: He may have been the Stu Miller of his time. Maybe he threw so slowly that nobody could find them. But actually what with Wagner doing that and Faust pitched another inning in the last game of the year and got the side out without a run. What that complicity did was foster his illusion that he was a real pitcher. So that in 1912 when he stayed with the team part-time he was more intent than ever on proving that he was a real pitcher. He went to spring training on his own that year to teach himself to pitch left-handed so he’d be twice as valuable. I mean this guy was . . .
F: Well he was obsessed. He had that single-minded obsession. You know, Gabriel, I think it’s important to point this out — that Charlie Faust had that single-minded obsession, that total belief —
F: — that only the most simple and the most — what would you say? The most uncomplicated character could have.
G: That’s right.
F: He believed in his destiny. The fortune teller told him he was going to be a great pitcher.
G: That’s right. As I said, (“THIS”) this one great idea filled his head to the exclusion of just about everything. And so when they finally did send him back to Kansas, he kept peppering the league office and the Giants’ office with letters, trying to get reinstated. And he believed he was a real pitcher and eventually he went insane.
F: We’ll talk about the downfall of Charlie Faust after the next break here.
F: Gabriel Schechter’s our guest and the book is called Victory Faust. (“BOND”) Foreward by Lawrence Ritter. It is an amazing story. (“CAR”) And there’s something far beyond baseball in this book because it is the story of a, as I just said, a man with an obsessive idea for which there was no compromising. And that’s the kind of thing that makes — sometimes makes great people and sometimes makes terrible (“WITH”)— results in terrible things. And that’s what happened with Charles Faust. We’ll talk about that in a moment. It’s now 7:45, time to check the latest traffic report on Talk Radio 790 KABC . . .
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(bumper music is “Stepping Out” performed by Joe Jackson)
F: Ten minutes before eight o’clock. I’m Ira Fistell filling in for Mr. KABC. Well Charlie Faust had his eleven weeks or so of glory and then the tragedy begins. And the tragedy began with the world series that year.
G: Yes, it did. He got out-mascoted.
G: Of all things. Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics had an experienced mascot who spent most of the decade with the team. A hunchbacked dwarf named Louis Van Zelst whose jinxing powers and a couple of home runs by Home Run Baker did the Giants in.
F: I suspect the home runs probably had more to it than the mascot. (“THINK SO”) This was when Frank Baker was still known as Frank. He earned his Home Run Baker nickname in that world series by hitting one off Mathewson and then one off Marquard on successive days.
G: That’s right. And Faust started badmouthing him right after that. He thought it was a very dishonorable thing to do.
F: And the series was delayed umpteen days by rain.
G: By rain.
F: And it kind of took the stuffing out of the Giants. And when they lost all of a sudden it was Charlie’s fault.
G: Well, yeah, he had to take the blame along with everybody else because he had predicted all along that they’d win the series in five games.
F: And they lost in six.
G: They lost in six. And his stock went down quite a bit. And then a couple of weeks later he had a one-week engagement in vaudeville which may have signaled the end of vaudeville. I found a review in Variety and, (“O”) first of all, he was the next-to-last act. A bunch of tumblers went on to close the bill. And after his first performance, they refused to go on after him. But the Variety reviewer said, “Vaudeville must be a dying institution to take on an act of this sort.” . . .
F: Vaudeville, of course, was where you presented a hot new name because there wasn’t anything else. There weren’t any Johnny Carson shows. You know, no TV.
G: It was like going on “The Tonight Show.”
G: Yeah. Or “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Ed Sullivan used to introduce celebrities of the week.
F: Yeah, The Beatles started there.
F: Yeah. Anyway so Charlie was a punctured — what would you say? A punctured jinx — jinx breaker.
G: Yeah. (or “YEAH”)
F: A punctured mascot.
G: And in 1912 he was there for a lot of their home games when they got off of to that incredible start. McGraw wouldn’t let him on the road again and he became more fervent in his attempts to be recognized for his pitching ability, which became more of a joke and an aggravation. And they were doing just fine. Then McGraw heard about Carter Harrison.
F: Now this is an interesting story. Carter Harrison was the mayor of Chicago — who was assassinated by apparently a half-crazy guy.
G: Yes. And Faust and the man Prendergast who killed Carter Harrison in 1894 — they say he was just a hanger-on and we all know people in our workplace or in a shop or a diner or someplace that are sort of not quite there mentally but they’re always there. They’re always around. They — you play along with them. They don’t know that you’re laughing at them. But they’re there. And the mayor of Chicago led this guy along and didn’t deliver. And the guy shot him. And when somebody told the story to John McGraw, he realized that really that’s what he had been doing. He had been stringing Faust along and giving him the impression that he was going to succeed in his — in all his missions and in reality he wasn’t prepared to. And he suddenly became very fearful that Faust was going to snap . . .
F: And, in fact, he did snap a couple of years later.
G: He did snap a couple of years later. Right. He was living in Seattle and (“A”) he got arrested in Portland. He had walked from Seattle to Portland. He was on his way to New York to help the Giants, he told police in Portland. He was put in the state hospital in Salem, Oregon. And on the admission sheet he listed his occupation as professional ballplayer. So he — the delusion had taken hold by then.
F: And he died of tuberculosis in the insane asylum only three years or so after his —
G: Yeah. He was dead by 1915 at the age of 34. The tragedy of Faust is that we can appreciate what he did more than he did.
F: Yeah. But just the very fact that he was able to pitch in the major — a couple of major league games; is in the major league record book; he did help the team to a pennant. (“HE”) He had a serious accomplishment (“THAT’S RIGHT”) but he never understood that. (“I MEAN”)
G: He lived out every fan’s dream. We would all love to shag flies in the ballpark and pitch batting practice and run around the bases, much less be on the bench of a pennant-winning team, much less get in the game.
F: Yeah. (“BITCH”)
G: Every one of us would like to.
F: And, Gabriel Schechter, the epitaph to Charlie Faust. After all these years he was almost forgotten totally. Now you’ve written the book that will (“BOO[K]”) forever be associated with Charlie Faust. But the epitaph to Charlie Faust goes to Rube Marquard, who was the guy he helped the most — who when he was 92 years old, the last survivor of the Giants of 1911, Marquard said:
G: This was at Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame weekend and (“AA”) a historian named John Holway went up to Marquard and asked him about Faust. And Marquard could barely talk. And he simply said, “When he was with us, we won. When he wasn’t, we didn’t.”
F: And that, from Marquard especially, that was really true.
G: That’s all he needed to know. And when Faust left, things weren’t as bleak for Marquard anymore.
F: Yeah. Well, Gabriel Schechter, it’s a remarkable book. It’s something that — a story that, I suppose, had to be told by somebody sooner or later and you were the one who did it. (“SO”) The book is called Victory Faust by Gabriel Schechter, published by Charles April Publications. How do people get it if they’re interested?
G: You can order it through your local bookstore. On amazon.com is the easiest place.
F: Okay. Thank you very much for doing the work on Charles Victory Faust because —
G: Well thank you, Ira.
F: — nobody else did it all those years.
G: It was a story that definitely needed to be told.
F: Yeah. And here it is. Ninety years after it happened, there’s finally a book about it.
F: Thanks very much.
G: Thank you. Bye-bye.
F: Okay. That’s Gabriel Schechter, author of Victory Faust, a tragic, comic, great story. You know, you could almost (“PUT”) — well you could almost put it in the category of the Faust legend, a man who sold his soul to the Devil perhaps — never could get over the fact that he had been successful but not successful enough for him. And he died insane. All right, that’s the story. We’re going to go to our open forum part of the program next. (gives number) is the telephone number, toll-free. I hope you enjoyed the story of Victory Faust and what a strange and tragic and wonderful story it is. (gives number) will be the telephone number now . . .