In the stone age of American sport, when basketball still had a set shot and ballplayers wore baggy pants and metal spikes, buses rattled through every tank town in the heartland of the nation. They hauled hopeful young athletes across the cracked plains to Beatrice in the Nebraska State League and aging veterans down the long, straight roads to Keokuk in the Mississippi Valley League. The buses had names like Yellow Z and White 54 and Mack BC and Flxible Airway and Beck Steeliner. But lots of people called them Iron Lungs.
Riding the team bus was a rite of passage, a form of dues paying as well as an inspiration to play better. "You'd sit in the bus for seven or eight hours," recalls Bob Lemon, the Hall of Fame pitcher. "You'd arrive at dawn, try in vain to get some sleep, then make it to the game just in time to put your uniform on. My goal was to make the Southern Association, because they took the railroad."
"Every athlete should spend a few years taking all-day bus trips," says Larry Andersen of the Houston Astros, who bus-whacked through the bushes for parts of 12 seasons. "It makes you a lot more appreciative of what you have. Buses put a permanent note in your head that you've been through some rough times."
The team bus is a self-enclosed world. "You can curse all you want, walk around in your underwear, throw bran muffins at teammates," says Tom Martin, the only hockey player ever traded for a bus (more on that later). "You don't get that kind of camaraderie on trains or planes."
July 2, 1989
HUB KITTLE AND THE SLEEPLESS HOUSE
Spread out on the kitchen table in Hub Kittle's home in Yakima, Wash., the memorabilia of his life have the oddly disconnected quality of pages torn at random from a diary. But the grand array is dazzling: autographed bats and balls, clippings of ancient box scores, frayed photos, souvenirs, plaques, the bric-a-brac of six decades in baseball. Kittle hunches over this accumulation, his face a road map of dead ends and dry gulches. The crinkly curve of the forehead, the steady eye and the tight mouth are not so different from those in the 1938 photo of the young Hub Kittle in a wrinkled Ponca City Angels uniform. "I've played for or managed or general managed everywhere from Klamath Falls to Jersey City," he says in his booming rasp of a voice. "And more often than not, I drove the bus, too."
He's 73 now, affable and profane, full of energy and packed with an endless supply of stories. He tells them more or less nonstop for nine hours, pausing only to fix his visitor a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There's the tale about the peg-legged bus driver in Venezuela, the night-blind bussy in the Dominican Republic and bussy manquè Nick Rosenhoffer, who turned a straying heifer into ground beef. "Holy cow!" Kittle says. "Nick comes screaming over the crest of a hill and hits that calf dead-on. He just keeps on going. Funniest looking hood ornament I ever saw.
The passengers on Kittle's buses were often as colorful as the drivers: Dick Descalso, a pitcher afraid to let go of the ball; Arlo Engle, the game's greatest "two o'clock hitter," meaning he could hit like a maniac before the game but nary a lick after it began at 2 p.m.; and Lou Novikoff, a stat freak who wrote his batting average on his sleeve after every at bat. "Pat House was the best bus-riding pitcher I ever had," says Kittle. "Never slept before a start. Had a system: He wanted to pitch the opening game of every road series. He figured after seven hours in a bus, the guys are loose and ready to hit the hell out of the ball. And he was right. They did score a lot of runs for him. Of course, the game after that, bus lag would set in and they couldn't hit worth——. But, hell, I've got lots of better bus stories than that."
THE ROUTE OF ALL EVEL
Evel Knievel carefully unscrewed the gold, diamond-encrusted clasp of his cane and poured himself a Montana Mary—a lethal mix of Wild Turkey, vodka, tomato juice and beer. "Sure I have a death wish," he deadpanned to the British press. "I want to die in bed with Elizabeth Taylor when I'm 108."
It was 1975, and the kamikaze king of motorcycle stunts had gone to England to hurtle over 13 single-decker London transport buses at Wembley Stadium. In previous jumps, Knievel's blowhard machismo had carried him over half-a-zillion trucks, cars and buses neatly set out in rows of eight, 10 and 12. Now he was about to kick start a European tour that, depending on his Montana Mary intake at the time he was speaking, would include leaps over the Thames, the English Channel and the Berlin Wall.
On this afternoon 60,000 Evel worshippers assembled for a chance to see Knievel become at one with the Wembley sod. He gestured to them graciously, revved the engine of his 750 Harley and roared down a 380-foot ski jump. He cleared the first 12 buses like an eagle, but hit the 13th like a shot duck. Toppling over handlebars of the bike, he smeared himself over the landing ramp and landed in Whitechapel Hospital. When his stats were totaled, he had a couple of compressed vertebrae, two broken fingers and a hairline fracture of the pelvis. "I will never jump again," he said after struggling to a microphone.
MR. SMITH GOES TO MIAMI
Paul Smith remembers the days when bus drivers wheeled around in puttees and Sam Browne belts. He retired from the Central Texas Bus Lines in 1973 after 27 years of service. Only Morganna has bussed more athletes. "No bragging," he says, "but I guess I've driven as many athletic teams on buses as anyone in the state of Texas, probably as many as anyone in most states of the Union."
Smith drove the Baylor band from Waco to Miami for the 1952 Orange Bowl. On the way home, Smith's five-bus caravan stopped in Tallahassee, where the band director, Donald Moore, lectured the students in each bus. "Look, I'm tired of waiting for you kids every time we make a stop," said Moore. "These buses are going to leave at one o'clock sharp. If you're not on one, you can walk home or find another way back."
At one o'clock, Smith asked Moore if he was ready.
"Let 'em roll," Moore said.
It wasn't long before a kid in the back yelled, "Mr. Moore, we're one short."
"I can't help it. I warned you kids, and I wasn't kidding."
"But sir, the one missing is your wife."
FLOAT LIKE A BLUE BIRD, STING LIKE A CUSTOM COACH
"Muhammad Ali just loved to drive buses," says Gene Kilroy, Ali's former business manager. "When he was young Cassius Clay, he bought an old one that needed lots of work. Him and Bundini Brown painted the thing and called it Big Red. It got him the fight with Sonny Liston. Ali was getting frustrated because Liston kept ducking him. So one day Ali's driving Big Red, and he says, 'I got an idea how to make Liston fight. I'll invade the guy.' He drives to Denver and parks in Liston's front yard. He honks the horn, flashes the headlights and guns the engine. Liston comes screaming out of his house: 'You s.o.b. I'll kick your butt.' Ali just sits in the bus, honking and flashing, honking and flashing, driving poor Liston berserk. 'I mean it,' Liston shouts. 'I'm gonna kill you." Finally Ali says, 'Let's get it on.' And that's how he got his title shot.
"Ali always wanted his own Custom Coach, so one day we flew out to the factory in Columbus, Ohio. He tells the salesman he wants one fixed up like the rock stars have—a shower, TVs, bedrooms, everything. The salesman says, 'That'll be $160,000.' I take the guy aside and say, 'Hey, let's work this out in trade. How about if Muhammad does a commercial for-Custom Coach and we call it even.' 'O.K.,' says the salesman, 'we'll shoot it tomorrow.' I tell Ali, and he says, 'I ain't waiting around for no tomorrow. I want it now!' 'But Muhammad,' I say. 'Listen,' he says, 'my butt is the one doing the roadwork, and my butt is the one sitting on the seat. Pay the bill and let's get out of here.' So I wrote a check for $160,000, and he drove a bus away that afternoon.
"Anyway, he's speeding along, going maybe 75 miles an hour, when a siren goes off and there's flashing lights behind us. State police. Muhammad stops the bus, runs out to the squad car and yells, 'I'm lookin' for Joe Frazier. Where's Joe Frazier?' The cop starts laughing and says, 'If you want to find him, you'd better slow down.' Ali never did get a ticket.
"Later, this big old truck cuts him off the road. Whoom! We end up in a ditch, and the truck keeps going. Muhammad pulls out, races up beside the truck and shouts, 'Learn to drive.' The truck driver hears this and says, 'Pull over! I'll teach you a lesson.' Well, Ali pulls over, and the truck driver slams on his brakes and jumps out. He's a little guy, five feet four. He doesn't recognize Ali at first, and he's mad as hell. He says, 'You think I cut you off? You cut me off.' Ali says, 'How crazy can I be? I'm getting ready for a championship fight, and I'm gonna cut you off in a big truck to get hurt? You got to be crazy!' The guy says, 'Are you...?' Ali says, 'Yeah.' The guy says, 'Well, you all look alike.' So Ali says, 'Hey, mister. I know you don't want to fight me.' The guy says, 'You're right about that.' Ali says, 'Come on, I'll treat you to dinner.' So we went to a diner, and we sat down and had dinner. The guy says, 'You know, I'm a redneck. I'm 100 percent redneck. I never cared for niggers, but I always liked you.' Ali laughs, and the guy says, 'I want you to do me a favor. I want you to call my little boy on the phone and tell him who you are, just to say he talked to you.'
"So Ali did, and the truck driver shook his hand and went on his way. And Ali won another fan. Truly the people's champ."
HUB KITTLE AND THE BUS OF DOOM
"I'll tell you the story about how I almost drowned in a bus," Kittle says. "I'm in Mexico managing the Hermosillo Naranjeros, and we're busing home after a game in Mazatlàn. We reach a river. There are no bridges—you've got to ferry across. But there's no ferry. We look 300 yards downriver and see all these trucks and horse-drawn wagons crossing, so our driver joins the parade. We're moving along pretty good, when our bus hits a sandbar. The sand is loose, like quicksand, and that baby starts to go down. And I mean down! Our driver opens the door and muddy water spurts down the aisles. Some of the players yell like crazy and say Hail Marys. Our driver jumps out and wades chin-deep to the shore. Everybody else swims after him. We build a big mesquite fire on the riverbank. It's colder than a well digger's behind. But we get gassed up pretty good on tequila and lots of cerveza. I sing The Bullpen Pitcher's Lament. It was written by a deaf knuckleballer, Tin Ear Medigini, in the back of a bus when I was managing Bremerton in the Western International League:
"I've been working in the bullpen,
All the livelong day.
I've been working in the bullpen,
Just throwing my arm away.
Can't you hear Hub Kittle shouting
Hey, come here on this mound,
And try to stop these sons of bitches
From knockin' the ball around."
SLOUCHING TOWARD JERUSALEM
One of the strangest religious pilgrimages never made began on the Boston Red Sox' bus in July 1962.
The woeful Sox had just been hammered in Yankee Stadium, and pitcher Gene Conley had been KO'd in the third inning, thus failing to convince New York manager Ralph Houk that he should be on the All-Star team. Boston's bus stalled in traffic en route to Newark airport. "I'm sitting on that bus, feeling miserable," recalls Conley, who packed 17 big league seasons into 11 years as both a pitcher and an NBA forward. "It's hot. I'm tired. No one's moving. I'd been drinking beer alone in the locker room the last six innings. My arm's full of cortisone and hurting. I could feel the world closing in on me."
He spied a bar and said to manager Mike Higgins, "I need to go to the men's room." He brought along teammate Pumpsie Green. They used the men's rest room, then they used the bar. That sequence repeated itself many times through the night and into the next morning, by which time the bus had long ago left them behind. Eventually Green managed to find the team again in Washington. But Conley, always an original thinker when he was on his own, decided to hail a cab for Israel. He got as far as an airline counter at Idlewild airport before remembering he didn't have a passport. "I had one thing left and that was the good Lord," he says. "And I was hoping to go to Jerusalem to get things settled."
MOTOR CITY MADNESS
The Minnesota Vikings' bus once got so snarled in traffic outside the Silverdome in Detroit that the team didn't arrive until after the scheduled kickoff. Fran Tarkenton, the Minnesota quarterback, had to do his warmups in the aisles.
The driver was so distraught that he called out the window for help: "I've got the Vikings here!"
"So what," yelled a motorist. "I've got the Lions and six."
The world's most memorable harmonica solo was performed 25 years ago in the New York Yankees' airport shuttle. The Bombers had just dropped four straight to Chicago at Comiskey Park and had fallen 4½ games behind the White Sox. With the pennant drive entering its final weeks, the Yankees climbed dejectedly into the bus and headed for O'Hare.
From the back row an ungodly sound cut through the gloom like a metal shredder. Utility infielder Phil Linz was tootling Mary Had a Little Lamb on his new harmonica. In the front row, manager Yogi Berra's fleece was turning white as snow.
Berra whipped around in his seat. "Hey Linz," he said. "Go stick that harmonica in your ear."
Linz didn't quite hear him. He leaned forward and asked Mickey Mantle, "What did Yogi say?"
"He said to play it louder," Mantle said.
When Linz complied, Berra leapt to his feet and barreled down the aisle shouting, "Now I'm gonna stick it in your ear."
Linz tossed the harmonica at Berra, who flung it back. The instrument struck Joe Pepitone's knee. Pepitone fell to the floor. "Oh my god," he screamed. "I'll sue him! He broke my knee! Get a medic! My knee, my knee!"
The next day Berra fined Linz $200. The day after that Hohner offered Linz a $5,000 contract to endorse its line of harmonicas.
His recital stirred up a complacent team. The Yanks won 30 of their next 43 games—and the pennant. When Linz signed a new contract the next winter, general manager Ralph Houk tossed in a $200 bonus.
"For harmonica lessons," Houk said.
A LITTLE TRAVELING MUSIC, PLEASE
In bus roadeos, the contestants wrestle steering wheels, not steers, and no one has ever been impaled on a bus horn. Still, R.J. Zuzworsky claims that the 40-foot, 13-ton city bus he drives in New York is as fractious as any bucking bronc.
Zuzworsky won last year's 12th annual International Bus Operators' Roadeo, a timed driving competition in which the top bussies from more than 100 transit systems in the U.S. and Canada negotiate tight mazes lined with phosphorescent orange cones. The goal is not speed, but safety and precision.
Zuzworsky drives in Brooklyn for the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, mostly on the B-5 line from Coney Island to Kings Highway. When talking about his work, he spouts like a happy whale. Zuzworsky, 45, is a big guy, 6'1", 240 pounds. He's a cheerful fellow, friendly and easy to talk to.
"I always wanted to be a bus driver," he says. His childhood hero was Ralph Kramden, the blustering bussy of The Honeymooners. "I liked the way Ralph joked with people. Sure, he'd grouch and complain, but I took it as his way of having fun and overcoming obstacles."
On Zuzworsky's route, the biggest obstacle is open car doors. "Open doors leave me three options," he says. "I can swerve and risk sideswiping another vehicle. I can jump on the brakes and risk sending a passenger through the windshield. Or I can ram the door."
So what does he do?
"I ram the door. I've hit doors upon doors upon doors. I'm the King of Doors."
But the roadeo crown eluded him until last year. The closest he came was second in the 1982 finals and third in '85. "I wouldn't have tried again without the encouragement of my wife, Carmen," Zuzworsky says.
As a spectator sport, the roadeo is about as exciting as watching gridlock. In the 1988 finals, the action—if that's what you call it—took place in a Montreal parking lot. Zuzworsky zoomed around the course at speeds approaching 15 mph. He jogged left, backed up, stopped and eased the double back wheels through two rows of cones. Along the way Zuzworsky touched a cone, and was penalized five points. After essaying a treacherous series of slaloms, turnarounds and cul-de-sacs, he stepped on the gas, shot through a narrowing gauntlet of 55-gallon barrels and slammed on the brakes. The bus stopped five inches short of the final pylon, an inch under the limit. Zuzworsky finished with 637 points out of a possible 650, the highest score ever in the tournament finals.
Afterward, he phoned Carmen.
"How did you do?" she asked.
"Not too bad," he said coyly.
"Well, maybe next year."
"I don't know if they'll let me compete again next year."
"Well then, the year after. Don't worry, you'll win."
"You really think so?"
"Carmen, you're the greatest."
HUB KITTLE AND THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY
"B.B. Eyes Beresdorf only played good when he was half swacked," Kittle says. "His eyes had to be three-quarters shut for him to hit. You saw the whites and he'd go oh for 4.
"We had this catcher, Al Ronning. Everybody called him Rook, because, well, he was a rookie. This one time he's got his feet stretched out on the bus and he's blocking the aisle, and B.B. Eyes says, 'Get your feet out of the way, Rook.' Ronning says, 'I'm tired of everybody calling me Rook. So don't go calling me that.'
"B.B. Eyes sizes him up and says, 'Go——in your hat, Rook.'
"Well, you know you can't fight real good in a bus. I mean you can wrestle, but you really can't fight anybody on the floor with 15 ballplayers on top of you. So I slam on the brakes and say, "O.K., boys. There's the parking lot. Go to it." Well, these two big lugs put on the damnedest fightin' match you ever saw. They were goin' at it like bullmastiffs. Bip! Bam! Boom! Really poppin' each other. I let 'em go on maybe 10, 15 minutes before I break it up. Both have black eyes and split lips. I call it a draw, but Ronning won a moral victory. B.B. Eyes called him Al from then on.
"And, baby, that's not even one of my best bus stories."
Getting traded for a bus didn't bother left wing Tom Martin. Neither did getting tagged with the nickname Bussy. What bugged him was the taunt an opponent made on the opening shift of his first pro hockey game. "Hey, Martin," the guy said, "maybe we can get you for some garbage cans."
Martin and buses became inextricably linked in the year 1983. The Spokane Flyers of the Western Hockey League had bought a bus from Trail-ways for $60,000 and sunk another $15,000 into refurbishing it. Then the Flyers folded. The Victoria Cougars picked up the bus, only to discover they needed another $20,000 to cover the Canadian duties. Finding this too much to pay, Victoria dealt the bus to the Seattle Breakers, whose own bus had blown an engine only days before. In return for the bus, the Cougars got $35,000 and the rights to Martin, a Victoria native who had refused to play for Seattle.
Martin quickly signed with Victoria and amassed 80 points that season despite the fact that he missed 20 games with a broken foot. The bus fared far less well than the man it had been traded for. On the Breakers' first trip to Canada, the team tried to sneak a Dutch player without proper immigration papers across the border. He got nabbed by alert customs officials, who immediately impounded the bus for the rest of the season.
HOW HIGH THE MOON?
Lots of athletes have mooned on buses, but only Greg Minton has Mooned a bus. Minton, the California Angels reliever, earned the moniker Moon Man while with San Francisco. Maybe it was because he learned to pitch by winging avocados at swallows. Or perhaps the name marked the time he dived into the shallow end of a hotel pool from a second-story balcony and nearly became deceased. Whatever, Minton was never more moonstruck than when he hijacked the Giants' bus in Houston during the 1982 pennant race.
The Giants were two games out of first. "Everybody's posterior was real tight," Minton says. "Mine was a little looser."
He got on the Giants' charter at the Shamrock Hilton. Nobody else was on board. "I saw the keys in the ignition, and I thought, What the heck," Minton says. He shoved the bus into first and rumbled off. He had never driven a bus before. "I don't know how many gears that bus had, but I went through three of them."
Minton needed new shoes, so he drove a few miles to Gary's Hats and Boots. One of Gary's clerks watched him disembark.
"Is the rest of the team coming, too?" he asked.
"No," said Minton. "Just me."
He bought a pair of boots—"elephant ear or eel, I think"—and then completed the trip to the Astrodome. He got there at 4:50, 10 minutes before the team was due. By 5:10, nobody else had shown up. Ditto, 5:20. At 5:25 a few players drifted in clutching taxi chits.
"Moonie!" said Tom Haller, the Giants' general manager. "Is what I heard true?"
"That all depends on what you heard."
"The bus. Did you steal it?"
"I was just trying to loosen up the team."
"Then why don't you loosen up your wallet?"
The boots cost Minton 75 bucks, but his solitary bus ride cost him more than that—$120.
THE PAN-AMERICAN LOCAL
It was while traveling along the knobby spine of the Andes 14 years ago that I briefly became an aficionado of the brinkman's sport of high-altitude bus racing. My South American Handbook had warned me, "Bus travel in Colombia is far from dull.... Breakdowns are many. It is not for weak hearts, queasy stomachs or long legs." My initiation came one rainy night on a bus that was racing between Ipiales, Colombia, and Quito, Ecuador. I was accompanied by a litter of kittens, a parrot, two sheep, some chickens and 60 Ecuadorians, packed as tight as the Marx Brothers in the stateroom of A Night at the Opera.
I was stuffed behind the driver's seat, shoehorned between the bus wall and a sack containing coconuts and other, unidentified, goods—many of which were smuggled, I assumed—owned by a tomato-cheeked woman who yammered constantly into the driver's ear.
An anaconda tattoo coiled up and down the biceps of our driver as he fought the wheel with his right hand while cleaning the misty windshield with his left elbow. He seemed to be listening attentively to Tomato Cheeks while he played bumper cars with the back of a bus that was leading the race. With last-second jerks of the wheel, he managed to yank our bus away from the edge of a narrow 8,000-foot precipice and pull ahead of the competition. We were so high that if we had been a plane, we would have crashed because of ice on our wings.
Racing is serious business for South American bus drivers, because whoever gets to the stop first gets the passengers. The competition is dicey because buses never are inspected, rarely have major maintenance work done and routinely wear tires as bald as a Boy Scout's knee. On the Pan-American Highway, bus racers can earn great, if short-lived, reputations.
Ours was a star. At times, steering seemed to him to be an afterthought. He could barely see the road anyway; the windshield was covered with decals of the South American bus driver's Holy Trinity—the Virgin Mary, Chè Guevara and Mickey Mouse. A cabbie we had just squeezed against the side of a tunnel slipped up off our driver's left flank and yelled, "Assassin!" Skidding giddily around bumpy, shadowy mountain curves, our driver overtook two more buses, and we passed through the town of Ibarra like an empanada through a Norteamericano tourist. Like a 747 captain minimizing turbulence, our driver assured us that no more than two wheels were ever over the edge.
I was not reassured, however, when we screamed up on a battered yellow school bus and tried to pass it on the outside. On this route, the outside was about six inches wide and 7,343 feet down. Portions of the mountain crumbled off and dropped the full 7,343 feet. Then the driver hit the brakes. Screeeech! He downshifted. Another horrendous screech. The gearshift broke off in his hand. He waved it at the end of his anaconda.
I was looking for a parachute. Tomato Cheeks didn't pause. She reached into her mysterious bag of coconuts and contraband and drew forth some kind of metal rod, which the driver duly substituted for the broken shift on the fly, and life went on.
HUB KITTLE'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
"Galloping Brunella was a real bucket of bolts," says Kittle. He's well into his eighth hour of bus tales, though he shows no signs of tiring. "She was a rickety, rackety Reo Speed Wagon with wicker seats, rag curtains and the words PONCA CITY ANGELS flaking off the side. I used to floor that sonuvabitch, but I never got her past 45 miles an hour. Didn't get to drive her till 1937, when she must have been a hundred years old.
"So it's four-thirty in the morning and we're on a dirt road about five miles out of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and closing in on Ponca City. All of a sudden Brunella lets out a Boom! Boom! BOOM! We look under the hood and there's a hole in the motor the size of a watermelon! Our manager, Goldie Holt, decides to hitchhike into Ponca City to get another bus. The rest of us lay down by the road and roll up our uniforms for pillows. I'm thinkin', To hell with this, I'll go see the little gal I know in Pawhuska. A farmer gives me a ride. But when I get there, Goldie's on a corner.
" 'Hub,' he tells me. 'Go back to Brunella and set her on fire.' He was thinking of the insurance, you see.
"So I head back out, and another farmer takes me up the road a piece and drops me off. I get out and see one of them old swaybacked mares. I sneak under some barbed wire, mount the mare, slap her on the flank and gallop down the fence line toward the bus. They must have thought I was leading the Seventh Cavalry.
"I see my roomie, Dominick Castro. A good catcher, Dominick, with knobs all over his fingers. 'Get over here,' I say. "We got to cremate Brunella.'
" 'What you been drinking?' Castro asks.
" 'Ain't drinking nothing. Goldie wants us to blow her up.' I find a Prince Albert tobacco can and fill it with gas. I dump the gas into the carburetor, sprinkle it over the hood and light a match. VROOOOM! Well, actually, it takes three or four matches to really get her going. Anyway, Brunella's going pretty good when here comes a Greyhound from Ponca City. The driver hops on his brakes, grabs a fire extinguisher and starts putting out the flames for us.
"We pat him on the back and say, 'Thanks bussy. You saved our life.'
"Well, as soon as he's gone, we pour on more gas and stick cigarette stubs in the wicker seats. But we never could get Brunella going. Truth is, it's tough to blow up a bus. That afternoon Goldie shows up in another bus and drops us at the stadium in Ponca City. After the game he and the team owner pay Brunella another visit. They make a rope out of sweat socks and shove one end in the gas tank. Then they hide in an irrigation ditch and put a match to the sock rope. BOOM! Brunella goes sky-high. There's nothing left but frames, rims and a chunk of the engine.
"A few weeks later the team owner tells me to go to the railroad station because the new bus is in. It's sitting on a sidetrack on a flatbed car: fire-engine red with PONCA CITY ANGELS in big white letters. She's got a big horn, a radio and push-button reclining seats. Oh man, she's nice. I'm so damn happy, I drive her to the ballpark, circle the outfield and howl to a halt on the pitching mound. I blow her horn. Woo! Woo! Woo! It's louder than hell. The players all form a ring around the bus and inspect her. They nod and smile and a few even weep. That night we all sit in the bus and get drunker than $700 bills.
"And that, son, is the best damn bus story I know."