She did what the hard-hitting Angels couldn’t do that night in June of 1941. June first, to be exact. She put the Angels in the “win” column, and sent her daddy to the showers when she arrived on Planet Earth and yelled Hello World. Here I am.
Here’s what happened:
Wally Hebert was on the mound with a six-run lead. Everything seemed to be going his way. He was in the zone, tossing strikes and forcing infield flies, and generally making life miserable for the hapless Angels.
Baseball season in 1941 was starting on its third month. I was a lonely five-year-old only child who amused herself with two imaginary playmates named Lavory and McGuvney. But not for long. I would soon have a baby sister or brother. My mother, whom everyone called Bobbie, had a little time left before the new baby was expected to arrive, but everything was ready.
Back to the ball park—Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Wally Hebert was on the mound systematically sending the Angels’ batters back to the dugout in high dudgeon. Word came to the press box, and the Padre manager got the word that Hebert’s wife had given birth to their second child. The manager, Cedric Durst, knowing how laid back his usually reliable pitcher was, sent word to the press box to share the good news over the public address system and radio.
The newspapers had a field day the following day. The Los Angeles Times had this to say.
“We’ve seen ball games won and lost in a lot of different ways, but we were treated to a brand new one yesterday afternoon and early evening at Wrigley Field.”
Of all things it was the stork who gave the Angels victory in the second game of the twin bill.
Here’s what happened. The Padres had already put the hurt on the Angels in the first game, 9-5. They were breezing along in the second game with a 6-0 lead when Los Angeles came to bat in the sixth inning.
So far Hebert had limited the home team to three skimpy singles. In fact, it looked like the game was probably over, and half of the 5,500 paying customers had gone home for supper. Then came the announcement.
“Attention everyone. We have just received word that opposing pitcher Wally Hebert has become a father for the second time. His wife, Bobbie, gave birth in San Diego to a boy. Mother and baby are doing fine. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Hebert.”
Applause broke out all over the stadium in spite of the home team’s woes at the hands of the enemy. His teammates were cheering and it took a while for everyone to settle down and get back to the game. However, the normally unflappable Cajun never did settle down. No more strikeouts. No more infield flies.
Hebert subsequently gifted the Angels with four runs on four hits and four walks. Angel bats came to life and the six-run lead faded away. Manager Durst had to take Hebert out. The Angels continued the pounding against the next two Padre pitchers and ended up with a 9-8 win in extra innings.
The Times thought the whole thing rather strange because when his first baby (that would be me—Linda Fay) was born five seasons earlier, he went out and pitched a one-hit shutout.
Earl Keller, sportswriter for the San Diego Tribune, shined some light on the cause of the confusion over the gender of the newcomer. Writes Keller: “Just a line to tell you that Hebert’s baby turned out to be a girl–named Hillene–so now he has two daughters. Somebody took the message for the telegram over the phone wrong and the wire to Hebert read, ‘Earl has arrived.’ It should have read ‘Girl has arrived.'”
Someone somewhere along the line got their facts wrong that day. I became big sister to Mary Hillene that Sunday afternoon in San Diego.
Rest in Peace, Baby Sister. We’re gonna miss you.
Mary Hillene Hebert Deaton. June 1, 1941-December 1, 2019
The preceding article appeared in Chapter 14 of From The Bayou To The Bayou: The Odyssey of Wally “Preacher” Hebert by yours truly, Linda Hebert Todd.