Det. Rush re-opens the 1945 case of an African-American baseball player who was beaten to death with his own bat.
Aug. 12, 1945. It is an exhibition game between the Negro league all-stars and the major leagues. At bat is rookie Clyde Taylor. After a few moments, Clyde calls for a time-out and exchanges bats with his friend Crumbs. The pitcher threatens to send Clyde Taylor back to the cotton fields, but Clyde is calm. He takes a swing and hits a home run. The crowds go wild. Clyde lies motionless beside his car, duffel bag beside him. A detective files away his case box, August ’45.
Present Day Stillman and Jeffries are at the local ball park watching Jeffries’s nephew, Leonard, going through batting practice. Jeffries tells Stillman that Leonard is a fast runner but unfortunately cannot hit a ball to save his life. Defeated, Leonard goes over and talks to Jeffries and Stillman, remarking that he’s no Clyde Taylor. Stillman asks Leonard who Clyde Taylor was. He was the best baseball player, maybe even better than Babe Ruth himself. He took the Negro league by storm, but unfortunately was killed soon afterwards and the police never found out whom. But Leonard brings out an interesting point: if it was Babe who had gotten murdered instead of Clyde, would the cops have let that be a mystery?
Lily, Stillman and Jeffries go over the case. Clyde Taylor was only 20 years old and was found beaten to death beside his car after an Exhibition Game. The front of his jersey had a tobacco stain while the backside was caked in blood: story was that Clyde was struck down with his own bat that has remained hidden to this day. The only suspect was the pitcher for the major league, Tyler Cage, who was heard jeering Clyde with racial slurs. However, he had an alibi and was seen drinking at a bar across town when Clyde was murdered. Vera knocks on the door and informs the team that he’s located the last person to see Clyde alive: Joe Crumbley, aka Crumbs. Crumbs confirms with Lily and Jeffries that he was the last one to see Clyde alive. The two of them were the last ones to leave the locker room so Clyde could avoid the spotlight in which Crumbs was happy to pick up the slack. He truly believes that Clyde would have been the first to cross the colour line if he had lived. When asked about Tyler Cage, Crumbs tells the two the man was lower than oil dirt. What Cage said on the field was never an issue, but off the field was a totally different story.
Flashback After the game Crumbs and Taylor are approached by three little boys. One of them, Troy, asks for his autograph. After Clyde signs the piece of paper, Troy gleefully tells him now he’ll have something to use when he goes to the washroom. The boys take off running but Crumbs manages to catch Troy and recognizes him as Troy Cage the batboy and the pitcher’s son. Clyde grabs Troy and asks for his name back. With no other choice Troy gives back the piece of paper but tells Clyde he’ll be sorry for not keeping his hands to himself because he’s going to tell his dad. Flashback to Present In Crumb’s opinion, Troy was rotten to the core, just like his father. He didn’t tell the police that back then because he figured it didn’t mean a whole lot. Scotty and Sutton pay a visit to Troy down at a bar. They know that home run ended his career and that would have given him motive to kill Clyde. Sure, his father may have hated Clyde, but not as much as Moody Brown, the player that Clyde had replaced on the line-up that day. Since Troy was the batboy, he had a front row seat to all the action.
Flashback Down on the field Troy is eagerly watching all the action going on. A baseball rolls towards his feet but as he thinks about throwing that ball, Moody Brown tells him he’d better not be thinking of doing anything but handing over that ball, real nice. Troy nervously asks Moody why he has that scar on his face, and Moody tells him to ask around. Moody notices Clyde and angrily informs him that he’s not playing tomorrow because of him. Can’t he fake an injury this once so Moody can play? Clyde wants Moody to be in the line-up, but if he did that he wouldn’t be able to live with himself. Moody pulls Clyde into a handshake with full intent on breaking his hand. The only thing that saves him is Jackie Robinson cutting in to ask what is going on. Flashback to Present Troy informs the detectives that when Clyde hit that home run, all the Negro ball players ran out onto the field like they just won the World Series. All except Moody. Troy also followed up on the scar: he was told that Moody got into a pop bottle fight with his cousin, and his cousin wasn’t around anymore.
Scotty and Jeffries talk to Moody outside of his cigar shop. He tells the two that he was just like every other coloured baseball player: out on the field was the only place where they felt equal even if it was just for two hours on a Sunday afternoon. He wanted a career, a real career. Flashback In the locker room everybody is excited. Crumbs knows the major league scouts are out there right now just waiting to see them play. The rest of the team jokes around about who is going to make it big until someone mentions that Clyde is going to beat them all to the majors and Moody kicks a stool against the wall in anger. With perfect timing Mr. Dandridge enters the locker room and speaks to Clyde in a corner, reminding Clyde that he owns his black ass.
Flashback to Present Scotty and Jeffries realize that Dandridge probably saw the writing in the wall: if Clyde got signed to the major league, the rest of the team would go down and he would lose his millions. Moody has no idea how Dandridge got around to owning Clyde, but back then it was obvious that a millionaire black man didn’t play by the rules. At the headquarters Lily and Jeffries talk to Dandridge, asking him what Dandridge held over Clyde. Flashback Clyde runs out after Dandridge and asks if the owning stuff was just a joke. The major leagues are opening up to colours; does Dandridge think he can stop Clyde if that happens? But Dandridge does have something over Clyde: he knows Clyde is in love, and he knows with whom, a white lady. But what if Clyde isn’t scared of what Dandridge knows? Then he’d better not be scared of a noose hanging around his neck.
Flashback to Present Dandridge didn’t kill Clyde because an hour after the game he was on a train to NY. He did know that Clyde’s lady friend, ”Legs” had a boyfriend called Eddie Mason, who could have been the one responsible. Next day Jeffries is surprised to find Leonard at headquarters doing his homework. He got locked out of the house. Scotty appears with the mile long rap sheet for a (dead) Eddie Mason. Seemed he preferred showgirls - he was a regular at a place called Papa Bells and perhaps Legs was once of them. Lily and Stillman are already in another room looking over old publicity shots with Crumbs to see if he recognizes Legs. Crumbs also shows the two his most prized possession: a picture of him alongside the four giants of baseball Clyde Taylor, Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. Lily and Stillman realize the tobacco stain on Clyde’s shirt couldn’t have belonged to him since Clyde didn’t chew. They’ll have to dig out the shirt, extract the tobacco and run a DNA trace.
Sutton knocks on the door and announces that she found three ladies still in the area that all worked at Papa Bells. Right away Crumbs recognizes Legs, or Esther Davis. He then says hi to Leonard who has appeared at the door. Lily and Scotty go and talk to Esther. She was 19, new in town and Papa Bells was the place to be. She met Eddie after the show when he asked her to dine at his table. She met Clyde when Eddie and his friends went to the field to go watch the practice. They happened to meet at the drinking fountain and it was love at first sight. Eddie couldn’t have killed Clyde because that weekend he was out of town, leaving Esther to go to the game herself. After the game she met Clyde at the water fountain. Flashback Clyde approaches Esther and informs her that Dandridge knows about them and Clyde will have to play for him forever or else he’ll tell. Clyde has his heart set on playing in the majors because if a coloured ball player can prove himself in an American game, then the colour lines will disappear. The two exchange a hug right before Troy appears with his dad in tow.
Flashback to Present Troy admits that he and his father went back after the press conference to talk to Clyde. Troy had told his father about the autograph deal, and that had been the last straw. His father wouldn’t let that stand. Flashback Outside the stadium Tyler approaches Clyde. His son told him what happened and frankly, he’s embarrassed at the way he acted during the game. Clyde offers a handshake as a peace offering which Tyler accepts. He tells Troy to apologize but Troy is reluctant, reminding his father about Clyde and the white lady. Tyler tells Troy not to judge a book by its cover. Flashback to Present So Troy reluctantly apologized. The ”don’t judge a book by its cover” was really meant for the white lady, Esther. She had come from the same town down south where his father grew up. Esther wasn’t really white, she was black. Lily and Jeffries ask Esther if her husband knows she’s black. No he didn’t, Clyde was the only one. She and her two sisters were dirt poor in Georgia. Since she had the lightest skin she was the only one who could go up North and live and work as a white woman. After some convincing from a certain somebody she realized the only way for Clyde and her to both get what they wanted was to go their own separate ways.
Flashback Crumbs meets up with a crying Esther. The two of them are scared for Clyde. Crumbs is afraid that Clyde might hurt himself and urges Esther to let Clyde go. Go to a dance hall in NY, or anywhere else, that’s for her. If Esther leaves then Dandridge won’t have anything to hold over Clyde and he’ll be free to swap places with Babe Ruth and be the best player alive. Clyde would never have the guts to tell that to her face so it’s Crumbs begging her to leave. Flashback to Present Esther acknowledges that Crumbs knew the details of the relationship all along. Jeffries and Scotty enter Crumb’s apartment where he’s quizzing Leonard on the facts of baseball. He tells the three of them the story of Clyde’s special bat, the one that Crumbs was entrusted to hold onto just in case the pressure got to be too much. Clyde had hit more grounders with that bat than any other bat he’d ever used. It was the very same bat that Clyde hit his last home run with. Jeffries expresses his wish to see the bat, Crumbs takes it out and hands it to Jeffries. He tells Leonard to always remember ”not to remember what that bat did to Clyde, but what Clyde did with that bat.” Once Leonard and Jeffries leave, Scotty asks him to take a seat.
Flashback Crumbs catches up with Clyde. He informs Clyde that Esther’s out of the picture so they’re off to the major leagues. Clyde is outraged that he would do something like that to him. He tells Crumbs to keep his bat, (he doesn’t need it anymore), and starts walking back to his car. In an attempt to stop the walking, Crumbs hits Clyde over the back with his bat, causing him to hit his head on the car. Realizing what he has done, Crumbs clutches the body and cries, chewed tobacco leaking out of his mouth and onto the jersey. Flashback to Present Scotty escorts Crumbs out of his apartment. Moody smokes a cigar outside of his shop and scares away the little kids. Lily shakes hands with Esther before leaving. Vera hands Sutton the closed case box to be filed away. Jeffries and Stillman attend Leonard’s baseball game. Finally, Leonard hits the ball and makes it all the way to first base. Jeffries sees Clyde standing behind Leonard, whom takes off his cap to say thank you.
- Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush
- Danny Pino as Scotty Valens
- John Finn as John Stillman
- Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera
- Thom Barry as Will Jeffries
- Arlen Escarpeta as Clyde Taylor
- Sarah Brown as Josie Sutton
- Beau Billingslea as Willie Dandridge (2005)
- Ron Dean as Troy Cage (2005)
- Elinor Donahue as Esther Davis (2005)
- Christina Hendricks as Esther Davis (1945)
- Thomas Kopache as Joe "Crumbs" Crumbly (2005)
- Frank Faucette as Willie Dandridge (1945)
- Don Wallace as Moody Brown (1945)
- Hunter Allan as Troy Cage (1945)
- Ed Bernard as Moody Brown (2005)
- Mitchell Fink as Tyler Cage
- Eric Ladin as Joe "Crumbs" Crumbly (1945)
- David Ruprecht as Radio Broadcaster
- Dennis Singletary as Satchel Paige
- Antonio Todd as Jackie Robinson
- Kameron Winston-Lucas as Leonard Hughes
- This is the second episode to feature a victim who was a baseball player beaten with his own baseball bat. The first one was "A Time To Hate" and both were suspected hate crimes.
- Ed Bernard was also cast as Donald Williams (2005) in the episode Strange Fruit.
- The episode begins with the usual disclaimer "The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event", however the episode does depict two real-life ball players, Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige.
- The shot of Thom Barry in the new opening credits is taken from this episode.
- When Crumbly says that Clyde chewed Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum, this would be historically inaccurate, as Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum was introduced in 1947. Clyde was killed in 1945.
- Mabel Scott "Baseball Boogie"
- Count Basie "One O'Clock Jump"
- Louis Jordan "Five Guys Named Moe"
- Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald "Gotta Be This or That"
- Johnny Mercer "Candy"
- Closing Song: Doris Day "Sentimental Journey"