Part 2 out of 5
player on the team had a word for the Rube.
There was no quitting in that bunch, and if I ever
saw victory on the stern faces of ball players it
was in that moment.
``We haven't opened up yet. Mebbee this is
the innin'. If it ain't, the next is,'' said Spears.
With the weak end of the batting list up, there
seemed little hope of getting a run on Vane that
inning. He had so much confidence that he put
the ball over for Gregg, who hit out of the reach
of the infield. Again Vane sent up his straight
ball, no doubt expecting Cairns to hit into a
double play. But Cairns surprised Vane and
everybody else by poking a safety past first base.
The fans began to howl and pound and whistle.
The Rube strode to bat. The infield closed in
for a bunt, but the Rube had no orders for that
style of play. Spears had said nothing to him.
Vane lost his nonchalance and settled down. He
cut loose with all his speed. Rube stepped out,
suddenly whirled, then tried to dodge, but the ball
hit him fair in the back. Rube sagged in his
tracks, then straightened up, and walked slowly
to first base. Score 5 to 5, bases full, no outs,
McCall at bat. I sat dumb on the bench, thrilling
and shivering. McCall! Ashwell! Stringer to
``Play it safe! Hold the bags!'' yelled the
McCall fairly spouted defiance as he faced
``Pitch! It's all off! An' you know it!''
If Vane knew that, he showed no evidence of
it. His face was cold, unsmiling, rigid. He had
to pitch to McCall, the fastest man in the league;
to Ashwell, the best bunter; to Stringer, the
champion batter. It was a supreme test for a great
pitcher. There was only one kind of a ball that
McCall was not sure to hit, and that was a high
curve, in close. Vane threw it with all his power.
Carter called it a strike. Again Vane swung and
his arm fairly cracked. Mac fouled the ball. The
third was wide. Slowly, with lifting breast, Vane
got ready, whirled savagely and shot up the ball.
McCall struck out.
As the Buffalo players crowed and the audience
groaned it was worthy of note that little McCall
showed no temper. Yet he had failed to grasp a
``Ash, I couldn't see 'em,'' he said, as he passed
to the bench. ``Speed, whew! look out for it.
He's been savin' up. Hit quick, an' you'll get
Ashwell bent over the plate and glowered at
``Pitch! It's all off! An' you know it!'' he
hissed, using Mac's words.
Ashwell, too, was left-handed; he, too, was
extremely hard to pitch to; and if he had a weakness
that any of us ever discovered, it was a slow
curve and change of pace. But I doubted if Vane
would dare to use slow balls to Ash at that critical
moment. I had yet to learn something of Vane.
He gave Ash a slow, wide-sweeping sidewheeler,
that curved round over the plate. Ash always
took a strike, so this did not matter. Then Vane
used his deceptive change of pace, sending up a
curve that just missed Ash's bat as he swung.
``Oh! A-h-h! hit!'' wailed the bleachers.
Vane doubled up like a contortionist, and shot
up a lightning-swift drop that fooled Ash
completely. Again the crowd groaned. Score tied,
bases full, two out, Stringer at bat!
``It's up to you, String,'' called Ash, stepping
Stringer did not call out to Vane. That was
not his way. He stood tense and alert, bat on his
shoulder, his powerful form braced, and he
waited. The outfielders trotted over toward right
field, and the infielders played deep, calling out
warnings and encouragement to the pitcher.
Stringer had no weakness, and Vane knew this.
Nevertheless he did not manifest any uneasiness,
and pitched the first ball without any extra
motion. Carter called it a strike. I saw Stringer
sink down slightly and grow tenser all over. I
believe that moment was longer for me than for
either the pitcher or the batter. Vane took his
time, watched the base runners, feinted to throw
to catch them, and then delivered the ball toward
the plate with the limit of his power.
Stringer hit the ball. As long as I live, I will
see that glancing low liner. Shultz, by a wonderful
play in deep center, blocked the ball and
thereby saved it from being a home run. But
when Stringer stopped on second base, all the
runners had scored.
A shrill, shrieking, high-pitched yell! The
bleachers threatened to destroy the stands and
also their throats in one long revel of baseball
Jones, batting in place of Spears, had gone
up and fouled out before the uproar had subsided.
``Fellers, I reckon I feel easier,'' said the Rube.
It was the only time I had ever heard him speak
to the players at such a stage
``Only six batters, Rube,'' called out Spears.
``Boys, it's a grand game, an' it's our'n!''
The Rube had enough that inning to dispose of
the lower half of the Buffalo list without any
alarming bids for a run. And in our half, Bogart
and Mullaney hit vicious ground balls that gave
Treadwell and Wiler opportunities for superb
plays. Carl, likewise, made a beautiful running
catch of Gregg's line fly. The Bisons were still
in the game, still capable of pulling it out at the
When Shultz stalked up to the plate I shut my
eyes a moment, and so still was it that the field
and stands might have been empty. Yet, though
I tried, I could not keep my eyes closed. I opened
them to watch the Rube. I knew Spears felt the
same as I, for he was blowing like a porpoise and
muttering to himself: ``Mebee the Rube won't
last an' I've no one to put in!''
The Rube pitched with heavy, violent effort.
He had still enough speed to be dangerous. But
after the manner of ball players Shultz and the
coachers mocked him.
``Take all you can,'' called Ellis to Shultz.
Every pitch lessened the Rube's strength and
these wise opponents knew it. Likewise the Rube
himself knew, and never had he shown better head
work than in this inning. If he were to win, he
must be quick. So he wasted not a ball. The first
pitch and the second, delivered breast high and
fairly over the plate, beautiful balls to hit, Shultz
watched speed by. He swung hard on the third
and the crippled Ashwell dove for it in a cloud
of dust, got a hand in front of it, but uselessly,
for the hit was safe. The crowd cheered that
Carl marched to bat, and he swung his club over
the plate as if he knew what to expect. ``Come
on, Rube!'' he shouted. Wearily, doggedly, the
Rube whirled, and whipped his arm. The ball
had all his old glancing speed and it was a strike.
The Rube was making a tremendous effort.
Again he got his body in convulsive motion--two
strikes! Shultz had made no move to run, nor
had Carl made any move to hit. These veterans
were waiting. The Rube had pitched five strikes
--could he last?
``Now, Carl!'' yelled Ellis, with startling
suddenness, as the Rube pitched again.
Crack! Carl placed that hit as safely through
short as if he had thrown it. McCall's little legs
twinkled as he dashed over the grass. He had to
head off that hit and he ran like a streak. Down
and forward he pitched, as if in one of his fierce
slides, and he got his body in front of the ball,
blocking it, and then he rolled over and over. But
he jumped up and lined the ball to Bogart, almost
catching Shultz at third-base. Then, as Mac tried
to walk, his lame leg buckled under him, and down
he went, and out.
``Call time,'' I called to Carter. ``McCall is
done. . . . Myers, you go to left an' for Lord's
sake play ball!''
Stringer and Bogart hurried to Mac and, lifting
him up and supporting him between them
with his arms around their shoulders, they led
him off amid cheers from the stands. Mac was
white with pain.
``Naw, I won't go off the field. Leave me on
the bench,'' he said. ``Fight 'em now. It's our
game. Never mind a couple of runs.''
The boys ran back to their positions and Carter
called play. Perhaps a little delay had been helpful
to the Rube. Slowly he stepped into the box
and watched Shultz at third and Carl at second.
There was not much probability of his throwing
to catch them off the base, but enough of a
possibility to make them careful, so he held them
The Rube pitched a strike to Manning, then
another. That made eight strikes square over the
plate that inning. What magnificent control! It
was equaled by the implacable patience of those
veteran Bisons. Manning hit the next ball as
hard as Carl had hit his. But Mullaney plunged
down, came up with the ball, feinted to fool Carl,
then let drive to Gregg to catch the fleeting Shultz.
The throw went wide, but Gregg got it, and, leaping
lengthwise, tagged Shultz out a yard from the
One out. Two runners on bases. The bleachers
rose and split their throats. Would the inning
Spears kept telling himself: ``They'll score,
but we'll win. It's our game!''
I had a sickening fear that the strange confidence
that obsessed the Worcester players had
been blind, unreasoning vanity.
``Carl will steal,'' muttered Spears. ``He
can't be stopped.''
Spears had called the play. The Rube tried to
hold the little base-stealer close to second, but,
after one attempt, wisely turned to his hard task
of making the Bisons hit and hit quickly. Ellis
let the ball pass; Gregg made a perfect throw to
third; Bogart caught the ball and moved like a
flash, but Carl slid under his hands to the bag.
Manning ran down to second. The Rube pitched
again, and this was his tenth ball over the plate.
Even the Buffalo players evinced eloquent appreciation
of the Rube's defence at this last stand.
Then Ellis sent a clean hit to right, scoring both
Carl and Manning. I breathed easier, for it
seemed with those two runners in, the Rube had a
better chance. Treadwell also took those two
runners in, the Rube had a way those Bisons
waited. They had their reward, for the Rube's
speed left him. When he pitched again the ball
had control, but no shoot. Treadwell hit it with
all his strength. Like a huge cat Ashwell pounced
upon it, ran over second base, forcing Ellis, and
his speedy snap to first almost caught Treadwell.
Score 8 to 7. Two out. Runner on first. One
run to tie.
In my hazy, dimmed vision I saw the Rube's
pennant waving from the flag-pole.
``It's our game!'' howled Spears in my ear,
for the noise from the stands was deafening.
``It's our pennant!''
The formidable batting strength of the Bisons
had been met, not without disaster, but without
defeat. McKnight came up for Buffalo and the
Rube took his weary swing. The batter made a
terrific lunge and hit the ball with a solid crack
It lined for center.
Suddenly electrified into action, I leaped up.
That hit! It froze me with horror. It was a
home-run. I saw Stringer fly toward left center.
He ran like something wild. I saw the heavy
Treadwell lumbering round the bases. I saw Ashwell
run out into center field.
``Ah-h!'' The whole audience relieved its
terror in that expulsion of suspended breath.
Stringer had leaped high to knock down the ball,
saving a sure home-run and the game. He recovered
himself, dashed back for the ball and shot
it to Ash.
When Ash turned toward the plate, Treadwell
was rounding third base. A tie score appeared
inevitable. I saw Ash's arm whip and the ball
shoot forward, leveled, glancing, beautiful in its
flight. The crowd saw it, and the silence broke
to a yell that rose and rose as the ball sped in.
That yell swelled to a splitting shriek, and
Treadwell slid in the dust, and the ball shot into
Gregg's hands all at the same instant.
Carter waved both arms upwards. It was the
umpire's action when his decision went against
the base-runner. The audience rolled up one great
I collapsed and sank back upon the bench. My
confused senses received a dull roar of pounding
feet and dinning voices as the herald of victory.
I felt myself thinking how pleased Milly would be.
I had a distinct picture in my mind of a white
cottage on a hill, no longer a dream, but a reality,
made possible for me by the Rube's winning of
THE RUBE'S HONEYMOON
``He's got a new manager. Watch him pitch
now!'' That was what Nan Brown said to me
about Rube Hurtle, my great pitcher, and I took
it as her way of announcing her engagement.
My baseball career held some proud moments,
but this one, wherein I realized the success of my
matchmaking plans, was certainly the proudest
one. So, entirely outside of the honest pleasure
I got out of the Rube's happiness, there was
reason for me to congratulate myself. He was a
transformed man, so absolutely renewed, so wild
with joy, that on the strength of it, I decided the
pennant for Worcester was a foregone conclusion,
and, sure of the money promised me by the
directors, Milly and I began to make plans for
the cottage upon the hill.
The Rube insisted on pitching Monday's game
against the Torontos, and although poor fielding
gave them a couple of runs, they never had a
chance. They could not see the ball. The Rube
wrapped it around their necks and between their
wrists and straight over the plate with such
incredible speed that they might just as well have
tried to bat rifle bullets.
That night I was happy. Spears, my veteran
captain, was one huge smile; Radbourne quietly
assured me that all was over now but the shouting;
all the boys were happy.
And the Rube was the happiest of all. At the
hotel he burst out with his exceeding good
fortune. He and Nan were to be married upon the
Fourth of July!
After the noisy congratulations were over and
the Rube had gone, Spears looked at me and I
looked at him.
``Con,'' said he soberly, ``we just can't let him
get married on the Fourth.''
``Why not? Sure we can. We'll help him get
married. I tell you it'll save the pennant for us.
Look how he pitched today! Nan Brown is our
``See here, Con, you've got softenin' of the
brain, too. Where's your baseball sense? We've
got a pennant to win. By July Fourth we'll be
close to the lead again, an' there's that three
weeks' trip on the road, the longest an' hardest
of the season. We've just got to break even on
that trip. You know what that means. If the
Rube marries Nan--what are we goin' to do? We
can't leave him behind. If he takes Nan with us
--why it'll be a honeymoon! An' half the gang
is stuck on Nan Brown! An' Nan Brown would
flirt in her bridal veil! . . . Why Con, we're up
against a worse proposition than ever.''
``Good Heavens! Cap. You're right,'' I
groaned. ``I never thought of that. We've got
to postpone the wedding. . . . How on earth can
we? I've heard her tell Milly that. She'll never
consent to it. Say, this'll drive me to drink.''
``All I got to say is this, Con. If the Rube
takes his wife on that trip it's goin' to be an all-
fired hummer. Don't you forget that.''
``I'm not likely to. But, Spears, the point is
this--will the Rube win his games?''
``Figurin' from his work today, I'd gamble
he'll never lose another game. It ain't that. I'm
thinkin' of what the gang will do to him an' Nan
on the cars an' at the hotels. Oh! Lord, Con, it
ain't possible to stand for that honeymoon trip!
``If the worst comes to the worst, Cap, I don't
care for anything but the games. If we get in the
lead and stay there I'll stand for anything. . . .
Couldn't the gang be coaxed or bought off to let
the Rube and Nan alone?''
``Not on your life! There ain't enough love or
money on earth to stop them. It'll be awful.
Mind, I'm not responsible. Don't you go holdin'
me responsible. In all my years of baseball I
never went on a trip with a bride in the game.
That's new on me, an' I never heard of it. I'd be
bad enough if he wasn't a rube an' if she wasn't
a crazy girl-fan an' a flirt to boot, an' with half
the boys in love with her, but as it is----''
Spears gave up and, gravely shaking his head,
he left me. I spent a little while in sober reflection,
and finally came to the conclusion that, in my
desperate ambition to win the pennant, I would
have taken half a dozen rube pitchers and their
baseball-made brides on the trip, if by so doing
I could increase the percentage of games won.
Nevertheless, I wanted to postpone the Rube's
wedding if it was possible, and I went out to see
Milly and asked her to help us. But for once in
her life Milly turned traitor.
``Connie, you don't want to postpone it. Why,
how perfectly lovely! . . . Mrs. Stringer will go
on that trip and Mrs. Bogart. . . . Connie, I'm
She actually jumped up and down in glee. That
was the woman in her. It takes a wedding to get
a woman. I remonstrated and pleaded and commanded,
all to no purpose. Milly intended to go
on that trip to see the games, and the fun, and the
She coaxed so hard that I yielded. Thereupon
she called up Mrs. Stringer on the telephone, and
of course found that young woman just as eager
as she was. For my part, I threw anxiety and
care to the four winds, and decided to be as happy
as any of them. The pennant was mine! Something
kept ringing that in my ears. With the
Rube working his iron arm for the edification of
his proud Nancy Brown, there was extreme likelihood
of divers shut-outs and humiliating defeats
for some Eastern League teams.
How well I calculated became a matter of
baseball history during that last week of June. We
won six straight games, three of which fell to the
Rube's credit. His opponents scored four runs
in the three games, against the nineteen we made.
Upon July 1, Radbourne beat Providence and
Cairns won the second game. We now had a
string of eight victories. Sunday we rested, and
Monday was the Fourth, with morning and afternoon
games with Buffalo.
Upon the morning of the Fourth, I looked for
the Rube at the hotel, but could not find him. He
did not show up at the grounds when the other
boys did, and I began to worry. It was the Rube's
turn to pitch and we were neck and neck with Buffalo
for first place. If we won both games we
would go ahead of our rivals. So I was all on
edge, and kept going to the dressing-room to see
if the Rube had arrived. He came, finally, when
all the boys were dressed, and about to go out for
practice. He had on a new suit, a tailor-made suit
at that, and he looked fine. There was about him
a kind of strange radiance. He stated simply
that he had arrived late because he had just been
married. Before congratulations were out of our
mouths, he turned to me.
``Con, I want to pitch both games today,'' he
``What! Say, Whit, Buffalo is on the card
today and we are only three points behind them.
If we win both we'll be leading the league once
more. I don't know about pitching you both
``I reckon we'll be in the lead tonight then,''
he replied, ``for I'll win them both.''
I was about to reply when Dave, the ground-
keeper, called me to the door, saying there was a
man to see me. I went out, and there stood Morrisey,
manager of the Chicago American League
team. We knew each other well and exchanged
``Con, I dropped off to see you about this new
pitcher of yours, the one they call the Rube. I
want to see him work. I've heard he's pretty
fast. How about it?''
``Wait--till you see him pitch,'' I replied. I
could scarcely get that much out, for Morrisey's
presence meant a great deal and I did not want
to betray my elation.
``Any strings on him?'' queried the big league
``Well, Morrisey, not exactly. I can give you
the first call. You'll have to bid high, though.
Just wait till you see him work.''
``I'm glad to hear that. My scout was over
here watching him pitch and says he's a wonder.''
What luck it was that Morrisey should have
come upon this day! I could hardly contain myself.
Almost I began to spend the money I would
get for selling the Rube to the big league manager.
We took seats in the grand stand, as Morrisey
did not want to be seen by any players, and
I stayed there with him until the gong sounded.
There was a big attendance. I looked all over
the stand for Nan, but she was lost in the gay
crowd. But when I went down to the bench I
saw her up in my private box with Milly. It took
no second glance to see that Nan Brown was a
bride and glorying in the fact.
Then, in the absorption of the game, I became
oblivious to Milly and Nan; the noisy crowd; the
giant fire-crackers and the smoke; to the presence
of Morrisey; to all except the Rube and my team
and their opponents. Fortunately for my hopes,
the game opened with characteristic Worcester
dash. Little McCall doubled, Ashwell drew his
base on four wide pitches, and Stringer drove the
ball over the right-field fence--three runs!
Three runs were enough to win that game. Of
all the exhibitions of pitching with which the Rube
had favored us, this one was the finest. It was
perhaps not so much his marvelous speed and
unhittable curves that made the game one memorable
in the annals of pitching; it was his perfect
control in the placing of balls, in the cutting
of corners; in his absolute implacable mastery of
the situation. Buffalo was unable to find him at
all. The game was swift short, decisive, with
the score 5 to 0 in our favor. But the score did
not tell all of the Rube's work that morning. He
shut out Buffalo without a hit, or a scratch, the
first no-hit, no-run game of the year. He gave
no base on balls; not a Buffalo player got to first
base; only one fly went to the outfield.
For once I forgot Milly after a game, and I
hurried to find Morrisey, and carried him off to
have dinner with me.
``Your rube is a wonder, and that's a fact,'' he
said to me several times. ``Where on earth did
you get him? Connelly, he's my meat. Do you
understand? Can you let me have him right
``No, Morrisey, I've got the pennant to win
first. Then I'll sell him.''
``How much? Do you hear? How much?''
Morrisey hammered the table with his fist and
his eyes gleamed.
Carried away as I was by his vehemence, I was
yet able to calculate shrewdly, and I decided to
name a very high price, from which I could come
down and still make a splendid deal.
``How much?'' demanded Morrisey.
``Five thousand dollars,'' I replied, and gulped
when I got the words out.
Morrisey never batted an eye.
``Waiter, quick, pen and ink and paper!''
Presently my hand, none too firm, was signing
my name to a contract whereby I was to sell my
pitcher for five thousand dollars at the close of
the current season. I never saw a man look so
pleased as Morrisey when he folded that contract
and put it in his pocket. He bade me good-bye
and hurried off to catch a train, and he never
knew the Rube had pitched the great game on his
That afternoon before a crowd that had to be
roped off the diamond, I put the Rube against
the Bisons. How well he showed the baseball
knowledge he had assimilated! He changed his
style in that second game. He used a slow ball
and wide curves and took things easy. He made
Buffalo hit the ball and when runners got on
bases once more let out his speed and held them
down. He relied upon the players behind him
and they were equal to the occasion.
It was a totally different game from that of
the morning, and perhaps one more suited to the
pleasure of the audience. There was plenty of
hard hitting, sharp fielding and good base
running, and the game was close and exciting up to
the eighth, when Mullaney's triple gave us two
runs, and a lead that was not headed. To the
deafening roar of the bleachers the Rube walked
off the field, having pitched Worcester into first
place in the pennant race.
That night the boys planned their first job on
the Rube. We had ordered a special Pullman
for travel to Toronto, and when I got to the depot
in the morning, the Pullman was a white fluttering
mass of satin ribbons. Also, there was a
brass band, and thousands of baseball fans, and
barrels of old foot-gear. The Rube and Nan
arrived in a cab and were immediately mobbed.
The crowd roared, the band played, the engine
whistled, the bell clanged; and the air was full
of confetti and slippers, and showers of rice like
hail pattered everywhere. A somewhat dishevelled
bride and groom boarded the Pullman and
breathlessly hid in a state room. The train
started, and the crowd gave one last rousing
cheer. Old Spears yelled from the back platform:
``Fellers, an' fans, you needn't worry none
about leavin' the Rube an' his bride to the tender
mercies of the gang. A hundred years from now
people will talk about this honeymoon baseball
trip. Wait till we come back--an' say, jest to put
you wise, no matter what else happens, we're
comin' back in first place!''
It was surely a merry party in that Pullman.
The bridal couple emerged from their hiding place
and held a sort of reception in which the Rube
appeared shy and frightened, and Nan resembled
a joyous, fluttering bird in gray. I did not see
if she kissed every man on the team, but she kissed
me as if she had been wanting to do it for ages.
Milly kissed the Rube, and so did the other women,
to his infinite embarrassment. Nan's effect upon
that crowd was most singular. She was sweetness
and caprice and joy personified.
We settled down presently to something
approaching order, and I, for one, with very keen
ears and alert eyes, because I did not want to
``I see the lambs a-gambolin','' observed McCall,
in a voice louder than was necessary to convey
his meaning to Mullaney, his partner in the
``Yes, it do seem as if there was joy aboundin'
hereabouts,'' replied Mul with fervor.
``It's more spring-time than summer,'' said
Ashwell, ``an' everything in nature is runnin' in
pairs. There are the sheep an' the cattle an' the
birds. I see two kingfishers fishin' over here.
An' there's a couple of honey-bees makin' honey.
Oh, honey, an' by George, if there ain't two
butterflies foldin' their wings round each other. See
the dandelions kissin' in the field!''
Then the staid Captain Spears spoke up with
an appearance of sincerity and a tone that was
nothing short of remarkable.
``Reggie, see the sunshine asleep upon yon
bank. Ain't it lovely? An' that white cloud
sailin' thither amid the blue--how spontaneous!
Joy is a-broad o'er all this boo-tiful land today
--Oh, yes! An' love's wings hover o 'er the little
lambs an' the bullfrogs in the pond an' the dicky
birds in the trees. What sweetness to lie in the
grass, the lap of bounteous earth, eatin' apples in
the Garden of Eden, an' chasin' away the snakes
an' dreamin' of Thee, Sweet-h-e-a-r-t----''
Spears was singing when he got so far and
there was no telling what he might have done if
Mullaney, unable to stand the agony, had not
jabbed a pin in him. But that only made way for
the efforts of the other boys, each of whom tried
to outdo the other in poking fun at the Rube and
Nan. The big pitcher was too gloriously happy
to note much of what went on around him, but
when it dawned upon him he grew red and white
Nan, however, was more than equal to the
occasion. Presently she smiled at Spears, such a
smile! The captain looked as if he had just partaken
of an intoxicating wine. With a heightened
color in her cheeks and a dangerous flash in her
roguish eyes, Nan favored McCall with a look,
which was as much as to say that she remembered
him with a dear sadness. She made eyes at every
fellow in the car, and then bringing back her gaze
to the Rube, as if glorying in comparison, she
nestled her curly black head on his shoulder. He
gently tried to move her; but it was not possible.
Nan knew how to meet the ridicule of half a dozen
old lovers. One by one they buried themselves
in newspapers, and finally McCall, for once utterly
beaten, showed a white feather, and sank back
out of sight behind his seat.
The boys did not recover from that shock until
late in the afternoon. As it was a physical
impossibility for Nan to rest her head all day upon
her husband's broad shoulder, the boys toward
dinner time came out of their jealous trance. I
heard them plotting something. When dinner
was called, about half of my party, including the
bride and groom, went at once into the dining-car.
Time there flew by swiftly. And later, when we
were once more in our Pullman, and I had gotten
interested in a game of cards with Milly and
Stringer and his wife, the Rube came marching
up to me with a very red face.
``Con, I reckon some of the boys have stolen
my--our grips,'' said he.
``What?'' I asked, blankly.
He explained that during his absence in the
dining-car someone had entered his stateroom
and stolen his grip and Nan's. I hastened at once
to aid the Rube in his search. The boys swore
by everything under and beyond the sun they had
not seen the grips; they appeared very much
grieved at the loss and pretended to help in
searching the Pullman. At last, with the assistance
of a porter, we discovered the missing grips
in an upper berth. The Rube carried them off to
his stateroom and we knew soon from his
uncomplimentary remarks that the contents of the
suitcases had been mixed and manhandled. But he
did not hunt for the jokers.
We arrived at Toronto before daylight next
morning, and remained in the Pullman until seven
o'clock. When we got out, it was discovered that
the Rube and Nan had stolen a march upon us.
We traced them to the hotel, and found them at
breakfast. After breakfast we formed a merry
sight-seeing party and rode all over the city.
That afternoon, when Raddy let Toronto down
with three hits and the boys played a magnificent
game behind him, and we won 7 to 2, I knew at
last and for certain that the Worcester team had
come into its own again. Then next day Cairns
won a close, exciting game, and following that, on
the third day, the matchless Rube toyed with the
Torontos. Eleven straight games won! I was in
the clouds, and never had I seen so beautiful a
light as shone in Milly's eyes.
From that day The Honeymoon Trip of the
Worcester Baseball Club, as the newspapers
heralded it--was a triumphant march. We won
two out of three games at Montreal, broke even
with the hard-fighting Bisons, took three straight
from Rochester, and won one and tied one out of
three with Hartford. It would have been wonderful
ball playing for a team to play on home
grounds and we were doing the full circuit of
Spears had called the turn when he said the
trip would be a hummer. Nan Hurtle had brought
us wonderful luck.
But the tricks they played on Whit and his girl-
Ashwell, who was a capital actor, disguised
himself as a conductor and pretended to try to
eject Whit and Nan from the train, urging that
love-making was not permitted. Some of the
team hired a clever young woman to hunt the
Rube up at the hotel, and claim old acquaintance
with him. Poor Whit almost collapsed when the
young woman threw her arms about his neck just
as Nan entered the parlor. Upon the instant Nan
became wild as a little tigress, and it took much
explanation and eloquence to reinstate Whit in
Another time Spears, the wily old fox, succeeded
in detaining Nan on the way to the station,
and the two missed the train. At first the Rube
laughed with the others, but when Stringer
remarked that he had noticed a growing attachment
between Nan and Spears, my great pitcher
experienced the first pangs of the green-eyed
monster. We had to hold him to keep him from
jumping from the train, and it took Milly and Mrs.
Stringer to soothe him. I had to wire back to
Rochester for a special train for Spears and Nan,
and even then we had to play half a game without
the services of our captain.
So far upon our trip I had been fortunate in
securing comfortable rooms and the best of
transportation for my party. At Hartford, however,
I encountered difficulties. I could not get a special
Pullman, and the sleeper we entered already
had a number of occupants. After the ladies of
my party had been assigned to berths, it was
necessary for some of the boys to sleep double in
It was late when we got aboard, the berths were
already made up, and soon we had all retired.
In the morning very early I was awakened by a
disturbance. It sounded like a squeal. I heard
an astonished exclamation, another squeal, the
pattering of little feet, then hoarse uproar of
laughter from the ball players in the upper berths.
Following that came low, excited conversation
between the porter and somebody, then an angry
snort from the Rube and the thud of his heavy
feet in the aisle. What took place after that was
guess-work for me. But I gathered from the
roars and bawls that the Rube was after some of
the boys. I poked my head between the curtains
and saw him digging into the berths.
``Where's McCall?'' he yelled.
Mac was nowhere in that sleeper, judging from
the vehement denials. But the Rube kept on digging
and prodding in the upper berths.
``I'm a-goin' to lick you, Mac, so I reckon you'd
better show up,'' shouted the Rube.
The big fellow was mad as a hornet. When he
got to me he grasped me with his great fence-
rail splitting hands and I cried out with pain.
``Say! Whit, let up! Mac's not here. . . .
``I'll show you when I find him.'' And the
Rube stalked on down the aisle, a tragically comic
figure in his pajamas. In his search for Mac he
pried into several upper berths that contained
occupants who were not ball players, and these
protested in affright. Then the Rube began to
investigate the lower berths. A row of heads
protruded in a bobbing line from between the
curtains of the upper berths.
``Here, you Indian! Don't you look in there!
That's my wife's berth!'' yelled Stringer.
Bogart, too, evinced great excitement.
``Hurtle, keep out of lower eight or I'll kill
you,'' he shouted.
What the Rube might have done there was no
telling, but as he grasped a curtain, he was
interrupted by a shriek from some woman assuredly
not of our party.
``Get out! you horrid wretch! Help! Porter!
Instantly there was a deafening tumult in the
car. When it had subsided somewhat, and I considered
I would be safe, I descended from my
berth and made my way to the dressing room.
Sprawled over the leather seat was the Rube
pommelling McCall with hearty good will. I would
have interfered, had it not been for Mac's
demeanor. He was half frightened, half angry, and
utterly unable to defend himself or even resist,
because he was laughing, too.
``Dog-gone it! Whit--I didn't--do it! I swear
it was Spears! Stop thumpin' me now--or I'll
get sore. . . . You hear me! It wasn't me, I tell
you. Cheese it!''
For all his protesting Mac received a good
thumping, and I doubted not in the least that he
deserved it. The wonder of the affair, however,
was the fact that no one appeared to know what
had made the Rube so furious. The porter would
not tell, and Mac was strangely reticent, though
his smile was one to make a fellow exceedingly
sure something out of the ordinary had befallen.
It was not until I was having breakfast in
Providence that I learned the true cause of Rube's
conduct, and Milly confided it to me, insisting
on strict confidence.
``I promised not to tell,'' she said. ``Now you
promise you'll never tell.''
``Well, Connie,'' went on Milly, when I had
promised, ``it was the funniest thing yet, but it
was horrid of McCall. You see, the Rube had
upper seven and Nan had lower seven. Early
this morning, about daylight, Nan awoke very
thirsty and got up to get a drink. During her
absence, probably, but any way some time last
night, McCall changed the number on her
curtain, and when Nan came back to number
seven of course she almost got in the wrong
``No wonder the Rube punched him!'' I declared.
``I wish we were safe home. Something'll
happen yet on this trip.''
I was faithful to my promise to Milly, but the
secret leaked out somewhere; perhaps Mac told
it, and before the game that day all the players
knew it. The Rube, having recovered his good
humor, minded it not in the least. He could not
have felt ill-will for any length of time. Everything
seemed to get back into smooth running
order, and the Honeymoon Trip bade fair to wind
But, somehow or other, and about something
unknown to the rest of us, the Rube and Nan
quarreled. It was their first quarrel. Milly and
I tried to patch it up but failed.
We lost the first game to Providence and won
the second. The next day, a Saturday, was the
last game of the trip, and it was Rube's turn to
pitch. Several times during the first two days
the Rube and Nan about half made up their
quarrel, only in the end to fall deeper into it.
Then the last straw came in a foolish move on the
part of wilful Nan. She happened to meet Henderson,
her former admirer, and in a flash she
took up her flirtation with him where she had left
``Don't go to the game with him, Nan,'' I
pleaded. ``It's a silly thing for you to do. Of
course you don't mean anything, except to torment
Whit. But cut it out. The gang will make
him miserable and we'll lose the game. There's
no telling what might happen.''
``I'm supremely indifferent to what happens,''
she replied, with a rebellious toss of her black
head. ``I hope Whit gets beaten.''
She went to the game with Henderson and sat
in the grand stand, and the boys spied them out
and told the Rube. He did not believe it at first,
but finally saw them, looked deeply hurt and
offended, and then grew angry. But the gong,
sounding at that moment, drew his attention to
his business of the day, to pitch.
His work that day reminded me of the first
game he ever pitched for me, upon which occasion
Captain Spears got the best out of him by
making him angry. For several innings Providence
was helpless before his delivery. Then
something happened that showed me a crisis was
near. A wag of a fan yelled from the bleachers.
This cry was taken up by the delighted fans
and it rolled around the field. But the Rube
pitched on, harder than ever. Then the knowing
bleacherite who had started the cry changed it
``Nanny's Rube!'' he yelled.
This, too, went the rounds, and still the Rube,
though red in the face, preserved his temper and
his pitching control. All would have been well
if Bud Wiler, comedian of the Providence team,
had not hit upon a way to rattle Rube.
``Nanny's Goat!'' he shouted from the coaching
lines. Every Providence player took it
The Rube was not proof against that. He
yelled so fiercely at them, and glared so furiously,
and towered so formidably, that they ceased for
the moment. Then he let drive with his fast
straight ball and hit the first Providence batter
in the ribs. His comrades had to help him to the
bench. The Rube hit the next batter on the leg,
and judging from the crack of the ball, I fancied
that player would walk lame for several days.
The Rube tried to hit the next batter and sent
him to first on balls. Thereafter it became a
dodging contest with honors about equal between
pitcher and batters. The Providence players
stormed and the bleachers roared. But I would
not take the Rube out and the game went on with
the Rube forcing in runs.
With the score a tie, and three men on bases
one of the players on the bench again yelled
Straight as a string the Rube shot the ball at
this fellow and bounded after it. The crowd rose
in an uproar. The base runners began to score.
I left my bench and ran across the space, but not
in time to catch the Rube. I saw him hit two or
three of the Providence men. Then the policemen
got to him, and a real fight brought the big
audience into the stamping melee. Before the
Rube was collared I saw at least four blue-coats
on the grass.
The game broke up, and the crowd spilled itself
in streams over the field. Excitement ran
high. I tried to force my way into the mass to
get at the Rube and the officers, but this was
impossible. I feared the Rube would be taken from
the officers and treated with violence, so I waited
with the surging crowd, endeavoring to get
nearer. Soon we were in the street, and it seemed
as if all the stands had emptied their yelling occupants.
A trolley car came along down the street,
splitting the mass of people and driving them back.
A dozen policemen summarily bundled the Rube
upon the rear end of the car. Some of these
officers boarded the car, and some remained in
the street to beat off the vengeful fans.
I saw some one thrust forward a frantic young
woman. The officers stopped her, then suddenly
helped her on the car, just as I started. I
recognized Nan. She gripped the Rube with both
hands and turned a white, fearful face upon the
The Rube stood in the grasp of his wife and
the policemen, and he looked like a ruffled lion.
He shook his big fist and bawled in far-reaching
``I can lick you all!''
To my infinite relief, the trolley gathered
momentum and safely passed out of danger. The
last thing I made out was Nan pressing close to
the Rube's side. That moment saw their reconciliation
and my joy that it was the end of the
THE RUBE'S WATERLOO
It was about the sixth inning that I suspected
the Rube of weakening. For that matter he had
not pitched anything resembling his usual brand
of baseball. But the Rube had developed into
such a wonder in the box that it took time for
his let-down to dawn upon me. Also it took a tip
from Raddy, who sat with me on the bench.
``Con, the Rube isn't himself today,'' said
Radbourne. ``His mind's not on the game. He seems
hurried and flustered, too. If he doesn't explode
presently, I'm a dub at callin' the turn.''
Raddy was the best judge of a pitcher's condition,
physical or mental, in the Eastern League.
It was a Saturday and we were on the road and
finishing up a series with the Rochesters. Each
team had won and lost a game, and, as I was
climbing close to the leaders in the pennant race,
I wanted the third and deciding game of that
Rochester series. The usual big Saturday crowd
was in attendance, noisy, demonstrative and
In this sixth inning the first man up for
Rochester had flied to McCall. Then had come
the two plays significant of Rube's weakening.
He had hit one batter and walked another. This
was sufficient, considering the score was three
to one in our favor, to bring the audience to its
feet with a howling, stamping demand for runs.
``Spears is wise all right,'' said Raddy.
I watched the foxy old captain walk over to the
Rube and talk to him while he rested, a reassuring
hand on the pitcher's shoulder. The crowd yelled
its disapproval and Umpire Bates called out
``Spears, get back to the bag!''
``Now, Mister Umpire, ain't I hurrin' all I
can?'' queried Spears as he leisurely ambled back
The Rube tossed a long, damp welt of hair back
from his big brow and nervously toed the rubber.
I noted that he seemed to forget the runners on
bases and delivered the ball without glancing at
either bag. Of course this resulted in a double
steal. The ball went wild--almost a wild pitch.
``Steady up, old man,'' called Gregg between
the yells of the bleachers. He held his mitt square
over the plate for the Rube to pitch to. Again
the long twirler took his swing, and again the
ball went wild. Clancy had the Rube in the hole
now and the situation began to grow serious.
The Rube did not take half his usual deliberation,
and of the next two pitches one of them was a
ball and the other a strike by grace of the
umpire's generosity. Clancy rapped the next one,
an absurdly slow pitch for the Rube to use, and
both runners scored to the shrill tune of the happy
I saw Spears shake his head and look toward
the bench. It was plain what that meant.
``Raddy, I ought to take the Rube out,'' I said,
``but whom can I put in? You worked yesterday--
Cairns' arm is sore. It's got to be nursed.
And Henderson, that ladies' man I just signed, is
not in uniform.''
``I'll go in,'' replied Raddy, instantly.
``Not on your life.'' I had as hard a time
keeping Radbourne from overworking as I had in
getting enough work out of some other players.
``I guess I'll let the Rube take his medicine. I
hate to lose this game, but if we have to, we can
stand it. I'm curious, anyway, to see what's the
matter with the Rube. Maybe he'll settle down
I made no sign that I had noticed Spears'
appeal to the bench. And my aggressive players,
no doubt seeing the situation as I saw it, sang out
their various calls of cheer to the Rube and of
defiance to their antagonists. Clancy stole off
first base so far that the Rube, catching
somebody's warning too late, made a balk and the
umpire sent the runner on to second. The Rube
now plainly showed painful evidences of being
He could not locate the plate without slowing
up and when he did that a Rochester player walloped
the ball. Pretty soon he pitched as if he
did not care, and but for the fast fielding of the
team behind him the Rochesters would have
scored more than the eight runs it got. When the
Rube came in to the bench I asked him if he was
sick and at first he said he was and then that
he was not. So I let him pitch the remaining
innings, as the game was lost anyhow, and we
walked off the field a badly beaten team.
That night we had to hurry from the hotel to
catch a train for Worcester and we had dinner
in the dining-car. Several of my players' wives
had come over from Worcester to meet us, and
were in the dining-car when I entered. I observed
a pretty girl sitting at one of the tables with
my new pitcher, Henderson.
``Say, Mac,'' I said to McCall, who was with
me, ``is Henderson married?''
``Naw, but he looks like he wanted to be. He
was in the grand stand today with that girl.''
``Who is she? Oh! a little peach!''
A second glance at Henderson's companion
brought this compliment from me involuntarily.
``Con, you'll get it as bad as the rest of this
mushy bunch of ball players. We're all stuck on
that kid. But since Henderson came she's been
a frost to all of us. An' it's put the Rube in the
``Who's the girl?''
``That's Nan Brown. She lives in Worcester
an' is the craziest girl fan I ever seen. Flirt!
Well, she's got them all beat. Somebody introduced
the Rube to her. He has been mooney ever
That was enough to whet my curiosity, and I
favored Miss Brown with more than one glance
during dinner. When we returned to the parlor
car I took advantage of the opportunity and
remarked to Henderson that he might introduce
his manager. He complied, but not with amiable
So I chatted with Nan Brown, and studied her.
She was a pretty, laughing, coquettish little minx
and quite baseball mad. I had met many girl
fans, but none so enthusiastic as Nan. But she
was wholesome and sincere, and I liked her.
Before turning in I sat down beside the Rube.
He was very quiet and his face did not encourage
company. But that did not stop me.
``Hello, Whit; have a smoke before you go to
bed?'' I asked cheerfully.
He scarcely heard me and made no move to
take the proffered cigar. All at once it struck
me that the rustic simplicity which had characterized
him had vanished.
``Whit, old fellow, what was wrong today?''
I asked, quietly, with my hand on his arm.
``Mr. Connelly, I want my release, I want to
go back to Rickettsville,'' he replied hurriedly.
For the space of a few seconds I did some tall
thinking. The situation suddenly became grave.
I saw the pennant for the Worcesters fading, dimming.
``You want to go home?'' I began slowly.
``Why, Whit, I can't keep you. I wouldn't try if
you didn't want to stay. But I'll tell you
confidentially, if you leave me at this stage I'm
``How's that?'' he inquired, keenly looking at
``Well, I can't win the pennant without you. If
I do win it there's a big bonus for me. I can
buy the house I want and get married this fall
if I capture the flag. You've met Milly. You can
imagine what your pitching means to me this
year. That's all.''
He averted his face and looked out of the window.
His big jaw quivered.
``If it's that--why, I'll stay, I reckon,'' he
That moment bound Whit Hurtle and Frank
Connelly into a far closer relation than the one
between player and manager. I sat silent for a
while, listening to the drowsy talk of the other
players and the rush and roar of the train as it
sped on into the night.
``Thank you, old chap,'' I replied. ``It wouldn't
have been like you to throw me down at this
stage. Whit, you're in trouble?''
``Can I help you--in any way?'''
``I reckon not.''
``Don't be too sure of that. I'm a pretty wise
guy, if I do say it myself. I might be able to do
as much for you as you're going to do for me.''
The sight of his face convinced me that I had
taken a wrong tack. It also showed me how deep
Whit's trouble really was. I bade him good
night and went to my berth, where sleep did not
soon visit me. A saucy, sparkling-eyed woman
barred Whit Hurtle's baseball career at its
Women are just as fatal to ball players as to
men in any other walk of life. I had seen a strong
athlete grow palsied just at a scornful slight. It's
a great world, and the women run it. So I lay
awake racking my brains to outwit a pretty
disorganizer; and I plotted for her sake. Married,
she would be out of mischief. For Whit's sake,
for Milly's sake, for mine, all of which collectively
meant for the sake of the pennant, this would be
the solution of the problem.
I decided to take Milly into my confidence, and
finally on the strength of that I got to sleep. In
he morning I went to my hotel, had breakfast,
attended to my mail, and then boarded a car to go
out to Milly's house. She was waiting for me on
the porch, dressed as I liked to see her, in blue
and white, and she wore violets that matched the
color of her eyes.
``Hello, Connie. I haven't seen a morning
paper, but I know from your face that you lost
the Rochester series,'' said Milly, with a gay
``I guess yes. The Rube blew up, and if we
don't play a pretty smooth game, young lady,
he'll never come down.''
Then I told her.
``Why, Connie, I knew long ago. Haven't you
seen the change in him before this?''
``What change?'' I asked blankly.
``You are a man. Well, he was a gawky,
slouchy, shy farmer boy when he came to us. Of
course the city life and popularity began to
influence him. Then he met Nan. She made the
Rube a worshipper. I first noticed a change in
his clothes. He blossomed out in a new suit,
white negligee, neat tie and a stylish straw hat.
Then it was evident he was making heroic struggles
to overcome his awkwardness. It was plain
he was studying and copying the other boys.
He's wonderfully improved, but still shy. He'll
always be shy. Connie, Whit's a fine fellow, too
good for Nan Brown.''
``But, Milly,'' I interrupted, ``the Rube's hard
hit. Why is he too good for her?''
``Nan is a natural-born flirt,'' Milly replied.
``She can't help it. I'm afraid Whit has a slim
chance. Nan may not see deep enough to learn
his fine qualities. I fancy Nan tired quickly of
him, though the one time I saw them together
she appeared to like him very well. This new
pitcher of yours, Henderson, is a handsome fellow
and smooth. Whit is losing to him. Nan likes
flash, flattery, excitement.''
``McCall told me the Rube had been down in
the mouth ever since Henderson joined the team.
Milly, I don't like Henderson a whole lot. He's
not in the Rube's class as a pitcher. What am I
going to do? Lose the pennant and a big slice
of purse money just for a pretty little flirt?''
``Oh, Connie, it's not so bad as that. Whit will
come around all right.''
``He won't unless we can pull some wires. I've
got to help him win Nan Brown. What do you
think of that for a manager's job? I guess maybe
winning pennants doesn't call for diplomatic
genius and cunning! But I'll hand them a few
tricks before I lose. My first move will be to give
Henderson his release.
I left Milly, as always, once more able to make
light of discouragements and difficulties.
Monday I gave Henderson his unconditional
release. He celebrated the occasion by verifying
certain rumors I had heard from other managers.
He got drunk. But he did not leave town, and I
heard that he was negotiating with Providence
for a place on that team.
Radbourne pitched one of his gilt-edged games
that afternoon against Hartford and we won.
And Milly sat in the grand stand, having contrived
by cleverness to get a seat next to Nan
Brown. Milly and I were playing a vastly deeper
game than baseball--a game with hearts. But we
were playing it with honest motive, for the good
of all concerned, we believed, and on the square.
I sneaked a look now and then up into the grand
stand. Milly and Nan appeared to be getting on
famously. It was certain that Nan was flushed
and excited, no doubt consciously proud of being
seen with my affianced. After the game I chanced
to meet them on their way out. Milly winked at
me, which was her sign that all was working
I hunted up the Rube and bundled him off to
the hotel to take dinner with me. At first he was
glum, but after a while he brightened up somewhat
to my persistent cheer and friendliness.
Then we went out on the hotel balcony to
smoke, and there I made my play.
``Whit, I'm pulling a stroke for you. Now listen
and don't be offended. I know what's put you off
your feed, because I was the same way when Milly
had me guessing. You've lost your head over
Nan Brown. That's not so terrible, though I
daresay you think it's a catastrophe. Because
you've quit. You've shown a yellow streak.
You've lain down.
``My boy, that isn't the way to win a girl.
You've got to scrap. Milly told me yesterday
how she had watched your love affairs with Nan,
and how she thought you had given up just when
things might have come your way. Nan is a little
flirt, but she's all right. What's more, she was
getting fond of you. Nan is meanest to the man
she likes best. The way to handle her, Whit, is
to master her. Play high and mighty. Get
tragical. Then grab her up in your arms. I tell
you, Whit, it'll all come your way if you only
keep your nerve. I'm your friend and so is Milly.
We're going out to her house presently--and Nan
will be there.''
The Rube drew a long, deep breath and held out
his hand. I sensed another stage in the evolution
of Whit Hurtle.
``I reckon I've taken baseball coachin','' he said
presently, ``an' I don't see why I can't take some
other kind. I'm only a rube, an' things come hard
for me, but I'm a-learnin'.''
It was about dark when we arrived at the house.
``Hello, Connie. You're late. Good evening,
Mr. Hurtle. Come right in. You've met Miss
Nan Brown? Oh, of course; how stupid of me!''
It was a trying moment for Milly and me. A
little pallor showed under the Rube's tan, but he
was more composed than I had expected. Nan
got up from the piano. She was all in white and
deliciously pretty. She gave a quick, glad start
of surprise. What a relief that was to my
troubled mind! Everything had depended upon
a real honest liking for Whit, and she had it.
More than once I had been proud of Milly's
cleverness, but this night as hostess and an
accomplice she won my everlasting admiration.
She contrived to give the impression that Whit
was a frequent visitor at her home and very
welcome. She brought out his best points, and in her
skillful hands he lost embarrassment and awkwardness.
Before the evening was over Nan regarded
Whit with different eyes, and she never
dreamed that everything had not come about
naturally. Then Milly somehow got me out on
the porch, leaving Nan and Whit together.
``Milly, you're a marvel, the best and sweetest
ever,'' I whispered. ``We're going to win. It's
``Well, Connie, not that--exactly,'' she
whispered back demurely. ``But it looks hopeful.''
I could not help hearing what was said in the
``Now I can roast you,'' Nan was saying, archly.
She had switched back to her favorite baseball
vernacular. ``You pitched a swell game last
Saturday in Rochester, didn't you? Not! You
had no steam, no control, and you couldn't have
curved a saucer.''
``Nan, what could you expect?'' was the cool
reply. ``You sat up in the stand with your handsome
friend. I reckon I couldn't pitch. I just
gave the game away.''
Then I whispered to Milly that it might be
discreet for us to move a little way from the vicinity.
It was on the second day afterward that I got
a chance to talk to Nan. She reached the grounds
early, before Milly arrived, and I found her in the
grand stand. The Rube was down on the card to
pitch and when he started to warm up Nan said
confidently that he would shut out Hartford that
``I'm sorry, Nan, but you're way off. We'd do
well to win at all, let alone get a shutout.''
``You're a fine manager!'' she retorted, hotly.
``Why won't we win?''
``Well, the Rube's not in good form. The
``Stop calling him that horrid name.''
``Whit's not in shape. He's not right. He's
ill or something is wrong. I'm worried sick about
``Why--Mr. Connelly!'' exclaimed Nan. She
turned quickly toward me.
I crowded on full canvas of gloom to my already
``I 'm serious, Nan. The lad's off, somehow.
He's in magnificent physical trim, but he can't
keep his mind on the game. He has lost his head.
I've talked with him, reasoned with him, all to no
good. He only goes down deeper in the dumps.
Something is terribly wrong with him, and if he
doesn't brace, I'll have to release----''
Miss Nan Brown suddenly lost a little of her
rich bloom. ``Oh! you wouldn't--you couldn't
``I'll have to if he doesn't brace. It means a
lot to me, Nan, for of course I can't win the pennant
this year without Whit being in shape. But
I believe I wouldn't mind the loss of that any
more than to see him fall down. The boy is a
magnificent pitcher. If he can only be brought
around he'll go to the big league next year and
develop into one of the greatest pitchers the game
has ever produced. But somehow or other he has
lost heart. He's quit. And I've done my best
for him. He's beyond me now. What a shame
it is! For he's the making of such a splendid
man outside of baseball. Milly thinks the world
of him. Well, well; there are disappointments--
we can't help them. There goes the gong. I must
leave you. Nan, I'll bet you a box of candy Whit
loses today. Is it a go?''
``It is,'' replied Nan, with fire in her eyes.
``You go to Whit Hurtle and tell him I said if
he wins today's game I'll kiss him!''
I nearly broke my neck over benches and bats
getting to Whit with that message. He gulped
Then he tightened his belt and shut out Hartford
with two scratch singles. It was a great
exhibition of pitching. I had no means to tell
whether or not the Rube got his reward that
night, but I was so happy that I hugged Milly
within an inch of her life.
But it turned out that I had been a little
premature in my elation. In two days the Rube went
down into the depths again, this time clear to
China, and Nan was sitting in the grand stand
with Henderson. The Rube lost his next game,
pitching like a schoolboy scared out of his wits.
Henderson followed Nan like a shadow, so that I
had no chance to talk to her. The Rube lost his
next game and then another. We were pushed
out of second place.
If we kept up that losing streak a little longer,
our hopes for the pennant were gone. I had
begun to despair of the Rube. For some occult
reason he scarcely spoke to me. Nan flirted worse
than ever. It seemed to me she flaunted her
conquest of Henderson in poor Whit's face.
The Providence ball team came to town and
promptly signed Henderson and announced him
for Saturday's game. Cairns won the first of the
series and Radbourne lost the second. It was
Rube's turn to pitch the Saturday game and I
resolved to make one more effort to put the love-
sick swain in something like his old fettle. So I
called upon Nan.
She was surprised to see me, but received me
graciously. I fancied her face was not quite so
glowing as usual. I came bluntly out with my
mission. She tried to freeze me but I would not
freeze. I was out to win or lose and not to be
lightly laughed aside or coldly denied. I played
to make her angry, knowing the real truth of her
feelings would show under stress.
For once in my life I became a knocker and said
some unpleasant things--albeit they were true--
about Henderson. She championed Henderson
royally, and when, as a last card, I compared
Whit's fine record with Henderson's, not only as
a ball player, but as a man, particularly in his
reverence for women, she flashed at me:
``What do you know about it? Mr. Henderson
asked me to marry him. Can a man do more to
show his respect? Your friend never so much
as hinted such honorable intentions. What's
more--he insulted me!'' The blaze in Nan's black
eyes softened with a film of tears. She looked
hurt. Her pride had encountered a fall.
``Oh, no, Nan, Whit couldn't insult a lady,'' I
``Couldn't he? That's all you know about him.
You know I--I promised to kiss him if he beat
Hartford that day. So when he came I--I did.
Then the big savage began to rave and he grabbed
me up in his arms. He smothered me; almost
crushed the life out of me. He frightened me
terribly. When I got away from him--the monster
stood there and coolly said I belonged to him. I
ran out of the room and wouldn't see him any
more. At first I might have forgiven him if he
had apologized--said he was sorry, but never a
word. Now I never will forgive him.''
I had to make a strenuous effort to conceal my
agitation. The Rube had most carefully taken
my fool advice in the matter of wooing a woman.
When I had got a hold upon myself, I turned
to Nan white-hot with eloquence. Now I was talking
not wholly for myself or the pennant, but for
this boy and girl who were at odds in that
strangest game of life--love.
What I said I never knew, but Nan lost her
resentment, and then her scorn and indifference.
Slowly she thawed and warmed to my reason,
praise, whatever it was, and when I stopped she
was again the radiant bewildering Nan of old.
``Take another message to Whit for me,'' she
said, audaciously. ``Tell him I adore ball players,
especially pitchers. Tell him I'm going to
the game today to choose the best one. If he loses
She left the sentence unfinished. In my state
of mind I doubted not in the least that she meant
to marry the pitcher who won the game, and so
I told the Rube. He made one wild upheaval of
his arms and shoulders, like an erupting volcano,
which proved to me that he believed it, too.
When I got to the bench that afternoon I was
tired. There was a big crowd to see the game;
the weather was perfect; Milly sat up in the box
and waved her score card at me; Raddy and
Spears declared we had the game; the Rube
stalked to and fro like an implacable Indian chief
--but I was not happy in mind. Calamity
breathed in the very air.
The game began. McCall beat out a bunt; Ashwell
sacrificed and Stringer laced one of his beautiful
triples against the fence. Then he scored
on a high fly. Two runs! Worcester trotted out
into the field. The Rube was white with determination;
he had the speed of a bullet and perfect
control of his jump ball and drop. But Providence
hit and had the luck. Ashwell fumbled,
Gregg threw wild. Providence tied the score.
The game progressed, growing more and more
of a nightmare to me. It was not Worcester's
day. The umpire could not see straight; the boys
grumbled and fought among themselves; Spears
roasted the umpire and was sent to the bench;
Bogart tripped, hurting his sore ankle, and had
to be taken out. Henderson's slow, easy ball
baffled my players, and when he used speed they
lined it straight at a Providence fielder.
In the sixth, after a desperate rally, we crowded
the bases with only one out. Then Mullaney's
hard rap to left, seemingly good for three bases,
was pulled down by Stone with one hand. It was
a wonderful catch and he doubled up a runner at
second. Again in the seventh we had a chance
to score, only to fail on another double play, this
time by the infield.
When the Providence players were at bat their
luck not only held good but trebled and
quadrupled. The little Texas-league hits dropped
safely just out of reach of the infielders. My boys
had an off day in fielding. What horror that of
all days in a season this should be the one for
them to make errors!
But they were game, and the Rube was the
gamest of all. He did not seem to know what
hard luck was, or discouragement, or poor support.
He kept everlastingly hammering the ball
at those lucky Providence hitters. What speed he
had! The ball streaked in, and somebody would
shut his eyes and make a safety. But the Rube
pitched, on, tireless, irresistibly, hopeful, not
forgetting to call a word of cheer to his fielders.
It was one of those strange games that could
not be bettered by any labor or daring or skill.
I saw it was lost from the second inning, yet so
deeply was I concerned, so tantalizingly did the
plays reel themselves off, that I groveled there
on the bench unable to abide by my baseball sense.
The ninth inning proved beyond a shadow of
doubt how baseball fate, in common with other
fates, loved to balance the chances, to lift up one,
then the other, to lend a deceitful hope only to
dash it away.
Providence had almost three times enough to
win. The team let up in that inning or grew over-
confident or careless, and before we knew what
had happened some scratch hits, and bases on
balls, and errors, gave us three runs and left two
runners on bases. The disgusted bleachers came
out of their gloom and began to whistle and
thump. The Rube hit safely, sending another run
over the plate. McCall worked his old trick,
beating out a slow bunt.
Bases full, three runs to tie! With Ashwell up
and one out, the noise in the bleachers mounted
to a high-pitched, shrill, continuous sound. I got
up and yelled with all my might and could not
hear my voice. Ashwell was a dangerous man in
a pinch. The game was not lost yet. A hit,
anything to get Ash to first--and then Stringer!
Ash laughed at Henderson, taunted him, shook
his bat at him and dared him to put one over.
Henderson did not stand under fire. The ball he
pitched had no steam. Ash cracked it--square on
the line into the shortstop's hands. The bleachers
Then Stringer strode grimly to the plate. It
was a hundred to one, in that instance, that he
would lose the ball. The bleachers let out one
deafening roar, then hushed. I would rather have
had Stringer at the bat than any other player in
the world, and I thought of the Rube and Nan
and Milly--and hope would not die.
Stringer swung mightily on the first pitch and
struck the ball with a sharp, solid bing! It shot
toward center, low, level, exceedingly swift, and
like a dark streak went straight into the fielder's
hands. A rod to right or left would have made
it a home run. The crowd strangled a victorious
yell. I came out of my trance, for the game was
over and lost. It was the Rube's Waterloo.
I hurried him into the dressing room and kept
close to him. He looked like a man who had lost
the one thing worth while in his life. I turned a
deaf ear to my players, to everybody, and hustled
the Rube out and to the hotel. I wanted to be
near him that night.
To my amaze we met Milly and Nan as we
entered the lobby. Milly wore a sweet,
sympathetic smile. Nan shone more radiant than ever.
I simply stared. It was Milly who got us all
through the corridor into the parlor. I heard Nan
``Whit, you pitched a bad game but--'' there
was the old teasing, arch, coquettishness--``but
you are the best pitcher!''
BREAKING INTO FAST COMPANY
They may say baseball is the same in the minor
leagues that it is in the big leagues, but any old
ball player or manager knows better. Where the
difference comes in, however, is in the greater
excellence and unity of the major players, a speed,
a daring, a finish that can be acquired only in
competition with one another.
I thought of this when I led my party into
Morrisey's private box in the grand stand of the
Chicago American League grounds. We had
come to see the Rube's break into fast company.
My great pitcher, Whittaker Hurtle, the Rube,
as we called him, had won the Eastern League
Pennant for me that season, and Morrisey, the
Chicago magnate, had bought him. Milly, my
affianced, was with me, looking as happy as she
was pretty, and she was chaperoned by her
mother, Mrs. Nelson.
With me, also, were two veterans of my team,
McCall and Spears, who lived in Chicago, and
who would have traveled a few miles to see the
Rube pitch. And the other member of my party
was Mrs. Hurtle, the Rube's wife, as saucy and
as sparkling-eyed as when she had been Nan
Brown. Today she wore a new tailor-made gown,
new bonnet, new gloves--she said she had decorated
herself in a manner befitting the wife of a
major league pitcher.
Morrisey's box was very comfortable, and, as
I was pleased to note, so situated that we had a
fine view of the field and stands, and yet were
comparatively secluded. The bleachers were filling.
Some of the Chicago players were on the
field tossing and batting balls; the Rube,
however, had not yet appeared.
A moment later a metallic sound was heard on
the stairs leading up into the box. I knew it for
baseball spiked shoes clanking on the wood.
The Rube, looking enormous in his uniform,
stalked into the box, knocking over two chairs as
he entered. He carried a fielder's glove in one
huge freckled hand, and a big black bat in the
Nan, with much dignity and a very manifest
pride, introduced him to Mrs. Nelson.
There was a little chatting, and then, upon the
arrival of Manager Morrisey, we men retired to
the back of the box to talk baseball.
Chicago was in fourth place in the league race,
and had a fighting chance to beat Detroit out for
the third position. Philadelphia was scheduled
for that day, and Philadelphia had a great team.
It was leading the race, and almost beyond all
question would land the flag. In truth, only one
more victory was needed to clinch the pennant.
The team had three games to play in Chicago and
it was to wind up the season with three in
Washington. Six games to play and only one
imperatively important to win! But baseball is
uncertain, and until the Philadelphians won that game
they would be a band of fiends.
``Well, Whit, this is where you break in,'' I
said. ``Now, tip us straight. You've had more
than a week's rest. How's that arm?''
``Grand, Con, grand!'' replied the Rube with
his frank smile. ``I was a little anxious till I
warmed up. But say! I've got more up my sleeve
today than I ever had.''
``That'll do for me,'' said Morrisey, rubbing
his hands. ``I'll spring something on these
swelled Quakers today. Now, Connelly, give Hurtle
one of your old talks--the last one--and then
I'll ring the gong.''
I added some words of encouragement, not
forgetting my old ruse to incite the Rube by rousing
his temper. And then, as the gong rang and the
Rube was departing, Nan stepped forward for
her say. There was a little white under the tan on
her cheek, and her eyes had a darkling flash.
``Whit, it's a magnificent sight--that beautiful
green field and the stands. What a crowd of
fans! Why, I never saw a real baseball crowd
before. There are twenty thousand here. And
there's a difference in the feeling. It's sharper
--new to me. It's big league baseball. Not a soul
in that crowd ever heard of you, but, I believe,
tomorrow the whole baseball world will have heard
of you. Mr. Morrisey knows. I saw it in his
face. Captain Spears knows. Connie knows. I
Then she lifted her face and, pulling him down
within reach, she kissed him. Nan took her husband's
work in dead earnest; she gloried in it,
and perhaps she had as much to do with making
him a great pitcher as any of us.
The Rube left the box, and I found a seat
between Nan and Milly. The field was a splendid
sight. Those bleachers made me glow with managerial
satisfaction. On the field both teams
pranced and danced and bounced around in practice.
In spite of the absolutely last degree of egotism
manifested by the Philadelphia players, I could
not but admire such a splendid body of men.
``So these are the champions of last season and
of this season, too,'' commented Milly. ``I don't
wonder. How swiftly and cleanly they play!
They appear not to exert themselves, yet they
always get the ball in perfect time. It all reminds
me of--of the rhythm of music. And that champion
batter and runner--that Lane in center--
isn't he just beautiful? He walks and runs like a
blue-ribbon winner at the horse show. I tell you
one thing, Connie, these Quakers are on dress
``Oh, these Quakers hate themselves, I don't
think!'' retorted Nan. Being a rabid girl-fan it
was, of course, impossible for Nan to speak baseball
convictions or gossip without characteristic
baseball slang. ``Stuck on themselves! I never
saw the like in my life. That fellow Lane is so
swelled that he can't get down off his toes. But
he's a wonder, I must admit that. They're a
bunch of stars. Easy, fast, trained--they're
machines, and I'll bet they're Indians to fight. I can
see it sticking out all over them. This will
certainly be some game with Whit handing up that
jump ball of his to this gang of champs. But,
Connie, I'll go you Whit beats them.''
I laughed and refused to gamble.
The gong rang; the crowd seemed to hum and
rustle softly to quiet attention; Umpire McClung
called the names of the batteries; then the