Where is Johnny Rabitt?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  No Houses
Johnny Rabitt is a Mohawk Indian from a reservation who made it into Major League baseball . He is deprived of bonus money, The story wends it's way through the legal ramifications and a man who becomes totally maddened in his efforts to reach the truth.

Submitted: March 10, 2017

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Submitted: March 10, 2017



A story by Jack KAY

I hadn’t seen big league ball game for a couple of seasons and when Grant called and said he had tickets for a SOX game at the new Soxdome I agreed .
We met at Swankies Deli and had great big Corned Beef sandwiches and fries. Grant as usual scoffed his meal down with some Miller and I sucked on a Pepsi.
Grant Allen and I had been pals for years, we worked together .He, being a rather mellow guy who I teamed up with and we became fast friends. Along with our wives we went to all the shows and ballgames together. Suddenly Grant grew tired of his wife , Angie who I have to admit was rather annoying as she spoke with a nasal voice and she always sounded like she had a bad cold.
I felt rather sorry about the situation and my wife Sandy and I wentout of our wayto help but Grant moved on in his life. He hada number of flings and I didn’t’ hear from him for a long time except occasionally at work. It was when Sandy and I decided to split up that Grant called me and we began to enjoy life as bachelors.
My name is Sam Lewis, I grew up in CenterTownand went to a Community College called ADVANCE.I didn't’ take the name too seriously and eventually graduated with a degree in office management. Since you needed to start at the bottom in a so called office managementcareer,I began my career at a very unpretentious law office called simply “The Stoner Law Office.” Mr Stoner was long gone and his partners with him and the office came into the hands of a lady lawyer named Mildred Bunning who hired me . A few weeks after I started along came Grant who had failed law school and needed a job, to pay back all his scholarships. My job was to deliver the mail and file all the clients files. Grant did the same job almost except he worked with some lawyers in the firm on brief’s. There were thirty lawyers and several secretaries . That was how I met Sandy. When we separated she quit.
After eight years in the Stoner Law Office I was making not bad money, but I had the same job. It was not very encouraging to know that the office administrator was a very young man. Grant said he would help me to get the guy fired but I laughed and said that he would be up next for the job.
Mildred kept promising me a better job but it never materialized and she gave me a big raise. Pretty soon Grant and I were spending longerand longer lunch hours wandering around downtown Centertown.
After eating our lunch at Swankies , we took a subway right to the Soxdome. Grant proffered me the ticket and we walked to our seats.
The Sox were out for batting practice and I could barely see the field, because we were in the nosebleed section. Grant told me that afternoon games drew tiny crowds and that we could move down to the third base seats after the second inning.
The Sox were in last place in the league and they were playing the Americans. The Americans also were not doing very well, they were in sixth in the Atlantic Division.
The game started and true to his word, Grant motioned for me to follow him down to the Grandstand near the third base seats. There wasn’t soul in the entire area. Most of the fans were on the first base side. We were almost on top of the dugout.
The Americans scored early and before the fifth inning the Sox were down 6-1. The game was really boring. TheSox pitching coach made several trips to the mound and finally the manager signaled for a new pitcher who also eventually got hit pretty hard. The Sox were trailing 8-2 in the seventh and fans were streaming out. Grant sat back with his eyes half shut . During the top half of the 8“now playing 2”.
Grant suddenly sprung out of his lethargy. He studied the scorecard and sat forward on his seat . He began to clap, as hard as he could , someSox players came out of the dug out to see who was applauding. Then Grant began to shout. “Give them hell Johnny, show them what its all about”He kept on shouting until he stood up, tears were streaming down his face he was balling like a kid , he became so emotional I had to put my arms around his shoulders.
He cried and he cried. He held his fist up in the air like it was an Olympic event. Then as quickly as it began he sat down not taking his eyes from the diamond. I had never seen him react to anything with such a furor. He was a one hundred percent laid back guy, this was out of character.
I didn’t say anything or tell him the guy he was rooting for was just a defensive replacement in the late innings of a lost cause laugher. His capacity to shout and clap was unbelievable. He kept raising his fist and finally when a ball was hit almost past 1
“Sam -Sam -Sam did you see that play, the guy is a marvel”,he said , repeating the same phrase
The inning was over and the players retreated to the dugout, the Sox failed to get a hit and in the top of the ninth, big Daddy Gonzales hit a monstrous home run over the wall in right field for the Ams really sealing the fate of the Sox.
In the bottom of the ninth, Grant stood again because Johnny Rabbitt was due to bat. He came up the plate with one out and took a few swings before gettingin the batters box. The pitcher had allowed four hits and this was his first complete game of the season. Johnny took a few rips at the ball fouling off the pitches and then on the next pitch which was as I saw way out of strike zone, somehow his bat speed picked up, and he slashed the ball just fair down the first base line. Next Grant began his high pitched vocalizing as this man lived up to his name and scampered around to 2nd
The fellow was faster than any ballplayer I had ever seen. His speed was exceptional. Again Grant kept repeating my name .
The next batter swung at the first pitch and when the pitcher began his windup and before the ball even got to the plate , Johnny Rabbitt was standing on third before the pitch was  in his catcher’s glove.
It was of course apparent that this guy known as Johnny Rabbitt was going to score , on the next pitch the batter fouled off the ball past third. The pitcher waited several seconds, fiddling with his hat and walking around the rubber, until the umpire clapped his hands for him to deliver the next pitch. The batter swung on the pitch and the ball went straight up in the air and the short stop moved back into shallow center field to make the catch.
In the meantime, Johnny Rabbitt touched the bag and made a wild dash for home. The short stop caught the ball just as Johnny took off and he fired the ball to the catcher and it was a strike. But somehow Johnny Rabbitt alluded the tag , sliding in almost before the ball was in the catcher’s glove. The umpire motioned safe and the usual uproar ensued but through the din of the excitement, the few fans that were left in the stadium began to holler, led by Grant, .
“Johnny Johnny Johnny “ They yelled and he came out of the dugout and tipped his hat and the next two batters went down without a whimper. We left the stadium and took the subway back into the town center.
Grant was more silent than I had ever seen him. He seemed was completely lost in his own thoughts.
When we emerged from the subway station Grant was crying again. I slung my arm around him and pointed to a bar knownto us as the “Puke” but the real name was Pop’s tavern.
We took a table near the back in the dark and I ordered a soft drink and got a draft beer for Grant.Grant said he was hungry so I ordered a big plate of French Fries.
Grant just sipped on his beer and I hardly touched my pop. A few friends came over to say hello and we spoke for a while. A lawyer from out office came over and asked if we would like to play shuffle board. Grant just shook his head no.
The fries came and Grant shoveled several in his mouth, and I had a few, but then he leaned over andleaning over with tears in his eyes said
“The first time I saw that guy play I was eight years old. Sam it was incredible, I just went with my Dad to the games just to see that guy. My dad….”
Grant now broke down completely , the tears fell and he sobbed uncontrollably. The bar tender looked over at us, and some of the waiting staff also were watching. I just shook my hand waving to them that everything was okay.
Eventually he took a napkin and wiped his eyes and I could see he wanted to continue.
“Sam, you don’t know about my Dad, he was a drunk. But he loved baseball with a passion. He followed it even when he was pissed out of his mind. We lived in Detroit, my Dad worked in the Ford plant and we went to ball games at the old Briggs Stadium.”
Grant stopped again and took a long drink of his beer, almost emptying the glass. I asked him if he wanted anther, and he gave me his usual thumbs up and I signaled for another.
The beer arrived and Grant went on with his story.
“ It was 1975 and the car industry was really reeling and the Tigers were not so hot that year either. They only won about 57 games all season, they were offal. About half way through the season a young kid came up from the Tigers triple A farm club. The Tigers had a guy named Veryzer playing short. He had made a pile of errors and the managerRalph Houk wanted a defensive specialist to come in late innings. That kid was Johnny Rabbitt. He was an Indian from some place in Canada. I think maybe near Toronto. He was a Mohawk . You know the guys they get to work on high rise buildings.I never paid much attention about the kid but my dad through his bleary eyes kept watching the box scores. One night he stayed sober and my mother gave him the money to get 2 tickets in the bleachers. Wow the bleachers in Briggs stadium were like watching the game on a 5 inch TV”.
Grant talked on eventually he had knocked back a pile of beer.
“Anyway that night the kid played short. It was great because my Dad was wide awake, he watched the kid roam around behind 2”.
Grant began to slur his words and would abruptly close his eyes. He was really getting sloshed. Eventually he just fell asleep right on the table.
I asked the waiter to call us a cab and he helped me to shuffle him out the door and we put him in the back seat.The driver wasan old curmudgeon who had seenplenty of drunks. I told him I would give him an extra fin if he would help me to take Grant up to my apartment which was on the second floor of thePorter Manor.This was an old stately building on west 29
With the cabbies help we got Grant up the elevator and I sort of dragged him into the front hall and the driver helped me to slide him onto my living room couch.
‘Suggest you get a bucket for him he looks ready to barf” the driver said pointing to Grants facial features.
Actually Grant farted really loud and long and the driver ran for the hallway, I gave him ten bucks because he had been good about the situation and he left thanking me.
Grant was fully clothed so I pulled off his jacket and his shoes and threw a blanket on him . I noticed it was after two am and I decided to call in the next day for a day off.

I slept like a baby and when I awoke, Grant was still sawing logs, so I started breakfast. I thought he might need a big meal so I scrambled some eggs and burned some bacon and made a full pot of coffee.
I glanced at the clock and it was just coming on nine so I called the office and spoke to the receptionist Cheryl and told her that Grant and I had been out really late and we were going to take a day off.
Grant finally wandered into my tiny kitchen twenty minutes later and he looked terrible.
“Hey man he whispered, I don’t remember anything after we hit the PUKE. I was talking a blue streak but… hey the coffee smells good” he said falling into my kitchen chair
“I made you some breakfast, Grant eat something “
I put the food in front of him andcup of coffee and he launched into it like he was a Siberian tiger . He was just finishing when the phone rang
“We need Grant right away “ said the voice.
“Who is thisand don’t’you know enough to say hello“ I said in an off handed manner.
“Cut out the bullshit Sam, you know this is Gary speaking” He said in a frenzied voice.
“”I don’t know anybody named Gary who doesn’t’t say hello, I only know a Gary who is an asshole”
“Okay Sam just tell Grant that we need him by noon, that is my message”.
“And when do you need me”
“You keep acting like a wiseacre and it will be never” he said
“Oh are you giving me my notice, on the phone after eleven years with the firm Gary”
Grant looked at me and the phone and then he took it out of my hand
“This is Grant, Gary, you have something you want to tell me”
He listened for a a few seconds and then spoke.
“What do mean Mildred is on the war path Gary , because we took a day off?”
“Oh you need to have days off in writing,, when did that start”
But Grant was not waiting for an answer
“You know what Gary, Sam is right you are an asshole, and so here is my answer- FUCK OFF”
He looked for the button to turn off the phone, and he knew Gary was still listening and Grant leaned over to me and said
“Next time I see that little shit I’m going to kick the bejesus out of him”
I turned off the phone and we laughed our heads off.
We satmotionless for a long timein the living room and just ruminated.
“You know Sam if I had some money I would quit that lousy law office and open up a paralegalagency. The license is probably costly and an office would be expensive to operate but I could handle a lot of cases. With your expertise in management and knowledge of the legal system I think we could make some real money”.
“How much would it take do you think”
“ I do’t know maybe 15-20 thousand”
I sat back and thought about it getting away from working for someone else and also about losing a steady pay check. Grant was good , Mildred told everyone he was the best paralegal in town, his salary was about 45,000 and he did jobs where she really cleaned up and he got a fraction of his real worth. Lawyers just did not have the time to prepare all the documents they needed to do litigation. Secretaries were always making errors and Grant was a perfectionist.
“Grant looked like he need a drink so I got up to get him a beer , but he said a can of pop was okay.
“You know Grant, I have some money salted away, and maybe I could ask my Dad for a few thousand.”
Grant shook his head and smiled
“Sam I can’t ask you to give up your savings , we could go bust in a few months, and you would be out of a job and the money”
“I have been thinking about this for a long time Grant.We are good at what we do. You are the best Para legal in Centretown.The lawyers will flock to our door, we can’t miss and you can bunk in with me and ditch your walkup . My Dad will give me some expense money and I haveeighteen thousand salted away.
Grant shut his eyes for a long time , plainly he was becoming emotional again and oviously I had taken the wrong time to start talking about major move.
“Well Sam you have become a terrific friend you know that but if you want me to move on and start this business with you I have to tell you all I have is my skills and absolutely not a nickel to invest, so it’s your funeral if the thing really flops”.
I assuered him it wouldn’t, but before I had time to become dramatic the phone rang again and I answered it on the 2
It was Mildred and she sounded really pissed. She spoke like she always did when she was ready to blow her cork at someone in the office. She tried to keep her self-control but as she spoke she got a little louder and more like a lawyer.
She continued, and I listened as she began to become more insistent although I had yet to speak a word. I kept pointing to the phone and Grant looked very sheepish. After she mentioned that I could easily be replaced as she had several applicants.
I broke into her conversation just as soon as she mentioned the part about having several applicants and spoke very harshly.
“Do you also have numerous applicants for Grant’s job as well”
Now her tone really changed and she became the real Mildred.
:Look Sam frankly I haven’t got time to sit on this phone trying to convince a couple of hung over employees to get back to …
“Mildred please accept this phone call as a my verbal notice” , and I passed the phone to Grant and he repeated my words.
There was as they say a pregnant silence.Grant said nothing and we both knew she was fuming and reaching for another cigarette. Grant handed me the phone and I just said goodbye to Mildred telling her that we would be the next day to get our last pay and our stuff from the office.
She said nothing and I hung up.
We both sat down and I glanced at my watch and looking over at Grant we both burst into laughter. The humor of crapping on the boss and quitting didn’t really register on us. It was just that we had done something really off the wall drove us to sound like two juvenileswould behave after they had farted in an elevator.

My Dad said he would spot us the expense money to live on until we actually started getting some clients. He gave us 2500 dollars to get us started. After bidding Mildred afond goodbye we began searching theCentretown core for office space. We were in luck a disbarred lawyer’s office had come available and it had exactly what we needed. A reception room, two offices and a small meeting chamber.
Grant applied for a license and we were stunned to find out the cost was over 3500.He had to write an exam and he boned up for a few days and went downtown to the law association offices and wrote the exam, and received a probationary license as a para legal. The rent on the offices was 2500 and we needed to put in the first and last month rent. Next we searched for furniture and had to make do with a pile of make- it –yourselfWal mart stuff.
Grant needed a set of law books and that set us back 1200. We also bought three computers one for the front reception desk and one each for our offices. We needed internet services and commercial lines were also figured into the cost.
Every day for almost two weeks we returned to my apartment and counted up our costs, and what we had left. Grant gave notice on his apartment and got some money back from the landlord and I decided to sell my 1985 Mustang which I did not use except when I went on vacation to Bar Harbor, in the summer months.
I got 3200.00 for the car and all told we had 3500.00 left. I figured that we had to have moneyoperate , advertisements and also we needed a secretary.
We placed a help wanted add in the Law review and a number of women applied. I hade to caution Grant that we needed a person with experience and if it was a woman we had to look beyond her appearance . in other words we didn’t want some fashion model who was a ditz.
We set up the office and nearly three weeks had gone by and we were still not any closer to making a dime. We interviewed several women and finally we found the perfect person in a girl named Alison Banks. She wanted to return to the workplace after being married for two years . She had a little girl from a previous marriage that had just started school. She had terrific references, she had worked in the law field for ten years and she was very bright and was a no nonsense individual. We hired her to work 3 days a weeks. We had our phone system installed and we all began to call the law offices in the city. The month ended without a soul coming in the door and the rent and all the bills came due. I had just enough to pay the rent, telephone and Alison and we had two TV dinners in the apartment.My credit card was almost maxed and my Dad’s money was gone and I couldn’t ask for more Suddenly our fortunes took anupswing.

I had just got off the phone with a one of our creditors when a very pretty girl tentatively entered. I was at the front desk because Alison was not in as yet.
“Hi , my name is Melanie Roberts, I just moved in to the office down the hall, Ijust opened my practice”. I have several divorce files and some other pending cases which I have been workingon at home. I took referrals until I could afford an office.”
We shook hands and Grant after hearing voices came out of his office and I introduced him. We spoke for a few minutes and then she asked what we charged for assisting with depositions and other various documents.
Grant didn’t flinch when he said “fifty dollars an hour with a minimum of two hundred for each file.”
“Sounds good here are ten files , there are several more, can we sit down and go through my directions on each”.
Grant and Melanie moved to his office and I breathed a sigh of relief as we had finally made a break through.
Within the next week four more lawyers who had offices in the building walked in and asked about the price and also how long they would take. Grant began to work late into the night and I also pitched in on the typing. Alison also worked a few more hours each day and began to come in five days a week. A few checks rolled in then a few more. In less than three months we could pay the rent and all of our expenses as well as take few bucks for ourselves. My apartment rent was overdue by three months and the landlady was getting very displeased. I paid up and also bought some groceries.
My mother came to visit and take a look around the office.
“She told us in very plain language that we both looked like shit.
She said she would give us two mornings a week to help out and I lent a computer from a computer guy I knew. My mother had worked at the county courthouse for 25 years and she knew her stuff. She liked Alison they got on quite well. I borrowed a desk from the building maintenance man who had several piled up in the basement.
The biggest surprise however came when none other Mildred , our old boss walked through the door with a banker’ s box containing 50 files and we were sure we were on our way. In six months we were both drawing 1200 per month and we were working 15 hours a day. Mother had help to hire another secretary and we suddenly found our office was becoming too small for our case load.
Grant was by now very much attached to our first client Melanie Roberts and I was taking out anotheryoung para-legal who we hoped to hire.
One day while we were very much engrossed in work , two men entered our office and sat down in the two chairs we had set up for visitors. Alsion went over and pleasantly spoke to them. Both we recognized were Indians. One of the men , the shorter of two was very muscular and , the other tall and gaunt. I didn’t pay too much attention until the taller of the two said” my friend who speaks very little English needs some legal assistance.”
Alison began to advise them that wewere not lawyers and at that moment Grant came out of his office and studied thewell-built man .
Grant staggered as he walked closer.
“Its okay Alison I will handle this” he said in a very faint voice
Before the older man spoke againGrant turned to the shorter man andinterjected “ are you Johnny Rabbitt theball player”
The man smiled and stuck out his hand and Grant grasped his hand and held the man’s shoulder. There was a silence in the entire office and all eyes were directed at the scene . Grant shook the man’s hand withsuch a vigor that I had to walked over and tap Grant on the back. It was clear to see that Grant was awestruck.
Grant ushered both men into his office. I whispered into Grant’s ear that we have to be very careful, we were not permitted to act in any way as lawyers or to give any counsel to clients. Grant nodded his head. And shut the door. Later I was invited in to hear the whole story and it turned out to be a continuation of the episode Grant had given me several months earlier.

Johnny Rabbitt was as Grant had enlightened mewas an Indian from the Mohawk reserve near a place called Napanee Ontario Canada. He had started playing baseball at age twelve on his Father’s team which was a traveling club made up of 12 Mohawk Indians. They played on Saturdays and Sundays across Ontario,Quebec and the states of New York , Michigan and Ohio.They were called the Eagles and played several games each summer on the Indian reserves and also against non Indians. The team earned enough money from the games as in most areas a hat was passed. They also played on diamonds in Quebec where admission was charged.
It was while playing an non Indian team in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1967 that Johnny Rabbitt was discovered by aTigers scout named Benny Osterbrook. Benny followed the team as they barnstormed through Ontario and parts of New York. When the team hit Syracuse, Benny met with Johnny and his father,
He was shocked to learn that neither of them spoke very much English and neither could read or write. Fortunately one of the womennamed Annie Birdsongtheir bus driver was quite literate and she and Benny discussed the young ball player.
Benny told her that he could sign Johnny to a contract to play baseball in the Tiger’s farm system, probably in the Three I League with their team in Evansville Illinois . Johnny could earn 250.00 per month including his room and board. If he played well he would be invited the next spring to the Tiger minor league camp inLakeland Florida. The season was nearly over but he could get in a few games and make a few bucks Benny told her.
The next day the smiling trio of Annie , Johnny and his father met at a diner for breakfast and Benny proffered Johnny a contract which Annie helped him to sign. As Grant put it in his narrative to me, “the guy was on his way to major league stardom with the Tigers.”.
Johnny played eighteen games with the Evansville team and although he was a complete outsider on the team and spoke little or no English he managed to smash 5 homers drive in 40 runs and hit an amazing.419 batting average.
The next year he was invited to the Tiger’s minor league camp in Lakeland Florida. Grant related to us that a hitting coach in the Tiger’s system had tried to alter Johnny’s batting stance but Johnny showed the guy that it wouldn’t work with some kind of sign language and the Minor league director of player personnel told the papers that “ the kid made a monkey out of our hitting coach”
That spring Johnny played ten exhibition games with the Tigers main team . He played shortstop and went through the games without an error and hit .350 and banged out 4 home runs. He was assigned to the American Association team in Toledo Ohio called the Knights. The team manager Barney McKay said that Johnny would be the utility infielder and play short, second and 3
The teams broke camp and Johnny began the season with the Toledo team and by mid April, he was playing regularly and knocking in runs at therate of two per game . The crowdsbegan to noticeably increase .In May hewas batting overfour hundred, had twelve home runs and his infield play was miraculous. He began to look like he was one of the new breed ofLatin American players that had sprung up in big league baseball.
The general manager of the Tigers , Bix Majesky made five trips to see the kid play and he was becoming more impressed every time he saw him play.
Bix , tried to speak to Johnny but , he (Johnny) was still unable to communicate in English. A local man named Bear Robinson from Windsor was able to translate for them. Bix offered Johnny a major league tryout contract which was a two way deal. In other words if he made the Tigers he got theminimum major league salary and if not he got the money he was making with the Knights. No offer of signing bonuses or other incentives were proffered by the GM.
Johnny Rabbitt made the Tigers andstarred with the team through the early 1970’s remained with the team until 1974 when he was tradedto the CentrevilleSox . He continued to be a bargain ball player. He never asked for a raise all the time he was a member of the Tigers and Sox , signing every year for the minimum salary paid to a major league player. He spoke just enough English that he could order a meal and read some simple instructions. When he joined the Sox in 1975 he was making 58,000 per year. He had consistently batted over .300 and established several fielding records. He never hit less than 20 Home runs and his play had earned him two golden gloves and 2 trips to the all star game. The media had given up trying to interview him.He was a complete enigma to his team mates on the Sox and Tigers. Long time middle infielder Jimmy Dykstra of the Sox said he was “like a ghost , he would show up at spring training smile at all the players and go out and run for hours in the outfield, his speed was really never utilized, but he was an acrobat at short, we shook hands a lot but he never said more than three or four words all the time he played”
Johnny watched TV, never really understanding what he was watching. Grant saw him play in Detroit and he was a rose among thorns. The Tigers were rebuilding with draft choices.
Grant told us that Bob Merriwether of the Detroit Free Press had tracked Johnny for nearly 15 years and several stories about him appeared in the Sports Illustrated. The St Louis Sporting News featured him almost every season. But Johnny Rabbitt was a player on a perennially terribleteams that constantly finished in or near the bottom of the American League standings. The Tigers improved in the late 1960’s butand Soxjust fielded lousy teams. The Sox team still wore the mantle of the 1919 Blacksox and had never quite rid themselves of the stink of their predecessors. Eventually Johnny was tradedbecause the Sox threw in a pile of cash. and moved on to Baltimore, as well as several other teams finally ending up with the Cleveland Indians in 1995. He was a utility infielder and still hit very well, but the Indians were floundering and sent him to their minor league affiliate in Ottawa, Ontario.
He played a few more years, bouncing around the minor leagues and suddenly in the spring of 2000 at age 46 his contract was purchased by theSox and he was called up for a trial. The Sox were desperate for some hitting strength, Johnny was signed for the season. It was at that time that Grant and I had seen him. He was released at the end of the season and had met a man in a bar whom told him he was the most underpaid player to ever wear a baseball uniform.
Johnny had kept all of his baseball contracts although he could not understand one word on them. He knew however how much he received as salary and had bankbooks and various other financial materials which he had brought to our office.
I wasmystifiedhow he found out about usGrant finally disclosed that he had sent Johnny Rabbit his card telling him that if he needed any legal advice that Grant would provide it freely to him.
I was really pissed at Grant. I told him we could really get ourselves in hot water. We were not lawyers and we were not permitted to consult with clients on legal matters other than wills and mortgages. Grant told me that he would go to Mildred and seek her advise. I just shook my head and realized there was chance that Grant had become unhinged.
I was right!
Grant spent hours reviewing Johnny Rabbitts financial records and after three days emerged from his office where he had spent all his waking hours and had slept at his desk.
“The guy was not only underpaid he was also denied nearly every bonus which he earned “ said Grant holding up several pages of foolscap from a yellow legal pad.
“Well woop-de-do” I responded throwing my hands up to show my irritation.
“Lookit Grant we have a business to run this guy will bring us nothing , nada , zip, ZERO. I said raising my voice to a falsetto pitch
He disregarded what I had said as if it had just gone over his head and disappeared like a cloud.
“I think I am going to go and see Mildred and see if we can get a pro bono from her and help this guy”
“Grant, Mildred will laugh or at least look she is laughing when she hears what you have to say”
“Sam this is personal, this man has been treated like crap for all of his adult life, someone has to stand up for him”
His eyes filled with tears and I knew he was becoming passionate about the issue.
“Okay we will go see Mildred, but I want to be in on the conversation Grant and I want to know what we can stand to get out of this other than a zero balance sheet.”
It took us nearly a full week to get to see Mildred Bunning at Stoner’s law office. She said we had 15 minutes to present and she would give us 15 minutes of a response then we were outathere as her secretary said.
We arrived early and spoke to some of our former co workers and the finally we were in Mildred’s office.
She looked terrible as usual, the lines in her face were more advanced and she spoke with a pronounced hoarseness eveident with smokers.
She uttered only one word “speak”
Grant went into his spiel about Johnny Rabbitt, it was as if he was in court and she were the judge, he hit on every point and empathized the fact the guy had been treated unfairly and that he want to see a law suit directed at the Sox and Tigers for the bonus money due the player and damages as well. He said that they took advantage of a man who by the nature of his background was not treated with dignity.
Grant spoke passionately and then sat back and waited while Mildred looked up from her yellow legal pad where she had taken down much of what he had said.
She studied Grant and I for a moment, and then went into a tirade about howthe statutes of limitations would cause this case never to get to court. She answered negatively to every point made by Grant, waving them off like she had a legal wand. Mildred was getting quite mad and we still did not have an answer. Her face was contorted and red, and my heart began to fall as she now stood up, this was her way of dismissal.
We both stood and I could see Grant was so disappointed he was about to begin blasting her but before he could utter one word she spoke in her natural voice “You do have public opinion on your side and that counts for plenty, I will provide a lawyer pro bono for this case and she will be one of the new people just recently called to the bar, she will know how to cope with the issue of this man Rabitt being an Indian, her name is Feather Awantu.
We both thanked Mildred profusely , but she was in no mood for our pandering and ushered us out her office with words like, you are really wasting time you two, this case will end up in the toilet.
It was at least a week before Feather could clear her desk and we had plenty of other work to keep us busy, Grant talked about nothing else, I really got sick of his daily oration and I began to feel he was letting our work slip.
At Last wewere able to meet with Feather at her office at Stoner Law office. She was not all asI had imagined her. She wore very drab clothing and her hairwas pulled back stringentlyin a bun. She was completely void of any facial characteristics. She noddedto us , and her countenance remained frozen throughout.her reading of Grant’s brief which took several minutes. Grant lounged on his chair oblivious to her constant marking on the brief in a red pen or a yellow highliner. Grant was use to this with lawyers who made notations and then asked for a clear copy.
When she did speak it was in a very soft but penetrating timbre.
“There are spelling errors on every page of this brief and the figures you have outlinedare blatantly incorrect also the dates are very confusing. I also can’t determine which team he was playing with when he was denied the bonus money”.
I noticed almost immediately Grant’s temper began to rise, he rose to his feet and stood over her almost in a menacing way and slowly began to speak holding back his fury.
“ Are you disputing the facts I have taken verbatim from Mr Rabbitt”
“It is not facts we are discussing it’s the document I have in front of me” she said rather blithely.

Look Feather, I have written thousands of briefs for lawyers who worked in this office and in my own practice, not one time has any of them chosen to select academic nonsense like spelling. This brief is for you to study and do some homework. The financial figures are totally correct you havemisread the sources of income, moreover the chronology at the end fully substantiates the teams he was under contract with. Get an Encyclopedia of baseball and study about the game and the players and the reserved clause. But for God’s sake get yourself in the picture or withdraw . This guy is an Indian that has beena star in the big leagues and he has been treated like shit”.
She studied Grant for several minutes. Debating in her mind his outburst.
“Okay Grant I can see you are passionate about the guy, and I will do as you suggest, but just remember this may never get to court and you will just end off making this brother, one more disappointed aboriginal
Suddenly the tense atmosphere in the room changed and there were smiles all around. I also joined in and we left with Feather saying she would take a week and then meet with Johnny
Feather was right the case did not get to court. It was instead moved to arbitration. The court dockets were so crowded that a case of this nature was not a priority. Grant was not pleased and stormed around the office accusing the justice system of being run by a racist group of jurists. But the arbitration was his only hope of getting justice for Johnny Rabbitt.
A former judge was chosen to provide the arbitrationand the case was to be heard in the law courts conference room witha three day hearing scheduled. We had one month to prepare.
The arbitrator was Judge Mary McDonald whom was known affectionately by fellow judgesas Mary Queen of Scotch because of her penchantfor scotch straight up and preferably in large doses. It was no secret that she had been quietly retired because of a ongoing problem with her sleep cycle which at times interfered with her ability to stay awake during long afternoon court sessions.
Grant knew her as she had done contract work after leaving the bench for Mildred at Stoner’s law office. I had seen her there several times but I had never met her. Grant said she was a very fair judge when she was sober.
Major League baseball selected Ira Edelstein a local lawyer to represent them as well as the American League special consul, Harvey Campbell. Edelstein was a former ball player who had made his way into the big leagues as a catcher and when he left the game he became a sports lawyer. He was exceptionally knowledgeable about the game and Grant was becoming very troubled about Feather’s ability to make a good case for Johnny Rabbitt. Feather did attempt to settle the case out of court or in this situationresolve the money issuewithout arbitration. But it was no go. Grant began to work around the clock calling Feather at every opportunity until she would not take his calls.
He often came to work unshaven and our clientele began to shrink, he became belligerent with the office staff . Allison our secretary put in her notice and my mother had to work overtime. I had to beg Allison to come back to work and promised I would be the only person that she had to deal with.
Grant would suddenly leave the office with mounds of papers under his arm and tell us he was heading out to see Feather.
He would return to the office cursing her and the system. He also I noticed began to have booze on his breath. I spoke to him, but he was so deep into the case that he hardly took notice of me.
Lawyer Melanie Roberts with Grant had become romantically involved broke off their relationship and we lost her as a client. Our business was drying up and Grant was borrowing from anyone who would give him money. He got thrown outfrom his apartment and set up a cot in his office.
I could not sustain the work because our on-time schedule was deteriorating.
I was once again forced to use my credit line to sustain our office, but I began to realize we were doomed. More financial problems were ahead because Major League baseball employed a forensic accountant to study the records of payments to Johnny and we were forced to also get a an independent account who wanted five thousand dollars up front and who estimated the total cost at over ten thousand.
I approached Johnny through the interpreter and he told me he was just living on a his investments as his pension had not kicked in.
We just did not have the money, my credit line was at it’s limit.
Grant wentto amoney lenderand borrowed the money at at he astounding rate of 30% interest.
I stopped talking to him and quietly began to close down our operation , letting Allison go and asking my mother to handle the phone while I began searching for work. The hearing was scheduled in two weeks and I did not have the money for the rent so one night my father and I cleared out the office and left all the documents on the floor in Grant’s room when he was out. I turned over the keys the next day and Grant was on his own except for my attendance at the adjudication. He took his stuff out of the building the next day and moved into a room in a welfare building. And I contacted Feather to tell her we were out of business and I didn’t know where Grant was living.
On the first day of the hearing I saw Grant but he clearly went out of his way to avoid me. He looked terrible, he had shaved but his face was a mass of cuts and he wore the same wrinkled pants and shirt that I had seen before our split, he had no briefcase and carried all of his documents under his arm wrapped with blue laundry rope. Feather told me she was stunned at his appearance and had concern for his health.
Judge Mary opened the proceedings, which was held in the conference room. The tables were covered in a green material often used for court cases. She asked everyone to introduce themselves.
Feather said she represented Jiohnny Rabbitt and was assisted by Grant Allen
“He is not a lawyer” blurted Edelson
“Your honor Mr Allen prepared this case for the plaintiff and has a full knowledge of the case”
Grant bellowed with laughter at Edelson’s observation.
Feather shot up from her seat”This is is not a court case it is an arbitration hearing andI ask that Mr Allen be given intervener status Judge and that he be permitted to provide advise on the technical aspects of the evidence before you”.
“I object strongly Judge he is providing nothing more than”…
Judge Mary raised her finger pointing at Edelstein, “I am making the determinations here councilor and I am granting Grant”
She smiledat her choice of words and continued” Granting Mr Allen intervener statusand despite the fact he has not been called to the bar is a distinction I will not draw in this hearing, he has one of the best legal minds in Centre Town according to the people at Stoners and I want his evidence to be presented by Mr Rabbitt’s Lawyer and if necessary for him to speak as well. Understood?”
Edelson nodded and sat back rustling papers in front of him. Rabbitts translator told him what had been said and he smiled and patted Grant on the back. I noticed that Edelstein had a knuckle-knocker the size of a half his finger. He nervously turned it with his other hand .
The proceedings began with Feather presenting her formal opening statement. The court stenographer at times looked curiously at her as she related Johnny Rabbitt’s baseball statistics and Judge Mary often stopped her to determine the meaning of different phrases.
The judge asked for a n explanation in full of Runs batted in and how a batting average was determined and how did theses figures stand up against other players.
Grant would whisper the answer, but after two or three questions, Judge Mary asked him to speak to the questions,. Grant answered in a loud voice addressing himself to Edelstein and the Major League consul McDonald. McDonald was strictly along for the ride he never said a word throughout the hearing.
The hearing took three days and Judge Mary listened attentively to all of the evidence. Edelstein was quite a good lawyer, and the forensic accountant they had hired was able to articulate that all payments promised within the contract were strictly adhered to by the teams involved. He was not able to relate whether the performance bonuses were earned.
Edelstein was adamant that Johnny was paid in accordance with the contracts and that his earning power was reduced by virtue of injury, and that the contract was fulfilled by the clubs for which he played.
When questioned by Feather regarding the bonus clauses, Edelstein constantly took the stand that the criteria was not achieved. I could see by the look on Grant’s face that he was waiting for his chance to speak . Edelstein hammered away on his theme that Johnny Rabbitt was a good majorballplayer but was an underachiever.
Finally Judge Mary declared break in the proceedings and we all filed out in to the hallway. I could see Grant was in no mood to discuss the case. Feather went to the washroom and returned only to sit down on a bench a distance from the proceedings.
We were called back into the hearing. There was no doubt that Mary had had a few drinks because she had a very broad smile.
Grant was now asked to speak to the statement made by Edelstein that Johnny was in fact not up to the standards set for big league ballplayers. He had it was noted really boned up the subject of professional baseball players.
He began “ I think before we continue I must emphasize that Johnny Rabitt was not an ordinary player. He was an established star in the game of baseball. Everywhere he played his talent and athletic ability shone , and this was often quoted in the newspapers.I hand over to the court or the judge these copies ofSports headlines from every city he played. His contribution both at bat and inthe field were exceptional. To insinuate that he was an underachiever is not only an absolutely ridiculous characterization but adownright lie. In every phase of the game he was dazzling. Hitting, running, fieldingand carried himself professionally all the time. Signing autographs , trying to speak to fans although his facility in this regard was limited he still made the effort. He received several awards for his base running he was a gold glove recipient on 4 occasions, and if not for injury would have appeared in an all star game.Gordy Holden a formermanager of the Detroit Tigers said Iwish I had more players of his stature. He is entitled to every penny of the bonus money and more, the guy brought thousands in the parks where he played. He is a treasure, a Canadian Indian who made it to the top of the playing field of the National pass time, and who is now an Naturalized American. Finally the people of the Mohawk Nationnow and before built the tallest buildings in America, they are to be respected as isJohnny Rabittwhi was a wonderful major league ball player.

Judge Mary adjourned the proceedings after Edelstein made his final argument which was a rather weak effort at substantiating his previous remarks. Judge Mary was a long time making a judicial decision on the Johnny’s case. I didn’t see Grant at all in this period. Feather said he came in quite drunk one day to her office and she asked him to leave.
I got a job working in a low level law firm at half my previous salary but had the good fortune to work with a girl named Deana who was lovely to look at and who loved sex. We moved in within a few weeks and went to work every day at the office.
Grant never left my thoughts until I saw him one day at our favoriterestaurant- Swankies.
Judge Mary had moved for Johnny but the amount was no where near what had been asked for. She set the figure at 25,000 to be paid for the bonus amounts and 10,000 for legal expenses for Feather and Grant.
When Grant saw me he came over and we discussed the case.
He was strangely very sober and seemed to be extremely quiet. He didn’t seemed bothered about the amount only that Johnny had won the case. Then he remarked “they wont pay you know”.
I was astounded at his observation’
“why not?.
“They will appeal and draw it out so long that the case will end off in the garbage and Johnny will get nothing”.
"That remains to be seen "
" O Come onthey will delay until the guy drops dead and then extend their remorse"
I looked at him and noticed he was very thin but actually quite sober. I asked him to sit down , and we talked about what he was doing. He had been taken back by Mildred and was now in charge of the office. He had met a girl who was his present interest and with whom he lived.
Somehow in the shape of things I never did meet Grant again but several months after the meeting, a picture of Johnny and representative of Major League baseball appeared in the local paper. Johnny had been awarded a cheque for twenty-five thousand dollars asa back payment on his pension from major league baseball. The article went on to say that they were unable to locate him and they now after locating him wanted to pay him for his service to MLB , with interest.
They had finally paid him his due, but  they had also lived up to  an old axiom in law which was "deny-deny-deny.

© Copyright 2019 Jack Kay. All rights reserved.

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