Part 1 out of 5
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AND OTHER BASEBALL STORIES
THE REDHEADED OUTFIELD
THE RUBE'S PENNANT
THE RUBE'S HONEYMOON
THE RUBE'S WATERLOO
BREAKING INTO FAST COMPANY
THE WINNING BALL
THE MANAGER OF MADDEN'S HILL
THE REDHEADED OUTFIELD
AND OTHER BASEBALL STORIES
There was Delaney's red-haired trio--Red Gilbat,
left fielder; Reddy Clammer, right fielder, and
Reddie Ray, center fielder, composing the most
remarkable outfield ever developed in minor
league baseball. It was Delaney's pride, as it was
also his trouble.
Red Gilbat was nutty--and his batting average
was .371. Any student of baseball could weigh
these two facts against each other and understand
something of Delaney's trouble. It was not possible
to camp on Red Gilbat's trail. The man was
a jack-o'-lantern, a will-o'-the-wisp, a weird, long-
legged, long-armed, red-haired illusive phantom.
When the gong rang at the ball grounds there
were ten chances to one that Red would not be
present. He had been discovered with small boys
peeping through knotholes at the vacant left field
he was supposed to inhabit during play.
Of course what Red did off the ball grounds
was not so important as what he did on. And
there was absolutely no telling what under the sun
he might do then except once out of every three
times at bat he could be counted on to knock the
cover off the ball.
Reddy Clammer was a grand-stand player--the
kind all managers hated--and he was hitting .305.
He made circus catches, circus stops, circus
throws, circus steals--but particularly circus
catches. That is to say, he made easy plays
appear difficult. He was always strutting, posing,
talking, arguing, quarreling--when he was not
engaged in making a grand-stand play. Reddy
Clammer used every possible incident and artifice
to bring himself into the limelight.
Reddie Ray had been the intercollegiate
champion in the sprints and a famous college ball
player. After a few months of professional ball
he was hitting over .400 and leading the league
both at bat and on the bases. It was a beautiful
and a thrilling sight to see him run. He was so
quick to start, so marvelously swift, so keen of
judgment, that neither Delaney nor any player
could ever tell the hit that he was not going to
get. That was why Reddie Ray was a whole game
Delaney's Rochester Stars and the Providence
Grays were tied for first place. Of the present
series each team had won a game. Rivalry had
always been keen, and as the teams were about
to enter the long homestretch for the pennant
there was battle in the New England air.
The September day was perfect. The stands
were half full and the bleachers packed with a
white-sleeved mass. And the field was beautifully
level and green. The Grays were practicing and
the Stars were on their bench.
``We're up against it,'' Delaney was saying.
``This new umpire, Fuller, hasn't got it in for us.
Oh, no, not at all! Believe me, he's a robber.
But Scott is pitchin' well. Won his last three
games. He'll bother 'em. And the three Reds
have broken loose. They're on the rampage.
They'll burn up this place today.''
Somebody noted the absence of Gilbat.
Delaney gave a sudden start. ``Why, Gil was
here,'' he said slowly. ``Lord!--he's about due
for a nutty stunt.''
Whereupon Delaney sent boys and players
scurrying about to find Gilbat, and Delaney went
himself to ask the Providence manager to hold
back the gong for a few minutes.
Presently somebody brought Delaney a telephone
message that Red Gilbat was playing ball
with some boys in a lot four blocks down the
street. When at length a couple of players
marched up to the bench with Red in tow Delaney
uttered an immense sigh of relief and then, after
a close scrutiny of Red's face, he whispered,
``Lock the gates!''
Then the gong rang. The Grays trooped in.
The Stars ran out, except Gilbat, who ambled like
a giraffe. The hum of conversation in the grand
stand quickened for a moment with the scraping
of chairs, and then grew quiet. The bleachers
sent up the rollicking cry of expectancy. The
umpire threw out a white ball with his stentorian
``Play!'' and Blake of the Grays strode to the
Hitting safely, he started the game with a rush.
With Dorr up, the Star infield played for a bunt.
Like clockwork Dorr dumped the first ball as
Blake got his flying start for second base. Morrissey
tore in for the ball, got it on the run and
snapped it underhand to Healy, beating the
runner by an inch. The fast Blake, with a long
slide, made third base. The stands stamped. The
bleachers howled. White, next man up, batted a
high fly to left field. This was a sun field and
the hardest to play in the league. Red Gilbat was
the only man who ever played it well. He judged
the fly, waited under it, took a step hack, then
forward, and deliberately caught the ball in his
gloved hand. A throw-in to catch the runner scoring
from third base would have been futile, but
it was not like Red Gilbat to fail to try. He tossed
the ball to O'Brien. And Blake scored amid
``What do you know about that?'' ejaculated
Delaney, wiping his moist face. ``I never
before saw our nutty Redhead pull off a play like
Some of the players yelled at Red, ``This is a
two-handed league, you bat!''
The first five players on the list for the Grays
were left-handed batters, and against a right-
handed pitcher whose most effective ball for them
was a high fast one over the outer corner they
would naturally hit toward left field. It was no
surprise to see Hanley bat a skyscraper out to left.
Red had to run to get under it. He braced himself
rather unusually for a fielder. He tried to
catch the ball in his bare right hand and muffed it,
Hanley got to second on the play while the audience
roared. When they got through there was
some roaring among the Rochester players. Scott
and Captain Healy roared at Red, and Red roared
back at them.
``It's all off. Red never did that before,'' cried
Delaney in despair. ``He's gone clean bughouse
Babcock was the next man up and he likewise
hit to left. It was a low, twisting ball--half fly,
half liner--and a difficult one to field. Gilbat ran
with great bounds, and though he might have got
two hands on the ball he did not try, but this time
caught it in his right, retiring the side.
The Stars trotted in, Scott and Healy and Kane,
all veterans, looking like thunderclouds. Red
ambled in the last and he seemed very nonchalant.
``By Gosh, I'd 'a' ketched that one I muffed
if I'd had time to change hands,'' he said with a
grin, and he exposed a handful of peanuts. He
had refused to drop the peanuts to make the
catch with two hands. That explained the
mystery. It was funny, yet nobody laughed. There
was that run chalked up against the Stars, and
this game had to be won.
``Red, I--I want to take the team home in the
lead,'' said Delaney, and it was plain that he
suppressed strong feeling. ``You didn't play the
game, you know.''
Red appeared mightily ashamed.
``Del, I'll git that run back,'' he said.
Then he strode to the plate, swinging his wagon-
tongue bat. For all his awkward position in the
box he looked what he was--a formidable hitter.
He seemed to tower over the pitcher--Red was
six feet one--and he scowled and shook his bat
at Wehying and called, ``Put one over--you
wienerwurst!'' Wehying was anything but red-
headed, and he wasted so many balls on Red that
it looked as if he might pass him. He would have
passed him, too, if Red had not stepped over on
the fourth ball and swung on it. White at second
base leaped high for the stinging hit, and failed
to reach it. The ball struck and bounded for the
fence. When Babcock fielded it in, Red was standing
on third base, and the bleachers groaned.
Whereupon Chesty Reddy Clammer proceeded
to draw attention to himself, and incidentally delay
the game, by assorting the bats as if the audience
and the game might gladly wait years to see
him make a choice.
``Git in the game!'' yelled Delaney.
``Aw, take my bat, Duke of the Abrubsky!''
sarcastically said Dump Kane. When the grouchy
Kane offered to lend his bat matters were critical
in the Star camp.
Other retorts followed, which Reddy Clammer
deigned not to notice. At last he got a bat that
suited him--and then, importantly, dramatically,
with his cap jauntily riding his red locks, he
marched to the plate.
Some wag in the bleachers yelled into the
silence, ``Oh, Maggie, your lover has come!''
Not improbably Clammer was thinking first of
his presence before the multitude, secondly of his
batting average and thirdly of the run to be
scored. In this instance he waited and feinted at
balls and fouled strikes at length to work his base.
When he got to first base suddenly he bolted for
second, and in the surprise of the unlooked-for
play he made it by a spread-eagle slide. It was a
Delaney snorted. Then the look of profound
disgust vanished in a flash of light. His huge face
Reddie Ray was striding to the plate.
There was something about Reddie Ray that
pleased all the senses. His lithe form seemed
instinct with life; any sudden movement was suggestive
of stored lightning. His position at the
plate was on the left side, and he stood perfectly
motionless, with just a hint of tense waiting
alertness. Dorr, Blake and Babcock, the outfielders
for the Grays, trotted round to the right of their
usual position. Delaney smiled derisively, as if
he knew how futile it was to tell what field Reddie
Ray might hit into. Wehying, the old fox, warily
eyed the youngster, and threw him a high curve,
close in. It grazed Reddie's shirt, but he never
moved a hair. Then Wehying, after the manner
of many veteran pitchers when trying out a new
and menacing batter, drove a straight fast ball at
Reddie's head. Reddie ducked, neither too slow
nor too quick, just right to show what an eye he
had, how hard it was to pitch to. The next was
a strike. And on the next he appeared to step
and swing in one action. There was a ringing
rap, and the ball shot toward right, curving down,
a vicious, headed hit. Mallory, at first base,
snatched at it and found only the air. Babcock
had only time to take a few sharp steps, and then
he plunged down, blocked the hit and fought the
twisting ball. Reddie turned first base, flitted on
toward second, went headlong in the dust, and
shot to the base before White got the throw-in
from Babcock. Then, as White wheeled and lined
the ball home to catch the scoring Clammer,
Reddie Ray leaped up, got his sprinter's start
and, like a rocket, was off for third. This time
he dove behind the base, sliding in a half circle,
and as Hanley caught Strickland's perfect throw
and whirled with the ball, Reddie's hand slid to
Reddie got to his feet amid a rather breathless
silence. Even the coachers were quiet. There
was a moment of relaxation, then Wehying
received the ball from Hanley and faced the
This was Dump Kane. There was a sign of
some kind, almost imperceptible, between Kane
and Reddie. As Wehying half turned in his swing
to pitch, Reddie Ray bounded homeward. It was
not so much the boldness of his action as the
amazing swiftness of it that held the audience
spellbound. Like a thunderbolt Reddie came
down the line, almost beating Wehying's pitch to
the plate. But Kane's bat intercepted the ball,
laying it down, and Reddie scored without sliding.
Dorr, by sharp work, just managed to throw Kane
Three runs so quick it was hard to tell how they
had come. Not in the major league could there
have been faster work. And the ball had been
fielded perfectly and thrown perfectly.
``There you are,'' said Delaney, hoarsely.
``Can you beat it? If you've been wonderin' how
the cripped Stars won so many games just put
what you've seen in your pipe and smoke it. Red
Gilbat gets on--Reddy Clammer gets on--and
then Reddie Ray drives them home or chases them
The game went on, and though it did not exactly
drag it slowed down considerably. Morrissey and
Healy were retired on infield plays. And the sides
changed. For the Grays, O'Brien made a scratch
hit, went to second on Strickland's sacrifice, stole
third and scored on Mallory's infield out. Wehying
missed three strikes. In the Stars' turn the
three end players on the batting list were easily
disposed of. In the third inning the clever Blake,
aided by a base on balls and a hit following, tied
the score, and once more struck fire and brimstone
from the impatient bleachers. Providence was a
town that had to have its team win.
``Git at 'em, Reds!'' said Delaney gruffly.
``Batter up!'' called Umpire Fuller, sharply.
``Where's Red? Where's the bug? Where's
the nut? Delaney, did you lock the gates? Look
under the bench!'' These and other remarks, not
exactly elegant, attested to the mental processes
of some of the Stars. Red Gilbat did not appear
to be forthcoming. There was an anxious delay
Capt. Healy searched for the missing player.
Delaney did not say any more.
Suddenly a door under the grand stand opened
and Red Gilbat appeared. He hurried for his bat
and then up to the plate. And he never offered
to hit one of the balls Wehying shot over. When
Fuller had called the third strike Red hurried
back to the door and disappeared.
``Somethin' doin','' whispered Delaney.
Lord Chesterfield Clammer paraded to the
batter's box and, after gradually surveying the
field, as if picking out the exact place he meant to
drive the ball, he stepped to the plate. Then a
roar from the bleachers surprised him.
``Well, I'll be dog-goned!'' exclaimed Delaney.
``Red stole that sure as shootin'.''
Red Gilbat was pushing a brand-new baby carriage
toward the batter's box. There was a tittering
in the grand stand; another roar from the
bleachers. Clammer's face turned as red as his
hair. Gilbat shoved the baby carriage upon the
plate, spread wide his long arms, made a short
presentation speech and an elaborate bow, then
All eyes were centered on Clammer. If he had
taken it right the incident might have passed without
undue hilarity. But Clammer became absolutely
wild with rage. It was well known that
he was unmarried. Equally well was it seen that
Gilbat had executed one of his famous tricks.
Ball players were inclined to be dignified about
the presentation of gifts upon the field, and
Clammer, the dude, the swell, the lady's man, the
favorite of the baseball gods--in his own estimation--
so far lost control of himself that he threw
his bat at his retreating tormentor. Red jumped
high and the bat skipped along the ground toward
the bench. The players sidestepped and leaped
and, of course, the bat cracked one of Delaney's
big shins. His eyes popped with pain, but he
could not stop laughing. One by one the players
lay down and rolled over and yelled. The
superior Clammer was not overliked by his co-
From the grand stand floated the laughter of
ladies and gentlemen. And from the bleachers--
that throne of the biting, ironic, scornful fans--
pealed up a howl of delight. It lasted for a full
minute. Then, as quiet ensued, some boy blew a
blast of one of those infernal little instruments of
pipe and rubber balloon, and over the field wailed
out a shrill, high-keyed cry, an excellent imitation
of a baby. Whereupon the whole audience roared,
and in discomfiture Reddy Clammer went in
search of his bat.
To make his chagrin all the worse he ingloriously
struck out. And then he strode away under
the lea of the grand-stand wall toward right field.
Reddie Ray went to bat and, with the infield
playing deep and the outfield swung still farther
round to the right, he bunted a little teasing ball
down the third-base line. Like a flash of light
he had crossed first base before Hanley got his
hands on the ball. Then Kane hit into second
base, forcing Reddie out.
Again the game assumed less spectacular and
more ordinary play. Both Scott and Wehying
held the batters safely and allowed no runs. But
in the fifth inning, with the Stars at bat and two
out, Red Gilbat again electrified the field. He
sprang up from somewhere and walked to the
plate, his long shape enfolded in a full-length linen
duster. The color and style of this garment
might not have been especially striking, but upon
Red it had a weird and wonderful effect.
Evidently Red intended to bat while arrayed in his
long coat, for he stepped into the box and faced
the pitcher. Capt. Healy yelled for him to take
the duster off. Likewise did the Grays yell.
The bleachers shrieked their disapproval. To
say the least, Red Gilbat's crazy assurance was
dampening to the ardor of the most blindly confident
fans. At length Umpire Fuller waved his
hand, enjoining silence and calling time.
``Take it off or I'll fine you.''
From his lofty height Gilbat gazed down upon
the little umpire, and it was plain what he thought.
``What do I care for money!'' replied Red.
``That costs you twenty-five,'' said Fuller.
``Cigarette change!'' yelled Red.
``Costs you fifty.''
``Bah! Go to an eye doctor,'' roared Red.
``Seventy-five,'' added Fuller, imperturbably.
``Make it a hundred!''
``It's two hundred.''
``ROB-B-BER!'' bawled Red.
Fuller showed willingness to overlook Red's
back talk as well as costume, and he called,
There was a mounting sensation of prophetic
certainty. Old fox Wehying appeared nervous.
He wasted two balls on Red; then he put one over
the plate, and then he wasted another. Three
balls and one strike! That was a bad place for a
pitcher, and with Red Gilbat up it was worse.
Wehying swung longer and harder to get all his
left behind the throw and let drive. Red lunged
and cracked the ball. It went up and up and kept
going up and farther out, and as the murmuring
audience was slowly transfixed into late realization
the ball soared to its height and dropped
beyond the left-field fence. A home run!
Red Gilbat gathered up the tails of his duster,
after the manner of a neat woman crossing a
muddy street, and ambled down to first base and
on to second, making prodigious jumps upon the
bags, and round third, to come down the home-
stretch wagging his red head. Then he stood on
the plate, and, as if to exact revenge from the
audience for the fun they made of him, he threw
back his shoulders and bellowed: ``HAW! HAW!
Not a handclap greeted him, but some mindless,
exceedingly adventurous fan yelled: ``Redhead!
That was the one thing calculated to rouse Red
Gilbat. He seemed to flare, to bristle, and he
paced for the bleachers.
Delaney looked as if he might have a stroke.
``Grab him! Soak him with a bat! Somebody
But none of the Stars was risking so much, and
Gilbat, to the howling derision of the gleeful fans,
reached the bleachers. He stretched his long
arms up to the fence and prepared to vault over.
``Where's the guy who called me redhead?'' he
That was heaping fuel on the fire. From all
over the bleachers, from everywhere, came the
obnoxious word. Red heaved himself over the
fence and piled into the fans. Then followed the
roar of many voices, the tramping of many feet,
the pressing forward of line after line of shirt-
sleeved men and boys. That bleacher stand
suddenly assumed the maelstrom appearance of a
surging mob round an agitated center. In a
moment all the players rushed down the field, and
``Oh! Oh! Oh!'' moaned Delaney.
However, the game had to go on. Delaney, no
doubt, felt all was over. Nevertheless there were
games occasionally that seemed an unending
series of unprecedented events. This one had begun
admirably to break a record. And the Providence
fans, like all other fans, had cultivated an
appetite as the game proceeded. They were wild
to put the other redheads out of the field or at
least out for the inning, wild to tie the score, wild
to win and wilder than all for more excitement.
Clammer hit safely. But when Reddie Ray lined
to the second baseman, Clammer, having taken a
lead, was doubled up in the play.
Of course, the sixth inning opened with the
Stars playing only eight men. There was another
delay. Probably everybody except Delaney and
perhaps Healy had forgotten the Stars were short
a man. Fuller called time. The impatient bleachers
barked for action.
Capt. White came over to Delaney and courteously
offered to lend a player for the remaining
innings. Then a pompous individual came out of
the door leading from the press boxes--he was
a director Delaney disliked.
``Guess you'd better let Fuller call the game,''
he said brusquely.
``If you want to--as the score stands now in
our favor,'' replied Delaney.
``Not on your life! It'll be ours or else we'll
play it out and beat you to death.''
He departed in high dudgeon.
``Tell Reddie to swing over a little toward
left,'' was Delaney's order to Healy. Fire
gleamed in the manager's eye.
Fuller called play then, with Reddy Clammer
and Reddie Ray composing the Star outfield. And
the Grays evidently prepared to do great execution
through the wide lanes thus opened up. At
that stage it would not have been like matured
ball players to try to crop hits down into the
White sent a long fly back of Clammer. Reddy
had no time to loaf on this hit. It was all he could
do to reach it and he made a splendid catch, for
which the crowd roundly applauded him. That
applause was wine to Reddy Clammer. He began
to prance on his toes and sing out to Scott: ``Make
'em hit to me, old man! Make 'em hit to me!''
Whether Scott desired that or not was scarcely
possible to say; at any rate, Hanley pounded a
hit through the infield. And Clammer, prancing
high in the air like a check-reined horse, ran to
intercept the ball. He could have received it in
his hands, but that would never have served
Reddy Clammer. He timed the hit to a nicety,
went down with his old grand-stand play and
blocked the ball with his anatomy. Delaney
swore. And the bleachers, now warm toward the
gallant outfielder, lustily cheered him. Babcock
hit down the right-field foul line, giving Clammer
a long run. Hanley was scoring and Babcock was
sprinting for third base when Reddy got the ball.
He had a fine arm and he made a hard and
accurate throw, catching his man in a close play.
Perhaps even Delaney could not have found any
fault with that play. But the aftermath spoiled
the thing. Clammer now rode the air; he soared;
he was in the clouds; it was his inning and he had
utterly forgotten his team mates, except inasmuch
as they were performing mere little automatic
movements to direct the great machinery in his
direction for his sole achievement and glory.
There is fate in baseball as well as in other
walks of life. O'Brien was a strapping fellow and
he lifted another ball into Clammer's wide
territory. The hit was of the high and far-away
variety. Clammer started to run with it, not like
a grim outfielder, but like one thinking of himself,
his style, his opportunity, his inevitable
success. Certain it was that in thinking of himself
the outfielder forgot his surroundings. He ran
across the foul line, head up, hair flying, unheeding
the warning cry from Healy. And, reaching
up to make his crowning circus play, he smashed
face forward into the bleachers fence. Then,
limp as a rag, he dropped. The audience sent
forth a long groan of sympathy.
``That wasn't one of his stage falls,'' said
Delaney. ``I'll bet he's dead. . . . Poor Reddy!
And I want him to bust his face!''
Clammer was carried off the field into the dressing
room and a physician was summoned out of
``Cap., what'd it--do to him?'' asked Delaney.
``Aw, spoiled his pretty mug, that's all,''
replied Healy, scornfully. ``Mebee he'll listen to
Delaney's change was characteristic of the man.
``Well, if it didn't kill him I'm blamed glad he got
it. . . . Cap, we can trim 'em yet. Reddie Ray'll
play the whole outfield. Give Reddie a chance to
run! Tell the boy to cut loose. And all of you git
in the game. Win or lose, I won't forget it. I've
a hunch. Once in a while I can tell what's comin'
off. Some queer game this! And we're goin' to
win. Gilbat lost the game; Clammer throwed it
away again, and now Reddie Ray's due to win
it. . . . I'm all in, but I wouldn't miss the finish
to save my life.''
Delaney's deep presaging sense of baseball
events was never put to a greater test. And the
seven Stars, with the score tied, exhibited the
temper and timber of a championship team in the
last ditch. It was so splendid that almost
instantly it caught the antagonistic bleachers.
Wherever the tired Scott found renewed
strength and speed was a mystery. But he struck
out the hard-hitting Providence catcher and that
made the third out. The Stars could not score in
their half of the inning. Likewise the seventh
inning passed without a run for either side; only
the infield work of the Stars was something
superb. When the eighth inning ended, without a
tally for either team, the excitement grew tense.
There was Reddy Ray playing outfield alone, and
the Grays with all their desperate endeavors had
not lifted the ball out of the infield.
But in the ninth, Blake, the first man up, lined
low toward right center. The hit was safe and
looked good for three bases. No one looking, however,
had calculated on Reddie's Ray's fleetness.
He covered ground and dove for the bounding
ball and knocked it down. Blake did not get
beyond first base. The crowd cheered the play
equally with the prospect of a run. Dorr bunted
and beat the throw. White hit one of the high
fast balls Scott was serving and sent it close to
the left-field foul line. The running Reddie Ray
made on that play held White at second base. But
two runs had scored with no one out.
Hanley, the fourth left-handed hitter, came up
and Scott pitched to him as he had to the others
--high fast balls over the inside corner of the
plate. Reddy Ray's position was some fifty yards
behind deep short, and a little toward center field.
He stood sideways, facing two-thirds of that
vacant outfield. In spite of Scott's skill, Hanley
swung the ball far round into right field, but he
hit it high, and almost before he actually hit it the
great sprinter was speeding across the green.
The suspence grew almost unbearable as the
ball soared in its parabolic flight and the red-
haired runner streaked dark across the green.
The ball seemed never to be coming down. And
when it began to descend and reached a point
perhaps fifty feet above the ground there appeared
more distance between where it would alight and
where Reddie was than anything human could
cover. It dropped and dropped, and then dropped
into Reddie Ray's outstretched hands. He had
made the catch look easy. But the fact that White
scored from second base on the play showed what
the catch really was.
There was no movement or restlessness of the
audience such as usually indicated the beginning
of the exodus. Scott struck Babcock out. The
game still had fire. The Grays never let up a
moment on their coaching. And the hoarse voices
of the Stars were grimmer than ever. Reddie
Ray was the only one of the seven who kept silent.
And he crouched like a tiger.
The teams changed sides with the Grays three
runs in the lead. Morrissey, for the Stars, opened
with a clean drive to right. Then Healy slashed a
ground ball to Hanley and nearly knocked him
down. When old Burns, by a hard rap to short,
advanced the runners a base and made a desperate,
though unsuccessful, effort to reach first the
Providence crowd awoke to a strange and inspiring
appreciation. They began that most rare
feature in baseball audiences--a strong and
trenchant call for the visiting team to win.
The play had gone fast and furious. Wehying,
sweaty and disheveled, worked violently. All the
Grays were on uneasy tiptoes. And the Stars
were seven Indians on the warpath. Halloran
fouled down the right-field line; then he fouled
over the left-field fence. Wehying tried to make
him too anxious, but it was in vain. Halloran was
implacable. With two strikes and three balls he
hit straight down to white, and was out. The
ball had been so sharp that neither runner on base
had a chance to advance.
Two men out, two on base, Stars wanting three
runs to tie, Scott, a weak batter, at the plate!
The situation was disheartening. Yet there sat
Delaney, shot through and through with some
vital compelling force. He saw only victory. And
when the very first ball pitched to Scott hit him
on the leg, giving him his base, Delaney got to his
feet, unsteady and hoarse.
Bases full, Reddie Ray up, three runs to tie!
Delaney looked at Reddie. And Reddie looked
at Delaney. The manager's face was pale, intent,
with a little smile. The player had eyes of fire,
a lean, bulging jaw and the hands he reached for
his bat clutched like talons.
``Reddie, I knew it was waitin' for you,'' said
Delaney, his voice ringing. ``Break up the
After all this was only a baseball game, and
perhaps from the fans' viewpoint a poor game at
that. But the moment when that lithe, redhaired
athlete toed the plate was a beautiful one. The
long crash from the bleachers, the steady cheer
from the grand stand, proved that it was not so
much the game that mattered.
Wehying had shot his bolt; he was tired. Yet
he made ready for a final effort. It seemed that
passing Reddie Ray on balls would have been a
wise play at that juncture. But no pitcher, probably,
would have done it with the bases crowded
and chances, of course, against the batter.
Clean and swift, Reddie leaped at the first
pitched ball. Ping! For a second no one saw the
hit. Then it gleamed, a terrific drive, low along
the ground, like a bounding bullet, straight at
Babcock in right field. It struck his hands and
glanced viciously away to roll toward the fence.
Thunder broke loose from the stands. Reddie
Ray was turning first base. Beyond first base he
got into his wonderful stride. Some runners run
with a consistent speed, the best they can make
for a given distance. But this trained sprinter
gathered speed as he ran. He was no short-stepping
runner. His strides were long. They gave
an impression of strength combined with fleetness.
He had the speed of a race horse, but the
trimness, the raciness, the delicate legs were not
characteristic of him. Like the wind he turned
second, so powerful that his turn was short. All
at once there came a difference in his running. It
was no longer beautiful. The grace was gone. It
was now fierce, violent. His momentum was running
him off his legs. He whirled around third
base and came hurtling down the homestretch.
His face was convulsed, his eyes were wild. His
arms and legs worked in a marvelous muscular
velocity. He seemed a demon--a flying streak.
He overtook and ran down the laboring Scott, who
had almost reached the plate.
The park seemed full of shrill, piercing strife.
It swelled, reached a highest pitch, sustained that
for a long moment, and then declined.
``My Gawd!'' exclaimed Delaney, as he fell
back. ``Wasn't that a finish? Didn't I tell you
to watch them redheads!''
It was the most critical time I had yet
experienced in my career as a baseball manager.
And there was more than the usual reason why
I must pull the team out. A chance for a
business deal depended upon the good-will of the
stockholders of the Worcester club. On the
outskirts of the town was a little cottage that I
wanted to buy, and this depended upon the business
deal. My whole future happiness depended
upon the little girl I hoped to install in that
Coming to the Worcester Eastern League team,
I had found a strong aggregation and an
enthusiastic following. I really had a team with
pennant possibilities. Providence was a strong
rival, but I beat them three straight in the opening
series, set a fast pace, and likewise set Worcester
baseball mad. The Eastern League clubs
were pretty evenly matched; still I continued to
hold the lead until misfortune overtook me.
Gregg smashed an umpire and had to be laid
off. Mullaney got spiked while sliding and was
out of the game. Ashwell sprained his ankle and
Hirsch broke a finger. Radbourne, my great
pitcher, hurt his arm on a cold day and he could
not get up his old speed. Stringer, who had
batted three hundred and seventy-one and led the
league the year before, struck a bad spell and
could not hit a barn door handed up to him.
Then came the slump. The team suddenly let
down; went to pieces; played ball that would have
disgraced an amateur nine. It was a trying time.
Here was a great team, strong everywhere. A
little hard luck had dug up a slump--and now!
Day by day the team dropped in the race. When
we reached the second division the newspapers
flayed us. Worcester would never stand for a
second division team. Baseball admirers, reporters,
fans--especially the fans--are fickle. The
admirers quit, the reporters grilled us, and the
fans, though they stuck to the games with that
barnacle-like tenacity peculiar to them, made life
miserable for all of us. I saw the pennant slowly
fading, and the successful season, and the business
deal, and the cottage, and Milly----
But when I thought of her I just could not see
failure. Something must be done, but what? I
was at the end of my wits. When Jersey City
beat us that Saturday, eleven to two, shoving us
down to fifth place with only a few percentage
points above the Fall River team, I grew
desperate, and locking my players in the dressing
room I went after them. They had lain down on
me and needed a jar. I told them so straight and
flat, and being bitter, I did not pick and choose
``And fellows,'' I concluded, ``you've got to
brace. A little more of this and we can't pull out.
I tell you you're a championship team. We had
that pennant cinched. A few cuts and sprains
and hard luck--and you all quit! You lay down!
I've been patient. I've plugged for you. Never
a man have I fined or thrown down. But now I'm
at the end of my string. I'm out to fine you
now, and I'll release the first man who shows
the least yellow. I play no more substitutes.
Crippled or not, you guys have got to get in the
I waited to catch my breath and expected some
such outburst as managers usually get from criticized
players. But not a word! Then I addressed
some of them personally.
``Gregg, your lay-off ends today. You play
Monday. Mullaney, you've drawn your salary
for two weeks with that spiked foot. If you can't
run on it--well, all right, but I put it up to your
good faith. I've played the game and I know
it's hard to run on a sore foot. But you can do it.
Ashwell, your ankle is lame, I know--now, can
``Sure I can. I'm not a quitter. I'm ready to
go in,'' replied Ashwell.
``Raddy, how about you?'' I said, turning to
my star twirler.
``Connelly, I've seen as fast a team in as bad a
rut and yet pull out,'' returned Radbourne.
``We're about due for the brace. When it comes
--look out! As for me, well, my arm isn't right,
but it's acting these warm days in a way that tells
me it will be soon. It's been worked too hard.
Can't you get another pitcher? I'm not knocking
Herne or Cairns. They're good for their turn,
but we need a new man to help out. And he must
be a crackerjack if we're to get back to the lead.''
``Where on earth can I find such a pitcher?'' I
shouted, almost distracted.
``Well, that's up to you,'' replied Radbourne.
Up to me it certainly was, and I cudgeled my
brains for inspiration. After I had given up in
hopelessness it came in the shape of a notice I
read in one of the papers. It was a brief mention
of an amateur Worcester ball team being shut
out in a game with a Rickettsville nine. Rickettsville
played Sunday ball, which gave me an opportunity
to look them over.
It took some train riding and then a journey
by coach to get to Rickettsville. I mingled with
the crowd of talking rustics. There was only one
little ``bleachers'' and this was loaded to the
danger point with the feminine adherents of the
teams. Most of the crowd centered alongside and
back of the catcher's box. I edged in and got a
position just behind the stone that served as home
Hunting up a player in this way was no new
thing to me. I was too wise to make myself
known before I had sized up the merits of my
man. So, before the players came upon the field
I amused myself watching the rustic fans and
listening to them. Then a roar announced the
appearance of the Rickettsville team and their
opponents, who wore the name of Spatsburg on
their Canton flannel shirts. The uniforms of these
country amateurs would have put a Philadelphia
Mummer's parade to the blush, at least for bright
colors. But after one amused glance I got down
to the stern business of the day, and that was to
discover a pitcher, and failing that, baseball talent
of any kind.
Never shall I forget my first glimpse of the
Rickettsville twirler. He was far over six feet
tall and as lean as a fence rail. He had a great
shock of light hair, a sunburned, sharp-featured
face, wide, sloping shoulders, and arms enormously
long. He was about as graceful and had
about as much of a baseball walk as a crippled cow.
``He's a rube!'' I ejaculated, in disgust and
But when I had seen him throw one ball to his
catcher I grew as keen as a fox on a scent. What
speed he had! I got round closer to him and
watched him with sharp, eager eyes. He was a
giant. To be sure, he was lean, rawboned as a
horse, but powerful. What won me at once was
his natural, easy swing. He got the ball away
with scarcely any effort. I wondered what he
could do when he brought the motion of his body
``Bub, what might be the pitcher's name?'' I
asked of a boy.
``Huh, mister, his name might be Dennis, but
it ain't. Huh!'' replied this country youngster.
Evidently my question had thrown some implication
upon this particular player.
``I reckon you be a stranger in these parts,''
said a pleasant old fellow. ``His name's Hurtle
--Whitaker Hurtle. Whit fer short. He hain't
lost a gol-darned game this summer. No sir-ee!
Never pitched any before, nuther.''
Hurtle! What a remarkably fitting name!
Rickettsville chose the field and the game began.
Hurtle swung with his easy motion. The ball shot
across like a white bullet. It was a strike, and so
was the next, and the one succeeding. He could
not throw anything but strikes, and it seemed the
Spatsburg players could not make even a foul.
Outside of Hurtle's work the game meant little
to me. And I was so fascinated by what I saw in
him that I could hardly contain myself. After
the first few innings I no longer tried to. I yelled
with the Rickettsville rooters. The man was a
wonder. A blind baseball manager could have
seen that. He had a straight ball, shoulder high,
level as a stretched string, and fast. He had a
jump ball, which he evidently worked by putting
on a little more steam, and it was the speediest
thing I ever saw in the way of a shoot. He had a
wide-sweeping outcurve, wide as the blade of a
mowing scythe. And he had a drop--an unhittable
drop. He did not use it often, for it made
his catcher dig too hard into the dirt. But whenever
he did I glowed all over. Once or twice he
used an underhand motion and sent in a ball that
fairly swooped up. It could not have been hit
with a board. And best of all, dearest to the
manager's heart, he had control. Every ball he threw
went over the plate. He could not miss it. To
him that plate was as big as a house.
What a find! Already I had visions of the long-
looked-for brace of my team, and of the pennant,
and the little cottage, and the happy light of a
pair of blue eyes. What he meant to me, that
country pitcher Hurtle! He shut out the Spatsburg
team without a run or a hit or even a scratch.
Then I went after him. I collared him and his
manager, and there, surrounded by the gaping
players, I bought him and signed him before any
of them knew exactly what I was about. I did
not haggle. I asked the manager what he wanted
and produced the cash; I asked Hurtle what he
wanted, doubled his ridiculously modest demand,
paid him in advance, and got his name to the
contract. Then I breathed a long, deep breath; the
first one for weeks. Something told me that with
Hurtle's signature in my pocket I had the Eastern
League pennant. Then I invited all concerned
down to the Rickettsville hotel.
We made connections at the railroad junction
and reached Worcester at midnight in time for a
good sleep. I took the silent and backward
pitcher to my hotel. In the morning we had
breakfast together. I showed him about Worcester
and then carried him off to the ball grounds.
I had ordered morning practice, and as morning
practice is not conducive to the cheerfulness
of ball players, I wanted to reach the dressing
room a little late. When we arrived, all the players
had dressed and were out on the field. I had
some difficulty in fitting Hurtle with a uniform,
and when I did get him dressed he resembled a
two-legged giraffe decked out in white shirt, gray
trousers and maroon stockings.
Spears, my veteran first baseman and captain
of the team, was the first to see us.
``Sufferin' umpires!'' yelled Spears. ``Here,
you Micks! Look at this Con's got with him!''
What a yell burst from that sore and
disgruntled bunch of ball tossers! My players were
a grouchy set in practice anyway, and today they
were in their meanest mood.
``Get on to the stilts!''
``Con, where did you find that?''
I cut short their chaffing with a sharp order for
``Regular line-up, now no monkey biz,'' I went
on. ``Take two cracks and a bunt. Here, Hurtle,''
I said, drawing him toward the pitcher's
box, ``don't pay any attention to their talk. That's
only the fun of ball players. Go in now and practice
a little. Lam a few over.''
Hurtle's big freckled hands closed nervously
over the ball. I thought it best not to say more
to him, for he had a rather wild look. I remembered
my own stage fright upon my first appearance
in fast company. Besides I knew what my
amiable players would say to him. I had a secret
hope and belief that presently they would yell
upon the other side of the fence.
McCall, my speedy little left fielder, led
off at bat. He was full of ginger, chipper as
a squirrel, sarcastic as only a tried ball player
``Put 'em over, Slats, put 'em over,'' he called,
viciously swinging his ash.
Hurtle stood stiff and awkward in the box and
seemed to be rolling something in his mouth.
Then he moved his arm. We all saw the ball
dart down straight--that is, all of us except
McCall, because if he had seen it he might have
jumped out of the way. Crack! The ball hit him
on the shin.
McCall shrieked. We all groaned. That crack
hurt all of us. Any baseball player knows how it
hurts to be hit on the shinbone. McCall waved
his bat madly.
``Rube! Rube! Rube!'' he yelled.
Then and there Hurtle got the name that was
to cling to him all his baseball days.
McCall went back to the plate, red in the face,
mad as a hornet, and he sidestepped every time
Rube pitched a ball. He never even ticked one
and retired in disgust, limping and swearing.
Ashwell was next. He did not show much alacrity.
On Rube's first pitch down went Ashwell flat
in the dust. The ball whipped the hair of his
head. Rube was wild and I began to get worried.
Ashwell hit a couple of measly punks, but when
he assayed a bunt the gang yelled derisively at
``What's he got?'' The old familiar cry of
batters when facing a new pitcher!
Stringer went up, bold and formidable. That
was what made him the great hitter he was. He
loved to bat; he would have faced anybody; he
would have faced even a cannon. New curves
were a fascination to him. And speed for him,
in his own words, was ``apple pie.'' In this
instance, surprise was in store for Stringer. Rube
shot up the straight one, then the wide curve, then
the drop. Stringer missed them all, struck out,
fell down ignominiously. It was the first time
he had fanned that season and he looked dazed.
We had to haul him away.
I called off the practice, somewhat worried
about Rube's showing, and undecided whether or
not to try him in the game that day. So I went
to Radbourne, who had quietly watched Rube
while on the field. Raddy was an old pitcher and
had seen the rise of a hundred stars. I told him
about the game at Rickettsville and what I thought
of Rube, and frankly asked his opinion.
``Con, you've made the find of your life,'' said
Raddy, quietly and deliberately.
This from Radbourne was not only comforting;
it was relief, hope, assurance. I avoided Spears,
for it would hardly be possible for him to regard
the Rube favorably, and I kept under cover until
time to show up at the grounds.
Buffalo was on the ticket for that afternoon,
and the Bisons were leading the race and playing
in topnotch form. I went into the dressing room
while the players were changing suits, because
there was a little unpleasantness that I wanted to
spring on them before we got on the field.
``Boys,'' I said, curtly, ``Hurtle works today.
Cut loose, now, and back him up.''
I had to grab a bat and pound on the wall to
stop the uproar.
``Did you mutts hear what I said? Well, it goes.
Not a word, now. I'm handling this team. We're
in bad, I know, but it's my judgment to pitch Hurtle,
rube or no rube, and it's up to you to back
us. That's the baseball of it.''
Grumbling and muttering, they passed out of
the dressing room. I knew ball players. If Hurtle
should happen to show good form they would
turn in a flash. Rube tagged reluctantly in their
rear. He looked like a man in a trance. I wanted
to speak encouragingly to him, but Raddy told me
to keep quiet.
It was inspiring to see my team practice that
afternoon. There had come a subtle change. I
foresaw one of those baseball climaxes that can
be felt and seen, but not explained. Whether it
was a hint of the hoped-for brace, or only another
flash of form before the final let-down, I had no
means to tell. But I was on edge.
Carter, the umpire, called out the batteries, and
I sent my team into the field. When that long,
lanky, awkward rustic started for the pitcher's
box, I thought the bleachers would make him drop
in his tracks. The fans were sore on any one
those days, and a new pitcher was bound to hear
``Where! Oh, where! Oh, where!''
``Connelly's found another dead one!''
``Look at his pants!''
``Pad his legs!''
Then the inning began, and things happened.
Rube had marvelous speed, but he could not find
the plate. He threw the ball the second he got
it; he hit men, walked men, and fell all over
himself trying to field bunts. The crowd stormed and
railed and hissed. The Bisons pranced round the
bases and yelled like Indians. Finally they retired
with eight runs.
Eight runs! Enough to win two games! I
could not have told how it happened. I was sick
and all but crushed. Still I had a blind, dogged
faith in the big rustic. I believed he had not got
started right. It was a trying situation. I called
Spears and Raddy to my side and talked fast.
``It's all off now. Let the dinged rube take his
medicine,'' growled Spears.
``Don't take him out,'' said Raddy. ``He's not
shown at all what's in him. The blamed hayseed
is up in the air. He's crazy. He doesn't
know what he's doing. I tell you, Con, he may be
scared to death, but he's dead in earnest.''
Suddenly I recalled the advice of the pleasant
old fellow at Rickettsville.
``Spears, you're the captain,'' I said, sharply.
``Go after the rube. Wake him up. Tell him he
can't pitch. Call him `Pogie!' That's a name
that stirs him up.''
``Well, I'll be dinged! He looks it,'' replied
Spears. ``Here, Rube, get off the bench. Come
Rube lurched toward us. He seemed to be
walking in his sleep. His breast was laboring and
he was dripping with sweat.
``Who ever told you that you could pitch?''
asked Spears genially. He was master at baseball
ridicule. I had never yet seen the youngster who
could stand his badinage. He said a few things,
then wound up with: ``Come now, you cross
between a hayrack and a wagon tongue, get sore and
do something. Pitch if you can. Show us! Do
you hear, you tow-headed Pogie!''
Rube jumped as if he had been struck. His face
flamed red and his little eyes turned black. He
shoved his big fist under Capt. Spears' nose.
``Mister, I'll lick you fer thet--after the game!
And I'll show you dog-goned well how I can
``Good!'' exclaimed Raddy; and I echoed his
word. Then I went to the bench and turned my
attention to the game. Some one told me that
McCall had made a couple of fouls, and after waiting
for two strikes and three balls had struck
out. Ashwell had beat out a bunt in his old swift
style, and Stringer was walking up to the plate
on the moment. It was interesting, even in a losing
game, to see Stringer go to bat. We all
watched him, as we had been watching him for
weeks, expecting him to break his slump with one
of the drives that had made him famous. Stringer
stood to the left side of the plate, and I could
see the bulge of his closely locked jaw. He swung
on the first pitched ball. With the solid rap we
all rose to watch that hit. The ball lined first,
then soared and did not begin to drop till it was
far beyond the right-field fence. For an instant
we were all still, so were the bleachers. Stringer
had broken his slump with the longest drive ever
made on the grounds. The crowd cheered as he
trotted around the bases behind Ashwell. Two
``Con, how'd you like that drive?'' he asked
me, with a bright gleam in his eyes.
``O-h-!--a beaut!'' I replied, incoherently. The
players on the bench were all as glad as I was.
Henley flew out to left. Mullaney smashed a two-
bagger to right. Then Gregg hit safely, but Mullaney,
in trying to score on the play, was out at
``Four hits! I tell you fellows, something's
coming off,'' said Raddy. ``Now, if only
What a difference there was in that long rustic!
He stalked into the box, unmindful of the hooting
crowd and grimly faced Schultz, the first batter
up for the Bisons. This time Rube was deliberate.
And where he had not swung before he now
got his body and arm into full motion. The ball
came in like a glint of light. Schultz looked
surprised. The umpire called ``Strike!''
``Wow!'' yelled the Buffalo coacher. Rube sped
up the sidewheeler and Schultz reached wide to
meet it and failed. The third was the lightning
drop, straight over the plate. The batter poked
weakly at it. Then Carl struck out and Manning
following, did likewise. Three of the best hitters
in the Eastern retired on nine strikes! That was
no fluke. I knew what it meant, and I sat there
hugging myself with the hum of something joyous
in my ears.
Gregg had a glow on his sweaty face. ``Oh, but
say, boys, take a tip from me! The Rube's a world
beater! Raddy knew it; he sized up that swing,
and now I know it. Get wise, you its!''
When old Spears pasted a single through shortstop,
the Buffalo manager took Clary out of the
box and put in Vane, their best pitcher. Bogart
advanced the runner to second, but was thrown
out on the play. Then Rube came up. He swung
a huge bat and loomed over the Bison's twirler.
Rube had the look of a hitter. He seemed to be
holding himself back from walking right into the
ball. And he hit one high and far away. The
fast Carl could not get under it, though he made
a valiant effort. Spears scored and Rube's long
strides carried him to third. The cold crowd in
the stands came to life; even the sore bleachers
opened up. McCall dumped a slow teaser down
the line, a hit that would easily have scored Rube,
but he ran a little way, then stopped, tried to get
back, and was easily touched out. Ashwell's hard
chance gave the Bison's shortstop an error, and
Stringer came up with two men on bases. Stringer
hit a foul over the right-field fence and the crowd
howled. Then he hit a hard long drive straight
into the centerfielder's hands.
``Con, I don't know what to think, but ding me
if we ain't hittin' the ball,'' said Spears. Then
to his players: ``A little more of that and we're
back in our old shape. All in a minute--at 'em
now! Rube, you dinged old Pogie, pitch!''
Rube toed the rubber, wrapped his long brown
fingers round the ball, stepped out as he swung
and--zing! That inning he unloosed a few more
kinks in his arm and he tried some new balls upon
the Bisons. But whatever he used and wherever
he put them the result was the same--they cut the
plate and the Bisons were powerless.
That inning marked the change in my team.
They had come hack. The hoodoo had vanished.
The championship Worcester team was itself
The Bisons were fighting, too, but Rube had
them helpless. When they did hit a ball one of
my infielders snapped it up. No chances went to
the outfield. I sat there listening to my men, and
reveled in a moment that I had long prayed for.
``Now you're pitching some, Rube. Another
strike! Get him a board!'' called Ashwell.
``Ding 'em, Rube, ding 'em!'' came from Capt.
``Speed? Oh-no!'' yelled Bogart at third
``It's all off, Rube! It's all off--all off!''
So, with the wonderful pitching of an angry
rube, the Worcester team came into its own
again. I sat through it all without another word;
without giving a signal. In a way I realized the
awakening of the bleachers, and heard the pound
of feet and the crash, but it was the spirit of my
team that thrilled me. Next to that the work of
my new find absorbed me. I gloated over his easy,
deceiving swing. I rose out of my seat when he
threw that straight fast ball, swift as a bullet,
true as a plumb line. And when those hard-hitting,
sure bunting Bisons chopped in vain at the
wonderful drop, I choked back a wild yell. For
Rube meant the world to me that day.
In the eighth the score was 8 to 6. The Bisons
had one scratch hit to their credit, but not a
runner had got beyond first base. Again Rube
held them safely, one man striking out, another
fouling out, and the third going out on a little fly.
Crash! Crash! Crash! Crash! The bleachers
were making up for many games in which
they could not express their riotous feelings.
``It's a cinch we'll win!'' yelled a fan with a
voice. Rube was the first man up in our half of
the ninth and his big bat lammed the first ball
safe over second base. The crowd, hungry for
victory, got to their feet and stayed upon their
feet, calling, cheering for runs. It was the moment
for me to get in the game, and I leaped up,
strung like a wire, and white hot with inspiration.
I sent Spears to the coaching box with
orders to make Rube run on the first ball. I
gripped McCall with hands that made him wince.
Then I dropped back on the bench spent and
panting. It was only a game, yet it meant so
much! Little McCall was dark as a thunder cloud,
and his fiery eyes snapped. He was the fastest
man in the league, and could have bunted an
arrow from a bow. The foxy Bison third baseman
edged in. Mac feinted to bunt toward him
then turned his bat inward and dumped a teasing
curving ball down the first base line. Rube ran
as if in seven-league boots. Mac's short legs
twinkled; he went like the wind; he leaped into
first base with his long slide, and beat the
The stands and bleachers seemed to be tumbling
down. For a moment the air was full of deafening
sound. Then came the pause, the dying away
of clatter and roar, the close waiting, suspended
quiet. Spears' clear voice, as he coached Rube, in
its keen note seemed inevitable of another run.
Ashwell took his stand. He was another left-
hand hitter, and against a right-hand pitcher, in
such circumstances as these, the most dangerous
of men. Vane knew it. Ellis, the Bison captain
knew it, as showed plainly in his signal to catch
Rube at second. But Spears' warning held or
frightened Rube on the bag.
Vane wasted a ball, then another. Ashwell
could not be coaxed. Wearily Vane swung; the
shortstop raced out to get in line for a possible
hit through the wide space to his right,
and the second baseman got on his toes as both
base runners started.
Crack! The old story of the hit and run game!
Ashwell's hit crossed sharply where a moment
before the shortstop had been standing. With
gigantic strides Rube rounded the corner and
scored. McCall flitted through second, and diving
into third with a cloud of dust, got the umpire's
decision. When Stringer hurried up with Mac
on third and Ash on first the whole field seemed
racked in a deafening storm. Again it subsided
quickly. The hopes of the Worcester fans had
been crushed too often of late for them to be fearless.
But I had no fear. I only wanted the suspense
ended. I was like a man clamped in a vise.
Stringer stood motionless. Mac bent low with the
sprinters' stoop; Ash watched the pitcher's arm
and slowly edged off first. Stringer waited for
one strike and two balls, then he hit the next. It
hugged the first base line, bounced fiercely past
the bag and skipped over the grass to bump hard
into the fence. McCall romped home, and lame
Ashwell beat any run he ever made to the plate.
Rolling, swelling, crashing roar of frenzied feet
could not down the high piercing sustained yell of
the fans. It was great. Three weeks of submerged
bottled baseball joy exploded in one mad
outburst! The fans, too, had come into their own
We scored no more. But the Bisons were
beaten. Their spirit was broken. This did not
make the Rube let up in their last half inning.
Grim and pale he faced them. At every long step
and swing he tossed his shock of light hair. At
the end he was even stronger than at the beginning.
He still had the glancing, floating airy
quality that baseball players call speed. And he
struck out the last three batters.
In the tumult that burst over my ears I sat
staring at the dots on my score card. Fourteen
strike outs! one scratch hit! No base on balls
since the first inning! That told the story which
deadened senses doubted. There was a roar in
my ears. Some one was pounding me. As I struggled
to get into the dressing room the crowd
mobbed me. But I did not hear what they yelled.
I had a kind of misty veil before my eyes, in
which I saw that lanky Rube magnified into a
glorious figure. I saw the pennant waving, and
the gleam of a white cottage through the trees,
and a trim figure waiting at the gate. Then I
rolled into the dressing room.
Somehow it seemed strange to me. Most of the
players were stretched out in peculiar convulsions.
Old Spears sat with drooping head. Then
a wild flaming-eyed giant swooped upon me. With
a voice of thunder he announced:
``I'm a-goin' to lick you, too!''
After that we never called him any name except
THE RUBE'S PENNANT
``Fellows, it's this way. You've got to win
today's game. It's the last of the season and
means the pennant for Worcester. One more
hard scrap and we're done! Of all the up-hill
fights any bunch ever made to land the flag, our
has been the best. You're the best team I ever
managed, the gamest gang of ball players that
ever stepped in spikes. We've played in the
hardest kind of luck all season, except that short
trip we called the Rube's Honeymoon. We got a
bad start, and sore arms and busted fingers, all
kinds of injuries, every accident calculated to hurt
a team's chances, came our way. But in spite of
it all we got the lead and we've held it, and today
we're still a few points ahead of Buffalo.''
I paused to catch my breath, and looked round
on the grim, tired faces of my players. They
made a stern group. The close of the season
found them almost played out. What a hard
chance it was, after their extraordinary efforts,
to bring the issue of the pennant down to this last
``If we lose today, Buffalo, with three games
more to play at home, will pull the bunting,'' I
went on. ``But they're not going to win! I'm
putting it up to you that way. I know Spears is
all in; Raddy's arm is gone; Ash is playing on
one leg; you're all crippled. But you've got one
more game in you, I know. These last few weeks
the Rube has been pitching out of turn and he's
about all in, too. He's kept us in the lead. If he
wins today it'll be Rube's Pennant. But that
might apply to all of you. Now, shall we talk
over the play today? Any tricks to pull off? Any
``Con, you're pretty much upset an' nervous,''
replied Spears, soberly. ``It ain't no wonder.
This has been one corker of a season. I want to
suggest that you let me run the team today. I've
talked over the play with the fellers. We ain't
goin' to lose this game, Con. Buffalo has been
comin' with a rush lately, an' they're confident.
But we've been holdin' in, restin' up as much as
we dared an' still keep our lead. Mebbee it'll
surprise you to know we've bet every dollar we could
get hold of on this game. Why, Buffalo money is
``All right, Spears, I'll turn the team over to
you. We've got the banner crowd of the year out
there right now, a great crowd to play before.
I'm more fussed up over this game than any I
remember. But I have a sort of blind faith in
my team. . . . I guess that's all I want to say.''
Spears led the silent players out of the dressing
room and I followed; and while they began to
toss balls to and fro, to limber up cold, dead arms,
I sat on the bench.
The Bisons were prancing about the diamond,
and their swaggering assurance was not conducive
to hope for the Worcesters. I wondered
how many of that vast, noisy audience, intent on
the day's sport, even had a thought of what pain
and toil it meant to my players. The Buffalo men
were in good shape; they had been lucky; they
were at the top of their stride, and that made all
At any rate, there were a few faithful little
women in the grand stand--Milly and Nan and
Rose Stringer and Kate Bogart--who sat with
compressed lips and hoped and prayed for that
game to begin and end.
The gong called off the practice, and Spears,
taking the field, yelled gruff encouragement to his
men. Umpire Carter brushed off the plate and
tossed a white ball to Rube and called: ``Play!''
The bleachers set up an exultant, satisfied shout
and sat down to wait.
Schultz toed the plate and watched the Rube
pitch a couple. There seemed to be no diminution
of the great pitcher's speed and both balls cut the
plate. Schultz clipped the next one down the third-
base Line. Bogart trapped it close to the bag, and
got it away underhand, beating the speedy runner
by a nose. It was a pretty play to start with, and
the spectators were not close-mouthed in
appreciation. The short, stocky Carl ambled up to
bat, and I heard him call the Rube something. It
was not a friendly contest, this deciding game
between Buffalo and Worcester.
``Bing one close to his swelled nut!'' growled
Spears to the Rube.
Carl chopped a bouncing grounder through
short and Ash was after it like a tiger, but it was
a hit. The Buffalo contingent opened up. Then
Manning faced the Rube, and he, too, vented
sarcasm. It might not have been heard by the slow,
imperturbable pitcher for all the notice he took.
Carl edged off first, slid back twice, got a third
start, and on the Rube's pitch was off for second
base with the lead that always made him dangerous.
Manning swung vainly, and Gregg snapped
a throw to Mullaney. Ball and runner got to the
bag apparently simultaneously; the umpire called
Carl out, and the crowd uttered a quick roar of
The next pitch to Manning was a strike. Rube
was not wasting any balls, a point I noted with
mingled fear and satisfaction. For he might have
felt that he had no strength to spare that day and
so could not try to work the batters. Again he
swung, and Manning rapped a long line fly over
McCall. As the little left fielder turned at the
sound of the hit and sprinted out, his lameness
was certainly not in evidence. He was the swiftest
runner in the league and always when he got
going the crowd rose in wild clamor to watch him.
Mac took that fly right off the foul flag in deep
left, and the bleachers dinned their pleasure.
The teams changed positions. ``Fellers,'' said
Spears, savagely, ``we may be a bunged-up lot of
stiffs, but, say! We can hit! If you love your
old captain--sting the ball!''
Vane, the Bison pitcher, surely had his work
cut out for him. For one sympathetic moment I
saw his part through his eyes. My Worcester
veterans, long used to being under fire, were
relentlessly bent on taking that game. It showed
in many ways, particularly in their silence,
because they were seldom a silent team. McCall
hesitated a moment over his bats. Then, as he
picked up the lightest one, I saw his jaw set, and
I knew he intended to bunt. He was lame, yet he
meant to beat out an infield hit. He went up
Vane had an old head, and he had a varied
assortment of balls. For Mac he used an under
hand curve, rising at the plate and curving in to
the left-hander. Mac stepped back and let it go.
``That's the place, Bo,'' cried the Buffalo
infielders. ``Keep 'em close on the Crab.'' Eager and
fierce as McCall was, he let pitch after pitch go
by till he had three balls and two strikes. Still
the heady Vane sent up another pitch similar to
the others. Mac stepped forward in the box,
dropped his bat on the ball, and leaped down the
line toward first base. Vane came rushing in for
the bunt, got it and threw. But as the speeding
ball neared the baseman, Mac stretched out into
the air and shot for the bag. By a fraction of a
second he beat the ball. It was one of his demon-
slides. He knew that the chances favored his being
crippled; we all knew that some day Mac
would slide recklessly once too often. But that,
too, is all in the game and in the spirit of a great
``We're on,'' said Spears; ``now keep with
By that the captain meant that Mac would go
down, and Ashwell would hit with the run.
When Vane pitched, little McCall was flitting
toward second. The Bison shortstop started for
the bag, and Ash hit square through his tracks.
A rolling cheer burst from the bleachers, and
swelled till McCall overran third base and was
thrown back by the coacher. Stringer hurried
forward with his big bat.
``Oh! My!'' yelled a fan, and he voiced my
sentiments exactly. Here we would score, and be
one run closer to that dearly bought pennant.
How well my men worked together! As the
pitcher let the ball go, Ash was digging for
second and Mac was shooting plateward. They
played on the chance of Stringer's hitting.
Stringer swung, the bat cracked, we heard a thud
somewhere, and then Manning, half knocked over,
was fumbling for the ball. He had knocked down
a terrific drive with his mitt, and he got the ball
in time to put Stringer out. But Mac scored and
Ash drew a throw to third base and beat it. He
had a bad ankle, but no one noticed it in that
``Watch me paste one!'' said Captain Spears,
as he spat several yards. He batted out a fly so
long and high and far that, slow as he was, he had
nearly run to second base when Carl made the
catch. Ash easily scored on the throw-in. Then
Bogart sent one skipping over second, and Treadwell,
scooping it on the run, completed a play that
showed why he was considered the star of the
``Two runs, fellers!'' said Spears. ``That's
some! Push 'em over, Rube.''
The second inning somewhat quickened the
pace. Even the Rube worked a little faster. Ellis
lined to Cairns in right; Treadwell fouled two
balls and had a called strike, and was out; McKnight
hit a low fly over short, then Bud Wiler
sent one between Spears and Mullaney. Spears
went for it while the Rube with giant strides ran
to cover first base. Between them they got Bud,
but it was only because he was heavy and slow
on his feet.
In our half of that inning Mullaney, Gregg and
Cairns went out in one, two, three order.
With Pannell up, I saw that the Rube held in
on his speed, or else he was tiring. Pannell hit
the second slow ball for two bases. Vane sacrificed,
and then the redoubtable Schultz came up.
He appeared to be in no hurry to bat. Then I
saw that the foxy Buffalo players were working
to tire the Rube. They had the situation figured.
But they were no wiser than old Spears.
``Make 'em hit, Rube. Push 'em straight over.
Never mind the corners. We don't care for a
few runs. We'll hit this game out.''
Shultz flied to Mac, who made a beautiful throw
to the plate too late to catch Pannell. Carl
deliberately bunted to the right of the Rube and it
cost the big pitcher strenuous effort to catch his
``We got the Rube waggin'!'' yelled a Buffalo
Manning tripled down the left foul line--a hit
the bleachers called a screamer. When Ellis
came up, it looked like a tie score, and when the
Rube pitched it was plain that he was tired. The
Bisons yelled their assurance of this and the
audience settled into quiet. Ellis batted a
scorcher that looked good for a hit. But the fast
Ashwell was moving with the ball, and he plunged
lengthwise to get it square in his glove. The hit
had been so sharp that he had time to get up and
make the throw to beat the runner. The bleachers
thundered at the play.
``You're up, Rube,'' called Spears. ``Lam one
out of the lot!''
The Rube was an uncertain batter. There was
never any telling what he might do, for he had
spells of good and bad hitting. But when he did
get his bat on the ball it meant a chase for some
fielder. He went up swinging his huge club, and
he hit a fly that would have been an easy home run
for a fast man. But the best Rube could do was
to reach third base. This was certainly good
enough, as the bleachers loudly proclaimed, and
another tally for us seemed sure.
McCall bunted toward third, another of his
teasers. The Rube would surely have scored had
he started with the ball, but he did not try and
missed a chance. Wiler, of course, held the ball,
and Mac got to first without special effort. He
went down on the first pitch. Then Ash lined to
Carl. The Rube waited till the ball was caught
and started for home. The crowd screamed, the
Rube ran for all he was worth and Carl's throw
to the plate shot in low and true. Ellis blocked
the Rube and tagged him out.
It looked to the bleachers as if Ellis had been
unnecessarily rough, and they hissed and stormed
disapproval. As for me, I knew the Bisons were
losing no chance to wear out my pitcher. Stringer
fouled out with Mac on third, and it made him so
angry that he threw his bat toward the bench,
making some of the boys skip lively.
The next three innings, as far as scoring was
concerned, were all for Buffalo. But the Worcester
infield played magnificent ball, holding their
opponents to one run each inning.
That made the score 4 to 2 in favor of Buffalo.
In the last half of the sixth, with Ash on first
base and two men out, old Spears hit another of
his lofty flies, and this one went over the fence
and tied the score. How the bleachers roared!
It was full two minutes before they quieted down.
To make it all the more exciting, Bogart hit
safely, ran like a deer to third on Mullaney's
grounder, which Wiler knocked down, and scored
on a passed ball. Gregg ended the inning by
``Get at the Rube!'' boomed Ellis, the Bison
captain. ``We'll have him up in the air soon. Get
in the game now, you stickers!''
Before I knew what had happened, the Bisons
had again tied the score. They were indomitable.
They grew stronger all the time. A stroke of
good luck now would clinch the game for them.
The Rube was beginning to labor in the box; Ashwell
was limping; Spears looked as if he would
drop any moment; McCall could scarcely walk.
But if the ball came his way he could still run.
Nevertheless, I never saw any finer fielding than
these cripped players executed that inning.
``Ash--Mac--can you hold out?'' I asked, when
they limped in. I received glances of scorn for
my question. Spears, however, was not sanguine.
``I'll stick pretty much if somethin' doesn't
happen,'' he said; ``but I'm all in. I'll need a
runner if I get to first this time.''
Spears lumbered down to first base on an
infield hit and the heavy Manning gave him the hip.
Old Spears went down, and I for one knew he
was out in more ways than that signified by
Carter's sharp: ``Out!''
The old war-horse gathered himself up slowly
and painfully, and with his arms folded and his
jaw protruding, he limped toward the umpire.
``Did you call me out?'' he asked, in a voice
plainly audible to any one on the field.
``Yes,'' snapped Carter.
``What for? I beat the ball, an' Mannin'
played dirty with me--gave me the hip.''
``I called you out.''
``But I wasn't out!''
``Shut up now! Get off the diamond!'' ordered
``What? Me? Say, I'm captain of this team.
Can't I question a decision?''
``Not mine. Spears, you're delaying the
``I tell you it was a rotten decision,'' yelled
Spears. The bleachers agreed with him.
Carter grew red in the face. He and Spears
had before then met in field squabbles, and he
``More! You cheap-skate you piker! More!''
``It's a hundred!''
``Put me out of the game!'' roared Spears.
``You bet! Hurry now--skedaddle!''
``Rob-b-ber!'' bawled Spears.
Then he labored slowly toward the bench, all
red, and yet with perspiration, his demeanor one
of outraged dignity. The great crowd, as one
man, stood up and yelled hoarsely at Carter, and
hissed and railed at him. When Spears got to
the bench he sat down beside me as if in pain, but
he was smiling.
``Con, I was all in, an' knowin' I couldn't play
any longer, thought I'd try to scare Carter. Say,
he was white in the face. If we play into a close
decision now, he'll give it to us.''
Bogart and Mullaney batted out in short order,
and once more the aggressive Bisons hurried in
for their turn. Spears sent Cairns to first base
and Jones to right. The Rube lobbed up his slow
ball. In that tight pinch he showed his splendid
nerve. Two Buffalo players, over-anxious,
popped up flies. The Rube kept on pitching the
slow curve until it was hit safely. Then heaving
his shoulders with all his might he got all
the motion possible into his swing and let drive.
He had almost all of his old speed, but it hurt
me to see him work with such desperate effort.
He struck Wiler out.
He came stooping into the bench, apparently
deaf to the stunning round of applause. Every