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The Redheaded Outfield by Zane Grey

Part 4 out of 5

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to obstruct the open view of the surrounding
wooded country. On each side of the diamond
were rows of wooden benches, and at one end of
the field stood a little clubhouse.

Wayne took off his coat, and tossed a ball for
a while to an ambitious youngster, and then went
into the clubhouse, where Huling introduced him
to several of his players. After a good rubdown,
Wayne thanked Huling for his courtesy, and
started out, intending to go back to town.

``Why not stay to see us practice?'' asked the
captain. ``We're not afraid you'll size up our
weaknesses. As a matter of fact, we don't look
forward to any hitting stunts tomorrow, eh,
Burns? Burns, here, is our leading hitter, and
he's been unusually noncommittal since he heard
who was going to pitch for Bellville.''

``Well, I wouldn't give a whole lot for my prospects
of a home run tomorrow,'' said Burns, with
a laugh.

Wayne went outside, and found a seat in the
shade. A number of urchins had trooped upon
the green field, and carriages and motors were
already in evidence. By the time the players came
out of the dressing room, ready for practice, there
was quite a little crowd in attendance.

Despite Wayne's hesitation, Huling insisted
upon introducing him to friends, and finally hauled
him up to a big touring car full of girls. Wayne,
being a Yale pitcher, had seen several thousand
pretty girls, but the group in that automobile
fairly dazzled him. And the last one to whom
Huling presented him--with the words: ``Dorothy,
this is Mr. Wayne, the Yale pitcher, who is
to play with Bellville tomorrow; Mr. Wayne, my
sister''--was the girl he had known he would
meet some day.

``Climb up, Mr. Wayne. We can make room,''
invited Miss Huling.

Wayne thought the awkwardness with which he
found a seat beside her was unbecoming to a Yale
senior. But, considering she was the girl he had
been expecting to discover for years, his clumsiness
bespoke the importance of the event. The
merry laughter of the girls rang in his ears.
Presently, a voice detached itself from the others,
and came floating softly to him.

``Mr. Wayne, so you're going to wrest our
laurels from us?'' asked Miss Huling.

``I don't know--I'm not infallible--I've been

``When? Not this season?'' she inquired
quickly, betraying a knowledge of his record
that surprised and pleased him. ``Mr. Wayne,
I was at the Polo Grounds on June fifteenth.''

Her white hand lightly touched the Princeton
pin at her neck. Wayne roused suddenly out of
his trance. The girl was a Princeton girl! The
gleam of her golden hair, the flash of her blue
eyes, became clear in sight.

``I'm very pleased to hear it,'' he replied.

``It was a great game, Mr. Wayne, and you may
well be proud of your part in winning it. I
shouldn't be surprised if you treated the Salisbury
team to the same coat of whitewash. We
girls are up in arms. Our boys stood a fair chance
to win this game, but now there's a doubt. By
the way, are you acquainted in Bellville?''

``No. I met Reed, the Bellville captain, in New
York this week. He had already gotten an extra
pitcher--another ringer--for this game, but he
said he preferred me, if it could be arranged.''

While conversing, Wayne made note of the fact
that the other girls studiously left him to Miss
Huling. If the avoidance had not been so marked,
he would never have thought of it.

``Mr. Wayne, if your word is not involved--will
you change your mind and pitch tomorrow's game
for us instead of Bellville?''

Quite amazed, Wayne turned squarely to look
at Miss Huling. Instead of disarming his quick
suspicion, her cool, sweet voice, and brave, blue
eyes confirmed it. The charms of the captain's
sister were to be used to win him away from the
Bellville nine. He knew the trick; it had been
played upon him before.

But never had any other such occasion given
him a feeling of regret. This case was different.
She was the girl. And she meant to flirt with him,
to use her eyes for all they were worth to
encompass the Waterloo of the rival team.

No, he had made a mistake, after all--she was
not the real girl. Suddenly conscious of a little
shock of pain, he dismissed that dream girl from
his mind, and determined to meet Miss Huling
half way in her game. He could not flirt as well
as he could pitch; still, he was no novice.

``Well, Miss Huling, my word certainly is not
involved. But as to pitching for Salisbury--that

``Upon what?''

``Upon what there is in it.''

``Mr. Wayne, you mean--money? Oh, I know.
My brother Rex told me how you college men are
paid big sums. Our association will not give a
dollar, and, besides, my brother knows nothing of
this. But we girls are heart and soul on winning
this game. We'll----''

``Miss Huling, I didn't mean remuneration in
sordid cash,'' interrupted Wayne, in a tone that
heightened the color in her cheeks.

Wayne eyed her keenly with mingled emotions.
Was that rose-leaf flush in her cheeks natural?
Some girls could blush at will. Were the wistful
eyes, the earnest lips, only shamming? It cost
him some bitterness to decide that they were.
Her beauty fascinated, while it hardened him.
Eternally, the beauty of women meant the undoing
of men, whether they played the simple,
inconsequential game of baseball, or the great,
absorbing, mutable game of life.

The shame of the situation for him was increasingly
annoying, inasmuch as this lovely girl
should stoop to flirtation with a stranger, and the
same time draw him, allure him, despite the
apparent insincerity.

``Miss Huling, I'll pitch your game for two
things,'' he continued.

``Name them.''

``Wear Yale blue in place of that orange-and-
black Princeton pin.''

``I will.'' She said it with a shyness, a look in
her eyes that made Wayne wince. What a perfect
little actress! But there seemed just a chance
that this was not deceit. For an instant he
wavered, held back by subtle, finer intuition; then
he beat down the mounting influence of truth in
those dark-blue eyes, and spoke deliberately:

``The other thing is--if I win the game--a

Dorothy Huling's face flamed scarlet. But this
did not affect Wayne so deeply, though it showed
him his mistake, as the darkening shadow of
disappointment in her eyes. If she had been a flirt,
she would have been prepared for rudeness. He
began casting about in his mind for some apology,
some mitigation of his offense; but as he was
about to speak, the sudden fading of her color,
leaving her pale, and the look in her proud, dark
eyes disconcerted him out of utterance.

``Certainly, Mr. Wayne. I agree to your price
if you win the game.''

But how immeasurable was the distance
between the shy consent to wear Yale blue, and the
pale, surprised agreement to his second proposal!
Wayne experienced a strange sensation of personal loss.

While he endeavored to find his tongue, Miss
Huling spoke to one of the boys standing near,
and he started off on a run for the field. Presently
Huling and the other players broke for the car,
soon surrounding it in breathless anticipation.

``Wayne, is it straight? You'll pitch for us
tomorrow?'' demanded the captain, with shining

``Surely I will. Bellville don't need me.
They've got Mackay, of Georgetown,'' replied

Accustomed as he was to being mobbed by
enthusiastic students and admiring friends, Wayne
could not but feel extreme embarrassment at the
reception accorded him now. He felt that he was
sailing under false colors. The boys mauled him,
the girls fluttered about him with glad laughter.
He had to tear himself away; and when he finally
reached his hotel, he went to his room, with his
mind in a tumult.

Wayne cursed himself roundly; then he fell into
deep thought. He began to hope he could retrieve
the blunder. He would win the game; he would
explain to her the truth; he would ask for an
opportunity to prove he was worthy of her friendship;
he would not mention the kiss. This last
thought called up the soft curve of her red lips
and that it was possible for him to kiss her made
the temptation strong.

His sleep that night was not peaceful and
dreamless. He awakened late, had breakfast sent
to his room, and then took a long walk out into
the country. After lunch he dodged the crowd in
the hotel lobby, and hurried upstairs, where he
put on his baseball suit. The first person he met
upon going down was Reed, the Bellville man.

``What's this I hear, Wayne, about your pitching
for Salisbury today? I got your telegram.''

``Straight goods,'' replied Wayne.

``But I thought you intended to pitch for us?''

``I didn't promise, did I?''

``No. Still, it looks fishy to me.''

``You've got Mackay, haven't you?''

``Yes. The truth is, I intended to use you

``Well, I'll try to win for Salisbury. Hope
there's no hard feeling.''

``Not at all. Only if I didn't have the Georgetown
crack, I'd yell murder. As it is, we'll trim
Salisbury anyway.''

``Maybe,'' answered Wayne, laughing. ``It's
a hot day, and my arm feels good.''

When Wayne reached the ball grounds, he
thought he had never seen a more inspiring sight.
The bright green oval was surrounded by a glittering
mass of white and blue and black. Out
along the foul lines were carriages, motors, and
tally-hos, brilliant with waving fans and flags.
Over the field murmured the low hum of many

``Here you are!'' cried Huling, making a grab
for Wayne. ``Where were you this morning?
We couldn't find you. Come! We've got a minute
before the practice whistle blows, and I promised
to exhibit you.''

He hustled Wayne down the first-base line, past
the cheering crowd, out among the motors, to the
same touring car that he remembered. A bevy of
white-gowned girls rose like a covey of ptarmigans,
and whirled flags of maroon and gray.

Dorothy Huling wore a bow of Yale blue upon
her breast, and Wayne saw it and her face through
a blur.

``Hurry, girls; get it over. We've got to
practice,'' said the captain.

In the merry melee some one tied a knot of
ribbon upon Wayne. Who it was he did not know;
he saw only the averted face of Dorothy Huling.
And as he returned to the field with a dull pang,
he determined he would make her indifference
disappear with the gladness of a victory for her

The practice was short, but long enough for
Wayne to locate the glaring weakness of Salisbury
at shortstop and third base. In fact, most
of the players of his team showed rather poor
form; they were overstrained, and plainly lacked
experience necessary for steadiness in an
important game.

Burns, the catcher, however, gave Wayne
confidence. He was a short, sturdy youngster, with
all the earmarks of a coming star. Huling, the
captain, handled himself well at first base. The
Bellville players were more matured, and some of
them were former college cracks. Wayne saw
that he had his work cut out for him.

The whistle blew. The Bellville team trotted
to their position in the field; the umpire called
play, and tossed a ball to Mackay, the long, lean
Georgetown pitcher.

Wells, the first batter, fouled out; Stamford hit
an easy bounce to the pitcher, and Clews put up
a little Texas leaguer--all going out, one, two,
three, on three pitched balls.

The teams changed from bat to field. Wayne
faced the plate amid vociferous cheering. He
felt that he could beat this team even without good
support. He was in the finest condition, and his
arm had been resting for ten days. He knew that
if he had control of his high inshoot, these
Bellville players would feel the whiz of some speed
under their chins.

He struck Moore out, retired Reed on a measly
fly, and made Clark hit a weak grounder to second;
and he walked in to the bench assured of the
outcome. On some days he had poor control; on
others his drop ball refused to work properly;
but, as luck would have it, he had never had
greater speed or accuracy, or a more bewildering
fast curve than on this day, when he meant to
win a game for a girl.

``Boys, I've got everything,'' he said to his
fellow-players, calling them around him. ``A couple
of runs will win for us. Now, listen, I know
Mackay. He hasn't any speed, or much of a curve.
All he's got is a teasing slow ball and a foxy head.
Don't be too anxious to hit. Make him put 'em

But the Salisbury players were not proof
against the tempting slow balls that Mackay
delivered. They hit at wide curves far off the plate
and when they did connect with the ball it was
only to send an easy chance to the infielders.

The game seesawed along, inning after inning;
it was a pitcher's battle that looked as if the first
run scored would win the game. Mackay toyed
with the Salisbury boys; it was his pleasure to
toss up twisting, floating balls that could scarcely
be hit out of the diamond. Wayne had the
Bellville players utterly at his mercy; he mixed up his
high jump and fast drop so cleverly, with his
sweeping out-curve, that his opponents were unable
to gauge his delivery at all.

In the first of the seventh, Barr for Bellville
hit a ball which the third baseman should have
fielded. But he fumbled. The second batter sent
a fly to shortstop, who muffed it. The third
hitter reached his base on another error by an
infielder. Here the bases were crowded, and the
situation had become critical all in a moment.
Wayne believed the infield would go to pieces, and
lose the game, then and there, if another hit went
to short or third.

``Steady up, boys,'' called Wayne, and beckoned
for his catcher.

``Burns, it's up to you and me,'' he said, in a
low tone. ``I've got to fan the rest of these
hitters. You're doing splendidly. Now, watch close
for my drop. Be ready to go down on your knees.
When I let myself out, the ball generally hits the
ground just back of the plate.''

``Speed 'em over!'' said Burns, his sweaty face
grim and determined. ``I'll get in front of 'em.''

The head of the batting list was up for
Bellville, and the whole Bellville contingent on the
side lines rose and yelled and cheered.

Moore was a left handed hitter, who choked his
bat up short, and poked at the ball. He was a
good bunter, and swift on his feet. Wayne had
taken his measure, as he had that of the other
players, earlier in the game; and he knew it was
good pitching to keep the ball in close to Moore's
hands, so that if he did hit it, the chances were
it would not go safe.

Summoning all his strength, Wayne took his
long swing and shot the ball over the inside corner
with terrific speed.

One strike!

Wayne knew it would not do to waste any balls
if he wished to maintain that speed, so he put
the second one in the same place. Moore struck
too late.

Two strikes!

Then Burns signed for the last drop. Wayne
delivered it with trepidation, for it was a hard
curve to handle. Moore fell all over himself
trying to hit it. Little Burns dropped to his knees
to block the vicious curve. It struck the ground,
and, glancing, boomed deep on the breast protector.

How the Salisbury supporters roared their
approval! One man out--the bases full--with Reed,
the slugging captain, at bat!

If Reed had a weakness, Wayne had not
discovered it yet, although Reed had not hit safely.
The captain stood somewhat back from the plate,
a fact that induced Wayne to try him with the
speedy outcurve. Reed lunged with a powerful
swing, pulling away from the plate, and he missed
the curve by a foot.

Wayne did not need to know any more. Reed
had made his reputation slugging straight balls
from heedless pitchers. He chopped the air twice
more, and flung his bat savagely to the ground.

``Two out--play the hitter!'' called Wayne to
his team.

Clark, the third man up, was the surest batter
on the Bellville team. He looked dangerous. He
had made the only hit so far to the credit of his
team. Wayne tried to work him on a high, fast
ball close in. Clark swung freely and cracked a
ripping liner to left. Half the crowd roared, and
then groaned, for the beautiful hit went foul by
several yards. Wayne wisely decided to risk all
on his fast drop. Clark missed the first, fouled
the second.

Two strikes!

Then he waited. He cooly let one, two, three
of the fast drops go by without attempting to hit
them. Burns valiantly got his body in front of
them. These balls were all over the plate, but too
low to be called strikes. With two strikes, and
three balls, and the bases full, Clark had the advantage.

Tight as the place was, Wayne did not flinch.
The game depended practically upon the next ball
delivered. Wayne craftily and daringly decided
to use another fast drop, for of all his assortment
that would be the one least expected by Clark.
But it must be started higher, so that in case
Clark made no effort to swing, it would still be a

Gripping the ball with a clinched hand, Wayne
swung sharply, and drove it home with the limit
of his power. It sped like a bullet, waist high,
and just before reaching the plate darted downward,
as if it had glanced on an invisible barrier.

Clark was fooled completely and struck futilely.
But the ball caromed from the hard ground, hit
Burns with a resounding thud, and bounced away.
Clark broke for first, and Moore dashed for home.
Like a tiger the little catcher pounced upon the
ball, and, leaping back into line, blocked the
sliding Moore three feet from the plate.

Pandemonium burst loose among the Salisbury
adherents. The men bawled, the women screamed,
the boys shrieked, and all waved their hats and
flags, and jumped up and down, and manifested
symptoms of baseball insanity.

In the first of the eighth inning, Mackay sailed
up the balls like balloons, and disposed of three
batters on the same old weak hits to his clever
fielders. In the last of the eighth, Wayne struck
out three more Bellville players.

``Burns, you're up,'' said Wayne, who, in his
earnestness to win, kept cheering his comrades.
``Do something. Get your base any way you can.
Get in front of one. We must score this inning.''

Faithful, battered Burns cunningly imposed his
hip over the plate and received another bruise in
the interests of his team. The opposing players
furiously stormed at the umpire for giving him
his base, but Burns' trick went through. Burnett
bunted skilfully, sending Burns to second. Cole
hit a fly to center. Then Huling singled between
short and third.

It became necessary for the umpire to delay the
game while he put the madly leaping boys back
off the coaching lines. The shrill, hilarious cheering
gradually died out, and the field settled into a
forced quiet.

Wayne hurried up to the plate and took his
position. He had always been a timely hitter, and
he gritted his teeth in his resolve to settle this
game. Mackay whirled his long arm, wheeled,
took his long stride, and pitched a slow, tantalizing
ball that seemed never to get anywhere. But
Wayne waited, timed it perfectly, and met it

The ball flew safely over short, and but for a
fine sprint and stop by the left fielder, would have
resulted in a triple, possibly a home run. As it
was, Burns and Huling scored; and Wayne, by a
slide, reached second base. When he arose and
saw the disorderly riot, and heard the noise of
that well-dressed audience, he had a moment of
exultation. Then Wells flew out to center ending
the chances for more runs.

As Wayne received the ball in the pitcher's box,
he paused and looked out across the field toward
a white-crowned motor car, and he caught a gleam
of Dorothy Huling's golden hair, and wondered
if she were glad.

For nothing short of the miraculous could
snatch this game from him now. Burns had withstood
a severe pounding, but he would last out
the inning, and Wayne did not take into account
the rest of the team. He opened up with no
slackening of his terrific speed, and he struck out the
three remaining batters on eleven pitched balls.
Then in the rising din he ran for Burns and gave
him a mighty hug.

``You made the gamest stand of any catcher I
ever pitched to,'' he said warmly.

Burns looked at his quivering, puffed, and
bleeding hands, and smiled as if to say that this
was praise to remember, and reward enough.
Then the crowd swooped down on them, and they
were swallowed up in the clamor and surge of
victory. When Wayne got out of the thick and
press of it, he made a bee line for his hotel, and
by running a gauntlet managed to escape.

Resting, dressing, and dining were matters
which he went through mechanically, with his
mind ever on one thing. Later, he found a dark
corner of the porch and sat there waiting, thinking.
There was to be a dance given in honor of
the team that evening at the hotel. He watched
the boys and girls pass up the steps. When the
music commenced, he arose and went into the hall.
It was bright with white gowns, and gay with

``There he is. Grab him, somebody,'' yelled

``Do something for me, quick,'' implored Wayne
of the captain, as he saw the young people wave
toward him.

``Salisbury is yours tonight,'' replied Huling

``Ask your sister to save me one dance.''

Then he gave himself up. He took his meed of
praise and flattery, and he withstood the battery
of arch eyes modestly, as became the winner of
many fields. But even the reception after the
Princeton game paled in comparison with this
impromptu dance.

She was here. Always it seemed, while he
listened or talked or danced, his eyes were drawn to
a slender, graceful form, and a fair face crowned
with golden hair. Then he was making his way
to where she stood near one of the open windows.

He never knew what he said to her, nor what
reply she made, but she put her arm in his, and
presently they were gliding over the polished
floor. To Wayne the dance was a dream. He led
her through the hall and out upon the balcony,
where composure strangely came to him.

``Mr. Wayne, I have to thank you for saving
the day for us. You pitched magnificently.''

``I would have broken my arm to win that
game,'' burst out Wayne. ``Miss Huling, I made
a blunder yesterday. I thought there was a
conspiracy to persuade me to throw down Bellville.
I've known of such things, and I resented it.
You understand what I thought. I humbly offer
my apologies, and beg that you forget the rude
obligation I forced upon you.''

How cold she was! How unattainable in that
moment! He caught his breath, and rushed on.

``Your brother and the management of the club
have asked me to pitch for Salisbury the remainder
of the season. I shall be happy to--if----''

``If what?'' She was all alive now, flushing
warmly, dark eyes alight, the girl of his dreams.

``If you will forgive me--if you will let me be
your friend--if--Miss Huling, you will again wear
that bit of Yale blue.''

``If, Mr. Wayne, you had very sharp eyes you
would have noticed that I still wear it!''


Willie Howarth loved baseball. He loved it
all the more because he was a cripple. The game
was more beautiful and wonderful to him because
he would never be able to play it. For Willie
had been born with one leg shorter than the other;
he could not run and at 11 years of age it was
all he could do to walk with a crutch.

Nevertheless Willie knew more about baseball
than any other boy on Madden's Hill. An uncle
of his had once been a ballplayer and he had
taught Willie the fine points of the game. And
this uncle's ballplayer friends, who occasionally
visited him, had imparted to Willie the vernacular
of the game. So that Willie's knowledge of players
and play, and particularly of the strange talk,
the wild and whirling words on the lips of the real
baseball men, made him the envy of every boy on
Madden's Hill, and a mine of information. Willie
never missed attending the games played on the
lots, and he could tell why they were won or lost.

Willie suffered considerable pain, mostly at
night, and this had given him a habit of lying
awake in the dark hours, grieving over that
crooked leg that forever shut him out of the heritage
of youth. He had kept his secret well; he was
accounted shy because he was quiet and had never
been able to mingle with the boys in their activity.
No one except his mother dreamed of the fire and
hunger and pain within his breast. His school-
mates called him ``Daddy.'' It was a name given
for his bent shoulders, his labored gait and his
thoughtful face, too old for his years. And no
one, not even his mother, guessed how that name
hurt Willie.

It was a source of growing unhappiness with
Willie that the Madden's Hill boys were always
beaten by the other teams of the town. He really
came to lose his sadness over his own misfortune
in pondering on the wretched play of the Madden's
Hill baseball club. He had all a boy's
pride in the locality where he lived. And when
the Bogg's Farm team administered a crushing
defeat to Madden's Hill, Willie grew desperate.

Monday he met Lane Griffith, the captain of
the Madden's Hill nine.

``Hello, Daddy,'' said Lane. He was a big,
aggressive boy, and in a way had a fondness for

``Lane, you got an orful trimmin' up on the
Boggs. What 'd you wanter let them country jakes
beat you for?''

``Aw, Daddy, they was lucky. Umpire had hay-
seed in his eyes! Robbed us! He couldn't see
straight. We'll trim them down here Saturday.''

``No, you won't--not without team work. Lane,
you've got to have a manager.''

``Durn it! Where 're we goin' to get one?''
Lane blurted out.

``You can sign me. I can't play, but I know the
game. Let me coach the boys.''

The idea seemed to strike Capt. Griffith
favorably. He prevailed upon all the boys living on
Madden's Hill to come out for practice after
school. Then he presented them to the managing
coach. The boys were inclined to poke fun at
Daddy Howarth and ridicule him; but the idea
was a novel one and they were in such a state of
subjection from many beatings that they welcomed
any change. Willie sat on a bench improvised
from a soap box and put them through a
drill of batting and fielding. The next day in his
coaching he included bunting and sliding. He
played his men in different positions and for three
more days he drove them unmercifully.

When Saturday came, the day for the game
with Bogg's Farm, a wild protest went up from
the boys. Willie experienced his first bitterness
as a manager. Out of forty aspirants for the
Madden's Hill team he could choose but nine to
play the game. And as a conscientious manager
he could use no favorites. Willie picked the best
players and assigned them to positions that, in
his judgment, were the best suited to them. Bob
Irvine wanted to play first base and he was down
for right field. Sam Wickhart thought he was the
fastest fielder, and Willie had him slated to catch.
Tom Lindsay's feelings were hurt because he was
not to play in the infield. Eddie Curtis suffered
a fall in pride when he discovered he was not down
to play second base. Jake Thomas, Tay-Tay
Mohler and Brick Grace all wanted to pitch. The
manager had chosen Frank Price for that
important position, and Frank's one ambition was
to be a shortstop.

So there was a deadlock. For a while there
seemed no possibility of a game. Willie sat on the
bench, the center of a crowd of discontented,
quarreling boys. Some were jealous, some were
outraged, some tried to pacify and persuade the
others. All were noisy. Lane Griffith stood by
his manager and stoutly declared the players
should play the positions to which they had been
assigned or not at all. And he was entering into
a hot argument with Tom Lindsay when the
Bogg's Farm team arrogantly put in an appearance.

The way that team from the country walked out
upon the field made a great difference. The spirit
of Madden's Hill roused to battle. The game began
swiftly and went on wildly. It ended almost
before the Hill boys realized it had commenced.
They did not know how they had won but they
gave Daddy Howarth credit for it. They had a
bonfire that night to celebrate the victory and
they talked baseball until their parents became
alarmed and hunted them up.

Madden's Hill practiced all that next week and
on Saturday beat the Seventh Ward team. In
four more weeks they had added half a dozen more
victories to their record. Their reputation went
abroad. They got uniforms, and baseball shoes
with spikes, and bats and balls and gloves. They
got a mask, but Sam Wickhart refused to catch
with it.

``Sam, one of these days you'll be stoppin' a
high inshoot with your eye,'' sagely remarked
Daddy Howarth. ``An' then where'll I get a
catcher for the Natchez game?''

Natchez was the one name on the lips of every
Madden's Hill boy. For Natchez had the great
team of the town and, roused by the growing
repute of the Hill club, had condescended to arrange
a game. When that game was scheduled for July
Fourth Daddy Howarth set to driving his men.
Early and late he had them out. This manager, in
keeping with all other famous managers, believed
that batting was the thing which won games. He
developed a hard-hitting team. He kept everlastingly
at them to hit and run, hit and run.

On the Saturday before the Fourth, Madden's
Hill had a game to play that did not worry
Daddy and he left his team in charge of the captain.

``Fellers, I'm goin' down to the Round House
to see Natchez play. I'll size up their game,''
said Daddy.

When he returned he was glad to find that his
team had won its ninth straight victory, but he
was not communicative in regard to the playing of
the Natchez club. He appeared more than usually

The Fourth fell on Tuesday. Daddy had the
boys out Monday and he let them take only a
short, sharp practice. Then he sent them home.
In his own mind, Daddy did not have much hope
of beating Natchez. He had been greatly
impressed by their playing, and one inning toward
the close of the Round House game they had
astonished him with the way they suddenly seemed
to break loose and deluge their opponents in a
flood of hits and runs. He could not understand
this streak of theirs--for they did the same thing
every time they played--and he was too good a
baseball student to call it luck.

He had never wanted anything in his life, not
even to have two good legs, as much as he wanted
to beat Natchez. For the Madden's Hill boys had
come to believe him infallible. He was their idol.
They imagined they had only to hit and run, to
fight and never give up, and Daddy would make
them win. There was not a boy on the team who
believed that Natchez had a chance. They had
grown proud and tenacious of their dearly won
reputation. First of all, Daddy thought of his
team and their loyalty to him; then he thought of
the glory lately come to Madden's Hill, and lastly
of what it meant to him to have risen from a lonely
watcher of the game--a cripple who could not even
carry a bat--to manager of the famous Hill team.
It might go hard with the boys to lose this game,
but it would break his heart.

From time out of mind there had always been
rivalry between Madden's Hill and Natchez. And
there is no rivalry so bitter as that between boys.
So Daddy, as he lay awake at night planning the
system of play he wanted to use, left out of all
account any possibility of a peaceful game. It
was comforting to think that if it came to a fight
Sam and Lane could hold their own with Bo
Stranathan and Slugger Blandy.

In the managing of his players Daddy observed
strict discipline. It was no unusual thing for him
to fine them. On practice days and off the field
they implicitly obeyed him. During actual play,
however, they had evinced a tendency to jump
over the traces. It had been his order for them
not to report at the field Tuesday until 2 o'clock.
He found it extremely difficult to curb his own
inclination to start before the set time. And only
the stern duty of a man to be an example to his
players kept Daddy at home.

He lived near the ball grounds, yet on this day,
as he hobbled along on his crutch, he thought the
distance interminably long, and for the first time
in weeks the old sickening resentment at his useless
leg knocked at his heart. Manfully Daddy
refused admittance to that old gloomy visitor.
He found comfort and forgetfulness in the thought
that no strong and swift-legged boy of his
acquaintance could do what he could do.

Upon arriving at the field Daddy was amazed
to see such a large crowd. It appeared that all
the boys and girls in the whole town were in
attendance, and, besides, there was a sprinkling of
grown-up people interspersed here and there
around the diamond. Applause greeted Daddy's
appearance and members of his team escorted him
to the soap-box bench.

Daddy cast a sharp eye over the Natchez players
practicing on the field. Bo Stranathan had
out his strongest team. They were not a prepossessing
nine. They wore soiled uniforms that did
not match in cut or color. But they pranced and
swaggered and strutted! They were boastful and
boisterous. It was a trial for any Madden's Hill
boy just to watch them.

``Wot a swelled bunch!'' exclaimed Tom Lindsay.

``Fellers, if Slugger Blandy tries to pull any
stunt on me today he'll get a swelleder nut,''
growled Lane Griffith.

``T-t-t-t-t-te-te-tell him t-t-t-to keep out of
m-m-m-my way an' not b-b-b-b-bl-block me,''
stuttered Tay-Tay Mohler.

``We're a-goin' to skin 'em,'' said Eddie Curtis.

``Cheese it, you kids, till we git in the game,''
ordered Daddy. ``Now, Madden's Hill, hang
round an' listen. I had to sign articles with
Natchez--had to let them have their umpire. So
we're up against it. But we'll hit this pitcher
Muckle Harris. He ain't got any steam. An' he
ain't got much nerve. Now every feller who goes
up to bat wants to talk to Muck. Call him a big
swelled stiff. Tell him he can't break a pane of
glass--tell him he can't put one over the pan--
tell him it he does you'll slam it down in the sand
bank. Bluff the whole team. Keep scrappy all
the time. See! That's my game today. This
Natchez bunch needs to be gone after. Holler at
the umpire. Act like you want to fight.''

Then Daddy sent his men out for practice.

``Boss, enny ground rules?'' inquired Bo
Stranathan. He was a big, bushy-haired boy with
a grin and protruding teeth. ``How many bases
on wild throws over first base an' hits over the
sand bank?''

``All you can get,'' replied Daddy, with a
magnanimous wave of hand.

``Huh! Lemmee see your ball?''

Daddy produced the ball that he had Lane had
made for the game.

``Huh! Watcher think? We ain 't goin' to play
with no mush ball like thet,'' protested Bo. ``We
play with a hard ball. Looka here! We'll trow
up the ball.''

Daddy remembered what he had heard about
the singular generosity of the Natchez team to
supply the balls for the games they played.

``We don't hev to pay nothin' fer them balls.
A man down at the Round House makes them for
us. They ain't no balls as good,'' explained Bo,
with pride.

However, as Bo did not appear eager to pass
over the balls for examination Daddy simply
reached out and took them. They were small,
perfectly round and as hard as bullets. They had no
covers. The yarn had been closely and tightly
wrapped and then stitched over with fine bees-
waxed thread. Daddy fancied he detected a
difference in the weight of the ball, but Bo took them
back before Daddy could be sure of that point.

``You don't have to fan about it. I know a ball
when I see one,'' observed Daddy. ``But we're
on our own grounds an' we'll use our own ball.
Thanks all the same to you, Stranathan.''

``Huh! All I gotta say is we'll play with my
ball er there won't be no game,'' said Bo suddenly.

Daddy shrewdly eyed the Natchez captain. Bo
did not look like a fellow wearing himself thin
from generosity. It struck Daddy that Bo's habit
of supplying the ball for the game might have
some relation to the fact that he always carried
along his own umpire. There was a strange
feature about this umpire business and it was that
Bo's man had earned a reputation for being
particularly fair. No boy ever had any real reason
to object to Umpire Gale's decisions. When Gale
umpired away from the Natchez grounds his close
decisions always favored the other team, rather
than his own. It all made Daddy keen and

``Stranathan, up here on Madden's Hill we
know how to treat visitors. We'll play with your
ball. . . . Now keep your gang of rooters from
crowdin' on the diamond.''

``Boss, it's your grounds. Fire 'em off if they
don't suit you. . . . Come on, let's git in the
game. Watcher want--field er bat?''

``Field,'' replied Daddy briefly.

Billy Gale called ``Play,'' and the game began
with Slugger Blandy at bat. The formidable way
in which he swung his club did not appear to have
any effect on Frank Price or the player back of
him. Frank's most successful pitch was a slow,
tantalizing curve, and he used it. Blandy lunged
at the ball, missed it and grunted.

``Frank, you got his alley,'' called Lane.

Slugger fouled the next one high in the air
back of the plate. Sam Wickhart, the stocky
bowlegged catcher, was a fiend for running after
foul flies, and now he plunged into the crowd of
boys, knocking them right and left, and he caught
the ball. Whisner came up and hit safely over
Griffith, whereupon the Natchez supporters began
to howl. Kelly sent a grounder to Grace at short
stop. Daddy's weak player made a poor throw to
first base, so the runner was safe. Then Bo
Stranathan batted a stinging ball through the
infield, scoring Whisner.

``Play the batter! Play the batter!'' sharply
called Daddy from the bench.

Then Frank struck out Molloy and retired
Dundon on an easy fly.

``Fellers, git in the game now,'' ordered Daddy,
as his players eagerly trotted in. ``Say things to
that Muckle Harris! We'll walk through this
game like sand through a sieve.''

Bob Irvin ran to the plate waving his bat at

``Put one over, you freckleface! I 've been dyin'
fer this chanst. You're on Madden's Hill now.''

Muckle evidently was not the kind of pitcher to
stand coolly under such bantering. Obviously he
was not used to it. His face grew red and his
hair waved up. Swinging hard, he threw the ball
straight at Bob's head. Quick as a cat, Bob
dropped flat.

``Never touched me!'' he chirped, jumping up
and pounding the plate with his bat. ``You couldn't
hit a barn door. Come on. I'll paste one a

Bob did not get an opportunity to hit, for Harris
could not locate the plate and passed him to first
on four balls.

``Dump the first one,'' whispered Daddy in
Grace's ear. Then he gave Bob a signal to run
on the first pitch.

Grace tried to bunt the first ball, but he missed
it. His attempt, however, was so violent that he
fell over in front of the catcher, who could not
recover in time to throw, and Bob got to second
base. At this juncture, the Madden's Hill band
of loyal supporters opened up with a mingling
of shrill yells and whistles and jangling of tin
cans filled with pebbles. Grace hit the next ball
into second base and, while he was being thrown
out, Bob raced to third. With Sam Wickhart up
it looked good for a score, and the crowd yelled
louder. Sam was awkward yet efficient, and he
batted a long fly to right field. The fielder muffed
the ball. Bob scored, Sam reached second base,
and the crowd yelled still louder. Then Lane
struck out and Mohler hit to shortstop, retiring
the side.

Natchez scored a run on a hit, a base on balls,
and another error by Grace. Every time a ball
went toward Grace at short Daddy groaned. In
their half of the inning Madden's Hill made two
runs, increasing the score 3 to 2.

The Madden's Hill boys began to show the
strain of such a close contest. If Daddy had
voiced aloud his fear it would have been: ``They'll
blow up in a minnit!'' Frank Price alone was
slow and cool, and he pitched in masterly style.
Natchez could not beat him. On the other hand,
Madden's Hill hit Muck Harris hard, but superb
fielding kept runners off the bases. As Daddy's
team became more tense and excited Bo Stranathan's
players grew steadier and more arrogantly
confident. Daddy saw it with distress, and he
could not realize just where Natchez had license
for such confidence. Daddy watched the game
with the eyes of a hawk.

As the Natchez players trooped in for their
sixth inning at bat, Daddy observed a marked
change in their demeanor. Suddenly they seemed
to have been let loose; they were like a band of
Indians. Daddy saw everything. He did not miss
seeing Umpire Gale take a ball from his pocket
and toss it to Frank, and Daddy wondered if that
was the ball which had been in the play. Straightway,
however, he forgot that in the interest of the

Bo Stranathan bawled: ``Wull, Injuns, hyar's
were we do 'em. We've jest ben loafin' along. Git
ready to tear the air, you rooters!''

Kelly hit a wonderfully swift ball through the
infield. Bo batted out a single. Malloy got up
in the way of one of Frank's pitches, and was
passed to first base. Then, as the Natchez crowd
opened up in shrill clamor, the impending disaster
fell. Dundon hit a bounder down into the infield.
The ball appeared to be endowed with life. It
bounded low, then high and, cracking into Grace's
hands, bounced out and rolled away. The runners
raced around the bases.

Pickens sent up a tremendous fly, the highest
ever batted on Madden's Hill. It went over Tom
Lindsay in center field, and Tom ran and ran.
The ball went so far up that Tom had time to
cover the ground, but he could not judge it. He
ran round in a little circle, with hands up in
bewilderment. And when the ball dropped it hit
him on the head and bounded away.

``Run, you Injun, run!'' bawled Bo. ``What'd
I tell you? We ain't got 'em goin', oh, no! Hittin'
'em on the head!''

Bill dropped a slow, teasing ball down the third-
base line. Jake Thomas ran desperately for it,
and the ball appeared to strike his hands and run
up his arms and caress his nose and wrap itself
round his neck and then roll gently away. All the
while, the Natchez runners tore wildly about the
bases and the Natchez supporters screamed and
whistled. Muck Harris could not bat, yet he hit
the first ball and it shot like a bullet over the
infield. Then Slugger Blandy came to the plate.

he ball he sent out knocked Grace's leg from
under him as if it were a ten-pin. Whisner
popped a fly over Tay Tay Mohler's head. Now
Tay Tay was fat and slow, but he was a sure
catch. He got under the ball. It struck his hands
and jumped back twenty feet up into the air. It
was a strangely live ball. Kelly again hit to
shortstop, and the ball appeared to start slow,
to gather speed with every bound and at last to
dart low and shoot between Grace's legs.

``Haw! Haw!'' roared Bo. ``They've got a
hole at short. Hit fer the hole, fellers. Watch
me! Jest watch me!''

And he swung hard on the first pitch. The ball
glanced like a streak straight at Grace, took a
vicious jump, and seemed to flirt with the infielder's
hands, only to evade them.

Malloy fouled a pitch and the ball hit Sam
Wickhart square over the eye. Sam's eye popped out
and assumed the proportions and color of a huge

``Hey!'' yelled Blandy, the rival catcher. ``Air
you ketchin' with yer mug?''

Sam would not delay the game nor would he don
the mask.

Daddy sat hunched on his soap-box, and, as in
a hateful dream, he saw his famous team go to
pieces. He put his hands over his ears to shut out
some of the uproar. And he watched that little
yarn ball fly and shoot and bound and roll to
crush his fondest hopes. Not one of his players
appeared able to hold it. And Grace had holes
in his hands and legs and body. The ball went
right through him. He might as well have been
so much water. Instead of being a shortstop he
was simply a hole. After every hit Daddy saw
that ball more and more as something alive. It
sported with his infielders. It bounded like a
huge jack-rabbit, and went swifter and higher at
every bound. It was here, there, everywhere.

And it became an infernal ball. It became
endowed with a fiendish propensity to run up a
player's leg and all about him, as if trying to hide
in his pocket. Grace's efforts to find it were
heartbreaking to watch. Every time it bounded
out to center field, which was of frequent
occurrence, Tom would fall on it and hug it as if he
were trying to capture a fleeing squirrel. Tay
Tay Mohler could stop the ball, but that was no
great credit to him, for his hands took no part in
the achievement. Tay Tay was fat and the ball
seemed to like him. It boomed into his stomach
and banged against his stout legs. When Tay saw
it coming he dropped on his knees and valorously
sacrificed his anatomy to the cause of the game.

Daddy tried not to notice the scoring of runs
by his opponents. But he had to see them and he
had to count. Ten runs were as ten blows! After
that each run scored was like a stab in his heart.
The play went on, a terrible fusilade of wicked
ground balls that baffled any attempt to field them.
Then, with nineteen runs scored, Natchez appeared
to tire. Sam caught a foul fly, and Tay
Tay, by obtruding his wide person to the path of
infield hits, managed to stop them, and throw out
the runners.

Score--Natchez, 21; Madden Hill, 3.

Daddy's boys slouched and limped wearily in.

``Wot kind of a ball's that?'' panted Tom, as
he showed his head with a bruise as large as a

``T-t-t-t-ta-ta-tay-tay-tay-tay----'' began Mohler,
in great excitement, but as he could not
finish what he wanted to say no one caught
his meaning.

Daddy's watchful eye had never left that
wonderful, infernal little yarn ball. Daddy was
crushed under defeat, but his baseball brains still
continued to work. He saw Umpire Gale leisurely
step into the pitcher's box, and leisurely pick up
the ball and start to make a motion to put it in
his pocket.

Suddenly fire flashed all over Daddy.

``Hyar! Don't hide that ball!'' he yelled, in
his piercing tenor.

He jumped up quickly, forgetting his crutch,
and fell headlong. Lane and Sam got him upright
and handed the crutch to him. Daddy began
to hobble out to the pitcher's box.

``Don't you hide that ball. See! I've got my
eye on this game. That ball was in play, an' you
can't use the other.''

Umpire Gale looked sheepish, and his eyes did
not meet Daddy's. Then Bo came trotting up.

``What's wrong, boss?'' he asked.

``Aw, nuthin'. You're tryin' to switch balls on
me. That's all. You can't pull off any stunts on
Madden's Hill.''

``Why, boss, thet ball's all right. What you
hollerin' about?''

``Sure that ball's all right,'' replied Daddy.
``It's a fine ball. An' we want a chanst to hit it!

Bo flared up and tried to bluster, but Daddy cut
him short.

``Give us our innin'--let us git a whack at that
ball, or I'll run you off Madden's Hill.''

Bo suddenly looked a little pale and sick.

``Course youse can git a whack at it,'' he said,
in a weak attempt to be natural and dignified.

Daddy tossed the ball to Harris, and as he
hobbled off the field he heard Bo calling out low
and cautiously to his players. Then Daddy was
certain he had discovered a trick. He called his
players around him.

``This game ain't over yet. It ain't any more'n
begun. I'll tell you what. Last innin' Bo's
umpire switched balls on us. That ball was lively.
An' they tried to switch back on me. But nix!
We're goin' to git a chanst to hit that lively ball,
An' they're goin' to git a dose of their own
medicine. Now, you dead ones--come back to life!
Show me some hittin' an' runnin'.''

``Daddy, you mean they run in a trick on us?''
demanded Lane, with flashing eyes.

``Funny about Natchez's strong finishes!''
replied Daddy, coolly, as he eyed his angry players.

They let out a roar, and then ran for the bats.

The crowd, quick to sense what was in the air,
thronged to the diamond and manifested alarming
signs of outbreak.

Sam Wickhart leaped to the plate and bandished
his club.

``Sam, let him pitch a couple,'' called Daddy
from the bench. ``Mebbe we'll git wise then.''

Harris had pitched only twice when the fact
became plain that he could not throw this ball
with the same speed as the other. The ball was
heavier; besides Harris was also growing tired.
The next pitch Sam hit far out over the center
fielder's head for a home run. It was a longer
hit than any Madden's Hill boy had ever made.
The crowd shrieked its delight. Sam crossed the
plate and then fell on the bench beside Daddy.

``Say! that ball nearly knocked the bat out of
my hands,'' panted Sam. ``It made the bat

``Fellers, don't wait,'' ordered Daddy. ``Don't
give the umpire a chanst to roast us now. Slam
the first ball!''

The aggressive captain lined the ball at Bo
Stranathan. The Natchez shortstop had a fine
opportunity to make the catch, but he made an
inglorious muff. Tay Tay hurried to bat. Umpire
Gale called the first pitch a strike. Tay
slammed down his club. ``T-t-t-t-to-to-twasn't
over,'' he cried. ``T-t-t-tay----''

``Shut up,'' yelled Daddy. ``We want to git
this game over today.''

Tay Tay was fat and he was also strong, so that
when beef and muscle both went hard against the
ball it traveled. It looked as if it were going a
mile straight up. All the infielders ran to get
under it. They got into a tangle, into which the
ball descended. No one caught it, and thereupon
the Natchez players began to rail at one another.
Bo stormed at them, and they talked back to him.
Then when Tom Lindsay hit a little slow grounder
into the infield it seemed that a just retribution
had overtaken the great Natchez team.

Ordinarily this grounder of Tom's would have
been easy for a novice to field. But this peculiar
grounder, after it has hit the ground once, seemed
to wake up and feel lively. It lost its leisurely
action and began to have celerity. When it reached
Dundon it had the strange, jerky speed so
characteristic of the grounders that had confused the
Madden's Hill team. Dundon got his hands on
the ball and it would not stay in them. When
finally he trapped it Tom had crossed first base
and another runner had scored. Eddie Curtis
cracked another at Bo. The Natchez captain
dove for it, made a good stop, bounced after the
rolling ball, and then threw to Kelly at first. The
ball knocked Kelly's hands apart as if they had
been paper. Jake Thomas batted left handed and
he swung hard on a slow pitch and sent the ball
far into right field. Runners scored. Jake's hit
was a three-bagger. Then Frank Price hit up an
infield fly. Bo yelled for Dundon to take it and
Dundon yelled for Harris. They were all afraid
to try for it. It dropped safely while Jake ran

With the heavy batters up the excitement
increased. A continuous scream and incessant
rattle of tin cans made it impossible to hear what
the umpire called out. But that was not important,
for he seldom had a chance to call either ball
or strike. Harris had lost his speed and nearly
every ball he pitched was hit by the Madden's
Hill boys. Irvine cracked one down between short
and third. Bo and Pickens ran for it and collided
while the ball jauntily skipped out to left field
and, deftly evading Bell, went on and on. Bob
reached third. Grace hit another at Dundon, who
appeared actually to stop it four times before he
could pick it up, and then he was too late. The
doughty bow-legged Sam, with his huge black eye,
hung over the plate and howled at Muckle. In
the din no one heard what he said, but evidently
Muck divined it. For he roused to the spirit of
a pitcher who would die of shame if he could not
fool a one-eyed batter. But Sam swooped down
and upon the first ball and drove it back toward
the pitcher. Muck could not get out of the way
and the ball made his leg buckle under him. Then
that hit glanced off to begin a marvelous exhibition
of high and erratic bounding about the infield.

Daddy hunched over his soap-box bench and
hugged himself. He was farsighted and he saw
victory. Again he watched the queer antics of that
little yarn ball, but now with different feelings.
Every hit seemed to lift him to the skies. He kept
silent, though every time the ball fooled a Natchez
player Daddy wanted to yell. And when it started
for Bo and, as if in revenge, bounded wickeder at
every bounce to skip off the grass and make Bo
look ridiculous, then Daddy experienced the
happiest moments of his baseball career. Every time
a tally crossed the plate he would chalk it down
on his soap box.

But when Madden's Hill scored the nineteenth
run without a player being put out, then Daddy
lost count. He gave himself up to revel. He sat
motionless and silent; nevertheless his whole
internal being was in the state of wild tumult. It
was as if he was being rewarded in joy for all
the misery he had suffered because he was a cripple.
He could never play baseball. but he had
baseball brains. He had been too wise for the
tricky Stranathan. He was the coach and manager
and general of the great Madden's Hill nine.
If ever he had to lie awake at night again he would
not mourn over his lameness; he would have something
to think about. To him would be given the
glory of beating the invincible Natchez team. So
Daddy felt the last bitterness leave him. And he
watched that strange little yarn ball, with its
wonderful skips and darts and curves. The longer
the game progressed and the wearier Harris
grew, the harder the Madden's Hill boys batted
the ball and the crazier it bounced at Bo and his
sick players. Finally, Tay Tay Mohler hit a teasing
grounder down to Bo.

Then it was as if the ball, realizing a climax,
made ready for a final spurt. When Bo reached
for the ball it was somewhere else. Dundon could
not locate it. And Kelly, rushing down to the
chase, fell all over himself and his teammates
trying to grasp the illusive ball, and all the time Tay
Tay was running. He never stopped. But as he
was heavy and fat he did not make fast time on
the bases. Frantically the outfielders ran in to
head off the bouncing ball, and when they had
succeeded Tay Tay had performed the remarkable
feat of making a home run on a ball batted into
the infield.

That broke Natchez's spirit. They quit. They
hurried for their bats. Only Bo remained behind
a moment to try to get his yarn ball. But Sam
had pounced upon it and given it safely to Daddy.
Bo made one sullen demand for it.

``Funny about them fast finishes of yours!'' said
Daddy scornfully. ``Say! the ball's our'n. The
winnin' team gits the ball. Go home an' look up
the rules of the game!''

Bo slouched off the field to a shrill hooting and
tin canning.

``Fellers, what was the score?'' asked Daddy.

Nobody knew the exact number of runs made
by Madden's Hill.

``Gimme a knife, somebody,'' said the manager.

When it had been produced Daddy laid down
the yarn ball and cut into it. The blade entered
readily for a inch and then stopped. Daddy cut
all around the ball, and removed the cover of
tightly wrapped yarn. Inside was a solid ball of
India rubber.

``Say! it ain't so funny now--how that ball
bounced,'' remarked Daddy.

``Wot you think of that!'' exclaimed Tom, feeling
the lump on his head.

``T-t-t-t-t-t-t-ta-tr----'' began Tay Tay Mohler.

``Say it! Say it!'' interrupted Daddy.

``Ta-ta-ta-tr-trimmed them wa-wa-wa-wa-with
their own b-b-b-b-b-ba-ba-ball,'' finished Tay.


He bought a ticket at the 25-cent window, and
edging his huge bulk through the turnstile, laboriously
followed the noisy crowd toward the bleachers.
I could not have been mistaken. He was Old
Well-Well, famous from Boston to Baltimore as
the greatest baseball fan in the East. His singular
yell had pealed into the ears of five hundred
thousand worshippers of the national game and would
never be forgotten.

At sight of him I recalled a friend's baseball
talk. ``You remember Old Well-Well? He's all
in--dying, poor old fellow! It seems young Burt,
whom the Phillies are trying out this spring, is
Old Well-Well's nephew and protege. Used to
play on the Murray Hill team; a speedy youngster.
When the Philadelphia team was here last,
Manager Crestline announced his intention to play
Burt in center field. Old Well-Well was too ill
to see the lad get his tryout. He was heart-broken
and said: `If I could only see one more game!' ''

The recollection of this random baseball gossip
and the fact that Philadelphia was scheduled to
play New York that very day, gave me a sudden
desire to see the game with Old Well-Well. I did not
know him, but where on earth were introductions
as superfluous as on the bleachers? It was a very
easy matter to catch up with him. He walked
slowly, leaning hard on a cane and his wide shoulders
sagged as he puffed along. I was about to
make some pleasant remark concerning the prospects
of a fine game, when the sight of his face
shocked me and I drew back. If ever I had seen
shadow of pain and shade of death they hovered
darkly around Old Well-Well.

No one accompanied him; no one seemed to
recognize him. The majority of that merry crowd
of boys and men would have jumped up wild with
pleasure to hear his well-remembered yell. Not
much longer than a year before, I had seen ten
thousand fans rise as one man and roar a greeting
to him that shook the stands. So I was
confronted by a situation strikingly calculated to
rouse my curiosity and sympathy.

He found an end seat on a row at about the
middle of the right-field bleachers and I chose
one across the aisle and somewhat behind him.
No players were yet in sight. The stands were
filling up and streams of men were filing into the
aisles of the bleachers and piling over the benches.
Old Well-Well settled himself comfortably in his
seat and gazed about him with animation. There
had come a change to his massive features. The
hard lines had softened; the patches of gray
were no longer visible; his cheeks were ruddy;
something akin to a smile shone on his face as he
looked around, missing no detail of the familiar

During the practice of the home team Old Well-
Well sat still with his big hands on his knees; but
when the gong rang for the Phillies, he grew restless,
squirming in his seat and half rose several
times. I divined the importuning of his old habit
to greet his team with the yell that had made him
famous. I expected him to get up; I waited for
it. Gradually, however, he became quiet as a man
governed by severe self-restraint and directed his
attention to the Philadelphia center fielder.

At a glance I saw that the player was new to
me and answered the newspaper description of
young Burt. What a lively looking athlete! He
was tall, lithe, yet sturdy. He did not need to
chase more than two fly balls to win me. His
graceful, fast style reminded me of the great Curt
Welch. Old Well-Well's face wore a rapt
expression. I discovered myself hoping Burt would
make good; wishing he would rip the boards off
the fence; praying he would break up the game.

It was Saturday, and by the time the gong
sounded for the game to begin the grand stand
and bleachers were packed. The scene was glittering,
colorful, a delight to the eye. Around the
circle of bright faces rippled a low, merry
murmur. The umpire, grotesquely padded in front
by his chest protector, announced the batteries,
dusted the plate, and throwing out a white ball,
sang the open sesame of the game: ``Play!''

Then Old Well-Well arose as if pushed from his
seat by some strong propelling force. It had been
his wont always when play was ordered or in a
moment of silent suspense, or a lull in the
applause, or a dramatic pause when hearts heat high
and lips were mute, to bawl out over the listening,
waiting multitude his terrific blast: ``Well-Well-

Twice he opened his mouth, gurgled and
choked, and then resumed his seat with a very
red, agitated face; something had deterred him
from his purpose, or he had been physically
incapable of yelling.

The game opened with White's sharp bounder
to the infield. Wesley had three strikes called on
him, and Kelly fouled out to third base. The
Phillies did no better, being retired in one, two,
three order. The second inning was short and no
tallies were chalked up. Brain hit safely in the
third and went to second on a sacrifice. The
bleachers began to stamp and cheer. He reached
third on an infield hit that the Philadelphia short-
stop knocked down but could not cover in time
to catch either runner. The cheer in the grand
stand was drowned by the roar in the bleachers.
Brain scored on a fly-ball to left. A double along
the right foul line brought the second runner
home. Following that the next batter went out
on strikes.

In the Philadelphia half of the inning young
Burt was the first man up. He stood left-handed
at the plate and looked formidable. Duveen, the
wary old pitcher for New York, to whom this new
player was an unknown quantity, eyed his easy
position as if reckoning on a possible weakness.
Then he took his swing and threw the ball. Burt
never moved a muscle and the umpire called strike.
The next was a ball, the next a strike; still Burt
had not moved.

``Somebody wake him up!'' yelled a wag in the
bleachers. ``He's from Slumbertown, all right, all
right!'' shouted another.

Duveen sent up another ball, high and swift.
Burt hit straight over the first baseman, a line
drive that struck the front of the right-field

``Peacherino!'' howled a fan.

Here the promise of Burt's speed was fulfilled.
Run! He was fleet as a deer. He cut through
first like the wind, settled to a driving strides
rounded second, and by a good, long slide beat
the throw in to third. The crowd, who went to
games to see long hits and daring runs, gave him
a generous hand-clapping.

Old Well-Well appeared on the verge of apoplexy.
His ruddy face turned purple, then black;
he rose in his seat; he gave vent to smothered
gasps; then he straightened up and clutched his
hands into his knees.

Burt scored his run on a hit to deep short, an
infielder's choice, with the chances against retiring
a runner at the plate. Philadelphia could not
tally again that inning. New York blanked in the
first of the next. For their opponents, an error,
a close decision at second favoring the runner,
and a single to right tied the score. Bell of New
York got a clean hit in the opening of the fifth.
With no one out and chances for a run, the
impatient fans let loose. Four subway trains in
collision would not have equalled the yell and stamp
in the bleachers. Maloney was next to bat and
he essayed a bunt. This the fans derided with
hoots and hisses. No team work, no inside ball
for them.

``Hit it out!'' yelled a hundred in unison.

``Home run!'' screamed a worshipper of long

As if actuated by the sentiments of his admirers
Maloney lined the ball over short. It looked good
for a double; it certainly would advance Bell to
third; maybe home. But no one calculated on
Burt. His fleetness enabled him to head the
bounding ball. He picked it up cleanly, and
checking his headlong run, threw toward third base.
Bell was half way there. The ball shot straight
and low with terrific force and beat the runner to
the bag.

``What a great arm!'' I exclaimed, deep in my
throat. ``It's the lad's day! He can't be

The keen newsboy sitting below us broke the
amazed silence in the bleachers.

``Wot d'ye tink o' that?''

Old Well-Well writhed in his seat. To him if
was a one-man game, as it had come to be for me.
I thrilled with him; I gloried in the making good
of his protege; it got to be an effort on my part
to look at the old man, so keenly did his emotion
communicate itself to me.

The game went on, a close, exciting, brilliantly
fought battle. Both pitchers were at their best.
The batters batted out long flies, low liners, and
sharp grounders; the fielders fielded these difficult
chances without misplay. Opportunities came
for runs, but no runs were scored for several
innings. Hopes were raised to the highest pitch
only to be dashed astonishingly away. The crowd
in the grand stand swayed to every pitched ball;
the bleachers tossed like surf in a storm.

To start the eighth, Stranathan of New York
tripled along the left foul line. Thunder burst
from the fans and rolled swellingly around the
field. Before the hoarse yelling, the shrill
hooting, the hollow stamping had ceased Stranathan
made home on an infield hit. Then bedlam broke
loose. It calmed down quickly, for the fans sensed
trouble between Binghamton, who had been
thrown out in the play, and the umpire who was
waving him back to the bench.

``You dizzy-eyed old woman, you can't see
straight!'' called Binghamton.

The umpire's reply was lost, but it was evident
that the offending player had been ordered out of
the grounds.

Binghamton swaggered along the bleachers
while the umpire slowly returned to his post. The
fans took exception to the player's objection and
were not slow in expressing it. Various witty
enconiums, not to be misunderstood, attested to
the bleachers' love of fair play and their disgust
at a player's getting himself put out of the game
at a critical stage.

The game proceeded. A second batter had been
thrown out. Then two hits in succession looked
good for another run. White, the next batter,
sent a single over second base. Burt scooped the
ball on the first bounce and let drive for the plate.
It was another extraordinary throw. Whether
ball or runner reached home base first was most
difficult to decide. The umpire made his sweeping
wave of hand and the breathless crowd caught
his decision.


In action and sound the circle of bleachers
resembled a long curved beach with a mounting
breaker thundering turbulently high.

``Rob--b--ber--r!'' bawled the outraged fans,
betraying their marvelous inconsistency.

Old Well-Well breathed hard. Again the
wrestling of his body signified an inward strife. I
began to feel sure that the man was in a mingled
torment of joy and pain, that he fought the maddening
desire to yell because he knew he had not
the strength to stand it. Surely, in all the years
of his long following of baseball he had never had
the incentive to express himself in his peculiar
way that rioted him now. Surely, before the game
ended he would split the winds with his wonderful

Duveen's only base on balls, with the help of
a bunt, a steal, and a scratch hit, resulted in a run
for Philadelphia, again tying the score. How the
fans raged at Fuller for failing to field the lucky

``We had the game on ice!'' one cried.

``Get him a basket!''

New York men got on bases in the ninth and
made strenuous efforts to cross the plate, but it
was not to be. Philadelphia opened up with two
scorching hits and then a double steal. Burt came
up with runners on second and third. Half the
crowd cheered in fair appreciation of the way fate
was starring the ambitious young outfielder; the
other half, dyed-in-the-wool home-team fans, bent
forward in a waiting silent gloom of fear. Burt
knocked the dirt out of his spikes and faced
Duveen. The second ball pitched he met fairly and
it rang like a bell.

No one in the stands saw where it went. But
they heard the crack, saw the New York shortstop
stagger and then pounce forward to pick up the
ball and speed it toward the plate. The catcher
was quick to tag the incoming runner, and then
snap the ball to first base, completing a double

When the crowd fully grasped this, which was
after an instant of bewilderment, a hoarse crashing
roar rolled out across the field to bellow back
in loud echo from Coogan's Bluff. The grand
stand resembled a colored corn field waving in a
violent wind; the bleachers lost all semblance of
anything. Frenzied, flinging action--wild chaos
--shrieking cries--manifested sheer insanity of

When the noise subsided, one fan, evidently
a little longer-winded than his comrades, cried out

``O-h! I don't care what becomes of me--

Score tied, three to three, game must go ten
innings--that was the shibboleth; that was the
overmastering truth. The game did go ten innings--
eleven--twelve, every one marked by masterly
pitching, full of magnificent catches, stops
and throws, replete with reckless base-running
and slides like flashes in the dust. But they were
unproductive of runs. Three to three! Thirteen

``Unlucky thirteenth,'' wailed a superstitious

I had got down to plugging, and for the first
time, not for my home team. I wanted Philadelphia
to win, because Burt was on the team. With
Old Well-Well sitting there so rigid in his seat,
so obsessed by the playing of the lad, I turned
traitor to New York.

White cut a high twisting bounder inside the
third base, and before the ball could be returned
he stood safely on second. The fans howled with
what husky voice they had left. The second hitter
batted a tremendously high fly toward center field.
Burt wheeled with the crack of the ball and raced
for the ropes. Onward the ball soared like a sailing
swallow; the fleet fielder ran with his back to
the stands. What an age that ball stayed in the
air! Then it lost its speed, gracefully curved and
began to fall. Burt lunged forward and upwards;
the ball lit in his hands and stuck there as he
plunged over the ropes into the crowd. White
had leisurely trotted half way to third; he saw the
catch, ran back to touch second and then easily
made third on the throw-in. The applause that
greeted Burt proved the splendid spirit of the
game. Bell placed a safe little hit over short,
scoring White. Heaving, bobbing bleachers--
wild, broken, roar on roar!

Score four to three--only one half inning left
for Philadelphia to play--how the fans rooted for
another run! A swift double-play, however, ended
the inning.

Philadelphia's first hitter had three strikes
called on him.

``Asleep at the switch!'' yelled a delighted fan.

The next batter went out on a weak pop-up fly
to second.

``Nothin' to it!''

``Oh, I hate to take this money!''

``All-l o-over!''

Two men at least of all that vast assemblage
had not given up victory for Philadelphia. I had
not dared to look at Old Well-Well for a long,
while. I dreaded the nest portentious moment.
I felt deep within me something like clairvoyant
force, an intangible belief fostered by hope.

Magoon, the slugger of the Phillies, slugged
one against the left field bleachers, but, being
heavy and slow, he could not get beyond second
base. Cless swung with all his might at the first
pitched ball, and instead of hitting it a mile as
he had tried, he scratched a mean, slow, teasing
grounder down the third base line. It was as
safe as if it had been shot out of a cannon. Magoon
went to third.

The crowd suddenly awoke to ominous possibilities;
sharp commands came from the players'
bench. The Philadelphia team were bowling and
hopping on the side lines, and had to be put down
by the umpire.

An inbreathing silence fell upon stands and
field, quiet, like a lull before a storm.

When I saw young Burt start for the plate and
realized it was his turn at bat, I jumped as if I
had been shot. Putting my hand on Old Well-
Well's shoulder I whispered: ``Burt's at bat:
He'll break up this game! I know he's going to
lose one!''

The old fellow did not feel my touch; he did not
hear my voice; he was gazing toward the field
with an expression on his face to which no human
speech could render justice. He knew what was
coming. It could not be denied him in that moment.

How confidently young Burt stood up to the
plate! None except a natural hitter could have
had his position. He might have been Wagner
for all he showed of the tight suspense of that
crisis. Yet there was a tense alert poise to his
head and shoulders which proved he was alive to
his opportunity.

Duveen plainly showed he was tired. Twice he
shook his head to his catcher, as if he did not
want to pitch a certain kind of ball. He had to
use extra motion to get his old speed, and he
delivered a high straight ball that Burt fouled over
the grand stand. The second ball met a similar
fate. All the time the crowd maintained that
strange waiting silence. The umpire threw out a
glistening white ball, which Duveen rubbed in the
dust and spat upon. Then he wound himself up
into a knot, slowly unwound, and swinging with
effort, threw for the plate.

Burt's lithe shoulders swung powerfully. The
meeting of ball and bat fairly cracked. The low
driving hit lined over second a rising glittering
streak, and went far beyond the center fielder.

Bleachers and stands uttered one short cry,
almost a groan, and then stared at the speeding
runners. For an instant, approaching doom could
not have been more dreaded. Magoon scored.
Cless was rounding second when the ball lit. If
Burt was running swiftly when he turned first he
had only got started, for then his long sprinter's
stride lengthened and quickened. At second he
was flying; beyond second he seemed to merge
into a gray flitting shadow.

I gripped my seat strangling the uproar within
me. Where was the applause? The fans were
silent, choked as I was, but from a different cause.
Cless crossed the plate with the score that
defeated New York; still the tension never laxed
until Burt beat the ball home in as beautiful a run
as ever thrilled an audience.

In the bleak dead pause of amazed disappointment
Old Well-Well lifted his hulking figure and
loomed, towered over the bleachers. His wide
shoulders spread, his broad chest expanded, his
breath whistled as he drew it in. One fleeting
instant his transfigured face shone with a glorious
light. Then, as he threw back his head and
opened his lips, his face turned purple, the muscles
of his cheeks and jaw rippled and strung, the veins
on his forehead swelled into bulging ridges. Even
the back of his neck grew red.


Ear-splitting stentorian blast! For a moment
I was deafened. But I heard the echo ringing
from the cliff, a pealing clarion call, beautiful and
wonderful, winding away in hollow reverberation,
then breaking out anew from building to
building in clear concatenation.

A sea of faces whirled in the direction of that
long unheard yell. Burt had stopped statue-like
as if stricken in his tracks; then he came running,
darting among the spectators who had leaped the

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