Baseball Joe in the Big League by Lester Chadwick
CHAPTER II. TO
CHAPTER III. AN
CHAPTER IV. AN
CHAPTER V. THE
CHAPTER VI. A
CHAPTER IX. JOE
CHAPTER X. OFF
TO ST. LOUIS
GOING DOWN SOUTH
CHAPTER XII. THE
CHAPTER XIX. JOE
CHAPTER XXI. A
CHAPTER XXII. IN
CHAPTER XXIII. A
CHAPTER XXIV. A
CHAPTER XXV. IN
CHAPTER XXX. THE
[Illustration: HE BEAT THE BALL BY A NARROW MARGIN, AND WAS DECLARED
SAFE. Page 245.]
CHAPTER I. TWO LETTERS
Whew! whistled Joe Matson, the astonishment on his bronzed face
being indicated by his surprised exclamation of:
Well, what do you know about that, Sis?
What is it, Joe? asked his sister Clara, as she looked up from a
letter she was reading to see her brother staring at a sheet of paper
he had just withdrawn from an envelope, for the morning mail had been
delivered a few minutes before. What is it? the girl went on, laying
aside her own correspondence. Is it anything seriousanything about
father's business? Don't tell me there is more trouble, Joe!
I'm not going to, Clara. It isn't trouble, but, if what he says is
true, it's going to make a big difference to me, and Joe looked out of
the window, across a snowy expanse of yard, and gazed at, without
consciously seeing, a myriad of white flakes swirling down through the
No, it isn't exactly trouble, went on Joe, and I suppose I ought
to be corkingly glad of it; but I hadn't counted on leaving the Central
Baseball League quite so soon.
Oh, Joe! Have you lost your place? exclaimed Clara. And just
after you have done so well, too; and helped them win the pennant! I
call that a shame! I thought baseball men were better 'sports' than
Listen to hermy little sister using slang! laughed Joe.
'Sports' isn't slang, defended Clara. I've heard lots of girls
use it. I mean it in the right sense. But have you really lost your
place on the team, Joe?
Well, not exactly, Sis, but I'm about to, I'm afraid. However, I
guess I may as well make the best of it, and be glad. I sure can use
the extra money!
I certainly don't know what you're talking about, went on Clara,
with a helpless look at her big, handsome brother, and I suppose
you'll take your own time in telling me. But I would like to
know what it all means, Joe. And about extra money. Who's going to give
it to you?
Nobody. I'll have to earn it with this pitching arm of mine, and
the young baseball player swung it around, as though winding-up for a
Look out, Joe! cried Clara, but she gave the warning too late.
At that moment Mrs. Matson entered the room with a jug of water,
which she intended pouring on a window-box of flowers. Joe's arm struck
the jug a glancing blow, and sent it flying, the water spraying over
the floor, and the jug itself falling, and cracking into many pieces.
For a moment there was a momentous silence, after two startled
screamsone each from Mrs. Matson and Clara. Then Joe cried gaily:
Out at first! Say, Momsey, I hope I didn't hit you!
No, you didn't, and she laughed now. But what does it all mean?
Are you practicing so early in the season? Oh, my carpet! It will be
ruined! she went on, as she saw the water. But I'm glad I didn't
bring in a good jug. Did you hurt your hand?
Nary a hurt, said Joe, with a smile. Ha! I'll save you
from a wetting! he exclaimed, as he stooped quickly and picked up an
unopened letter, the address of which was in a girlish hand.
Get the mop, while you're at it, advised Clara. A little later Joe
had sopped up the water, and quiet was restored.
And now suppose you tell us all about it, suggested Mrs. Mason.
Why were you practicing gymnastics, Joe? and she smiled at her
I was just telling Clara that my pitching arm was likely to bring
me in more money this year, Momsey, and I was giving it a twirl, when
you happened to get in my way. Now I'll tell you all about it. It's
this letter, and Joe held out the one he had been reading.
Are you sure it isn't the other? asked Clara, with a sly
look at her brother, for she had glanced at the writing on the unopened
envelope Joe had picked up from the floor. Let me read that other
letter, Joe, she teased.
A little latermaybe! he parried. But this one, and he
fluttered the open sheet in his hand, this one is from Mr. Gregory,
manager of the Pittston team, with whom I have the honor to be
associated, and Joe bowed low to his mother and sister. Mr. Gregory
gives me a bit of news. It is nothing less than that the manager of the
St. Louis Nationals is negotiating for the services of yours
trulyyour humble servant, Joseph Matson, and again the young ball
player bowed, and laughed.
Joe, you don't mean it! cried his sister. You're going to belong
to a major league team! for Clara was almost as ardent a baseball
fan as was her brother.
Well, it looks like it, Sis, replied Joe, slowly, as he glanced at
the letter again. Of course it isn't settled, but Mr. Gregory says I'm
pretty sure to be drafted to St. Louis.
Drafted! exclaimed his mother. That sounds like war times, when
they used to draft men to go to the front. Do you mean you haven't any
choice in the matter, Joe?
Well, that's about it, Momsey, the young man explained. You see,
baseball is pretty well organized. It has to be, to make it the success
it is, he added frankly, though lots of people are opposed to the
system. But I haven't been in it long enough to find fault, even if I
wanted towhich I don't.
But it seems queer that you can't stay with the Pittston team if
you want to, said Mrs. Matson.
I don't know as I want to, spoke Joe, slowly, especially when
I'll surely get more money with St. Louis, besides having the honor of
pitching for a major league team, even if it isn't one of the
top-notchers, and a pennant winner. So if they want to draft me, let
them do their worst! and he laughed, showing his even, white teeth.
You see, he resumed, when I signed a contract with the Pittstons,
of the Central League, I gave them the right to control my services as
long as I played baseball. I had to agree not to go to any other team
without permission, and, in fact, no other organized team would take me
unless the Pittston management released me. I went into it with my eyes
And, you see, the Pittston team, being one of the small ones, has
to give way to a major league team. That is, any major league team,
like the St. Louis Nationals, can call for, or draft, any player in a
smaller team. So if they call me I'll have to go. And I'll be glad to.
I'll get more money and fame.
That is, I hope I will, and Joe spoke more soberly. I know I'm
not going to have any snap of it. It's going to be hard work from the
word go, for there will be other pitchers on the St. Louis team, and
I'll have to do my best to make a showing against them.
And I will, too! cried Joe, resolutely. I'll make good, Momsey!
I hope so, my son, she responded, quietly. You know I was not
much in favor of your taking up baseball for a living, but I must say
you have done well at it, and after all, if one does one's best at
anything, that is what counts. So I hope you make good with the St.
Louis teamI suppose 'make good' is the proper expression, she added,
with a smile.
It'll do first-rate, Momsey, laughed Joe. Now let's see what else
He glanced over the letter again, and remarked:
Well, there's nothing definite. The managers are laying their plans
for the Spring work, and he says I'm being considered. He adds he will
be sorry to lose me.
I should think he would be! exclaimed Clara, a flush coming into
her cheeks. You were the best pitcher on his team!
Oh, I wouldn't go as far as to say that! cried Joe, though I
appreciate your feeling, Sis. I had a good bit of luck, winning some of
the games the way I did. Well, I guess I'll go look up some St. Louis
records, and see what I'm expected to do in the batting average line
compared with them, the player went on. The St. Louis team isn't a
wonder, but it's done pretty fair at times, I believe, and it's a step
up for me. I'll be more in line for a place on the New York Giants, or
the Philadelphia Athletics if I make a good showing in Missouri,
He started from the room, carrying the two letters, one of which he
had not yet opened.
Who's it from? asked Clara, with a smile, as she pointed to the
heavy, square envelope in his hand.
Oh, one of my many admirers, teased Joe. I can't tell just which
one until I open it. And, just to satisfy your curiosity, I'll do so
now, and he proceeded to slit the envelope with his pocket-knife.
Oh, it's from Mabel Varley! he exclaimed.
Just as if you didn't know all the while! scoffed Clara. You
wouldn't forget her handwriting so soon, Joe Matson.
Um! he murmured, non-committally. Why, this is news! he cried,
suddenly. Mabel and her brother Reggie are coming here!
Here! exclaimed Clara. To visit us?
Oh, no, not that exactly, Joe went on. They're on a trip, it
seems, and they're going to stop off here for a day or so. Mabel says
they'll try to see us. I hope they will.
I've never met them, observed Clara.
No, spoke Joe, musingly. Well, you may soon. Why! he went on,
they're coming to-dayon the afternoon express. I must go down to the
station to meet them, though the train is likely to be late, if this
snow keeps up. Whew! see it come down! and he went over to the window
and looked out.
It's like a small blizzard, remarked Clara, and it seems to be
growing worse. Doesn't look much like baseball; does it, Joe?
I should say not! Say, I believe I'll go down to the station,
anyhow, and see what the prospects are. Want to come, Sis?
No, thank you. Not in this storm. Where are the Varleys going to
At the hotel. Reggie has some business in town, Mabel writes. Well,
I sure will be glad to see him again!
Him? Her, you mean! laughed Clara. Oh, Joe, you
are so simple!
Humph! he exclaimed, as he put the two letters into his
pocketboth of great importance to him. Well, I'll go down to the
Joe was soon trudging through the storm on the way to the depot.
The St. Louis 'Cardinals'! he mused, as he bent his head to the
blast, thinking of the letters in his pocket. I didn't think I'd be in
line for a major league team so soon. I wonder if I can make good?
Thinking alternately of the pleasure he would have in seeing Miss
Mabel Varley, a girl in whom he was more than ordinarily interested,
and of the new chance that had come to him, Joe soon reached the depot.
His inquiries about the trains were not, however, very satisfactorily
We can't tell much about them in this storm, the station master
said. All our trains are more or less late. Stop in this afternoon,
and I may have some definite information for you.
And later that day, when it was nearly arrival time for the train on
which Mabel and Reggie were to come, Joe received some news that
There's no use in your waiting, Joe, said the station master, as
the young ball player approached him again. Your train won't be in
to-day, and maybe not for several days.
Why? What's the mattera wreck? cried Joe, a vision of injured
friends looming before him.
Not exactly a wreck, but almost as bad, went on the official. The
train is stalledsnowed in at Deep Rock Cut, five miles above here,
and there's no chance of getting her out.
Great Scott! cried Joe. The express snowed in! Why, I've got
friends on that train! I wonder what I can do to help them?
CHAPTER II. TO THE RESCUE
Joe Matson looked so worried at the information imparted by the
station master that the latter asked him:
Any particular friends of yours on that train?
Very particular, declared the young ball player. And I hope no
harm comes to them.
Well, I don't know as any great harm will come, went on the
station master. The train's snowed in, and will have to stay there
until we can get together a gang of men and shovel her out. It won't be
easy, for it's snowing harder every minute, and Deep Rock Cut is one of
the worst places on the line for drifts. But no other train can run
into the stalled one, that's sure. The only thing is the steam may get
low, and the passengers will be cold, and hungry.
Isn't there any way to prevent that? asked Joe, anxiously.
I s'pose the passengers could get out and try to reach some house
or hotel, resumed the railroad man, but Deep Rock Cut is a pretty
lonely place, and there aren't many houses near it. The only thing I
see to do would be for someone to go there with a horse and sled, and
rescue the passengers, and that would be some job, as there's
quite a trainload of them.
Well, I'm going to try and get my friends that way, anyhow!
cried Joe. I'll go to the rescue, and he set off for home through the
storm again, intending to hire a rig at a livery stable, and do what he
could to take Mabel and her brother from the train.
And, while Joe is thus making his preparations, I will tell my new
readers something about the previous books of this series, in which Joe
Matson, or Baseball Joe, as he is called, has a prominent part.
The initial volume was called Baseball Joe of the Silver Stars; Or,
The Rivals of Riverside, and began with my hero's career in the town
of Riverside. Joe joined the ball team there, and, after some hard
work, became one of the best amateur pitchers in that section of the
country. He did not have it all easy, though, and the fight was an
uphill one. But Joe made good, and his team came out ahead.
Baseball Joe on the School Nine; Or, Pitching for the Blue Banner,
the second book in the series, saw our hero as the pitcher on a better
organized team than were the Silver Stars. Joe had taken a step
forward. He did not make the school nine without a struggle, for he had
rivals, and a strong effort was made to keep him out of the game.
But Joe proved his worth, and when a critical time came he pitched
to victory, thus defeating the plans of his enemies.
It was quite a step forward for Joe to go to Yale from Excelsior
Hall, where he had gotten his early education.
Naturally Joe wanted to play on the Yale team, but he had to wait
some time before his ambition was gratified. In Baseball Joe at Yale;
Or, Pitching for the College Championship, I related how, after
playing during his freshman year on the class team, Joe was picked as
one of the pitchers for the varsity.
Then, indeed, he was proud and happy, but he knew it would not be as
easy as it had been at Excelsior Hall. Every step upward meant harder
work, but Joe welcomed the chance.
And when finally the deciding game camethe one with Princeton at
the Polo Grounds, New YorkJoe had the proud distinction of pitching
for Yaleand he pitched to victory.
Joe's ambition, ever since he had taken an interest in baseball, had
been to become a professional player. His mother had hoped that he
would become a minister, or enter one of the more learned professions,
but, though Joe disappointed her hopes, there was some compensation.
Better let the boy have his own way, Mr. Matson had said. I would
rather see him a good ball player than a half-rate lawyer, or doctor;
and, after all, there is good money to be made on the diamond.
So, when Joe received an offer from the manager of one of the minor
league professional teams, he took it. In Baseball Joe in the Central
League; Or, Making Good as a Professional Pitcher, the fourth volume
of the series, I related Joe's experiences when he got his start in
organized baseball. How he was instrumental in bringing back on the
right path a player who had gone wrong, and how he fought to the last,
until his team won the pennantall that you will find set down in the
I might add that Joe lived with his father, mother, and sister in
the town of Riverside, where Mr. Matson was employed in the Royal
Harvester Works, being an able inventor.
Joe had many friends in town, one in particular being Tom Davis, who
had gone to Excelsior Hall with him. Of late, however, Joe had not seen
so much of Tom, their occupations pursuing divergent paths.
It was while Joe was on his way to join the Pittston team, of the
Central League, that he made the acquaintance of Reggie Varley, a rich,
and somewhat dudish, young man; and the acquaintance was made in an odd
manner. For Reggie practically accused Joe of knowing something of some
jewelry that was missing from a valise.
Of course Joe did not take it, but for some time the theft remained
quite a mystery, until Joe solved the secret. From then on he and
Reggie were good friends, and Reggie's sister Mabel and Joe were
Oh, well, what's the use of telling on a fellow? You wouldn't like
it yourself; would you?
The baseball season came to an end, and the Pittston team covered
itself with glory, partly due to Joe's good pitching. Cold weather set
in, and the players took themselves to their various Winter
occupations, or pleasures. Joe went home, to wait until the training
season should open, in preparation for league games on the velvety,
Several weeks of inaction had passed, the holidays were over, Winter
had set in with all earnestness, and now we find Joe hurrying along,
intent on the rescue of Reggie and his sister from the snow-stalled
I hope they will not freeze before I get to them, thought Joe, as
he staggered through the blinding snow. They can't, though, for
there'll be sure to be steam for some hours yet. I guess I'll stop
home, and get something to eat for them, and a bottle of coffee. I'll
put it in one of those vacuum flasks, and it will keep hot.
So intent was Joe on his rescue that, for the time, he gave no more
thought to the matter of joining the St. Louis nine, important as that
matter was to him.
I'd better get a team of horses, and a light sled, he mused, as he
turned in the direction of the livery stable. There will be some heavy
going between here and Deep Rock Cut, and I'll need a good team to pull
A little later he was leaving his order with the proprietor.
I'll fix you up, Joe, said the stable boss, who was a baseball
fan, and a great admirer of our hero. I'll give you the best team in
the place, and they'll get you through, if any horses can. I expect
I'll have other calls, if, as you say, the train is stalled, for
there'll likely be other folks in town who have friends aboard her. But
you've got the first call, and I'm glad of it.
I'll be back in a little while, called Joe, as he hurried off.
I'm going around to my house to put up some lunch and coffee.
Good idea! I'll have everything ready for you when you come back.
On Joe hurried once more, through the swirl of white flakes that cut
into his face, blown on the wings of a bitter wind. He bent his head to
the blast, and buttoned his overcoat more closely about him, as he
fought his way through the drifts.
It had been snowing since early morning, and there were no signs to
indicate that the storm was going to stop. It was growing colder, too,
and the wind seemed to increase in violence each hour. Though it was
only a little after one o'clock in the afternoon, it was unusually
dark, and Joe realized that night would soon be at hand, hastened by
the clouds overhead.
But the snow will make it light enough to see, I guess, reasoned
Joe. I hope I can keep to the road. It wouldn't be much of a joke to
get Reggie and Mabel out of the train, into the comfortable sled, and
then lose them on the way home.
Quickly explaining to his mother and sister his plan of going for
the two friends in the stalled train, Joe hastily put up some
sandwiches, while Clara made coffee and poured it into the vacuum
Perhaps you'd better bring them here, Joe, instead of taking them
to the hotel, suggested his mother. Mabel will be wet and cold,
perhaps, and I could make her more comfortable here than she would be
at the hotel. We have room enough.
She can share my room, proposed Clara.
That's good of you, and Joe flashed a grateful look at his sister.
I hope you will like Mabel, he added, softly.
I guess I will; if you do, laughed Clara.
Well, I sure do, and Joe smiled.
Then, with a big scarf to wrap about his neck, and carrying the
basket of food and coffee, Joe set out for the livery stable, to start
to the rescue.
CHAPTER III. AN UPSET
Here you are, Joe. Best team in the stable. I could have hired 'em
out twice over since you went; but I wouldn't do it. Other folks have
got the scare, too, about friends on the stalled train, and the livery
boss handed Joe the reins of a pair of prancing horses, hitched to a
light, but strong cutter.
Thanks, Mr. Blasser, said Joe. I'll take good care of 'em.
And hold 'em in a bit at the start, advised the man. They haven't
been out for a couple of days, and they're a bit frisky. But they'll
calm down after a while.
With a jingle of bells, and a scattering of the snow from their
hoofs, the horses leaped forward when Joe gave them their heads, and
down the whitened street they trotted, on the way to Deep Rock Cut.
This was a place where the railroad went through a rocky defile,
about a mile long. It had been the scene of more than one wreck, for
there was a dangerous curve in it, and in the Winter it was a source of
worry to the railroad men, for the snow piled high in it when there was
a storm of more than usual severity. In the Summer a nearby river
sometimes rose above its banks, and filled the cut with water, washing
out the track.
Altogether Deep Rock Cut was a cause of much anxiety to the railroad
management, but it was not practical to run the line on either side of
it, so its use had been continued.
And very likely it's living up to its reputation right now, mused
Joe, as he drove down the main street, and then turned to another that
would take him out of the town, and to a highway that led near Deep
Rock Cut. It sure must be living up to its reputation right now,
though, of course, the storm is to blame.
Whew! It certainly does blow! he commented, as he held the reins
in one hand, and drew more closely about his throat the muffler he had
brought with him. Stand to it, ponies! Joe called to the sturdy
steeds. They had started off at a lively pace, but the snow soon slowed
them down. They started up again, however, at the sound of Joe's voice,
and settled down into a steady pull that took them over the ground at a
Now that he was actually on the way to the rescue Joe allowed his
thoughts to go back to the baseball letter that was in his pocket, next
to the one from Mabel.
I wonder how they came to pick me out? he mused, as he recalled
the possibility that he would go to St. Louis. They must have had a
scout at some of the Central League games, though generally the news of
that is tipped off beforehand.
That must have been the way of it, though, he went on, still
communing with himself. I don't know that I played so extra well,
except maybe at the last, and thenthen I just had toto make
good. Well, I'm glad they picked me out. Wonder if any other members of
the Pittston team are slated to go? Can't be, though, or Gregory would
have told me of it.
And I wonder how much more salary I'll get? Of course I oughtn't to
think too much about money, for, after all, it's the game I like. But,
then, I have to live, and, since I'm in organized baseball, I want to
be at the top of the heap, the same as I would if I were a lawyer, or a
doctor. That's itthe top of the heapthe New York Giants for
mineif I can reach 'em, and he smiled quizzically.
Yes, I guess lots of the fellows would give their eye teeth to have
my chance. Of course, it isn't settled yet, Joe told himself, but
there must have been a good foundation for it, or Gregory wouldn't have
taken the trouble to write to me about it.
Joe found the road to Deep Rock Cut fully as bad, in the matter of
snowdrifts, as he had expected. It was rather slow going when he got to
the open country, where the wind had full sweep, and progress, even on
the part of the willing horses, was slower.
Joe picked out the best, and easiest, route possible, but that was
not saying much, and it was not until nearly three o'clock, and growing
quite dark, that he came within sight of the cut. Then the storm was so
thick that he could not see the stalled train.
I'll have to leave the team as near to it as I can get, and walk in
to tell Reggie and Mabel that I've come for them, Joe decided.
The highway crossed the railroad track a short distance from the end
of the cut nearest Riverside, and Joe, halting a moment to listen, and
to make sure no trains were approaching, drove over the rails.
Though there isn't much danger, now, of a train getting through
that, he said to himself, as he saw the big drift of snow that blocked
the cut. Behind that drift was the stalled train, he reflected, and
then, as he looked at the white mound, he realized that he had made a
I can never get through that drift myself, he said. I'll have to
drive up to the other end of the cut, by which the engine and cars
entered. Stupid of me not to have thought of that at first.
He turned his horses, and again sought the highway that led along
the cut, parallel to it, and about a quarter of a mile distant. Joe
listened, again hoping he could hear the whistle of the approaching
rescue-train, for at the station he had been told one was being fitted
out, and would carry a gang of snow shovelers. But the howl of the wind
was all that came to his ears.
This means another mile of travel, Joe thought, as he urged on the
horses. It will be pitch dark by the time I get back to town with
them. I hope Mabel doesn't take cold. It sure is bitter.
Joe found the going even harder as he kept on, but he would not give
There's one consolation, he reasoned, the wind will be at our
backs going home. That will make it easier.
The road that crossed the track at the other end of Deep Rock Cut
was farther from the beginning of the defile, and Joe, leaving the
horses in a sheltering clump of trees, struggled down the track, the
rails of which were out of sight under the snow.
I wonder if Mabel can walk back? he said aloud. If not I guess
Reggie and I can carry her. It's pretty deep. I didn't get here any too
Something dark loomed up before him, amid the wall of white,
There's the train! exclaimed Joe, in relief.
It was indeed the rear coach of the stalled passenger train, and, a
moment later, Joe was climbing the snow-encumbered steps. It proved to
be the baggage car, and, as Joe entered, he surprised a number of men
who were smoking, and playing cards on an upturned trunk.
Hello! exclaimed one of them, in surprise at the sight of the ball
player. Where'd you come from? Is the rescue-train here?
Not yet, Joe answered. I came to take a couple of friends into
Say, I wish I had a friend like you! cried the man, with a laugh.
I sure would like to get into town; but I don't dare start out and
tramp itnot with my rheumatism. How much room have you got in your
I came in a cutter, responded Joe, with a smile.
Say, you got some grit! declared the man. I like your nerve!
Oh, Joe's got plenty of nerveof the right sort! called a
brakeman, and Joe, nodding at him, recognized a railroad acquaintance
who had been present at some of the town ball games.
A couple of my friends are in one of the coaches, Mr. Wheatson,
explained Joe. I'm going to drive back with them.
Go ahead and look for 'em, invited the brakeman. The train is
yours, as far as I'm concerned. I guess we're tied up here all night.
They're going to start out a rescue-train, Joe informed the men in
the baggage car, for the telegraph wires had gone down after the first
message, telling of the stalled train, had been sent.
That's good news, replied one of the men. Well, all we can do is
to stay here, and play cards. It's nice and warm in here, anyhow.
Yes, it will be until the coal for the engine gives out, spoke a
player, who seemed to take a rather gloomy view of matters. And what
are we going to do about supper? I'd like to know that!
Joe wished he could have brought along enough food for all the
stranded passengers, but this was impossible. He went on through the
train, and presently came to where Mabel and her brother were seated in
the parlor car, looking gloomily out at the storm.
Well! exclaimed Joe, with a smile, as he stood just back of them.
They both turned with a flash, and a look of pleased surprise came over
the faces of Reggie and his sister as they saw him.
Joe Matson! cried Reggie, jumping up, and holding out his hand.
Where in the world did you come from? I didn't know you were on this
I wasn't, laughed Joe. I just boarded it, and I've come for you,
he added, as he gave Mabel his hand.
Oh, but I'm glad to see you! she exclaimed. Isn't this just
perfectly awful, to be snowed in like this! And they tell us there's no
chance of getting out to-night.
There is for you, remarked Joe, quietly.
How? asked Reggie, quickly. Did they push the relief-train
I'm all the relief-train there is, announced Joe, and he told
about having the cutter in readiness.
Say, that's fine of you! cried Reggie. Shall we go with him,
Well, I rather guess so, she answered. I couldn't stay here
It won't be much fun traveling through the storm, Joe warned his
friends. At this Reggie looked a bit doubtful, but his sister
I don't mind it! I love a storm, anyhow, and I just can't bear
sitting still, and doing nothing. Besides, there isn't a thing to eat
aboard this train, for they took off the dining car right after lunch.
I brought along a little something. It's in the cutter, Joe said.
I didn't bring it in here for fear the famished passengers would mob
me for it, he added, with a smile. Well, if you're willing to trust
yourself with me, perhaps we'd better start, he went on. It is
getting darker all the while, and the snow is still falling.
I'll be ready at once! cried Mabel. Reggie, get down the valises;
will you, please? Can you take them? she asked of Joe.
Oh, yesroom for them in the cutter, he assured her.
The other passengers looked on curiously, and enviously, when they
heard where Reggie and his sister were going. But, much as Joe would
have liked to take them all to a place of comfort, he could not. The
three went back to the baggage car, and, saying good-bye to the
card-players, stepped out into the storm.
I guess your brother and I had better carry you, Mabel, suggested
Joe, as he saw the deep snow that led along the track to where he had
left the cutter.
Indeed you'll notthank you! she flashed back at him. I have on
stout shoes, and I don't mind the drifts. She proved it by striding
sturdily through them, and soon the three were at the cutter, the
horses whinnying impatiently to be gone.
Have some hot coffee and a sandwich, invited Joe, as he got out
the basket, and served his guests.
Say, you're all right! cried Reggie. Mabel said nothing, but the
look she gave Joe was reward enough.
The coffee in the vacuum bottle was warm and cheering, and soon,
much refreshed from the little lunch, and bundled up well in the robes
Joe had brought, Reggie and his sister were ready for the trip to town.
Step along! cried the young baseball player to the horses, and
glad enough they were to do so. Out to the highway they went, and it
was not until they were some distance away from the cut that Joe
noticed how much worse the going was. The snow was considerably deeper,
and had drifted high in many more places.
Think you can make it? asked Reggie, anxiously.
Well, I'm going to make a big try! responded Joe. I've got a good
Half an hour later it was quite dark, but the white covering on the
ground showed where the road was faintly outlined. Joe let the horses
have their heads, and they seemed to know they were going toward their
stable, for they went along at a good pace.
There's a bad drift! exclaimed Joe as, ahead of him, he saw a big
mound of snow. He tried to guide the horses to one side, and must have
given a stronger pull on the reins than he realized. For the steeds
turned sharply, and, the next moment, the cutter suddenly turned over
on its side, spilling into the snow the three occupants.
CHAPTER IV. AN APPEAL
Look out there!
See if you can grab the horses, Reggie!
Mabel, are you hurt?
Fast and excitedly came the exclamations, as Joe managed to free
himself from the entanglement of robes and lines. Then he stood up,
and, giving a hasty glance to see that Mabel and her brother were
extricating themselves (apparently little if any hurt), the young
pitcher sprang for the heads of the horses, fearing they might bolt.
But, as if the steeds had done mischief enough; or, possibly because
they were well trained, and had lost most of their skittishness in the
cold, they stood still.
For which I'm mighty glad! quoth Joe, as he looked to see that no
part of the harness was broken, a fact of which he could not be quite
sure in the darkness.
Are you all right, Mabel? called Joe, as he stood at the heads of
All right, Joe, yes, thank you. How about yourself?
Oh, I haven't a scratch. The snow is soft. How about you, Reggie?
Nothing worse than about a peck of snow down my neck. What
Hit a drift and turned too suddenly. I guess you'll wish I had left
you in the train; won't you?
No, indeed! laughed Mabel. This isn't anything, nor the first
upset I've been inReggie tipped us over once.
Oh, that was when I was first learning how to drive, put in the
other youth, quickly. But can we go on, Joe?
I think so. Nothing seems to be broken. We'll have to right the
sled, though. I wonder if the horses will stand while we do it? I
wouldn't like them to start up, but
Let me hold them! begged Mabel. I'm not afraid, and with me at
their heads you boys can turn the sled right side up. It isn't tipped
all the way over, anyhow.
She shook the snow from her garments, and made her way to where Joe
stood, holding the reins close to the heads of the horses. It was still
snowing hard, and with the cold wind driving the flakes into swirls and
drifts, it was anything but pleasant. Had they been left behind by the
horses running away, their plight would have been dangerous enough.
Perhaps I can help you, suddenly called a voice out of the storm,
and Joe and the others turned quickly, to see whence it had come.
The snow-encrusted figure of a man made its way over the piles of
snow, and stood beside Joe.
I'll hold the horses for you, the stranger went on. You seem to
have had an accident. I know something about horses. I'll hold them
while you right the sled.
Thanks, said Joe, and, as he spoke, he wondered where he had heard
that voice before. He knew he had heard it, for there was a familiar
ring to it. But it was not light enough to make out the features of the
man. Besides, he was so wrapped up, with a slouch hat drawn low over
his face, and a scarf pulled up well around his neck, that, even in
daylight, his features would have been effectually concealed.
I guess they won't need much holding, Joe went on, all the while
racking his brain to recall the voice. He wanted to have the man speak
again, that he might listen once more.
And the unknown, who had appeared so suddenly out of the storm, did
not seem to have anything to conceal. He spoke freely.
Don't worry about the horses, he remarked. I can manage them.
They won't need a lot of managing, responded Joe. I guess they've
had pretty nearly all the tucker taken out of them in the storm. It was
pretty hard coming from Riverside.
Are you from there? the man asked rather quickly.
Yes, answered Joe, and we're going back.
Then I'm glad I met you! the man exclaimed, and Joe, who had half
formed an opinion as to his identity, changed his mind, for the voice
sounded different now. Yes, I'm glad I met you, the stranger went on.
I was looking for someone to ask the road to Riverside, and you can
tell me. I guess I lost my way in the storm. I heard your sleigh-bells,
and I was heading for them when I heard you upset. You can show me the
shortest road to Riverside; can't you?
We can do better than that, spoke Joe, trying, but still
unsuccessfully, to get a look at the man's face. We've got plenty of
room in the sled, and you can ride back with us, once we get it on the
runners again. Come on, Reggie, give me a hand, if you will, and we'll
get this cutter right side up with care.
If it needs three of you, I can take my place at the horses,
suggested Mabel, who was standing beside Joe, idly looking through the
fast-gathering darkness at the stranger.
Oh, the two of us can easily do it, said the young ball player.
It isn't heavy. Come on, Reggie. Better stand a bit back, Mabel. It
might slip, he advised.
Joe and his friend easily righted the sleigh, while the stranger
stood at the heads of the horses, who were now quiet enough. Then, the
scattered robes having been collected, and the baggage picked up, all
was in readiness for a new start.
Joe tucked the warm blanket well around Mabel, and then called to
Get up on the front seat, and I'll soon have you in Riverside. It
isn't very far now.
Thanks, said the man, briefly. This is better luck than I've had
in some time.
For a while, after the mishap, none of the occupants of the cutter
spoke, as the willing horses pulled it through the big drifts of snow.
Joe drove more carefully, taking care not to turn too suddenly, and he
avoided, as well as he could, the huge heaps of white crystals that,
every moment, were piling higher.
Reggie was snuggling down in the robes, and Mabel, too, rather worn
out by the events of the day, and the worry of being snowed in,
As for Joe, he had all he could do to manage the horses in the
storm, though the beasts did not seem inclined to make any more
trouble. The man on the seat beside him appeared wrapped, not only in
his heavy garments, but in a sort of gloomy silence, as well. He did
not speak again, and Joe was still puzzling over his identity.
For I'm sure I've met him before, and more than once, reasoned
Joe. But then I've met so many fellows, playing ball all around the
country, that it's no wonder I can't recall a certain voice. Maybe I'll
get a chance to have a good look at him later.
You'll come right to our house, said Joe, turning to speak to
Mabel and Reggie. Mother said so.
Oh, but we have our rooms engaged at the hotel, objected the other
That doesn't matter. You can go there later, if you like. But
mother insisted that I bring you home, Joe went on. You can be more
comfortable thereat least, until you get over this cold trip.
It's perfectly lovely of your mother, declared Mabel. But I don't
want to put her to so much inconvenience.
It isn't any inconvenience at all, laughed Joe. She wants to meet
you, and so does my sister Clara.
And I want to meet them, responded Mabel, with a blush that was
unseen in the darkness.
Well, have it your own way, said Reggie, who was, perhaps, rather
too much inclined to give in easily. Life came very easy to him,
anyhow. It's very nice of you to put us up, Joe. By the way, how is
your father since the operation?
Oh, he has almost entirely recovered. His eyesight is better than
ever, he says.
How lovely! cried Mabel. And how lucky it was, Joe, that your
share of the money your team got for winning the pennant helped to make
the operation possible.
Yes, I sure do owe a debt of gratitude to baseball, admitted the
Do you play ball? suddenly asked the man on the seat beside Joe.
Yes, I play at it, was the modest answer.
Amateur or professional?
Professional. I am with the Central League.
Was it fancy, or did the man give a sudden start, that might
indicate surprise? Joe could not be sure.
I suppose you'll be at it again this year, Joe, put in Reggie.
Oh, yes. But I may change my club. I'll tell you about it later.
We'll soon be at the house. Is there any special place I can take you
to, in Riverside? asked Joe of the stranger.
Well, I'm looking for a young fellow named Matson, was the
Matson? cried Joe. Why, that's my name!
Joe Matson? the man exclaimed, drawing slightly away in order,
possibly, to get a better look at the young player.
I'm Joe Matsonyes. Are you looking for me?
I was, and I'm glad I found you! the man exclaimed. I've got a
very special request to make of you. Is there some hotel, or boarding
house, where I could put up, and where I could see youlater? he
Why, yes, there are several such places in town, said Joe, slowly,
trying, harder than ever, to place the man who had so unexpectedly
Take me to a quiet onenot too high-priced, requested the man in
a low voice. I want to see you on a very particular matterthat is,
it's particular to me, he added, significantly. Will you come and see
meafter you take care of your friends?
Why, yes, I guess soperhaps to-morrow, replied Joe, for he did
not fancy going out in the storm again that night. But why can't you
stop off at my house now? he asked.
No, I don't want to do that, the man objected. I'd rather you
would come to see me, and there was a note of appeal in his voice.
Very well, I'll see you to-morrow, Joe promised, wondering if this
man's seeking of him had any connection with his possible draft to the
St. Louis Cardinals.
CHAPTER V. THE THREAT
Here's a boarding house that will suit you, I think, announced
Joe, a little later, as he stopped the horses in front of a sort of
hostelry of good reputation. It was not as large nor as stylish as some
of the other places in Riverside, but Joe bore in mind the man's
request to be taken to a moderate-priced establishment.
Thanks, said the stranger. Then you'll come here to see me
to-morrow? I'll be in all day.
I'll call in the afternoon, Mr.er and Joe hesitated. I
don't believe I caught your name, he said, significantly.
No, I didn't mention it, but it's Shalleg, was the answer.
Oh, of the Clevefield team! exclaimed the young player, knowing
now where he had heard the voice before.
Yes, of the Clevefield team, admitted Mr. Shalleg, repeating the
name of one of the nines forming the Central League, and which team
Joe's club had met several times on the diamond.
I was trying, ever since you spoke, to recall where I'd met you
before, went on Joe, but you had me guessing. I'm glad to meet you
again. I suppose you're going to stay with the League this coming
IerI haven't quite made my plans, was the somewhat hesitating
answer. I've been looking about. I was over in Rocky Ford this
morning, seeing a friend, and I happened to recall that you lived in
Riverside, so I came on, but lost my way in the storm. I didn't
recognize you back there, where you had the upset.
The lack of recognition was mutual, laughed Joe, puzzling over
what Shalleg's object could be in seeking him. Well, I must get these
folks in out of the storm, Joe went on. I'll see you to-morrow, Mr.
The latter alighted from the cutter, and entered the boarding house,
while Joe turned the heads of the horses toward his own home.
I guess you'll be glad to get indoors, he said to Reggie and
Well, it's pretty cold, Reggie admitted, though I suppose my
sister will say she likes it.
I do! declared Mabel. But it isn't so nice when it's dark, she
They were now on the principal street of Riverside, and the lamps
from the shop windows gleamed dimly on the swirling flakes, and drifts
A little later Joe pulled up in front of his own house, and escorted
the visitors into the cheery living room.
Here they are, MotherClara! he called, as Mrs. Matson and her
daughter came out to welcome their guests.
I am glad to see you, said Clara, simply, as she kissed
Mabeland one look from the sister's eyes told Joe that Clara
approved of his friends.
Where's father? asked Joe.
Bathing his eyes, replied his mother. He'll be here presently,
for Mr. Matson had recently undergone an operation on his eyes, after
an accident, and they still needed care.
Soon a merry party was gathered about the supper table, where the
events of the day were told, from the receipt by Joe of the two
letters, to the rescue from the stalled train, and the accident in the
But I sure would like to know what it is Shalleg wants, mused Joe,
who had come back from leaving the horses at the livery stable. I sure
Didn't he give you any hint? asked Clara.
No. But perhaps he wants some advice about baseball matters. I'm
getting to be some pumpkins, you know, since St. Louis is after me!
cried Joe, with simulated pride.
Oh, do tell us about it! cried Mabel, and Joe related the news of
the draft that would probably take him to the big league.
Reggie and Mabel spent the night at Joe's house. The storm kept up
through the hours of darkness, and part of the next day, when it
stopped, and the sun came out. Old Sol shone on a scene of whiteness,
where big drifts of snow were piled here and there.
I wonder how the stalled train is faring? remarked Mabel, after
breakfast. We'll have to get our trunks away from it, somehow,
Yes, I suppose so, he said. And I've got to look after those
business matters. I think we had better go to the hotel, he added.
Very well, assented Joe. I'll go down to the station with you,
and we'll see about your baggage.
I'll stay here until you boys come back, decided Mabel, who had
taken as great a liking to Clara, as the latter had to her.
Joe and Reggie found that the train was still stalled in the snow
drift, but a large force of shovelers was at work, and the prospect was
that the line would be opened that afternoon. Thereupon Reggie went to
the hotel to arrange about his own room, and one for his sister.
And I'll go see Shalleg, decided Joe. Might as well get it over
with, though I did tell him I wouldn't come until afternoon. I'm
anxious to know what it's all about.
He's making a sort of mystery of it, observed Reggie.
Somewhat, admitted Joe, with a smile.
Greatly to his relief (for Joe was anxious to get the matter over
with) he found Shalleg at the boarding house when he called.
Come up to my room, invited the baseball player. It's warmer than
down in the parlor.
In his room he motioned Joe to a chair, and then, looking intently
at the young pitcher, said:
Matson, do you know what it is to be down and out?
Down and out? What do you mean?
I mean to have few friends, and less money. Do you know what that
Well, not personally, said Joe, though I can't boast of a
superfluity of money myself.
You've got more than I have! snapped Shalleg.
I don't know about that, said Joe, slowly, wondering whither the
conversation was leading.
Your team won the pennant! cried the man, and Joe, as he caught
the odor of his breath, realized what made Shalleg's manner so excited.
The man was partially intoxicated. Joe wished he had not come. Your
team won the pennant, Shalleg went on, and that meant quite a little
money for every player. You must have gotten your share, and I'd like
to borrow some of you, Matson. I'm down and out, I tell you, and I need
money baduntil I can get on my feet again.
Joe did not answer for a moment, but mentally he found a reason for
Shalleg's being off his feet at present. Bad habits, very likely.
Can you let me have some moneyuntil Spring opens? proceeded
Shalleg. You'll be earning more then, whether I am or not, for I don't
know that I'm going back with Clevefield. I suppose you'll play with
the Pittston team?
I don't know, answered Joe, preferring to reply to that question
first. He wanted time to think about the other.
You don't know! Shalleg exclaimed, in surprise.
No. I hear I am to be drafted to the St. Louis Nationals.
The St. Louis Nationals! cried Shalleg. That team! Why, that team
is the one I
He came to a sudden halt.
What is it? asked Joe, wonderingly.
IerIerwell, never mind, now. Can you let me havesay, two
Two hundred dollars! cried Joe. I haven't that much money to
spare. And, if I had, I don't know that I would be doing my duty to my
father and mother to lend it.
But I need it! cried Shalleg. Did you ever know what it was to be
down and out?
Well, I've seen such sad cases, and I'm sorry for you, spoke Joe,
softly. He thought of John Dutton, the broken-down pitcher whose
rescue, from a life of ruin, had been due largely to our hero's
efforts, as told in the volume immediately preceding this.
Being sorry isn't going to help, sneered Shalleg, and there was an
ugly note in his voice. I need money! You must have some left from
your pennant winnings.
I had to spend a large sum for my father's operation, said Joe.
He has had bad luck, too. I really have no money to spare.
That's not soI don't believe you! snapped Shalleg. You must
have money, and I've got to get some. I've been begging from a lot of
fellows who played ball with me, but they all turned me down. Now
you're doing the same thing. You'd better be careful. I'm a desperate
What do you mean? asked Joe, in some alarm, for he thought the
fellow meditated an attack. Joe looked to see with what he could defend
himself, and he noted, though with no cowardly satisfaction, that the
door to the hall was close at hand.
I mean just what I say. I'm desperately in need of money.
Well, I'm very sorry, but I'm not in a position to be able to help
you, said Joe, firmly. Why don't you go to the manager of your team,
and get him to give you an advance on your salary? That is often done.
I'm sure if you told him your need he'd do it.
No, he wouldn't! growled Shalleg. I've got to borrow it somewhere
else. Then you won't let me have it? and he glowered at Joe.
I can't, even if I would.
I don't believe it! snarled the other. And now I tell you one
thing. I'm a bad man to be bad friends with. If you don't let me have
this money it will be the worse for you.
I guess you are forgetting yourself, returned Joe, quietly. I did
not come here to be threatened, or insulted. I guess you are not
yourself, Mr. Shalleg. I am sorry, and I'll bid you good day.
With that Joe walked out, but not before the infuriated man called
And so you're going to St. Louis; are you? Well, look out for me,
that's all I've got to say! Look out for Bill Shalleg! and he slammed
the door after Joe.
CHAPTER VI. A WARNING
Joe Matson's brain was in a whirl as he left the boarding house
where Shalleg had made his strange threat. The young pitcher had never
before gone through such an experience, and it had rather unnerved him.
I wonder what I'd better do? he mused, as he walked along the
street, where many men were busy clearing away the snow. I don't like
to report what he said to me to any of the baseball authorities, for it
would look as though I was afraid of him. And I'm not! declared Joe,
sturdily. Shalleg wasn't himself, or he wouldn't have said such
things. He didn't know quite what he was doing, I guess.
But, the more Joe thought of it, as he trudged along, the more
worried he became.
He has a very bad temper, and he might do me some injury, mused
Joe. But, after all, what can he do? If he stays on the
Clevefield team, and I go to St. Louis, we'll be far enough apart. I
guess I won't do anything about it now.
But the youth could not altogether conceal the emotions that had
swayed him during the strange interview. When, a little later, he
called at the hotel to see if Reggie and his sister had comfortable
rooms, his face must have showed something unusual, for Mabel asked:
Why, Joe, what is the matter?
Matter? Nothing, he replied, with a laugh, but it was rather
You look as thoughsomething had happened, the girl went on.
Perhaps you haven't recovered from your efforts to rescue us from the
stalled train last night.
Oh, yes, I'm all over that, declared Joe, more at his ease now.
It was awfully good of you, proceeded Mabel. Just think; suppose
we had had to stay in that train until now?
Oh, they've been relieved by this time, spoke Joe.
Yes, but they had to stay there all night. I can't thank you enough
for coming after us. Are you sure there is nothing the matter? she
insisted. You haven't had bad news, about not making the St. Louis
team; have you?
No, indeed. I haven't had any news at all since that one letter
from Mr. Gregory. And no news is good news, they say.
Not always, and she smiled.
Are you comfortable here? asked Joe, as he sat in the parlor
between the bedrooms of brother and sister.
Oh, yes. And Reggie likes it very much. He has a lot of business to
attend to. Father is putting more and more on his shoulders each year.
He wants him finally to take it up altogether. Reggie doesn't care so
much for it, but it's good for him, and she smiled frankly at Joe.
Yes, work is good, he admitted, even if it is only playing
And that sometimes seems to me like hard work, responded Mabel.
It is, Joe admitted. How long do you stay in Riverside?
Three or four days yet. Why?
Because there'll be good sleighing, and I thought perhaps you'd
like to go out for a ride.
I shall be delighted!
Then I'll arrange for it. Won't you come over to the house this
I have an engagement, she laughed.
Joe looked disappointed. Mabel smiled.
It's with your sister, she said. I promised to come over and
learn a new lace pattern.
I'm just crazy about fancy work myself! and Joe laughed in turn.
It's as bad as the new dances. I guess I'll stay home, too.
Do, Mabel invited. And when Joe took his leave some of the worry
caused by Shalleg's threat had passed away.
I guess I'll say nothing about it, mused our hero. It would do no
good, and if father and mother heard about it they might worry. I'll
just fight it out all alone. I guess Shalleg was only a 'bluff,'
anyhow. He may be in desperate straits, but he had no right to make
threats like that.
Riverside was storm-bound for several days, and when she was finally
dug out, and conditions were normal, there was still plenty of snow
left for sleighing. Joe planned to take Mabel for a ride, and Reggie,
hearing of it, asked Clara to be his guest.
Two or three days passed, and Joe neither saw nor heard any more of
Shalleg, except to learn, by judicious inquiry, that the surly and
threatening fellow had left the boarding house to which Joe had taken
I guess he's gone off to try his game on some other players in the
League, thought the young pitcher. I hope he doesn't succeed, though.
If he got money I'm afraid he'd make a bad use of it.
There came another letter from Mr. Gregory, in which he told Joe
that, while the matter was still far from being settled, the chances
were that the young pitcher would be drafted to St. Louis.
I will let you know, in plenty of time, whether you are to train
with us, or with the big league, the manager of the Pittston team
wrote. So you will have to hold yourself in readiness to do one or the
They don't give you much choice; do they? spoke Reggie, when Joe
told him this news. You've got to do just as they tell you; haven't
In a measure, yes, assented Joe. Baseball is big business. Why, I
read an article the other day that stated how over fifty million
persons pay fifteen million dollars every year just to see the games,
and the value of the different clubs, grounds and so on mounts up to
many millions more.
It sure is big business, agreed Reggie. I might go into it
Well, more than one fortune has been made at it, observed Joe.
But I don't like the idea of the club owners and managers doing as
they please with the players. It seems to take away your freedom,
argued the other lad.
Well, in a sense I suppose it does, admitted Joe. And yet the
interests of the players are always being looked after. We don't have
to be baseball players unless we want to; but, once we sign a contract,
we have to abide by it.
Then, too, the present organization has brought to the players
bigger salaries than they ever got before. Of course we chaps in the
minor leagues aren't bid for, as are those in the big leagues. But we
always hope to be.
It seems funny, for one manager to buy a player from another
manager, went on Reggie.
I suppose so, but I've grown sort of used to it, Joe replied. Of
course the players themselves don't benefit by the big sum one manager
may give another for the services of a star fielder or pitcher, but it
all helps our reputations.
Is the St. Louis team considered pretty good? Reggie wanted to
Well, it could be better, confessed Joe, slowly. They reached one
place from the top of the second division last season, but if I play
with them I'll try to pull them to the top of the second half, anyhow,
he added, with a laugh. The Cardinals never have been considered so
very good, but the club is a money-maker, and we can't all be pennant
winners, he admitted, frankly.
No, I suppose not, agreed Reggie. Well, I wish you luck, whatever
you do this Summer. If I ever get out to St. Louis I'll stop off and
see you play.
Do, urged Joe. He hoped Mabel would come also.
When Joe reached home that afternoon his mother met him in the
living room, and said quickly:
Someone is waiting for you in the parlor, Joe.
Gracious! I hope it isn't Shalleg! thought the young pitcher. If
he has come here to make trouble And his heart sank.
But as he entered the room a glad smile came over his face.
Hello, Charlie Hall! he cried, at the sight of the shortstop of
the Pittston team, with whom Joe had been quite chummy during the
league season. What good wind blows you here?
Oh, you know I'm a traveling salesman during the Winter, and I
happened to make this town to-day. Just thought I'd step up and see how
Glad you did! It's a real pleasure to see you. Going back at the
game in the Spring, I expect; aren't you?
Sure. I wouldn't miss it for anything. But what's this I hear about
I don't know. Nothing to my discredit, I hope, and Joe smiled.
Far from it, old man. But there's a rumor among some of the old
boys that you're to be drafted to the Cardinals. How about it?
Well, Gregory told me as much, but it isn't all settled yet. Say,
Charlie, now you're here, I want to ask you something.
Do you know a fellow named Shalleg?
Charlie Hall started.
It's queer you should ask me that, he responded, slowly.
Why? Joe wanted to know.
Because that's one of the reasons I stopped up to talk to you. I
want to warn you against Shalleg.
Warn me! What do you mean? and Joe thought of the threats the man
Why, you know he's out of the Clevefield team; don't you?
No, I didn't know it, replied Joe. But go on. I'll tell you
something pretty soon.
Yes, he's been given his unconditional release, went on Charlie.
He got to gambling, and doing other things no good ball player can
expect to do, and keep in the game, and he was let go. And I heard
something that made me come here to warn you, Joe. There may be nothing
in it, but Shalleg
There came a knock at the door of the parlor, and Joe held up a
Wait a minute, he whispered.
CHAPTER VII. BASEBALL TALK
There was silence for a moment, following Joe's warning, and then
the voice of his mother was heard:
Joe, you're wanted on the telephone.
Oh, all right, he answered in a relieved tone. I didn't want her
to hear about Shalleg, he added in a whisper to Charlie. She and
father would worry, and, with his recent sickness, that wouldn't be a
good thing for him.
I should say not, agreed the other ball player.
I'll be right there, Mother, went on Joe, in louder tones and then
he went to the hall, where the telephone stood. It was only a message
from a local sporting goods dealer, saying that he had secured for Joe
a certain glove he had had made to order.
Joe went back to his chum, and the baseball talk was renewed.
What were you going to say that Shalleg was up to? asked Joe.
As I was saying, resumed Charlie, there may be nothing in the
rumor, but it's the talk, in baseball circles, that Shalleg has been
trying his best, since being released, to get a place with the
You don't mean it! cried Joe. That accounts for his surprise, and
perhaps for his bitter feeling against me when I told him there was a
chance that I would go to St. Louis.
Probably, agreed Charlie. So, having heard this, and knowing that
Shalleg is a hard character, I thought I'd warn you.
I'm glad you did, returned Joe warmly. It was very good of you to
go to that trouble. And, after the experience I had with Shalleg, I
shouldn't wonder but what there was something in it. Though why he
should be vindictive toward me is more than I can fathom. I certainly
never did anything to him, except to refuse to lend him money, and I
actually had to do that.
Of course, agreed Charlie. But I guess, from his bad habits, his
mind is warped. He is abnormal, and your refusal, coupled with the fact
that you are probably going to a team that he has tried his best to
make, and can't, simply made him wild. So, if I were you, I should be
on the lookout, Joe.
I certainly will. It's queer that I met Shalleg the way I didin
the storm. It was quite an unusual coincidence. It seems he had been to
Rocky Ford, a town near here, to see if he could borrow money from
somebody thereat least so he said. Then he heard I lived here, and he
started for Riverside, and got lost on the way, in the storm.
Altogether it was rather queer. I never was so surprised in my life as
when, after riding with me for some time, the man said he was looking
It was queer, agreed Charlie. Well, the only thing to do,
after this, is to steer clear of him. And, after all, it may only be
Yes, assented Joe, and now let's talk about something pleasant.
How are you, anyhow? What are your plans for the coming season? And how
are all the boys since we played the last pennant game?
Gracious! exclaimed Charlie with a laugh. You fire almost as many
questions at a fellow as a lawyer would.
Then the two plunged into baseball talk, which, as it has no special
interest for my readers, I shall omit.
Have you anything special to do? asked Joe, as Charlie and he came
to a pause in recalling scenes and incidents, many of which you will
find set down in the previous book of this series.
No. After I clean up all the orders I can here I will have a few
days' vacation, replied Hall.
Good! cried Joe. Then spend them with me. Reggie Varley and his
sister are here for a whileyou remember Reggie; don't you, Charlie?
As well as you remember his sister, I reckon, was the laughing
Never mind that. Then I'll count on you. I'll introduce you to a
nice girl, and we'll get up a little sleigh-riding party. There'll be a
fine moon in a couple of nights.
Go as far as you like with me, invited Charlie. I'm not in
training yet, and I guess a late oyster supper, after a long ride,
won't do me any particular harm.
Charlie departed for the hotel, to get his baggage, for he was going
to finish out the rest of his stay in Riverside as Joe's guest, and the
young pitcher went to get the new glove, about which he had received
the telephone message.
It was a little later that day that, as Clara was passing her
brother's room, she heard a curious, thumping noise.
I wonder what that is? she murmured. Sounds as though Joe were
working at a punching bag. Joe, what in the world are you doing? she
asked, pausing outside his door.
Making a pocket in my new glove, he answered. Come on in, Sis.
I'm all covered with olive oil, or I'd open the door for you.
Olive oil! The idea! Are you making a salad, as well? she asked
laughingly, as she pushed open the portal.
She saw her brother, attired in old clothes, alternately pouring a
few drops of olive oil on his new pitcher's glove, and then, with an
old baseball pounding a hollow place in the palm.
What does it mean? asked Clara.
Oh, I'm just limbering up my new glove, answered Joe. If I'm to
play with a big team, like the St. Louis Cardinals, I want to have the
best sort of an outfit. You know a ball will often slip out of a new
glove, so I'm making a sort of 'pocket' in this one, only not as deep
as in a catcher's mitt, so it will hold the ball better.
But why the olive oil?
Oh, well, of course any good oil would do, but this was the
handiest. The oil softens the leather, and makes it pliable. And say,
if you haven't anything else to do, there's an old glove, that's pretty
badly ripped; you might sew it up. It will do to practice with.
I'll sew it to-morrow, Joe. I've got to make a new collar now.
Mabel and I are going to the matinee, and I want to look my best.
Oh, all right, agreed Joe easily. There's no special hurry, and
he went on thumping the baseball into the hollow of the new glove.
Well, Joe, is there anything new in the baseball situation? asked
Mr. Matson of his son a little later. The inventor, whose eyesight had
been saved by the operation (to pay for which most of Joe's pennant
money went) was able to give part of his time to his business now.
No, there's not much new, Dad, replied the young player. I am
still waiting to hear definitely about St. Louis. I do hope I am
It means quite an advance for you; doesn't it, Joe?
Indeed it does, Dad. There aren't many players who are taken out of
a small league, to a major one, at the close of their first season. I
suppose I ought to be proud.
Well, I hope you are, Joe, in a proper way, said Mr. Matson.
Pride, of the right sort, is very good. And I'm glad of your
prospective advance. I am sure it was brought about by hard work, and,
after all, that is the only thing that counts. And you did work hard,
Yes, I suppose I did, admitted the young pitcher modestly, as he
thought of the times he pitched when his arm ached, and when his nerves
were all unstrung on account of the receipt of bad news. But other
fellows worked hard, too, he went on. You've got to work hard
Will it be any easier on the St. Louis team? his father wanted to
No, it will be harder, replied Joe. I might as well face that at
And it was well that Joe had thus prepared himself in advance, for
before him, though he did not actually know it, were the hardest
struggles to which a young pitcher could be subjected.
Yes, there'll be hard work, Joe went on, but I don't mind. I like
it. And I'm not so foolish as to think that I'm going to go in, right
off the reel, and become the star pitcher of the team. I guess I'll
have to sit back, and warm the bench for quite a considerable time
before I'm called on to pull the game out of the fire.
Well, that's all right, as long as you're there when the time
comes, said his father. Stick to it, Joe, now that you are in it.
Your mother didn't take much to baseball at first, but, the more I see
of it, and read of it, the more I realize that it's a great business,
and a clean sport. I'm glad you're in it, Joe.
And I am too, Dad.
CHAPTER VIII. THE QUARREL
Are we all here?
Oh, what a glorious night!
Did you ever see such a moon!
Looks about as big as a baseball does when you're far from first
and the pitcher is heaving it over, to tag you out!
This last observation from Joe Matson.
Oh, what an unpoetical remark to make!
That from Mabel Varley.
There came a chorus of laughter, shouts, good-natured jibes, little
shrieks and giggles from the girls, and chuckles from the young men.
Well, let's get started, proposed Joe.
It was the occasion of the sleigh ride that Joe had gotten up,
ostensibly for the enjoyment of a number of his young friends, but, in
reality for Mabel, who, with her brother, was still staying on in
Riverside, for the Varley business was not yet finished.
It was a glorious, wintry night, and in the sky hung the silvery
moon, lighting up a few fleecy clouds with glinting beams, and bringing
into greater brightness the sparkling snow that encrusted the earth.
Count noses, suggested Charlie Hill, who, with a young lady to
whom Joe had introduced him a day or so before, was in the sleighing
I'll help, volunteered Mabel, who, of course, was being escorted
by Joe, while Reggie had Clara under his care. Mabel and Joe made sure
that all of their party were present. They were gathered in the office
of the livery stable, whence they were to start, to go to a hotel about
twelve miles distanta hotel famous for its oyster suppers, as many a
sleighing party, of which Joe had been a member, could testify.
Following the supper there was to be a little dance, and the party,
properly chaperoned, expected to return some time before morning.
Yes, I guess we're all here, Joe announced, as he looked among the
young people. And it was no easy task to make sure, for they were
constantly shifting about, going here and there, friends greeting
Four sturdy horses were attached to a big barge, in the bottom of
which had been spread clean straw, for it was quite frosty, and, in
spite of heavy wraps and blankets, feet would get cold. But the straw
served, in a measure, to keep them warm.
All aboard! cried Charlie Hill, who had made himself a general
favorite with all of Joe's friends. All aboard!
Why don't you say 'play ball'? asked Mabel, with a laugh. It
seems to me, with a National Leaguer with us, the least we could do
would be to make that our rallying cry! Mabel was a real sport.
I'm not a big leaguer yet, protested Joe. Don't go too strong on
that. I may be turned back into the bushes.
Not much danger, commented Charlie, as he thought of the fine work
Joe had done in times past. Joe was a natural born pitcher, but he had
developed his talents by hard work, as my readers know.
Into the sled piled the laughing, happy young folks, and then,
snugly tucked in, the word was given, and, with a merry jingle of
bells, away they went over the white snow.
There were the old-time songs sung, after the party had reached the
open country, and had taken the edge off their exuberance by tooting
tin horns. Aunt Dinah's Quilting Party, My Bonnie Lies Over the
Ocean, Old Black Joeall these, and some other, more modern, songs
were sung, more or less effectively. But, after all, it was the spirit
and not the melody that counted.
On over the snowy road went the big sled, pulled by the willing
horses, who seemed all the more willing because of the joyous party
they were dragging along.
Look out for this grade-crossing, remarked Joe to the driver, for
they were approaching the railroad.
I will, Joe, the man replied. I have good occasion to remember
this place, too.
So have I, spoke Mabel, in a low voice to her escort. There is
where we were snowed in; isn't it? she asked, nodding in the direction
of Deep Rock Cut.
That's the place, replied Joe.
Yes, sir, I have occasion to remember this place, went on the
driver. And I'm always careful when I cross here, ever since, two
years ago, I was nearly run down by a train. I had just such a load of
young folks as I've got now, he went on.
How did it happen? asked Reggie, as the runners scraped over the
bare rails, a look up and down the moon-lit track showing no train in
Well, the party was making quite a racket, and I didn't hear the
whistle of the train, resumed the driver. It was an extra, and I
didn't count on it. We were on our way home, and we had a pretty narrow
escape. Just got over in time, I tell you. The young folks were pretty
quiet after that, and I was glad it happened on the way home, instead
of going, or it would have spoiled all their fun. And, ever since then,
whether I know there's a train due or not, I'm always careful of this
It makes one feel ever so much safer to have a driver like him,
spoke Mabel to Clara.
Oh, we can always trust Frank, replied Joe's sister.
Laughing, shouting, singing and blowing the horns, the party went on
its merry way, until the hotel was reached.
Everything was in readiness for the young people, for the
arrangements had been made in advance, and soon after the girls had
dolled-up, as Joe put it, by which he meant arranged their hair, that
had become blown about under the scarfs they wore, they all sat down to
a bountifully-spread table.
Reminds me of the dinner we had, after we won the pennant, said
Only it's so different, added Joe. That was a hot night.
Talk and merry laughter, mingled with baseball conversation went
around the table. Joe did not care to talk shop, but somehow or
other, he could not keep away from the subject that was nearest his
heart. Nor could Charlie, and the two shot diamond discussion back and
forth, the others joining in occasionally.
The meal was drawing to an end. Reggie Varley, pouring out a glass
of water, rose to his feet.
Friends and fellow citizens, he began in a sort of toastmaster
Hear! Hear! echoed Charlie, entering into the spirit of the
We have with us this evening, went on Reggie, in the approved
manner of after-dinner introductions, one whom you all well know, and
whom it is scarcely necessary to name
Hear! Hear! interrupted Charlie, pounding on the table with his
All eyes were turned toward Joe, who could not help blushing.
I rise to propose the health of one whom we all know and love,
went on Reggie, and to assure him that we all wish him well in his new
Better wait until I get it, murmured Joe, to whom this was a great
To wish him all success, went on Reggie. And I desire to add
that, as a token of our esteem, and the love in which we hold him, we
wish to present him this little tokenand may it be a lucky omen for
him when he is pitching away in the big league, and with this Reggie
handed to Joe a stick-pin, in the shape of a baseball, the seams
outlined in diamonds, and a little ruby where the trademark would have
Poor Joe was taken quite by surprise.
Speech! Speech! came the general cry.
Joe fumbled the pin in his fingers, and for a moment there was a
mist before his eyes. This little surprise had been arranged by Reggie,
and he had quietly worked up the idea among Joe's many young friends,
all of whom had contributed to the cost of the token.
Go on! Say something! urged Mabel, at Joe's side.
Wellerwell, IerI don't know what to say, he stammered,
except that this is a great surprise to me, and that IerI thank
He sat down amid applause, and someone started up the song For He's
a Jolly Good Fellow!
It was sung with a will. Altogether the affair was successfully
carried out, and formed one of the most pleasant remembrances in the
life of Baseball Joe.
After the presentation, others made impromptu speeches, even the
girls being called on by Reggie, to whom the position of toastmaster
The supper was over. The girls were in the dressing room, donning
their wraps, and Joe and Reggie had gone to the office to pay the bill.
The proprietor of the hotel was in the men's room, and going there
Joe was greeted by name, for the hotel man knew him well.
Everything satisfactory, Mr. Matson? the host asked, and at the
mention of Joe's name, a rough-looking fellow, who was buying a cigar,
looked up quickly.
Yes, Mr. Todd, everything was fine, replied Joe, not noticing the
man's glance. Now we'll settle with you.
No hurry, said the proprietor. I hear you're going to leave us
soongoing up to a higher class in baseball, Joe.
Well, there's some talk of it, admitted our hero, and as he took
out the money to make the payment, the rough-looking man passed behind
him. Joe dropped a coin, and, in stooping to pick it up, he moved back
a step. As he did so, he either collided with the man, who had observed
him so narrowly, or else the fellow deliberately ran into Joe.
Look out where you're walking! You stepped on my foot! exclaimed
the man in surly tones. Can't you see what you're doing? you country
I beg your pardon, spoke Joe quietly, but a red flush came into
his face, and his hands clenched involuntarily.
Huh! Trying to put on high society airs; eh? sneered the other.
I'll soon take that out of you. I say you stepped on me on purpose.
You are mistaken, said Joe, still quietly.
Huh! Do you mean to say I'm sayin' what ain't so? demanded the
If you like to put it that way; yes, declared Joe, determined to
stand upon his rights, for he felt that it had not been his fault.
Be careful, warned Reggie, in a low voice.
Say, young feller, I don't allow nobody to say that to me!
blustered the fellow, advancing on Joe with an ugly look. You'll
either beg my pardon, or give me satisfaction! I'll
Now here. None of that! interposed the proprietor. You aren't
How do you know? And didn't he accuse me of
Oh, get out. You're always ready to pick a quarrel, went on the
hotel man. Move on!
Well, then let him beg my pardon, insisted the other. If he
don't, I'll take it out of him, and his clenched fist indicated his
meaning only too plainly.
CHAPTER IX. JOE IS DRAFTED
For a moment Joe stood facing the angry manunnecessarily angry, it
seemedsince, even if the young ball player had trod on his foot, the
injury could not have amounted to much.
I told you once that I was sorry for having collided with you,
though I do not believe it was my fault, spoke Joe, holding himself in
check with an effort. That is all I intend to say, and you may make
the most of it.
I'll make the most of you, if you don't look out! blustered the
man. If you'll just step outside we can settle this little argument to
the queen's taste, and he seemed very eager to have Joe accept his
Now see here! There'll be no fighting on these premises, declared
the hotel proprietor, with conviction.
No, we'll do it outside, growled the man.
Not with me. I don't intend to fight you, said Joe as quietly as
Huh! Afraid; eh?
No, not afraid.
Well, you're a coward and a
That will do, Wessel. Get out! and the proprietor's voice left no
room for argument. The man slunk away, giving Joe a surly look, and
then the supper bill was paid, and receipted.
Who was he? asked Joe, when the fellow was out of sight.
Oh, I don't know any good of him, replied the hotel man. He's
been hanging around town ever since the ball season closed.
Is he a player? Joe inquired.
No. I'm inclined to think he's a gambler. I know he was always
wanting to make bets on the games around here, but no one paid much
attention to him. You don't know him; do you?
Never saw him before, as far as I recollect, returned Joe slowly.
I wonder why he wanted to pick a quarrel with me? For that was
certainly his object.
It was, agreed Reggie, and he didn't pay much attention to you
until he heard your name.
I wonder if he could be? began Joe, and then he hesitated in
his half-formed question. Reggie looked at his friend inquiringly, but
Joe did not proceed.
Don't say anything about this to the girls, requested Joe, as they
Oh, no, of course not, agreed Reggie. He was only some loafer, I
expect, who had a sore head. Best to keep it quiet.
Joe was more upset by the incident than he liked to admit. He could
not understand the man's motive in trying so hard to force him into a
Not that I would be afraid, reasoned Joe, for he was in good
condition, and in splendid fighting trim, due to his clean living and
his outdoor playing. I think I could have held my own with him, he
thought, only I don't believe in fighting, if it can be avoided.
But there was certainly something more than a little quarrel back
of it all. Wessel is his name; eh? I must remember that.
Joe made a mental note of it, but he little realized that he was to
hear the name again under rather strange circumstances.
What's the matter? asked Mabel, on the way home in the sleigh,
drawn by the prancing horses with their jingling bells.
Why? parried Joe.
You are so quiet.
WellI didn't count on so much happening to-night.
You mean about that little pin? I think it's awfully sweet.
Did you help pick it out? asked Joe, seeing a chance to turn the
Yes. Reggie asked me what I thought would be nice, and I chose
Couldn't have been better, declared Joe, with enthusiasm. I shall
always keep it!
They rode on, but Joe could not shake off the mood that had seized
him. He could not forget the look and words of the man who endeavored
to force a quarrel with himfor what object Joe could only guess.
I'm sure there's something the matter, insisted Mabel, when the
song Jingle Bells! had died away. Have I done anything to displease
you? she asked, for she had split one dance with Charlie Hall.
No, indeed! cried Joe, glad that he could put emphasis into his
denial. There's nothing really the matter.
Unless you're sorry you're going away out to Missouri, persisted
Well, I am sorrythat is, if I really have to go, spoke the young
ball player sincerely. Of course it isn't at all certain that I will
Oh, I guess it's certain enough, she said. And I really hope you
It's pretty far off, said Joe. I'll have to make my headquarters
in St. Louis.
Reggie and I expect to be in the West a good part of the coming
Summer, went on Mabel, in even tones. It's barely possible that
Reggie may make his business headquarters in St. Louis, for papa's
trade is shifting out that way.
You don't mean it! cried Joe, and some of his companions in the
sleigh wondered at the warmth of his tone.
Oh, yes, I do, said Mabel. So I shall see you play now and then;
for I'm as ardent a 'fan' as I ever was.
That's good, returned Joe. I'm glad I'm going to a major
leaguethat is, if they draft me, he added quickly. I didn't know
you might be out there.
From then on the thought of going to St. Louis was more pleasant to
The sleigh ride was a great success in every particular. The young
people reached home rather lateor, rather early in the morning, happy
and not too tired.
It was fine; wasn't it? whispered Clara, as she and her brother
tip-toed their way into the house, so as not to awaken their parents.
Dandy! he answered softly.
Weren't you surprised about the pin?
Of course I was.
But you don't seem exactly happy. Is something worrying you? I
heard Mabel ask you the same thing.
Did you? inquired Joe, non-committally.
Yes. Is anything the matter?
No, Sis. Get to bed. It's late.
Clara paused for a moment. She realized that Joe had not answered
her question as she would have liked.
But I guess he's thinking of the change he may have to make, the
sister argued. Joe is a fine fellow. He certainly has gone ahead in
baseball faster than he would have done in some other line of endeavor.
Well, it's good he likes it.
And yet, she mused, as she went to her room, I wonder what it is
that is worrying him?
If she could have seen Joe, at that same moment, sitting on the edge
of a chair in his apartment, moodily staring at the wall, she would
have wondered more.
What was his game? thought Joe, as he recalled the scene with the
man at the hotel. What was his object?
But he could not answer his own question.
Joe's sleep was disturbed the remainder of that nightshort as the
At breakfast table, the next morning, the story of the jolly sleigh
ride was told to Mr. and Mrs. Matson. Of course Joe said nothing of the
dispute with the surly man.
And here's the pin they gave me, finished the young player as he
passed around the emblem that had been so unexpectedly presented to
His mother was looking at it when the doorbell rang, and the maid,
who answered it, brought back a telegram.
It's for Mr. Joseph, she announced.
Joe's face was a little pale as he tore open the yellow envelope,
and then, as he glanced at the words written on the sheet of paper, he
It's settled! I'm drafted to St. Louis!
CHAPTER X. OFF TO ST. LOUIS
For a few seconds, after Joe's announcement, there was silence in
the room. Then, as the realization of what it meant came to them, Clara
was the first to speak.
I'm so glad, Joe, she said, simply, but there was real
meaning in her words.
And I congratulate you, son, added Mr. Matson. It's something to
be proud of, even if St. Louis isn't in the first division.
Oh, they'll get there, as soon as I begin pitching, declared Joe
with a smile.
Mrs. Matson said nothing for a while. Her son, and the rest of the
family, knew of her objection to baseball, and her disappointment that
Joe had not entered the ministry, or some of the so-called learned
But, as she looked at the smiling and proud face of her boy she
could not help remarking:
Joe, I, too, am very glad for your sake. I don't know much about
sporting matters, but I suppose this is a promotion.
Indeed it is, Mother! Joe cried, getting up to go around the table
and kiss her. It's a fine promotion for a young player, and now it's
up to me to make good. And I will, too! he added earnestly.
Is that all Mr. Gregory, your former manager, says in the
telegram? asked Mr. Matson.
No, he says a letter of explanation will follow, and also a
contract to sign.
Will you get more money, Joe? asked Clara.
Sure, Sis. I know what you're thinking of, Joe added, with a smile
at the girl, as he put his stick-pin in his scarf. You're thinking of
the ring I promised to buy you if I got this place. Well, I'll keep my
word. You can go down and get measured for it to-day.
Oh, Joe, what a good brother you are! she cried.
Then you really will get more money? asked Mrs. Matson, and her
voice was a bit eager. Indeed Joe's salary, and the cash he received as
his share of the pennant games, had been a blessing to the family
during Mr. Matson's illness, for the inventor had lost considerable
Yes, I'll get quite a bit more, said Joe. I got fifteen hundred a
year with the Pittstons, and Mr. Gregory said I ought to get at least
double that if I go with St. Louis. It will put us on Easy Street;
won't it, Momsey?
It will be very welcome, she replied, with a sigh, but it was
rather a happy sigh at that. She had known the pinch of hard times in
her day, had Mrs. Matson.
I'd have to be at the game of lawyering or doctoring a long while,
before I'd get an advance like this, went on Joe, as he read the
telegram over a second time. And then he put it carefully in his
pocket, to be filed away with other treasures, such as young men love
to look at from time to time; a faded flower, worn by Someone, a
letter or two, abut there, I promised not to tell secrets.
The first one who knew of his promotion, after the folks at home,
was Mabel. Joe made some excuse to call at the hotel. Reggie was out on
business, but Joe did not mind that.
Oh, I'm so gladfor your sake, Joe! exclaimed Mabel warmly. I
hope you make a great reputation!
It won't be from lack of trying, he said, with a smile. And I do
hope you can get out to St. Louis this Summer.
We expect to, she answered. I have been there with Reggie several
What sort of a place is it? asked Joe eagerly, and where does my
team play? he inquired, with an accent on the my.
There are two major league teams in St. Louis, explained Mabel,
who, as I have said, was an ardent fan. She was almost as good as a
boy in this respect. The National League St. Louis team, or the
'Cardinals,' as I suppose you know they are nicknamed, plays on Robison
Field, at Vandeventer and Natural Bridge road. I've often been out
there to games with Reggie, but I'll look forward to seeing them now,
with a lot more pleasure, she added, blushing slightly.
Thanks, laughed Joe. I guess I'll be able to find my way about
the city. But, after all, I'll be likely to strike it with the team,
for I'll probably have to go South training before I report in St.
It isn't hard to find your way about St. Louis, went on Mabel.
Just take a Natural Bridge line car, and that'll bring you out to
Robison Field. Or you can take a trunk line, and transfer to
Vandeventer. But the best way is the Natural Bridge route. Is there
anything else you'd like to know? she asked, with a smile.
Information supplied at short notice. The Browns, or American League
team, play at Grand and Dodier
Oh, I'm not interested in them! interrupted Joe. I'm going to
stick to my colorscardinal.
And I'll wear them, too, said Mabel in a low voice, and the blush
in her cheeks deepened. Already she was wearing Joe's color.
This is our last day here, the girl went on, after a pause.
It is? cried Joe in surprise. Why, I thought
I'm sorry, too, she broke in with. You have given Reggie and me a
lovely time. I've enjoyed myself very much.
Not half as much as I have, murmured Joe.
Reggie came in a little later, and congratulated the young player,
and then Charlie Hall added his good wishes. It was his last day in
town also, and he and the Varleys left on the same train, Joe and his
sister going to the station to see them off.
If you get snowed in again, just let me know, called Joe, with a
laugh, as the train pulled out. I'll come for you in an airship.
Thanks! laughed Mabel, as she waved her hand in a final good-bye.
As Joe was leaving the station a train from Rocky Ford pulled in,
and one of the passengers who alighted from it was the ill-favored man
who had endeavored to pick a quarrel with Joe at the hotel the night
The fellow favored the young player with a surly glance, and seemed
about to approach him. Then, catching sight of Clara at her brother's
side, he evidently thought better of it, and veered off.
Joe's face must have showed his surprise at the sight of the man,
for Clara asked:
Who is that fellow, Joe? He looked at you in such a peculiar way.
Do you know him?
Joe was glad he could answer in the negative. He really did not know
the man, and did not want to, though it certainly seemed strange that
he should encounter him again.
He seems to know you, persisted Clara, for the man had looked back
at Joe twice.
Maybe he thinks he does, or maybe he wants to, went on the
pitcher, trying to speak indifferently. Probably he's heard that I'm
the coming twirling wonder of the Cardinals, and he pretended to swell
up his chest, and look important.
Nothing like having a good opinion of yourself, laughed Clara.
That afternoon's mail brought Joe a letter from Mr. Gregory, in
which the news contained in the telegram was confirmed. It was also
stated that Joe would receive formal notice of his draft from the St.
Louis team, and his contract, which was to be signed in duplicate.
I wish he'd said something about salary, mused our hero. But
probably the other letter, from the St. Louis manager, will have that
in, and the contract will, that's certain.
The following day all the details were settled. Joe received formal
notice of his draft from the Pittstons to the St. Louis Cardinals. He
was to play for a salary of three thousand dollars a year.
In consideration of this he had to agree to certain conditions,
among them being that he would not play with any other team without
permission from the organized baseball authorities, and, as long as he
was in the game, and accepted the salary, he would be subject to the
call of any other team in the league, the owners of which might wish to
purchase him; that is, if they paid the St. Louis team sufficient
I wonder what they'll consider me worth, say at the end of the
first season? said Joe to Clara.
What a way to talk! she exclaimed. As if you were a horse, or a
It does sound a bit that way, he admitted, and some of the star
players bring a lot more than valuable horses. Why, some of the players
on the New York Giants cost the owners ten and fifteen thousand
dollars, and the Pittsburgh Nationals paid $22,500 for one star fellow
as a pitcher. I hope I get to be worth that to some club, laughed Joe,
but there isn't any dangernot right off the bat, he added with a
Well, that's a part of baseball I'm not interested in, said Clara.
I like to see the game, but I watch it for the fun in it, not for the
And yet there has to be money to make it a success, declared Joe.
Grounds, grandstands and trips cost cash, and the owners realize on
the abilities of the players. In return they pay them good salaries.
Many a player couldn't make half as much in any other business. I'm
glad I'm in it.
Joe signed and returned the contract, and from then on he was the
property of the St. Louis team, and subject to the orders of the
owners and manager.
A few days later Joe received his first instructionsto go to St.
Louis, report to the manager, and then go South to the training camp,
with the team. There his real baseball work, as a member of a big
league, would start.
Joe packed his grip, stowing away his favorite bat and his new
pitcher's glove, said good-bye to his family and friends in Riverside,
and took a train that eventually would land him in St. Louis, at the
The journey was without incident of moment, and in due time Joe
reached the hotel where he had been told the players were quartered.
Is Mr. Watson here? he asked the clerk, inquiring for the manager.
I think you'll find him in the billiard room, replied the clerk,
sizing up Joe with a critical glance. Here, boy, show this gentleman
to Mr. Watson, went on the man at the register.
Do you know him by sight? he asked.
No, replied Joe, rather sorry he did not.
I know him! exclaimed the bellboy, coming forward, with a cheerful
grin on his freckled face. He sure has a good ball team. I hope they
win the pennant this year. Are you one of the players? he asked.
One of the new ones, spoke Joe, modestly enough.
Gee! Dat's great! exclaimed the lad admiringly. There's 'Muggins'
Watson over there, and he pointed to a man in his shirt sleeves,
playing billiards with a young fellow whom Joe recognized, from having
seen his picture in the papers, as 'Slim' Cooney, one of the St. Louis
Mr. Watson? inquiringly asked Joe, waiting until the manager had
made, successfully, a difficult shot, and stood at rest on his cue.
That's my name, and a pair of steel-blue eyes looked straight at
our hero. What can I do for you?
I'm Joe Matson, and
Oh, yes, the new recruit I signed up from Pittston. Well, this is
the first time I've seen you. Took you on the report of one of my men.
Glad to meet you, and he held out a firm hand. Slim, he went on to
his opponent at billiards, let me make you acquainted with one of your
hated rivalsJoe Matson. Matson, this is our famous left-hand
Joe laughed and shook hands. He liked the manager and the other
player. I might state, at this point, that in this book, while I shall
speak of the players of the Cardinals, and of the various National
League teams, I will not use their real names, for obvious reasons.
However, if any of you recognize them under their pseudonyms, I cannot
CHAPTER XI. GOING DOWN SOUTH
Well, are you going to help us win the pennant, Matson? asked
Manager Watson, when he had introduced Joe to a number of the other St.
Louis players, who were lounging about the billiard room. It was a cold
and blustery day outside, and the hotel, where the team had lately
taken up quarters, ready for the trip to the South, offered more
comfort than the weather without.
I'm going to do my best, replied Joe modestly, and he blushed, for
most of the other players were older than he, many of them seasoned
veterans, and the heroes of hard-fought contests.
Well, we sure do need help, if we're to get anywhere, murmured Hal
Doolin, the snappy little first baseman. We sure do!
You needn't look at me! fired back Slim Cooney. I did my share of
the work last season, and if I'd had decent support
Easy now, boys! broke in Mr. Watson. You know what the papers
said about last yearthat there were too many internal dissensions
among the Cardinals to allow them to play good ball. You've got to cut
that out if I'm going to manage you.
I might add that Sidney Watson, who had made a reputation as a
left-fielder, and a hard hitter on the Brooklyn team, had lately been
offered the position as manager of the Cardinals, and had taken it.
This would be his first season, and, recognizing the faults of the
team, he had set about correcting them in an endeavor to get it out of
the cellar class. Quarrels, bickerings and disputes among the players
had been too frequent, he learned, and he was trying to eliminate them.
Have a heart for each other, boys, he said to the men who gathered
about him, incidentally to covertly inspect Joe, the recruit. It
wasn't anybody's fault, in particular, that you didn't finish in the
first division last season. But we're going to make a hard try for it
this year. That's why I've let some of your older players go, and
signed up new ones. I'm expecting some more boys on in a few days, and
then we'll hike for the Southland and see what sort of shape I can
pound you into.
Don't let me keep you from your game, said Joe to the manager.
Oh, I'll let Campbell finish it for me, he's better at the ivories
than I am, and Watson motioned for the centre fielder to take the cue.
I'll see what sort of a room we can give you, the manager went on.
Nothing like being comfortable. Did you have a good trip?
Contract satisfactory, and all that?
Oh, yes. And, by the way, Mr. Watson, if it isn't asking too much
I'd like to know how you came to hear of me and sign me up?
Oh, I had scouts all over last fall, said the manager with a
smile. One of them happened to see you early in the season, and then
he saw the game you pitched against Clevefield, winning the pennant.
You looked to him like the proper stuff, so I had you drafted to our
I hope you won't repent of your bargain, observed Joe, soberly.
Well, I don't think I will, and yet baseball is pretty much of a
chance game after all. I've often been fooled, I don't mind admitting.
But, Matson, let me tell you one thing, and he spoke more earnestly,
as they walked along a corridor to the lobby of the hotel. You mustn't
imagine that you're going in right off the reel and clean things up.
You'll have to go a bit slow. I want to watch you, and I'll give you
all the opportunity I can.
But you must remember that I have several pitchers, and some of
them are very good. They've been playing in the big leagues for years.
You're a newcomer, and, unless I'm much mistaken, you'll have a bit of
stage fright at first. That's to be expected, and I'm looking for it. I
won't be disappointed if you fall down hard first along. But whatever
else you do, don't get discouraged anddon't lose your nerve, above
I'll try not to, promised Joe. But he made up his mind that he
would surprise the manager and make a brilliant showing as soon as
possible. Joe had several things to learn about baseball as it is
played in the big leagues.
I guess I'll put you in with Rad Chase, said Manager Watson, as he
looked over the page of the register, on which were the names of the
team. His room is a good one, and you'll like him. He's a young chap
about your age.
Was he in there? asked Joe, nodding toward the billiard room,
where he had met several of the players.
No. I don't know where he is, went on the manager. Is Rad out?
he asked of the clerk.
That official, stroking his small blonde mustache, turned to look at
the rack. From the peg of room 413 hung the key.
He's out, the clerk announced.
Well, you might as well go up and make yourself at home, advised
the manager. I'll tell Rad you're quartered with him. Have his grip
taken up, went on Mr. Watson to the clerk.
Front! called the young man behind the desk, and when the same
freckle-faced lad, who had pointed out to Joe the manager, came
shuffling up, the lad took our hero's satchel, and did a little
one-step glide with it toward the elevator.
Tanks, mumbled the same lad, as Joe slipped a dime into his palm,
when the bellboy had opened the room door and set the grip on the floor
by the bed. Say, where do youse play? he asked with the democratic
freedom of the American youth.
Well, I'm supposed to be a pitcher, said Joe.
Huh! It's about time the Cardinals got a guy with a right-hand
delivery! snorted the boy. They've been tryin' southpaws and been
beaten all over the lots. Got any speed?
Well, maybe a little, admitted Joe, smiling at the lad's
Curves, of course?
Dat's th' stuff! Say, I hopes you make good! and the lad, spinning
the dime in the air, deftly caught it, and slid out of the room.
Joe looked after him. He was entering on a new life, and many
emotions were in conflict within him. True, he had been at hotels
before, for he had traveled much when he was in the Central League. But
this time it was different. It seemed a new world to hima new and big
worlda much more important world.
And he was to be a part of it. That was what counted most. He was in
a Big Leaguea place of which he had often dreamed, but to which he
had only aspired in his dreams. Now it was a reality.
Joe unpacked his grip. His trunk check he had given to the clerk,
who said he would send to the railroad station for the baggage. Then
Joe changed his collar, put on a fresh tie, and went down in the
elevator. He wanted to be among the players who were to be his
companions for the coming months.
Joe liked Rad Chase at once. In a way he was like Charlie Hall, but
rather older, and with more knowledge of the world.
Do you play cards? was Rad's question, after the formalities of
introduction, Joe's roommate having come in shortly after our hero went
Well, I can make a stab at whist, but I'm no wonder, confessed
Do you play Canfield solitaire?
Never heard of it.
Shake hands! cried Rad, and he seemed relieved.
Why? asked Joe.
Well, the fellow I roomed with last year was a fiend at Canfield
solitaire. He'd sit up until all hours of the morning, trying to make
himself believe he wasn't cheating, and I lost ten pounds from not
getting my proper sleep.
Well, I'll promise not to keep you awake that way, said Joe with a
Do you snore? Rad wanted next to know.
I never heard myself.
I guess you'll do, he said. We'll hit it off all right.
Joe soon fell easily into the life at the big hotel. He met all the
other players, and while some regarded him with jealous eyes, most of
them welcomed him in their midst. Truth to tell, the St. Louis team was
in a bad way, and the players, tired of being so far down on the list,
were willing to make any sacrifices of professional feeling in order to
be in line for honors, and a share in the pennant money, providing it
could be brought to pass that they reached the top of the list.
Joe spent a week at the hotel while Manager Watson was arranging
matters for the trip South. One or two players had not yet arrived,
dickers being under way for their purchase.
But finally the announcement was made that the start for the
training camp, at Reedville, Alabama, would be made in three days.
And I'm glad of it! cried Rad Chase, as he and Joe came back one
evening from a moving picture show, and heard the news. I'm tired of
sitting around here doing nothing. I want to get a bat in my hands.
So do I, agreed Joe. It sure will be great to get out on the
grass again. Have you ever been in Reedville?
No, but I hear it's a decent place. There's a good local team there
that we brush up against, and two or three other teams in the vicinity.
It'll be lively enough.
Where do you like to play? asked Joe.
Third's my choice, but I hear I'm to be soaked in at short. I hate
it, too, but Watson seems to think I fill in there pretty well.
I suppose a fellow has to play where he's considered best, whether
he wants to or not, said Joe. I hope I can pitch, but I may be sent
out among the daisies for all that.
Well, we've got a pretty good outfield as it is, went on Rad. I
guess, from what I hear, that you'll be tried out on the mound, anyhow.
Whether you stick there or not will be up to you.
It sure is, agreed Joe.
A box-party was given at the theatre by the manager for the players,
to celebrate their departure for the South. The play was a musical
comedy, and some of the better known players were made the butt of
jokes by the performers on the stage.
This delighted Joe, and he longed for the time when he would be
thought worthy of such notice. The audience entered into the fun of the
occasion, and when the chief comedian came out, and, in a witty
address, presented Manager Watson with a diamond pin, and wished him
all success for the coming season, there were cheers for the team.
Everybody stand up! called Toe Barter, one of the veteran
pitchers. Seventh inningeverybody stretch!
The players in the two boxes arose to face the audience in the
theatre, and there were more cheers. Joe was proud and happy that he
was a part of it all.
That night he wrote home, and also to Mabel, telling of his arrival
in St. Louis, and all that had happened since.
We leave for the South in the morning, he concluded.
The departure of the players on the train was the occasion for
another celebration and demonstration at the depot. A big crowd
collected, several newspaper photographers took snapshots, and there
were cheers and floral emblems.
Joe wished his folks could have been present. Compared to the time
when he had gone South to train for the Pittston team, this was a big
A reporter from the most important St. Louis paper was to accompany
the team as staff correspondent, for St. Louis was, and always has
been, a good fan town, and loyal to the ball teams.
All aboard! called the conductor.
There were final cheers, final good-byes, final hand-shakes, final
wishes of good luck, and then the train pulled out. Joe and his
teammates were on their way South.
It was the start of the training season, and of what would take
place between that and the closing Joe little dreamed.
CHAPTER XII. THE QUARRELING MAN
Quite a little family party it was the St. Louis players composed as
they traveled South in their private car, for they enjoyed that
distinction. This was something new for Joe, as the Pittston team was
not blessed with a wealthy owner, and an ordinary Pullman had sufficed
when Joe made his former trip. Now it was travel de luxe.
The more Joe saw of Rad Chase the more he liked the fellow, and the
two soon became good friends, being much in each other's company,
sharing the upper and lower berths by turns in their section, eating at
the same table, and fraternizing generally.
Some of the older players were accompanied by their wives, and after
the first few hours of travel everyone seemed to know everyone else,
and there was much talk and laughter.
Can't you fellows supply me with some dope? asked a voice in the
aisle beside the seats occupied by Joe and Rad. I've gotten off all
the departure stuff, and I want something for a lead for to-morrow.
Shoot me some new dope; will you?
Oh, hello, Jim! greeted Rad, and then, as Joe showed that he did
not recognize the speaker, the other player went on: This is the
Dispatch-Times's staff correspondent, Jim Dalrymple. You want to be
nice to him, Joe, and he'll put your name and picture in the paper. Got
anything you can give him for a story?
I'm afraid not, laughed Joe.
Oh, anything will do, as long as I can hang a lead on it, said
Dalrymple hopefully. If you've never tried to get up new stuff every
day at a training camp of a ball team, you've no idea what a little
thing it takes to make news. Now you don't either of you happen to have
a romance about you; do you? he inquired, pulling out a fold of copy
paper. (Your real reporter never carries a note book. A bunch of paper,
or the back of an envelope will do to jot down a few facts. The rest is
written later from memory. Only stage reporters carry note books, and,
of late they are getting wise and abstaining from it.)
A romance? repeated Joe. Far be it from me to conceal such a
thing about my person.
But you have had rather a rapid rise in baseball; haven't
you, Joe? insinuated Rad. You didn't have to wait long for promotion.
Why not make up a yarn about that? went on Rad, nodding at the
Sure I'll do it. Give me a few facts. Not too many, the newspaper
man said with a whimsical smile. I don't want to be tied down too
hard. I like to let my fancy have free play.
He's all right, whispered Rad in an aside to Joe. One of the best
reporters going, and he always gives you a fair show. If you make an
error he'll debit you with it, but when you play well he'll feature
you. He's been South with the team a lot of times, I hear.
But I don't like to talk about myself, objected Joe.
Don't let that worry you! laughed Rad. Notoriety is what keeps
baseball where it is to-day, and if it wasn't for the free advertising
we get in the newspapers there would not be the attendance that brings
in the dollars, and lets us travel in a private car. Don't be afraid of
boosting yourself. The reporters will help you, and be glad to. They
have to get the stuff, and often enough it's hard to do, especially at
the training camp.
In some way or other, Joe never knew exactly how, Dalrymple managed
to get a story out of him, about how Joe had been drafted, how he had
begun playing ball as a boy on the sand lots, how he had pitched Yale
to victory against Princeton, and a few other details, with which my
readers are already familiar.
Say, this'll do first rate! exulted the reporter, as he went to a
secluded corner to write his story, which would be telegraphed back to
his daily newspaper. I'm glad I met you! he laughed.
Dalrymple was impartial, which is the great secret of a newspaper
reporter's success. Though he gave Joe a good show, he also played
up some of the other members of the team. So that when copies of the
paper were received later, they contained an account of Joe's progress,
sandwiched in between a yarn of how the catcher had once worked in a
boiler factory, where he learned to catch red-hot rivets, and how one
of the outfielders had inherited a fortune, which he had dissipated,
and then, reforming, had become a star player. So Joe had little chance
to get a swelled head, which is a bad thing for any of us.
The first part of the journey South was made in record time, but
after the private car was transferred to one of the smaller railroad
lines there were delays that fretted the players.
What's the matter? asked Manager Watson of the conductor as that
official came through after a long stop at a water tank station, won't
the cow get off the track? and he winked at the players gathered about
That joke's a hundred years old, retorted the ticket-taker. Think
up a new one! There's a freight wreck ahead of us, and we have to go
Well, as long as we get there some time this week, it will be all
right, I reckon, drawled the manager.
Reedville was reached toward evening of the second day, and the
travel-weary ball-tossers piled out of their coach to find themselves
at the station of a typical Southern town.
Laziness and restfulness were in the air, which was warm with the
heat of the slowly setting sun. There was the odor of flowers. Colored
men were all about, shuffling here and there, driving their
slowly-ambling horses attached to rickety vehicles, or backing them up
at the platform to get some of the passengers.
Majestic Hotel right this yeah way, suh! Right over yeah! voiced
the driver of a yellow stage. Goin' right up, suh!
That's our place, boys, announced the manager. Pile in, and let
me have your checks. I'll have the baggage sent up.
Joe and the others took their place in the side-seated stage. A
little later, the manager having arranged for the transportation of the
trunks, they were driven toward the hotel that was to be their
headquarters while in the South.
They were registering at the hotel desk, and making arrangements
about who was to room with who, when Joe heard the hotel clerk call Mr.
He says he's with your party, suh, the clerk spoke. He arrived
yesterday, and wanted to be put on the same floor with your players.
Says he's going to be a member of the team.
Huh! I guess someone is bluffing you! exclaimed the manager. I've
got all my team with me. Who is the fellow, anyhow?
That's his signature, went on the clerk, pointing to it on the
Hum! Wessel; eh? said Mr. Watson. Never heard of him. Where is
There he stands, over by the cigar counter.
Joe, who had heard the talk, looked, and, to his surprise, he beheld
the same individual who had tried to pick a quarrel with him the night
of the sleigh ride.
CHAPTER XIII. UNDER SUNNY SKIES
That man! exclaimed Mr. Watson, as he gave the stranger a quick
glance. No, I don't know him, and he certainly isn't a member of my
team. He isn't going to be, either; as far as I know. I'm expecting
some other recruits, but no one named Wessel.
Joe said nothing. He was wondering if the man would recognize him,
and, perhaps, renew that strange, baseless quarrel. And, to his
surprise, the man did recognize him, but merely to bow. And then, to
Joe's further surprise, the individual strolled over to where the
manager and some of the players were standing, and began:
Is this Mr. Watson?
That's my nameyes, but there was no cordiality in the tone.
Well, I'm Isaac Wessel. I used to play short on the Rockpoint team
in the Independent League. My contract has expired and I was wondering
whether you couldn't sign me up.
Nothing doing, replied Mr. Watson, tersely. I have all the
material I need.
I spoke to Mr. Johnson about it, naming one of the owners of the
St. Louis team, and he said to see you.
Did he tell you to tell me to put you on?
No, I wouldn't go so far as to say that, was the hesitating reply.
And did he say I was to give you a try-out?
Well, heersaid you could if you wanted to.
Well, I don't want to, declared the manager with decision.
And I want to say that you went too far when you told the clerk here
you belonged to my party. I don't know you, and I don't want anything
to do with a man who acts that way, and Mr. Watson turned aside.
Well, I didn't mean any harm, whined Wessel. TheerIerthe
clerk must have misunderstood me.
All right. Let it go at that, was all the answer he received.
Then you won't give me a chance?
The man evidently realized that this was the end, for he, too,
turned aside. As he did so he looked sneeringly at Joe, and mumbled:
I suppose you think you're the whole pitching staff now?
Joe did not take the trouble to answer. But, though he ignored the
man, he could not help wondering what his plan was in coming to the
training camp. Could there be a hidden object in it, partly covered by
the fellow's plea that he wanted to get on the team?
Do you often have cases like that, Mr. Watson? Joe asked the
manager when he had a chance.
Like what, Matson?
Like that Wessel.
Oh, occasionally. But they don't often get as fresh as he did. The
idea of a bush-leaguer thinking he could break into the majors like
that. He sure had nerve! Well, now I hope we're all settled, and can
get to work. We've struck good weather, anyhow.
And indeed the change from winter to summer was little short of
marvelous. They had come from the land of ice and snow to the warm
beauty of sunny skies. There was a feeling of spring in the air, and
the blood of every player tingled with life.
Say, it sure will be great to get out on the diamond and slam the
ball about; won't it? cried Joe to Rad Chase, as the two were
unpacking in their hotel room.
That's what! How are you on stick work?
Oh, no better than the average pitcher, replied Joe, modestly. I
had a record of .172 last season.
That's not so worse, observed Rad.
What's yours? asked Joe.
Oh, it runs around .250.
Good! cried Joe. I hope you get it up to .300 this year.
Not much chance of that. I was picked because I'm pretty good with
the sticka sort of pinch hitter. But then that's not being a star
pitcher, he added, lest Joe feel badly at the contrast in their
Oh, I'm far from being a star, but I'd like to be in that class.
There's my best bat, and he held out his stick.
Oh, you like that kind; eh? spoke Rad. Well, I'll show you what I
favor, and then the two plunged into a talk that lasted until meal
The arrival of the St. Louis team in the comparatively small town of
Reedville was an event of importance. There was quite a crowd about the
hotel, made up mostly of small boys, who wanted a chance to see the
players about whom they had read so much.
After the meal, as Joe, Rad and some of the others strolled out for
a walk about the place, our hero caught murmurs from the crowd of lads
about the entrance.
There's 'Toe' Barter, one lad whispered, nodding toward a veteran
Yes, and that fellow walking with him is 'Slim' Cooney. He pitched
a no-hit, no-run game last year.
Sure, I know it. And that fellow with the pipe in his mouth is
'Dots' McCann, the shortstop. He's a peach!
And so it went on. Joe's name was not mentioned by the admiring
Our turn will come later, said Rad, with a smile.
I guess so, agreed his chum, somewhat dubiously.
Reedville was a thriving community, and boasted of a good nine, with
whom the St. Louis team expected to cross bats a number of times during
the training season. Then, too, in nearby towns, were other teams, some
of them semi-professional, who would be called on to sacrifice
themselves that the Cardinals might have something to bring out their
own strong and weak points.
Let's go over to the grounds, suggested Joe.
I'm with you, agreed Rad.
Say, you fellows won't be so anxious to head for the diamond a
little later in the season, remarked Doc Mullin, one of the
outfielders. You'll be only too glad to give it the pass-up; won't
they? he appealed to Roger Boswell, the trainer and assistant manager.
Well, I like to see young fellows enthusiastic, said Boswell, who
had been a star catcher in his day. But age, and an increasing deposit
of fat, had put him out of the game. Now he coached the youngsters, and
when Muggins, as Mr. Watson was playfully called, was not on hand he
managed the games from the bench. He was a star at that sort of thing.
Go to it, boys, he advised Joe and Rad, with a friendly nod. You
can't get too much baseball when you're young.
The diamond at Reedville was nothing to boast of, but it would serve
well enough for practice. And the grandstand was only a frail, wooden
affair, nothing like the big one at Robison Field, in St. Louis.
Joe and Rad walked about the field, and longed for the time when
they would be out on it in uniform.
Which will be about to-morrow, spoke Rad, as Joe mentioned his
desire. We'll start in at light work, batting fungo and the like,
limbering up our legs, and then we'll do hard work.
I guess so, agreed Joe.
The weather could not have been better. The sun shone warmly from a
blue sky, and there was a balmy spiciness to the southern wind.
Rad and Joe walked about town, made a few purchases, and were
turning back to the hotel when they saw Cosey Campbell, the third
baseman, standing in front of a men's furnishing store.
I say, fellows, come here, he called to the two. They came. Do
you think that necktie is too bright for a fellow? went on Campbell,
pointing to a decidedly gaudy one in the show window.
Well, it depends on who's going to wear it, replied Rad,
Why, I am, of course, was the surprised answer. Who'd you
I didn't know but what you were buying it to use for a foul line
flag, chuckled Rad, for Campbell's weakness for scarfs was well known.
He bought one or two new ones every day, and, often enough, grew
dissatisfied with his purchase before he had worn it. Then he tried to
sell it to some other member of the team, usually without success.
Huh! Foul flag! grunted Campbell. Guess you don't know a swell
tie when you see it. I'm going to get it, he added rather desperately,
as though afraid he would change his mind.
Go ahead. We'll go in and see fair play, suggested Joe, with a
The tie was purchased, and the clerk, after selling the bright
scarf, seeing that Campbell had a package in his hand, inquired:
Shall I wrap them both up together for you?
If you don't mind, replied the third baseman. And, in tying up the
bundle, the one Campbell had been carrying came open, disclosing three
neckties more gaudy, if possible, than the one he had just purchased.
For the love of strikes! cried Rad. What are you going to do;
start a store?
Oh, I just took a fancy to these in a window down street, replied
Campbell easily. Rather neat; don't you think? and he held up a red
and green one.
Neat! Say, they look like the danger signals in the New York
subway! cried Rad. Shade your eyes, Joe, or you won't be able to see
the ball to-morrow!
That shows how much taste you fellows have, snapped Campbell.
Those are swell ties.
But the next day Joe heard Campbell trying to dispose of some of the
newly purchased scarfs to Dots McCann.
Go ahead, 'Dots,' take one, pleaded the baseman. You need a new
tie, and I've got more than I want. This red and green one, now; it's
Go on! cried the other player. Why I'd hate to look at myself in
a glass with that around my neck! And you'd better not wear it,
eitherat least, not around town.
Why not? was the wondering answer.
Because you might scare some of the mules, and there'd be a
runaway. Tie a stone around it, Campbell, and drown it. It makes so
much noise I can't sleep, and with that McCann walked off, leaving
behind him a very indignant teammate.
That night notice was given that all the players would assemble at
the baseball diamond in uniform next morning.
That's the idea! cried Joe. Now for some real work.
CHAPTER XIV. HARD WORK
The rooms of the ball players were all in one part of the hotel,
along the same hall. Joe and Rad were together, near the stairway going
That night, their first in the training camp, there was considerable
visiting to and fro among the members of the team, and some little
horse-play, for, after all, the players were like big boys, in many
Rad, who had been in calling on some of his fellow players, came
back to the room laughing.
What's up? asked Joe, who was writing a letter.
Oh, Campbell is still trying to get rid of that hideous tie we
helped him purchase. He wanted to wish it on to me.
And of course you took it, said Joe, with a smile.
Of course I did not. Well, I guess I'll turn in. We'll have
plenty to do to-morrow.
That's right. I'll be with you as soon as I finish this letter.
But Rad was sound asleep when Joe had finished his correspondence,
and slipped downstairs to leave it at the desk for the early mail. Joe
looked around the now almost deserted lobby, half expecting to see the
strange man, Wessel, standing about. But he was not in sight.
I wonder what his game is, after all? mused Joe. I seem to have
been running into two or three queer things lately. There's Shalleg,
who bears me a grudge, though I don't see why he should, just because I
couldn't lend him money, and then there's this fellowI only hope the
two of them don't go into partnership against me. I guess that's hardly
likely to happen, though.
But Joe little realized what was in store for him, and what danger
he was to run from these same two men.
Joe awakened suddenly, about midnight, by hearing someone moving
around the room. He raised himself softly on his elbow, and peered
about the apartment, for a dim light showed over the transom from the
hall outside. To Joe's surprise the door, which he had locked from the
inside before going to bed, now stood ajar.
I wonder if Rad can be sick, and have gone out? Joe thought.
Maybe he walks in his sleep.
He looked over toward his chum's bed, but could not make out whether
or not Rad was under the covers. Then, as he heard someone moving about
the apartment he called out:
That you, Rad?
Instantly the noise ceased, to be resumed a moment later, and Joe
felt sure that someone, or something, went past the foot of his bed and
out into the hall.
That you, Rad? he called again.
What's that? Who? No, I'm here, answered the voice of his chum.
What's the matter?
Joe sprang out of bed, and in one bound reached the corridor. By
means of the one dim electric lamp he saw, going down the stairs,
carrying a grip with him, the mysterious man who had tried to quarrel
with him. He was evidently taking French leave, going out in the
middle of the night to jump his hotel bill.
What's up? asked Rad, as he, too, left his bed. What is it, Joe?
The young pitcher came back into the room, and switched on a light.
A quick glance about showed that neither his baggage, nor Rad's, had
It must have been his own grip he had, said Joe.
His? Who do you meanwhat's up? demanded Rad.
It was Wessel. He's sneaking out, remarked Joe in a low voice.
Shall we give the alarm?
No, I guess not. We don't want to be mixed up in a row. And maybe
he's going to take a midnight train. You can't tell.
I think he was in this room, went on Joe.
He was? Anything missing?
Doesn't seem to be.
Well, then, don't make a row. Maybe he made a mistake.
He'd hardly unlock our door by mistake, declared Joe.
No, that's so. Did you see him in here?
No, but I heard someone.
Well, it wouldn't be safe to make any cracks. Better not make a
row, as long as nothing is gone.
Joe decided to accept this advice, and went back to bed, after
taking the precaution to put a chair-back under the knob, as well as
locking it. It was some time before he got to sleep, however. But Rad
was evidently not worried, for he was soon in peaceful slumber.
Rad's theory that Wessel had gone out in the middle of the night to
get a train was not borne out by the facts, for it became known in the
morning that he had, as Joe suspected, jumped his board bill.
And he called himself a ball player! exclaimed Mr. Watson in
disgust. I'd like to meet with him again!
Maybe you will, ventured Joe, but he did not know how soon his
prediction was to come to pass.
Well, boys, we'll see how we shape up, said the manager, a little
later that morning when the members of the team, with their uniforms
on, had assembled at the ball park. Get out there and warm up.
Riordan, bat some fungoes for the boys. McCann, knock the grounders.
Boswell, you catch forlet's seeI guess I'll wish you on to Matson.
We'll see what sort of an arm he's got.
Joe smiled, and his heart beat a trifle faster. It was his first
trial with the big league, an unofficial and not very important trial,
to be sure, but none the less momentous to him.
Soon was heard the crack of balls as they bounded off the bats, to
be followed by the thuds as they landed in the gloves of the players.
The training work was under way.
What sort of ball do you pitch? asked the old player pleasantly of
Joe, as they moved off to a space by themselves for practice.
Well, I've got an in, an out, a fadeaway and a spitter.
Quite a collection. How about a cross-fire?
I can work it a little.
That's good. Now let's see what you can do. But take it easy at
first. You don't want to throw out any of your elbow tendons so early
in the season.
I guess not, laughed Joe.
Then he began to throw, bearing in mind the advice of the veteran
assistant manager. The work was slow at first, and Joe found himself
much stiffer than he expected. But the warm air, and the swinging of
his arm, limbered him up a bit, and soon he was sending in some swift
Go slow, son, warned Boswell. You're not trying to win a game,
you know. You're getting a little wild.
Joe felt a bit chagrined, but he knew it was for his own good that
the advice was given.
Besides the pitching and batting practice, there was some running
around the bases. But Manager Watson knew better than to keep the boys
at it too long, and soon called the work off for the day.
We'll give it a little harder whack to-morrow, he said. And then
Joe, as he went to the dressing rooms, overheard the manager ask
What do you think of Matson?
Oh, he's not such a wonder, was the not very encouraging reply.
But I've seen lots worse. He'll do to keep on your string, but he's
got a lot to learn. It's a question of what he'll do when he faces the
big teams, and hears the crowd yelling: 'He's rotten! Take him out!'
That's what's going to tell.
Yes, I suppose so. But I heard good reports of himthat gameness
was one of his qualities.
Well, he'll need it all right, declared the veteran player.
Then Joe passed on, not wanting to listen to any more. Truth to
tell, he rather wished he had not heard that much. His pride was a
little hurt. To give him credit, Joe had nothing like a swelled head.
He knew he had done good work in the Central League, and there,
perhaps, he had been made more of than was actually good for him. Here
he was to find that, relatively, he counted for little.
A big team must have a number of pitchers, and not all of them can
be first string men. Some must be kept to work against weak teams, to
spare the stars for tight places. Joe realized this.
But if hard work will get me anywhere I'm going to arrive! he said
to himself, grimly, as the crowd of players went back to the hotel.
The days that followed were given up to hard and constant practice.
Each day brought a little more hard work, for the time was approaching
when practice games must be played with the local teams, and it was
necessary that the Cardinals make a good showing.
Life in the training camp of a major league team was different than
Joe had found it with the Pittstons. There was a more business-like
tone to it, and more snap.
The newspaper men found plenty of copy at first, in chronicling the
doings of the big fellows, telling how this one was working up his
pitching speed, or how that one was improving his batting. Then, too,
the funny little incidents and happenings about the diamond and hotel
were made as much of as possible.
The various reporters had their own papers sent on to them, and
soon, in some of these, notably the St. Louis publications, Joe began
to find himself mentioned occasionally. These clippings he sent home to
the folks. He wanted to send some to Mabel, but he was afraid she might
think he was attaching too much importance to himself, so he refrained.
Some of the reporters did not speak very highly of Joe's abilities,
and others complimented him slightly. All of them intimated that some
day he might amount to something, and then, again, he might not.
Occasionally he was spoken of as a promising youngster.
It was rather faint praise, but it was better than none. And Joe
steeled himself to go on in his own way, taking the well-intentioned
advice of the other baseball players, Boswell in particular.
Joe had other things besides hard work to contend against. This was
the petty jealousy that always crops up in a high-tensioned ball team.
There were three other chief pitchers on the nine, Toe Barter, Sam
Willard and Slim Cooney. Slim and Toe were veterans, and the mainstays
of the team, and Sam Willard was one of those chaps so often seen in
baseball, a brilliant but erratic performer.
Sometimes he would do excellently, and again he would fall down
lamentably. And, for some reason, Sam became jealous of Joe. Perhaps he
would have been jealous of any young pitcher who he thought might, in
time, displace him. But he seemed to be particularly vindictive against
Joe. It started one day in a little practice game, when Sam, after some
particularly wild work, was replaced by our hero.
Huh! Now we'll see some real pitching, Sam sneered as he sulked
away to the bench.
Joe turned red, and was nervous as he took his place.
Perhaps if Joe had made a fizzle of it Willard might have forgiven
him, but Joe, after a few rather poor balls, tightened up and struck
out several men neatly, though they were not star batters.
The Boy Wonder! sneered Willard after the game. Better order a
cap a couple of sizes larger for him after this, Roger, he went on to
Oh, dry up! retorted Boswell, who had little liking for Willard.
And so the hard work went on. The men, whitened by the indoor life
of the winter, were beginning to take on a bronze tan. Muscles hardened
and become more springy. Running legs improved. The pitchers were
sending in swifter balls, Joe included. The fungo batters were sending
up better flies. The training work was telling.
CHAPTER XV. ANOTHER THREAT
The old familiar cries, and the resonant sound of the starting gong,
were heard at the Reedville diamond. It was the first real game of the
season, and it was awaited anxiously, not only by the players, but by
Manager Watson, the coach, and by the owners back home. For it would
give a line on what St. Louis could do.
Of course it was not a league contest, and the work, good, bad or
indifferent, would not count in the averages. Joe hoped he would get a
chance to pitch, at least part of the game, but he was not likely to,
Boswell frankly told him, as it was desired to let Barter and Cooney
have a fairly hard work-out on this occasion.
But your turn will come, son, said the coach, kindly. Don't you
fret. I think you're improving, and, to be frank with you, there's lots
of room for it. But you've got grit, and that's what I like to see.
Reedville was a good baseball town, which was one of the reasons why
Manager Watson had selected it as his training camp. The townspeople
were ardent supporters of the home team, and they welcomed the advent
of the big leaguers. In the vicinity were also other teams that played
The bleachers and grandstand were well filled when the umpire gave
his echoing cry of:
The ball-tossers had been warming up, both the Cardinals and the
home team, which proved to be a husky aggregation of lads, with
tremendous hitting abilities, provided they could connect with the
ball. And that was just what the St. Louis pitchers hoped to prevent.
Willard, you can lead off, was the unexpected announcement of Mr.
Watson, as he scanned his batting order. McCann will catch for you.
Now let's see what you can do.
I'll show 'em! exclaimed the grouchy pitcher as he unbuttoned
his glove from his belt. He had been warming up, and had come to the
bench, donning a sweater, with no hope of being put in the game at the
start off. But, unexpectedly, he had been called on.
Play ball! cried the umpire again.
Joe wished, with all his heart, that he was going in, but it was not
In order to give the home team every possible advantage, they were
to go to bat last. And there was some little wonder when the first St.
Louis player faced the local pitcher. There were cries of encouragement
from the crowd, for Robert Lee Randolphthe pitcher in questionhad
aspirations to the big league. He was a tall, lanky youth, and, as the
Cardinal players soon discovered, had not much except speed in his box.
But he certainly had speed, and that, with his ability, or inability,
to throw wildly, made him a player to be feared as much as he was
He hit three players during the course of the game, and hit them
If they can't beat us any other way they're going to cripple us,
said Rad grimly to Joe, as they sat on the bench.
It does look that way; doesn't it? agreed our hero.
The game went on, and, as might have been expected, the St. Louis
team did about as they pleased. No, that is hardly correct. Even a
country aggregation of players can sometimes make the finest nine of
professionals stand on its mettle. And, in this case, for a time, the
contest was comparatively close.
For Mr. Watson did not send in all his best players, and, from the
fact that his men had not been in a game since the former season
closed, whereas the Reedville team had been at the game for two months
or more, the disadvantage was not as great as it might have seemed.
But there was one surprise. When Willard first went in he pitched
brilliantly, and struck out the local players in good order, allowing
only a few scattering hits.
Then he suddenly went to pieces, and was severely pounded. Only
excellent fielding saved him, for he was well backed-up by his fellow
Rexter will bat for you, Willard, said Manager Watson, when the
inning was over. Cooney, you go out and warm up.
What's the matter. Ain't I pitching all right? angrily demanded
the deposed one.
I'm sorry to say you're not. I'm not afraid of losing the game, but
I don't want any more of this sort of stuff going back home, replied
the manager, as he nodded over to where the newspaper reporters were
chuckling among themselves over the comparatively poor exhibition the
St. Louis Cardinals had so far put up.
So Willard went to the bench, while crafty Cooney, with his
left-hand delivery, went to warm up. And how Joe did wish he
would get a chance!
But he did not, and the game ended, as might have been expected,
with the Cardinals snowing under their country opponents.
Hard practice followed that first exhibition game, and there were
some shifts among the players, for unexpected weakness, as well as
strength had by this time developed in certain quarters.
I wonder when I'll get a chance to show what I can do? spoke Joe
to Rad, as they were on their way back to the hotel, after a second
contest with Reedville, in which our hero had still stuck to the bench.
Oh, it's bound to come, his chum told him. Personally, he was
joyful, for he had been given a try-out, and had won the applause of
the crowd by making a difficult play.
Well, it seems a long time, grumbled Joe, with a sigh.
The practice became harder, as the opening of the season drew
nearer. Some recruits joined the Cardinals at their training camp, and
further shifts were made.
Joe was finally given a chance to pitch against a team from Bottom
Flatsa team, by the way, not as strong as the Reedville nine. And
that Joe made good was little to his credit, as he himself knew.
I could have fanned them without any curves, he told Rad
Well, it's good you didn't take any chances, his chum said. You
never can tell.
Again came a contest with Reedville, but Joe was not called on. Toe
Barter, who had gained his nickname from the queer habit he had of
digging a hole for his left foot, before delivering the ball, opened
the contest, and did so well that he was kept in until the game was in
the refrigerator. Then Joe was given his chance, but there was little
incentive to try, with the Cardinals so far ahead.
Nevertheless, our hero did his best, and to his delight, he knocked
a two-bagger, sliding to second amid a cloud of dust, to be decided
safe by the umpire, though there was a howl of protest from the fans.
The Cardinals won handily, and as Joe was walking to the club house
with Rad, eagerly talking about the game, he saw, just ahead of him in
the crowd of spectators a figure, at the sight of which he started.
That looks like Shalleg, he said, half aloud.
What's that? asked Rad.
Oh, nothing. I just thought I saw someone I knew. That is, I don't
exactly know him, but
At that moment the man at whose back Joe had been looking turned
suddenly, and, to our hero's surprise, it was Shalleg. The man, with an
impudent grin on his face, spoke to a companion loudly enough for Joe
There's the fellow who wouldn't help me out! Shalleg exclaimed.
He turned me down cold. Look at him.
The other turned, and Joe's surprise was heightened when he saw
Wessel, the man who had tried to quarrel with him, and who had jumped
his bill at the hotel.
Oh, I know him all right, Wessel responded to Shalleg. I've seen
Joe and Rad, with the two men, were comparatively alone now. The
attitude and words of the fellows were so insulting that Joe almost
made up his mind to defy them. But before he had a chance to do so
Shalleg snapped out:
You want to look out for yourself, young man. I'll get you yet, and
I'll get even with you for having me turned down. You want to look out.
Bill Shalleg is a bad man to have for an enemy. Come on, Ike, and with
that they turned away and were soon lost in the throng.
CHAPTER XVI. JOE'S TRIUMPH
Well, what do you know about that? cried Rad, with a queer look at
I don't know what to think about it, and that's the truth, was the
simple but puzzled answer.
But who are theywhat do they mean? The idea of them threatening
you that way! Why, that's against the law!
Maybe it is, agreed Joe. As for who those men are, you know
Wessel, of course.
Yes. The fellow who jumped his board bill at the hotel. Say, I
guess the proprietor would like to see him. He has nerve coming back to
this town. I've a good notion to tell the hotel clerk he's here. Mr.
Watson would be glad to know it, too, for he takes it as a reflection
on the team that Wessel should claim to be one of us, and then cheat
the way he did.
Maybe it would be a good plan to tell on him, agreed Joe.
And who's the other chap, and why did he threaten you? his chum
That's another queer thing, the young pitcher went on. He's angry
at me, as near as I can tell, because I had to refuse him a loan, and
he detailed the circumstances of his meeting with Shalleg.
But it's odd that he and Wessel should be chumming together. I've
said little about it, but I've been wondering for a long time why
Wessel quarreled with me. I begin to see a light now. It must have been
that Shalleg put him up to it.
A queer game, admitted Rad. Well, I think I'll put the hotel
proprietor wise to the fact that he can collect that board bill from
But Joe and Rad found their plans unexpectedly changed when they
went to put them into effect. They were a little late getting back to
the hotel from the grounds, as Joe had some purchases to make. And, as
the two chums entered the lobby, they saw standing by the desk the two
men in question. Mr. Watson was addressing Shalleg in no uncertain
No, I tell you! he exclaimed. I won't have you on the team, and
this is the last time I'll tell you. And I don't want you hanging
around, either. You don't do us any good.
Is that your last word? asked Shalleg, angrily.
Yes, my last word. I want you to clear out and leave us alone.
Huh! I guess you can't keep me away from games! sneered Shalleg.
This is a free country.
Well, you keep away from my club, warned Mr. Watson, with great
firmness. I wouldn't have you as a bat-tender.
The flushed and ill-favored face of Shalleg grew more red, if that
were possible, and he growled:
Oh, don't let that worry you. Some day you may be glad to send for
me to help pull your old club out of the cellar. Someone has been
talking about me, that's the trouble; and if I find out who it is I'll
make 'em sweat for it! and he glared at Joe, who was too amazed at the
strange turn of affairs to speak.
Then the two cronies turned and started out of the hotel lobby. But
Rad was not going to be foiled so easily. He slipped over to the clerk
Say, that's the fellow who jumped his board bill, you know, and he
nodded at Wessel.
Yes, I know, the clerk replied. He just came in to settle. He
apologized, and said he had to leave in a hurry, and the clerk winked
his eye to show how much belief he placed in the story.
Hum! mused Rad. That's rather queer. He must have wanted to
square matters up so he could come back to town safely.
Looks so, returned the clerk.
Joe talked the matter over with his roommate, as to whether or not
it would be advisable to tell Mr. Watson how Shalleg had threatened the
young pitcher, and also whether to speak about the queer actions of
But I think, on the whole, concluded Joe, that I won't say
anything; at least not yet a while. The boss has troubles enough as it
I guess you're right, agreed Rad.
But what about him being in our room that night? asked Joe. I
wonder if I hadn't better speak of that?
Oh, I don't know as I would, replied his chum. In the first
place, we can't be absolutely sure that it was he, though I guess
you're pretty certain. Then, again, we didn't miss anything, and he
could easily claim it was all a mistakethat he went in by
accidentand we'd be laughed at for making such a charge.
Probably, agreed Joe. As you say, I can't be dead sure, though
I'm morally certain.
One of the porters might have opened our door by mistake, went on
Rad. You know the hotel workers have pass-keys. Better let it drop.
And they did. Joe, however, often wondered, in case Wessel had entered
his room, what his object could have been. But it was not until some
time later that he learned.
Shalleg and his crony were not seen around the hotel again, nor, for
that matter, at the ball grounds, eitherat least during the next
Practice went on as usual, only it grew harder and more exacting.
Joe was made to pitch longer and longer each day, and, though he did
not get a chance to play in many games, and then only unimportant ones,
still he was not discouraged.
There were many shifts among the out and infield staff, the manager
trying different players in order to get the best results. The pitching
staff remained unchanged, however. Some more recruits were received,
some of them remaining after a gruelling try-out, and others falling
by the wayside.
In addition to pitching balls for Boswell to catch, and doing some
stick work, Joe was required to practice with the other catchers of the
I want you to get used to all of them, Matson, said the manager.
There's no telling, in this business, when I may have to call on my
youngsters. I want you to be always ready.
I'll try, promised Joe, with a smile.
You're coming on, observed Boswell, after a day of hard pitching,
which had made Joe's arm ache. You're coming on, youngster. I guess
you're beginning to feel that working in a big league is different than
in a minor; eh?
It sure is! admitted Joe, rubbing his aching muscles.
Well, you're getting more speed and better control, went on the
veteran. And you don't mind taking advice; that's what I like about
Indeed I'd be glad of any tips you could give me, responded Joe,
He did indeed realize that there was a hard road ahead of him, and
he was a little apprehensive of the time when he might be called on to
pitch against such a redoubtable team as the Giants.
Most folks think, went on Boswell, that the chief advantage a
pitcher has over a batter is his speed or his curves. Well, that isn't
exactly so. The thing of it is that the batter has to guess whether the
ball that's coming toward him is a swift straight one, or a
comparatively slow curve. You see, he's got to make up his mind mighty
quickly as to the speed of the horsehide, and he can't always do it.
Now, if a batter knew in advance just what the pitcher was going to
deliverwhether a curve or a straight one, why that batter would have
a cinch, so to speak. You may be the best twirler in the league, but
you couldn't win your games if the batters knew what you were going to
hand themthat is, knew in advance, I mean.
But that's what signals are for, exclaimed Joe. I watch the
catcher's signals, and if I think he's got the right idea I sign that
I'll heave in what he's signalled for. If not, I'll make a switch.
Exactly, said the old player, and that's what I'm coming to. If
your signals are found out, where are you? Up in the air, so to speak.
So you want to have several sets of signals, in order to change them in
the middle of an inning if you find you're being double-crossed.
There's lots of coaches who are fiends at getting next to the battery
signs, and tipping them off to their batters. Then the batters know
whether to step out to get a curve, or lay back to wallop a straight
one. The signal business is more important than most players think.
Joe believed this, and, at his suggestion, and on the advice of
Boswell, a little later, a new signal system was devised between the
pitchers and catchers. Joe worked hard to master it, for it was rather
complicated. He wrote the system out, and studied it in his room
Well, boys, a few weeks more and we'll be going home for the
opening of the season, said Mr. Watson in the hotel lobby one day. I
see the Boston Braves are about through training, the Phillies are said
to be all primed, and the Giants are ready to eat up all the rest of
Whom do we open with? asked Joe.
The Cincinnati Reds, answered the manager. The exact date isn't
set yet, but it will be around the last of April. We've got some hard
games here yet. I'm going to play some exhibitions on the way up North,
to break you in gradually.
More hard work and practice, and the playing of several games with
the Reedville and other local nines soon brought the time of departure
This is our last week, Mr. Watson finally announced. And I'm
going to put you boys up against a good stiff proposition. We'll play
the Nipper team Saturday, and I want to warn you that there are some
former big leaguers on it, who can still hit and run and pitch, though
they're not qualified for the big circuit. So don't go to the grounds
with the idea that it'll be a cinch. Play your best. Of course I know
you will, and win; but don't fall down!
Joe hoped he would be called on to pitch, but when the game started,
before the biggest crowd that had yet assembled at the Reedville
grounds, the umpire announced the Cardinal battery as Slim Cooney and
Play ball! came the signal, and the game was under way.
To make the contest a little more even the St. Louis team were to
bat first, giving the visitors the advantage of coming up last in the
Doolin up! called the score keeper, and the lanky left-handed
hitter strolled up to the plate, while Riordan, who was on deck, took
up a couple of bats, swinging them about nervously to limber his arms.
Strike one! bawled the umpire, at the first delivery of the
Doolin turned with a look of disgust and stared at the arbiter, but
said nothing. There was an exchange of signals between catcher and
pitcher, and Joe watched to see if he could read them. But he could
Ball, was the next decision, and this time the pitcher looked
It got to be three and two, and the St. Louis team became rather
Doolin swung at the next with vicious forceand missed.
Strike threebatter's out! announced the umpire, as the ball
landed with a thud in the deep pit of the catcher's mitt.
Doolin threw down his bat hard.
What's he got? whispered Riordan, as he went forward.
Aw, nothing so much! This light bothers me, or I'd have hit for a
three-sacker, believe me!
Riordan smiled, but he did little better. He hit, but the next man
flied out. Rad was up next and hit a twisting grounder that just
managed to evade the shortstop, putting Rad on first and advancing
But that was the end. The next man was neatly struck out, and a
goose-egg went up in St. Louis's frame.
Got to get 'em, boys, announced the manager grimly, as the team
went to the field.
Cooney did not allow a hit that inning, but he was pounded for two
when he was on the mound again, St. Louis in the meanwhile managing to
get a run, through an error.
Say, this is some little team, declared Boswell admiringly.
I told you they were, replied the manager. I want to see our boys
And work they had to.
The best pitcher in the world has his off days, and the best pitcher
in the world may occasionally be pounded, as Slim Cooney was hit that
day. How it happened no one could say, but the Nippers began to slide
ahead, chiefly through hard hitting and excellent pitching.
This won't do, said Manager Watson as the sixth inning saw the
score tied. Matson, go out and warm up. I'm going to see what you can
do. I'm taking a chance, maybe; but I'll risk it.
Joe's heart beat fast. Here was his chance. Willard, who sat near
him on the bench, muttered angrily under his breath.
If I can only do something! thought Joe, anxiously.
CHAPTER XVII. PLAY BALL!
Come on, Joe, I'll catch for you, good-naturedly offered Doc
Mullin, who had been warming the bench, Russell being behind the bat.
That'll give Rob a chance to rest, and he can take you on just before
we go out.
Thanks, replied the young pitcher, and, flushing with pleasure, in
this his triumph, though it was but a small one, he went out to the
bull-pen, to get some practice.
Huh! He'll make a fine show of us! sneered Willard.
He can't make a much worse show than we've made of ourselves
already, put in Cooney quickly. I sure am off my feed to-day. I don't
know what makes it.
Trained a little too fine, I guess, spoke the manager. We'll take
it a bit easy after this.
Speed 'em in, Joe. Vary your delivery, and don't forget the
signals, advised Mullin, as the two were warming up. And don't get
nervous. You'll do all right.
I'm sure I hope so, responded Joe.
He was getting more confidence in himself, but at that, when he
stood on the mound, and had the ball in his hand he could not help a
little twinge of stage fright, or something akin to it.
The batter stepped back, to allow the usual interchange of balls
between pitcher and catcher, and then, when Joe nodded that he was
ready, moved up to the plate, where he stood, swinging his bat, and
waiting for the first one.
The catcher, Russell, signalled for a swift, straight one, and,
though Joe would rather have pitched his fadeaway, he nodded his head
to show that he accepted.
The ball whizzed from Joe's hand, and he felt a wave of
apprehension, a second later, that it was going to be slammed somewhere
out over the centre field fence. But, to his chagrin, he heard the
The batter grinned cheerfully at Joe.
That won't happen again! thought our hero fiercely.
This time the catcher signalled for a teasing curve, and again Joe
signified that he would deliver it. He did, and successfully, too. The
batter made a half motion, as though he were going to strike at it, and
then refrained, but the umpire called, in tones that were musical to
He's feedin' 'em to 'em! joyfully exclaimed Boswell to the
manager. Joe's feedin' 'em in, all right.
Too early to judge, replied the cautious manager. Wait a bit.
But Joe struck out his man, and a little applause came from his
fellow players on the bench.
That's the way to do it, boy!
Tease 'em along!
We only need two more!
Thus they called encouragingly to him.
Joe was hit once that half of the inning, and no runs came in. The
score was still tie.
Now, boys, we've got to bat! said the manager when his team came
in. We need three or four runs, or this game will make us ashamed to
go back to St. Louis.
There was a noticeable improvement as the Cardinals went to bat. Tom
Dugan slammed out one that was good for three bases, and Dots McCann,
by a double, brought in the needed run. The St. Louis boys were
themselves again. The fact that the visiting pitcher was going to
pieces rather helped, too.
The Cardinals were two runs to the good when the inning ended.
Now we want to hold them there. It's up to you, Joe, and the rest
of you boys! exclaimed Mr. Watson as the leaguers again took the
Joe had more confidence in himself now, though it oozed away
somewhat when the first man up struck the ball savagely. But it was
only a foul, and, though Russell tried desperately to get it, he could
It was a case of three and two again, and Joe's nerves were
Hit it now, Red! the friends of the visiting player besought him.
Bang it right on the nose!
He hasn't anything on you!
Nothing but a slow out!
Slam out a home run!
There was a riot of cries.
Joe calmed himself by an effort, and then sent in his fadeaway. It
completely fooled the batter, who struck at it so hard that he swung
around in a circle.
You're out! called the umpire. Joe's heart beat with pride.
But I must not dwell too long on that comparatively unimportant
game, as I have other, and bigger ones, of which to write. Sufficient
to say that, though there were a few scattering hits made off Joe, the
visitors did not get another run, though they tried desperately in the
last half of the ninth.
But it was not to be, and St. Louis had the game by a good margin.
That's fine work, boys! the manager greeted them. Matson, you're
coming on. I won't promise to pitch you against the Giants this season,
unless all my other pitchers get 'Charlie-horse,' he went on, but
I'll say I like your work.
Thanks! murmured Joe, his heart warming to the praise.
Congratulations, old man! cried Rad, as they went to the dressing
rooms together. You did yourself proud!
I'm glad you think so. I wonder what sort of a story it will be
when I go up against a big league team?
Oh, you'll go up against 'em all right! predicted his chum, and
you'll win, too!
Preparations for leaving Reedville were made. The training was over;
hard work was now ahead for all. Nothing more was seen of Shalleg and
Wessel, though they might have been at that last game, for all Joe
In order not to tire his players by a long jump home, especially as
they were not to open at once on Robison Field, Manager Watson planned
several exhibition games to be played in various cities and towns on
Thus the journey would occupy a couple of weeks.
The players were on edge now, a little rest from the Nipper game
having put them in fine trim.
They're ready for Giants! energetically declared Boswell, who took
great pride in his training work.
Hardly that, replied the manager, but I think we can take care of
the Cincinnati Reds when we stack up against them on opening day.
The journey North was enjoyed by all, and some good games took
place. One or two were a little close for comfort, but the Cardinals
managed to pull out in time. Joe did some pitching, though he was not
worked as often as he would have liked. But he realized that he was a
raw recruit, in the company of many veterans, and he was willing to
bide his time.
Joe had learned more about baseball since getting into the big
league than he ever imagined possible. He realized, as never before,
what a really big business it was, involving, as it did, millions of
dollars, and furnishing employment to thousands of players, besides
giving enjoyment to millions of spectators.
The home-coming of the Cardinals, from their trip up from the South,
was an event of interest.
St. Louis always did make much of her ball teams, and though the
American Brown nine had arrived a day or so before our friends, and had
been noisily welcomed, there was a no less enthusiastic reception for
the Cardinals. There was a band, a cheering throng at the station, and
any number of reporters, moving picture men and newspaper
Say, it's great; isn't it? cried Joe to Rad.
It sure is, old man!
Joe wrote home an enthusiastic account of it all, and also penned a
note to Mabel, expressing the hope that she and her brother would get
to St. Louis on the occasion of some big game.
And I hope I pitch in it, Joe penned.
A day of rest, then a week of practice on their own grounds, brought
the opening date nearer for St. Louis. Joe and the other players went
out to the park the morning of the opening day of the season. The
grounds were in perfect shape, and the weather man was on his good
What kind of ball have the Reds been playing? asked Joe of Rad,
who was a fiend on baseball statistics.
Snappy, was the answer. We'll have our work cut out for us!
Think we can do 'em?
Nobody can tell. I know we're going to try hard.
If I could only pitch! murmured Joe.
The grandstand was rapidly filling. The bleachers were already
overflowing. The teams had marched out on the field, preceded by a
blaring band. There had been a presentation of a floral horseshoe to
Then came some fast, snappy practice on both sides. Joe, who had
only a faint hope of being called on, warmed up well. He took his turn
at batting and catching, too.
They look to be a fast lot, observed Joe to Rad, as they watched
the Reds at work.
Oh, yes, they're there with the goods.
The game was called, and, as is often done, a city official pitched
the first ball. This time it was the mayor, who made a wild throw.
There was laughter, and cheers, the band blared out, and then the
CHAPTER XVIII. HOT WORDS
That opening game, between the St. Louis Cardinals and the
Cincinnati Reds, was not remarkable for good playing. Few opening games
are, for the teams have not that fierce rivalry that develops later in
the pennant season, and, though both try hard to win, they are not
keyed up to the pitch that makes for a brilliant exhibition.
So that opening game was neither better nor worse than hundreds of
others. But, as we have to deal mostly with Baseball Joe in this book,
I will centre my attention on him.
His feelings, as he watched his fellow players in the field, the
pitcher on the mound, and the catcher, girded like some ancient knight,
may well be imagined. I fancy my readers, even if they are not baseball
players, have been in much the same situation.
Joe sat on the bench, eating his heart out, and longing for the
chance that he had small hopes would come to him. How he wished to get
up there, and show what he could do, only he realized.
But it was not to be.
Manager Watson's Cardinals went into the game with a rush, and had
three runs safely stowed away in the ice box the first inning, after
having gracefully allowed the Reds to score a goose egg.
Then came an uninteresting period, with both pitchers working their
heads off, and nothing but ciphers going up on the score board.
By Jove, old man, do you think we'll win? asked Cosey Campbell, as
he came to the bench after ingloriously striking out, and looked at
I don't see why we shouldn't, responded Joe. We've got 'em
Yes, I know, but you never can tell when we may strike a slump.
You seem terribly worried, laughed Joe. Have you wagered a new
necktie on the result?
No, he answered, but I am anxious. You see, Matson, there's a
girlI could point her out to you in one of the boxes; but maybe she
wouldn't like it, he said, craning his neck and going out from under
the shelter of the players' bench and looking at the crowd in the
Oh, that's all right, I'll take your word for it, said Joe, for he
appreciated the other's feelings.
A girl, you understand, Matson. She's here to see the game, went
on Campbell. I sent her tickets, and I told her we were sure to win.
She's here, and I'm going to take her out to supper to-night. I've got
the stunningest tie
He fumbled in his pocket.
Thought I had a sample of it here with me, he said. But I
haven't. It's sort of purpleplum colorwith a shooting of gold, and
it shimmers down into a tango shade. It's a peach! I was going to wear
it to-night, but, if we don't win
His face showed his misery.
Oh, cut it out! advised Rad, coming up behind him. We can't lose.
Don't get mushy over an old tie.
It isn't an old tie! stormed Campbell. It's a new one I had made
to order. Cost me five bones, too. It's a peach!
Well, you'll wear it, all right, said Joe with a laugh. I don't
see how we can lose.
The Cardinals were near it, though, in the seventh inning, when,
with only one out, and three on bases, Slim Cooney was called on to
face one of the hardest propositions in baseball.
But he made good, and not a man crossed home plate.
And so the game went on, now and then a bit of sensational fielding,
or a pitcher tightening up in a critical place, setting the crowd to
It was nearing the close of the contest. It looked like the
Cardinals, for they were three runs to the good, and it was the ending
of the eighth inning. Only phenomenal playing, at this stage, could
bring the Reds in a winner.
Some of the crowd, anticipating the event, were already leaving,
probably to catch trains, or to motor to some resort.
Well, it's a good start-off, said Rad to Joe, as he started out to
the field, for the beginning of the ninth.
Yes, but it isn't cinched yet.
It will be soon.
The Reds were at bat, and Joe, vainly wishing that he had had a
chance to show what he could do, pulled his sweater more closely about
him, for the day was growing cool.
Then Batonby, one of the reserve players, strolled up to him.
You didn't get in, either, he observed, sitting down.
No. Nor you.
But I've been half-promised a chance in the next game. Say, it's
fierce to sit it out; isn't it?
It sure is.
Hear of any new players coming to us? Batonby wanted to know.
Haven't heard, said Joe.
The game was over. The Cardinals did not go to bat to end the last
inning, having the game by a margin of three runs.
The players walked across the field to the clubhouse, the spectators
mingling with them.
Did you hear anything about a fellow named Shalleg, who used to
play in the Central League, coming to us? asked Batonby, as he caught
up to Joe and Rad, who had walked on ahead.
No, answered Joe quickly. That is, I have heard of him, but I'm
pretty sure he isn't coming with us.
What makes you think so?
Why, I heard Mr. Watson tell him
Say, if I hear you retailing any more stuff about me I'll take
means to make you stop! cried an angry voice behind Joe, and, wheeling
around, he beheld the inflamed face of Shalleg, the man in question.
I've heard enough of your talk about me! the released player went
on. Now it's got to quit. I won't have it! Cut it out! I'll settle
with you, Matson, if I hear any more out of you, and he shook his fist
angrily at Joe.
CHAPTER XIX. JOE GOES IN
Batonby looked wonderingly, first at Joe, and then at Shalleg. The
latter's crony did not seem to be with him.
What's the row, old top? asked Batonby easily. Who are you,
anyhow, and what's riled you?
Never you mind what's riled me! You'll find out soon enough, was
the sharp answer. I heard you two chaps talking about me, and I want
Guess you're a little off, sport. I wasn't talking about you, for I
haven't the doubtful honor of your acquaintance.
None of your impudence! burst out Shalleg. Joe had not yet spoken.
And I don't want any of yours, fired back Batonby, slapping his
glove from one hand to the other. I say I wasn't talking about you!
I say you were. My name is Shalleg!
Batonby let out a whistle of surprise.
Is that the one? he asked of Joe.
The latter nodded.
Well, all I've got to say, went on Batonby, is that I hope you
don't get on our team. And, for your information, he went on, as he
saw that Shalleg was fairly bursting with passion, I'll add that all I
said about you was that I heard you were trying to get on the
Cardinals. As for Matson, he said even less about you.
That's all right, but you fellows want to look out, mumbled
Shalleg, who seemed nonplused on finding that he had no good grounds
for a quarrel.
And I want to add, broke in Joe, who felt that he had a right to
say something in his own behalf, I want to add that I'm about through
with hearing threats from you, Mr. Shalleg, and he accented the
prefix. I haven't said anything against you, and I don't expect to,
unless you give me cause. You've been following me about, making
unjustified remarks, and it's got to stop!
Hurray! cried Batonby. That's the kind of mustard to give him.
Heave at it again, Joe!
The young pitcher stood facing his enemy fearlessly, but he had said
enough. Shalleg growled out:
Well, somebody's been talking about me to the manager, giving me a
bad name, and it's got to stop. If I find out who did it, he'll wish he
hadn't, and he glared vindictively at Joe.
I guess his own actions have given him the bad name, remarked
Batonby, as the dismissed player turned aside and walked off to join
the throng that had surged away from the little group.
That's about it, agreed Joe, as Rad came up and joined them. Good
work, old man! said our hero, for Rad had done well.
I came mighty near making an error, though, toward the last, Rad
responded. Guess I'm not used to such strenuous life as playing nine
innings in a big game. My heart was in my throat when I saw that fly
ball coming toward me.
But you froze on to it, said Batonby.
Hello, what's up? asked Rad quickly, for Joe's face still showed
the emotion he felt at the encounter with Shalleg. Had a row? asked
Rather, admitted the young pitcher. Shalleg was on deck again.
Say, that fellow, and his side partner, Wessel, ought to be put
away during the ball season! burst out Rad. They're regular pests!
Joe heartily agreed with him, as he related the circumstances of the
last affair. Then the friends passed on to the clubhouse, where the
game was played over again, as usual, a post-mortem being held on it.
Only, in this case the Cardinals, being winners, had no excuses to make
for poor playing. They were jubilant over the auspicious manner in
which the season had opened.
Boys. I'm proud of you! exclaimed Manager Watson as he strolled
through. Do this often enough, and we'll have that pennant sure.
Yes, a fat chance we have! muttered Willard, sulkily.
That's no way for a member of the team to talk! snapped Muggins.
Willard did not reply. It was clear that he was disgruntled because
he had not had a chance to pitch.
Then the splashing of the shower baths drowned other talk, and
presently the players, fresh and shining from their ablutions, strolled
out of the clubhouse.
Got anything on to-night? asked Rad of Joe, as they reached the
Let's go down to the Delaware Garden, and hear the Hungarian
orchestra. There's good eating there, too.
I'm with you. Got to write a letter, though.
Tell her how the game went, I s'pose? laughed Rad.
Something like that, agreed Joe, smiling.
He bought an evening paper, which made a specialty of sporting news.
It contained an account of the opening game, with a skeletonized
outline of the plays, inning by inning. The Cardinals were properly
congratulated for winning. Joe wished he could have read his name in
the story, but he felt he could bide his time.
Joe and Rad enjoyed their little excursion to the Delaware Garden
that evening, returning to the hotel in good season to get plenty of
sleep, for they were to play the Reds again the next day. There were
four games scheduled, and then the Cardinals would go out on the
circuit, remaining away about three weeks before coming back for a
series on Robison Field.
The tables were turned in the next game. The Cincinnati team,
stinging from their previous defeat, played strong ball. They sent in a
new pitcher, and with a lead of three runs early in the contest it
began to look bad for the Cardinals.
I'll get no chance to-day, reasoned Joe, as he saw a puzzled frown
on Mr. Watson's face. Joe knew that only a veteran would be relied on
to do battle now, and he was right.
Mr. Watson used all his ingenuity to save the game. He put in pinch
hitters, and urged his three pitchers to do their best.
Willard was allowed to open the game, but was taken out after the
first inning, so fiercely was he pounded. Cooney and Barter had been
warming up, and the latter went in next.
You go warm up, too, Matson, directed Boswell, though it's
doubtful if we'll have to use you.
Joe hoped they would, but it was only a faint hope.
Barter did a little better, but the Reds had a batting streak on
that day, and found his most puzzling curves and drops. Then, too,
working the hit and run feature to the limit and stealing bases,
which in several cases was made possible by errors on the part of the
Cardinals, soon gave the Reds a comfortable lead of five runs.
I'm afraid they've got us, grumbled the manager, as he substituted
a batter to enable Cooney to go in the game. You've got to pull us
out, Slim, he added.
Slim grinned easily, not a whit disconcerted, for he was a veteran.
But though he stopped the winning streak of the Reds, he could not make
runs, and runs are what win ball games.
With his best nine in the field the manager tried hard to overcome
the advantage of his opponents. It looked a little hopeful in the
eighth inning, when there were two men on bases, second and third, and
only one out, with Slugger Nottingham at the plate.
Now, then, a home run, old man! pleaded the crowd.
Soak it on the nose!
Over the fence!
A home run means three tallies, old man. Do it now!
Nottingham stood easily at the plate, swinging his bat. There was an
interchange of signals between catcher and pitchera slight difference
of opinion, it seemed. Then the ball was thrown.
There was a resounding crack, and the crowd started to yell.
Go it, old man, go it!
That's the pie!
Oh, that's a beaut!
But it was not. It was a nice little fly, to be sure, but the centre
fielder, running in, had it safely before the batter reached first.
Then, with Nottingham out, the ball was hurled home to nip the runner
at the plate.
Dugan, who had started in from third, ran desperately, and slid in a
cloud of dust.
You're out! howled the umpire, waving him to the bench.
He never touched me! retorted Dugan. I was safe by a mile!
Robber! shrieked the throng in the bleachers.
Get a pair of glasses!
He was never out!
The umpire listened indifferently to the tirade. Dugan dusted off
his uniform, and, losing his temper, shook his fist at the umpire,
You big fat and the rest of it does not matter.
That'll cost you just twenty-five dollars, and you can go to the
clubhouse, said the umpire, coolly.
Dugan's face fell, and Manager Watson flushed. He bit his lips to
keep from making a retort. But, after all, the umpire was clearly
within his rights.
In silence Dugan left the field, and the Reds, who were jubilant
over the double play, came in from the diamond.
The fat's in the fire now, for sure, sighed Rad, with Dugan out
of the game. Hang it all, anyhow!
Oh, we can't win every time, and Joe tried to speak cheerfully.
And so the Reds won the second of the first series of games. There
was a rather stormy scene in the clubhouse after it was over, and Mr.
Watson did some plain talking to Dugan. But, after all, it was too
common an occurrence to merit much attention, and, really, nothing very
serious had occurred.
The contest between the Reds and Cardinals was an even break, each
team taking two. Then came preparations for the Cardinals taking the
road. A series of four games with the Chicago Cubs was next in order,
and there, in the Windy City, St. Louis fared rather better, taking
I wonder if I'm ever going to get a chance, mused Joe, who had
been sent to the bull-pen many times to warm up, but as yet he had
not been called on.
After games with the Pittsburg Pirates, in which an even break was
registered, the Cardinals returned to St. Louis. As they had an open
date, a game was arranged with one of the Central League teams, the
Say, I would like to pitch against them! exclaimed Joe.
And he had his chance. When the practice was over Manager Watson,
with a smile at our hero, said, with a friendly nod:
Joe, you go in and see what you can do.
Joe was to have his first big chance.
CHAPTER XX. STAGE FRIGHT
Joe was a little nervous at first, but it was like being among old
friends to work against the Washburg team.
How's your head, Joe? asked some of the players whom he knew well,
from having associated with them in the Central League.
Had to get larger sized caps? asked another.
Don't you believe it! exclaimed the Washburg catcher. Joe Matson
isn't that kind of a chap! and Joe was grateful to him.
The game was not so easy as some of the Cardinal players had
professed to believe it would be. Not all of the first string men went
in, but they were in reserve, to be used if needed. For baseball is
often an uncertainty.
Joe looked around at the grandstands and bleachers as he went out
for warm-up practice.
There was a fair-sized crowd in attendance, but nothing like the
throng that would have been present at a league game.
But I'll pitch before a big crowd before I'm through the season!
declared Joe to himself, though it was not clear how this was to be
Washburg had a good team, and knew how to make everything tell. They
led off with a run, which, however, was due to an error on the part of
two of the Cardinals. Joe was a little put out by it, for he had
allowed only scattering hits that inning.
Better try to tighten upif you can, advised Boswell, as our hero
came to the bench. They're finding you a bit.
They won'tany more! exclaimed Joe, fiercely.
The Washburg pitcher was a good one, as Joe knew, so it was not
surprising that he was not so very badly batted. In fact, it was hard
work for the Cardinals to garner three runs during their half of the
first inning. But they got them.
Joe had the advantage of knowing considerable about the various
batters who faced him, so it was easier than it would have been for
another pitcher to deceive them. He varied his delivery, used his
fadeaway and his cross-fire, and had the satisfaction of pitching three
innings during which he did not allow a hit.
That's the way to do it! exclaimed his friend Boswell, the coach.
Hold 'em to that, and you'll have a look-in at a big game, soon.
And Joe did. In vain did the Washburgs send in their best pinch
hitters; in vain did they try to steal bases. Twice Joe nipped the man
at first, who was taking too big a lead, and once the young pitcher
stopped a hot liner that came driving right at him.
Then the story was told, and the Cardinals romped home easy winners.
Joe had done well, even though the Washburgs were not exactly big
In the weeks that followed, Joe worked hard. There was constant
morning practice, when the weather allowed it, and the work on the
circuit was exacting. Occasionally Joe went in as relief pitcher, when
the game was safe in the ice box, but the chance he wanted was to
pitch against the New Yorks at St. Louis.
For the Giants were at the top of the league now, and holding on to
their pennant place with grim tenacity. In turn Joe and his fellow
players went to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, eventually playing
all around the circuit, but, as yet, the young pitcher had had no real
chance to show what he could do.
It was irksomeit was even heart-breaking at times; but Joe had to
stand it. Sometimes he felt that he could do better than Barter,
Willard and Cooney, the seasoned veterans, and especially was this so
when the game went against the Cardinals.
For the St. Louis team was falling sadly behind. They were next to
the tail-enders for some time, and the outlook was dubious. The papers
alternately roasted and poked fun at the Cardinals, and Manager Watson
was urged to do something.
Various remedies were suggested. New players might be had, and in
fact some exchanges were made. Another catcher was imported, from the
Detroits, and a new shortstop engaged in a trade. But the pitching
staff remained unchanged.
Then some reporter, looking for copy, saw a chance in Joe, and in
a snappy little article reviewed Joe's career, ending with:
If Mr. Watson wants to see his Cardinals crawl up out of the subway
why doesn't he give Matson a chance? The youngster can pitch good ball,
and the line of twirling that has been handed out by the Cardinals thus
far this season would be laughable, were it not lamentable.
Of course that article made trouble for Joe, especially with the
Say, how much did you slip that reporter to pull off that dope
about you? inquired Willard with a sneer.
What do you mean? asked Joe indignantly.
I mean how much coin did you pay him?
You know I didn't have anything to do with it! our hero fired
back. He asked me for my record, and I gave it to him. I didn't know
he was going to write that.
A likely story, grumbled Willard.
The other pitchers did not say so much, but it was clear they did
not like the roasting they got. But it was not Joe's doing.
There were shifts and re-shifts, there were hard feelings
manifested, and gotten over. But nothing could disguise the fact that
the Cardinals were in a slump.
Loyal as the St. Louis fans were to their teams, when they were on
the winning side, it was not in human nature to love a losing nine.
So that it got to be the fashion to refer to the Cardinals as
losing again. And this did not make for good ball playing, either.
There were sore hearts among the players when they assembled in the
clubhouse after successive defeats.
Not that the Cardinals lost all the time. No team could do that, and
stay in the big league. But they never got to the top of the second
division, and even that was not much of an honor to strive for. Still,
it was better than nothing.
Joe pitched occasionally, and, when he did there was a little
improvement, at times. But of course he was not a veteran, and once or
twice he was wild.
Then the paper which bore the least friendliness to the Cardinals
took a different tack. It laughed at the manager for sending in a young
pitcher when a veteran was needed.
Say, I'd like to know just what those fellows want me to do! Mr.
Watson exclaimed one day, after a particularly severe roast. I can't
seem to please 'em, no matter what I do.
Don't let 'em get your goat, advised his coach. Go on. Keep
going. We'll strike a winning streak yet, and mark my words, it will be
Joe Matson who'll pull us out of a hole.
He hasn't done so well yet, objected Mr. Watson, dubiously.
No, and it's because he hasn't exactly found himself. He is a bit
nervous yet. Give him time.
And stay in the cellar?
Well, but what are you going to do? reasoned the other. Cooney
and Barter aren't pitching such wonderful ball.
No, that's true, but they can generally pull up in a tight place.
I'd send Matson in oftener than I do, only I'm afraid he'll blow up
when the crises comes. He is a good pitcher, I admit that, but he isn't
seasoned yet. The Central League and the National are a wide distance
That's true. But I'd like to see him have his chance.
Well, I'll give it to him. We play Boston next week. They happen to
be in the second division just at present, although they seem to be
going up fast. I'll let Joe go up against them.
That won't be as good as letting him go against New York, said
Well, it'll have to do, decided the manager, who could be very set
in his ways at times.
The Braves proved rather easy, for the Cardinals and, as Boswell
had indicated, there was little glory for Joe in pitching against them.
He won his game, and this, coupled with the fact that the reporter
friendly to Joe made much of it, further incensed the other pitchers.
Don't mind 'em, said Rad, and Joe tried not to.
The season was advancing. Try as the Cardinals did, they could not
get to the top of the second division.
And if we don't finish there I'll feel like getting out of the
game, said the manager gloomily, after a defeat.
Pitch Matson against the Giants, advised the coach.
By Jove! I'll do it! cried the manager, in desperation. We open
with New York at St. Louis next week for four games. I'll let Matson
see what he can do, though I reckon I'll be roasted and laughed at for
taking such a chance.
Well, maybe not, the coach replied, chuckling.
In the meanwhile Joe had been working hard. Under the advice of
Boswell he adopted new training tactics, and he had his arm massaged by
a professional between games. He was surprised at the result of the new
treatment, and he found he was much fresher after a hard pitching
battle than he had been before.
He thinks he's going to be a Boy Wonder, sneered Willard.
Oh, cut it out! snapped Boswell. If some of you old stagers would
take better care of yourselves there'd be better ball played.
Huh! sneered Willard.
The Cardinals came back to St. Louis to play a series with New York.
Wow! exclaimed Rad as he and Joe, discussing the Giants' record,
were sitting together in the Pullman on their way to their home city,
here's where it looks as if we might get eaten up!
Don't cross a bridge before you hear it barking at you, advised
Joe. Maybe they won't be so worse. We're on our own grounds, that's
Not much in that, decided his chum, dubiously.
When Joe reached the hotel he found several letters awaiting him.
One, in a girl's handwriting, he opened first.
Does she still love you? laughed Rad, noticing his friend's rapt
Dry up! She's coming on to St. Louis.
She is? Good! Will she see you play?
Well, I don't know. It doesn't look as though I was going to get a
gameespecially against New York.
Cheer up! There might be something worse.
Yes, I might have another run-in with Shalleg.
That's so. Seen anything of him lately?
No, but I hear he's been writing letters to Mr. Watson, intimating
that if the boss wants to see the team come up out of the subway,
Shalleg is the man to help.
Some nerve; eh?
I should say so!
It was a glorious sunny day, perhaps too hot, but that makes for
good baseball, for it limbers up the players. The grandstand and
bleachers were rapidly filling, and out on the well-kept diamond of
Robison Field the rival teamsthe Cardinals and the Giantswere
Mabel Varley and her brother had come to St. Louis, stopping off on
business, and Joe had called on them.
I'm coming out to see you play, Mabel announced after the
greetings at the hotel.
I'm afraid you won't, said Joe, somewhat gloomily.
Why not? she asked in surprise. Aren't you on the pitching
Yes, but perhaps you haven't been keeping track of where the
Cardinals stand in the pennant race.
Oh, yes, I have! she laughed, and blushed. I read the papers
That's nice. Then you know we're pretty well down?
Yes, but the season isn't half over yet. I think you'll do better.
I sure do hope so, murmured Joe. But, for all that, I am afraid
you won't see me pitch to-day. Mr. Watson won't dare risk me, though I
think I could do some good work. I'm feeling fine.
Oh, I do hope you get a chance! Mabel exclaimed enthusiastically.
Anyhow, I'm going to have one of the front boxes, and there are to be
some girl friends with me. You know them, I thinkHattie Walsh and
Oh, yes, I remember them, Joe said. Well, I hope you see us win,
but I doubt it.
And now, as the game was about to start, Joe looked up and saw, in
one of the front boxes, Mabel and her friends. He went over to speak to
them, as he walked in from practice.
For good luck! said Mabel softly, as she gave him one of the
flowers she was wearing.
Thanks, and Joe blushed.
As yet the battery of the Cardinals had not been announced. Clearly
Manager Watson was in a quandary. He and Boswell consulted together,
while the players waited nervously. Some of the newspaper reporters,
anxious to flash some word to their papers, asked who was to pitch.
I'll let you know in a few minutes, was the manager's answer.
And then, as the time for calling the game approached, Mr. Watson
handed his batting order to the umpire.
The latter stared at it a moment before making the announcement. He
seemed a trifle surprised.
Batteries! he called through his megaphone. For New York,
Hankinson and Burkefor St. LouisMatson and Russell.
Joe was to pitch, and in the biggest game he had ever attempted!
There was a rushing and roaring in his ears, and for a moment he
could not see clearly.
Go to it, Matson, said the manager. I'm going to try you out.
Joe's lips trembled. He was glad his teammates could not know how he
felt. Nervously he walked out to the mound, and caught the new ball
which the umpire divested of its foil cover and tossed to him. Russell
girded himself in protector and mask, and the batter stepped back to
allow the usual practice balls.
Someone in a box applauded. Joe could not see, but he knew it was
Oh, Joe's going to pitch! she exclaimed to her girl friends. I
hope he strikes them all out!
Not much chance, her brother said, rather grimly.
Joe sent the first ball whizzing in. It went so wild that the
catcher had to jump for it. There was a murmur from the stands, and
some of the Giants grinned at one another.
Russell signalled to Joe that he wanted to speak to him. Pitcher and
catcher advanced toward one another.
What's the matter? Russell wanted to know, while some in the crowd
laughed at the conference. Got stage fright?
Yeyes, stammered Joe. Poor Joe, he had a bad case of nerves.
Say, look here! exclaimed Russell with a intentional fierceness.
If you don't get over it, and pitch good ball, I'll give you the best
beating up you ever had when we get to the clubhouse! I'm not going to
stand being laughed at because you're such a rotten pitcher! Do you get
me! and he leered savagely at Joe.
The effect on the young pitcher was like an electric shock. He had
never been spoken to like that before. But it was just the tonic he
I get you, he said briefly.
It's a good thing you do! said Russell brutally, and, as he walked
back to his place his face softened. I hated to speak that way to the
lad, he murmured to himself, but it was the only way to get him over
CHAPTER XXI. A QUEER MESSAGE
The next practice ball Joe sent in went cleanly over the plate, and
landed with a thud in the catcher's glove. Russell nodded at Joe, to
indicate that was what he wanted.
Play ball! directed the umpire, and the batter moved up closer to
Stooping low, and concealing his signal with his big glove, Russell
called for a straight, swift ball. Joe gave it, and as it was in the
proper place, though the striker did not attempt to hit it, the umpire
Indignantly the batter looked around, but it was only done for
effect. He knew it was a strike.
That's the way. Now we've got 'em! cried Boswell from the coaching
Ball one, was the next decision of the umpire, and Joe felt a
little resentment, for he had made sure it went over the plate. But
there was little use to object.
A curve was next called for, and Joe succeeded in enticing the
batter to strike at it. But the stick missed the horsehide cleanly. It
was two strikes.
Pretty work! Oh, pretty work! howled Boswell.
A foul next resulted, and Russell missed it by inches. The batter
had still another chance. But it availed him little, for Joe fooled him
on the next one.
Good! nodded the catcher to the young pitcher, and Joe felt his
vision clearing now. He looked over toward where Mabel was sitting. She
smiled encouragingly at him.
The New Yorks got one hit off Joe that inning, but, though the man
on first stole second, after Joe had tried to nip him several times,
the other two men struck out, and a goose egg went up in the first
Well, if you can do that eight more times the game is ours, if we
can only get one run, said Manager Watson, as Joe came up to the
bench, smiling happily.
I'll try, was all he said.
But the Cardinals did not get their run that inning, nor the next
nor the next nor next. The game ran along for five innings with neither
side crossing home plate, and talk of a pitchers' battle began to be
heard. Joe was pitching remarkably well, allowing only scattering hits.
The Giants could not seem to bunch them.
Then, as might have been expected, Joe had a bit of bad luck. There
had been hard work for him that dayhard and nervous work, and it told
on him. He was hit for a two-bagger, and the next man walked, though
Joe thought some of the decisions unfair.
Then the runner attempted to steal third. There was a wild throw,
and the man came in, scoring the first run. Joe felt a wave of chagrin
sweep over him. He felt that the game was going.
Tighten up! Tighten up! he heard Boswell call to him. By a
determined effort he got himself well in hand, and then amid the cheers
of the crowd he succeeded in striking out the other men up, so that
only the one run was in.
But the pace was telling on Joe. He gave two men their base on balls
the next time he pitched, and by a combination of circumstances, two
more runs were made before the Giants were retired.
This won't do, murmured Mr. Watson. I'm afraid I'll have to take
Don't, advised Boswell. He'll be all right, but if you take him
out now you'll break him all up. I think he could have a little better
Possibly. The fielding is a bit shaky. I'll send in Lawson to bat
This change resulted in a marked improvement With a mighty clout
Lawson knocked a home run, and, as there was a man on third, that two.
From then on the Cardinals seemed to find themselves. They began coming
back in earnest, and everyone got the habit. Even Joe, proverbially
poor hitters as pitchers are supposed to be, did his share, and, by
placing a neat little drive, that eluded the shortstop, he brought in
another needed run.
One ahead now! That's fine! cried Rad to his chum, though Joe
died on second. If we can only hold 'em down and he looked
questioningly at the young pitcher.
I'll do it! cried Joe, desperately.
It did not look as though he would, though, when the first man up,
after receiving three and two, was allowed to walk. Joe felt a bit
shaky, but he steeled himself to hold his nerve. The man at first was a
notorious base-stealer, and Joe watched him closely. Twice he threw to
the initial sack, hoping to nip him, and he almost succeeded. Then he
slammed in a swift one to the batter, only to know that the runner
started for second.
But it did him little good to do it, for though he made third, Joe
struck out his three men amid a wave of applause.
One more like that, and we've got the game! cried Mr. Watson.
It's up to you, Joe. But if you can't stand it I'll send in Slim.
I'll stand it, was the grim answer, though Joe's arm ached.
And stand it Joe did. He was hit once in that last inning, and one
man got his base on balls. And then and there Joe gave a remarkably
nervy exhibition. He nipped the man on first, and then in quick
succession succeeded in fooling the two batters next up.
That's the eye!
The Cardinals win!
What's the matter with Joe Matson?
He's all right!
The crowd went wild, as it had a right to do, and Joe's face was as
red with pleasure as the nickname of his team. For he had had a large
share in defeating the redoubtable Giants, though to the credit of that
team be it said that several of its best players were laid up, and, at
a critical part in the game their best hitter was ruled out for abusing
But that took away nothing from Baseball Joe's glory.
Oh, I'm so glad you won! cried Mabel, as he passed her box. Isn't
It sure is, he admitted with a smile.
Can't you take dinner with us at the hotel? she went on, and Joe
blushingly agreed. The other girls smiled at him, and Reggie nodded in
a friendly manner.
Great work, old man! called Mabel's brother. It was a neat game.
Then Joe hurried off to have a shower, and dress, and in the
clubhouse he was hailed genially by his fellow players.
Good work, Joe!
I didn't think you had it in you.
This sure will make the Giants feel sore.
As for Manager Watson, he looked at Joe in a manner that meant much
to the young pitcher.
I told you so! said the old coach to the manager, later that day.
Yes, you did, admitted the latter. Of course I knew Joe had good
stuff in him, but I didn't think it would come out so soon. He may help
pull us up out of the cellar yet.
Joe enjoyed the little dinner with Mabel and her friends that night,
as he had seldom before taken pleasure in a gathering. Rad was one of
the guests, and later they went to the theatre, as there was no game
But if the Cardinals expected to repeat their performance they were
disappointed. Joe was started in another contest, and he was glad Mabel
was not present, for somehow he could not keep control of the balls,
and following a rather poor exhibition, he was taken out after the
fourth inning. But it was too late to save the game.
Never mind, we got one of the four, and it was due to you,
consoled Rad, when the series was over. And you've found out what it
is to stack up against the Giants.
Joe had had his baptism of fire, and it had done him good. The St.
Louis team was to take the road again, after a time spent in the home
town, where they had somewhat improved their standing.
Got anything to do this evening? asked Rad, as they were coming
back from the ball park, after a final game with Boston.
Then let's go to the Park Theatre. There's a good hot-weather show
I'm with you.
All right. I've got to go down town, but I'll be back before it's
time to go, Rad went on.
Joe dressed, and waited around the hotel lobby for his friend to
return. It grew rather late, and Joe glanced uneasily at the clock. He
was rather surprised, as he stood at the hotel desk, to hear his name
spoken by a messenger boy who entered.
Matson? There he is, and the clerk indicated our hero.
Sign here, said the boy, shortly. Joe wondered if the telegram
contained bad news from home. Giving the lad a dime tip, Joe opened the
envelope with fingers that trembled, and then he read this rather queer
If you want to do your friend Rad a good turn, come to the address
below, and Joe recognized the street as one in a less desirable
section of the city.
CHAPTER XXII. IN DANGER
Bad news? asked the hotel clerk, as he noticed the look on Joe's
Noyeswell, it's unexpected news, hesitated Joe, as he made up
his mind, on the instant, not to tell the contents of the note. He
wanted a little time to think. Rapidly he read the message over again.
The boy was just shuffling out of the hotel.
Wait a minute! Joe called after him. Where'd you get this note?
the young pitcher asked.
At de office.
Yes, I know. But who brought it in?
I dunno. Youse'll have to see de manager.
Oh, all right, Joe assented, and then he turned aside. He was
still in a quandary as to what to do.
Once more he read the note.
'If you want to do your friend Rad a good turn,' he repeated. Of
course I do, but what does it mean? Rad can't be in trouble, or he'd
have sent me some word himself. That isn't a very good neighborhood at
night, but I guess I can take care of myself. The trouble is, though,
if I go out, and Rad comes back here in the meanwhile, what will
Joe was thinking hard, trying to find some solution of the mystery,
and then a flash came to him.
Baseball! he whispered to himself. Maybe it is something to do
with baseball! Someone may be scouting for Rad, and want to find out,
on the quiet, if he's willing to help in making a shift to some other
team. They want me to aid them, perhaps.
Joe had been long enough in organized baseball to know that there
are many twists and turns to it, and that many deals are carried on
in what might be considered an underhand manner. Often, when rival
organizations in the baseball world are at war, the various managers,
and scouts, go to great lengths, and secretly, to get some player they
Maybe some rival club is after Rad and doesn't want its plans
known, mused Joe. That must be it. They know he and I are chums, and
they come to me first. Well, I sure do want to help Rad, but I don't
want to see him leave the Cardinals. I guess I'll take a chance and go
down there. I'll leave word at the desk that I'll meet Rad at the
theatre. That will be the best. I can telephone back to the hotel,
after I go to this address, and find out if Rad has been back here.
Stuffing the queer note into his pocket, Joe started off, catching a
car that would take him near the address given. Before leaving, he
arranged with the hotel clerk to tell Rad that he would meet him at the
It was a rather dark, and quite lonesome, street in which Joe found
himself after leaving the street car. On either side were tall
buildings that shut out much of the light by day, while at night they
made the place a veritable canyon of gloom. There were big warehouses
and factories with, here and there, a smaller building, and some
ramshackle dwellings that had withstood the encroachment of business.
Some of these latter had fallen into decay, and others were being
used as miserable homes by those who could afford no better. In one or
two, saloons held forth, the light from their swinging doors making
yellow patches on the dark pavement.
I wouldn't like to have to live down here, mused Joe, as he picked
his way along, looking, as best he could, for the number given in the
note. It's a queer place to appoint a meeting, but I suppose the
baseball fellows don't want to be spied on. I'll be glad when I'm
Joe walked on a little farther. The neighborhood seemed to become
more deserted and lonesome. From afar off came the distant hum and roar
of the city, but all around Joe was silence, broken, now and then, by
the sound of ribald laughter from the occasional saloons.
Ah, here's the place! exclaimed Joe, as he stood in front of one
of the few dwellings in the midst of the factories. It looks gloomy
enough. I wonder who can be waiting to see me here about Rad? Well,
there's a light, anyhow.
As Joe approached the steps of the old house he saw, at one side of
the door, a board on which were scrawled the words:
Peerless Athletic Club
Hum! Must be a queer sort of club, mused Joe. I guess they do
more exercise with their tongues, and with billiard cues, than with
For, as he mounted the steps, he heard from within the click of
billiard and pool balls, and the noise of talk and laughter. It was one
of the so-called athletic clubs, that often abound in low
neighborhoods, where the name is but an excuse for young toughs to
gather. Under the name, and sometimes incorporation of a club, they
have certain rights and privileges not otherwise obtainable. They are
often a political factor, and the authorities, for the sake of the
votes they control, wink at minor violations of the law. It was to such
a place as this that Joe had comeor, in view of what happened
afterward, had been lured would be the more proper term.
Well, what do youse want? asked an ill-favored youth, as Joe
entered the poorly lighted hall. The fellow had his hat tilted to one
side, and a cigarette was glued to one lip, moving up and down
curiously as he spoke.
I don't know who I want, said Joe, as pleasantly as he could. I
was told to come here to do my friend Rad Chase a favor. I'm Joe
Matson, of the Cardinals, and
Oh, yes. He's expectin' youse. Go on in, and the fellow nodded
toward a back room, the door of which stood partly open. Joe hesitated
a moment, while the youth who had spoken to him went out and stood on
the half-rotting steps. Then, deciding that, as he had come thus far,
he might as well see the thing through, Joe started for the rear room.
But, as he reached the door, and heard a voice speaking, he
hesitated. For what he heard was this:
S'posin' he don't come?
Aw, he'll come all right, Wessel, said another voice. He sure is
stuck on his friend Rad, and he'll want to know what he can do for him.
He'll come, all right.
Shalleg! gasped Joe, as he recognized the tones. It's a trick. He
thinks he can trap me here!
As he turned to go, Joe heard Wessel say:
There won't be no rough work; will there?
Oh, no! Not too rough! replied Shalleg with a nasty laugh.
Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, Joe was
hastening away when he accidentally knocked over a box in the hall.
Instantly the door to the rear room was thrown wide open, giving the
young pitcher, as he turned, a glimpse of Shalleg, Wessel and several
other men seated about a table, playing cards.
Who's there? cried Shalleg. Then, as he saw Joe hurrying away, he
added: Hold on, Matson. I sent for you. I want to see you!
But I don't want to see you! Joe called back over his shoulder.
Say, this is straight goods! cried Shalleg, pushing back his chair
from the table, the legs scraping over the bare boards of the floor.
It's all right. I've got a chance to do your friend Rad Chase a good
turn, and you can help in it. Wait a minute!
But Joe fled, unheeding. Then Shalleg, seeing that his plans were
about to miscarry, yelled:
Stop him, somebody!
Joe was running along the dim hallway. As he reached the outside
steps the youth who had first accosted him turned, and made a grab for
What's your hurry? he demanded. Hold on!
Joe did not answer, but, eluding the outstretched hands, made the
sidewalk in a jump and ran up the street. He was fleet of foothis
training gave him thatand soon he was safe from pursuit, though, as a
matter of fact, no one came after him. Shalleg and his tools were
hardly ready for such desperate measures yet, it seemed.
Joe passed a side street, and, looking up it, saw at the other end,
a more brilliantly lighted thoroughfare. Arguing rightly that he would
be safer there, Joe turned up, and soon was in a more decent
neighborhood. His heart was beating rapidly, partly from the run, and
partly through apprehension, for he had an underlying fear that it
would not have been for his good to have gone into the room where
Whew! That was a happening, remarked Joe, as he slowed down. I
wonder what it all meant? Shalleg must be getting desperate. But why
does he keep after me? Unless he thinks I am responsible for his not
getting a place on the Cardinals. It's absurd to think that, but it
does seem so. I wonder what I'd better do?
Joe tried to reason it out, and then came the recollection of Rad.
I'll telephone to the hotel, and see if he's come back, he said.
Then, when I meet him, I'll tell him all that happened. It's a queer
go, sure enough.
A telephone message to the hotel clerk brought the information that
Rad had telephoned in himself, saying that he had been unexpectedly
detained, and would meet Joe at the theatre entrance.
That's good! thought our hero. For one moment, after running away
from the gloomy house, he had had a notion that perhaps Rad had also
been lured there. Now he knew his friend was safe.
Sorry I couldn't come back to the hotel for you, Rad greeted Joe,
as they met in front of the theatre. But my business took me longer
than I counted on. We're in time for the show, anyhow. It starts a
little later in summer.
That's all right, said Joe. As a matter of fact I have been away
from the hotel myself, for some time.
So the clerk said. Told me you'd gone out and left a message for
me. Say, what's up, Joe? You look as though something had happened,
for now, in the light, Rad had a glimpse of his chum's face, and it
wore a strange look.
Something did happen, said Joe in a low voice. I believe I was in
danger. I'll tell you all about it, which he did, in a low voice,
between the acts of the play.
It is doubtful if either Joe or Rad paid much attention to what
occurred on the stage that evening.
CHAPTER XXIII. A LAME ARM
But, great Scott, Joe! exclaimed Rad, when he had been given all
the facts of the strange occurrence, that was a raw sort of deal!
I think so myself.
Why don't you get the police after them?
What would be the good? Nothing really happened, and just because I
have an idea it would have, if I'd given them the chance to get at me,
doesn't make them liable to arrest. I would look foolish going to the
Maybe so. But then there's that note. They didn't have any idea of
doing me a good turn. That was almost a forgery.
The trouble is we can't prove it, though. I think the only thing I
can do is to let it go, and be more careful in the future.
Well, maybe it is, agreed Rad slowly. But what do you think was
I haven't the least idea, replied Joe. That is, the only thing I
can imagine is that Shalleg wanted to scare me; or, perhaps, threaten
me for what he imagines I have done to him.
And that is? questioned Rad.
That I've been spreading false reports about him to our manager, in
order to keep him off the team. As a matter of fact, I don't believe I
have ever mentioned him to Mr. Watson. It's all imagination on
What condition was he in to-night? asked Rad, as he and Joe were
on their way to the hotel after the play.
As far as I could judge, he was about as he has been most of the
time latelyscarcely sober. That, and his gambling and irregular
living, took him off the team, you know.
And he thinks, with that record behind him, that he can get on the
Cardinals! exclaimed Rad. He's crazy!
He's dangerous, too, added Joe. I'm going to be more careful
And you thought you were doing me a favor, old man?
I sure did, Rad. I thought maybe some scout from another club was
trying to secure your valuable services.
Now you're stringing me!
No, I'm not, really. You know there are queer doings in baseball.
Yes, but none as queer as that. Well, I'm much obliged, anyhow. But
after this you stick to me. If there's any danger we'll share it
Thanks! exclaimed Joe warmly.
Going to say anything to the boss about this? asked Rad, after a
I think not. Would you?
Well, perhaps we might just as well keep still about it, agreed
Rad. We'll see if we can't trap this Shalleg and his crony, and put a
stop to their game.
All they have been is a nuisance, so far, spoke Joe. But there's
no telling when they might turn to something else.
That's so. Well, we'll keep our weather eyes open.
Joe was not a little unnerved by his experience, and he was glad
there was not a game next day.
The Cardinals had crept up a peg. They were now standing one from
the top of the second division of clubs, and there began to be heard
talk that they would surely lead their column before many more games
had been played.
And maybe break into the first division! exclaimed Trainer
Boswell. If you keep on the way you've started, Matson, we sure will
I'll do my best, responded Joe.
In a series of four games with the Brooklyn Superbas the Cardinals
broke even, thus maintaining their position. But they could not seem to
climb any higher. Joe's pitching helped a lot, and he was regarded as a
coming star. He was acquiring more confidence in himself, and that, in
playing big baseball, helps a lot.
Of course I am not saying that Joe did all the work for his team. No
pitcher does, but a pitcher is a big factor. It takes batters to make
hits and runs, however, and the Cardinals had their share of them. They
could have done better with more, but good players brought high prices,
and Manager Watson had spent all the club owners felt like laying out.
The other pitchers of the Cardinals worked hard. It must not be
imagined that because I dwell so much on Joe's efforts that he was the
Far from it. At times Joe had his off days as well as did the
others, and there were times when he felt so discouraged that he wanted
to give it all up, and go back to a smaller league.
But Joe had grit, and he stuck to it. He was determined to make as
great a name for himself as is possible in baseball, and he knew he
must take the bitter with the sweet, and accept defeat when it came, as
it is bound to now and then.
Nor did his determination to overcome obstacles fail of its object.
With the other members of the team, Joe played so surprisingly well
that suddenly the Cardinals took one of those remarkable braces that
sometimes come in baseball, and from eighth position the club leaped
forward into fifth, being aided considerably by some hard luck on the
part of the other teams. In other words, things broke right for the
Cardinals and the St. Louis fans began to harbor hopes of a possible
Joe had several incentives for doing his best. There were his folks.
He wanted to justify his father's faith in him, and also his sister's.
Joe knew that his mother, in spite of her kind and loving ways, was
secretly disappointed that he had quit his college career to become a
But I'll show her that it's just as honorable as one of the learned
professions, and that it pays better in a great many cases, reasoned
Joe. Though of course the money end of it isn't the biggest thing in
this world, he told himself. Still it is mighty satisfactory.
Then there was another reason why Joe wanted to make good. Or,
rather, there was another person he wanted to have hear of his success.
I guess you know her name.
And so the young pitcher kept on, struggling to perfect himself in
the technicalities of the big game, playing his position for all it was
capable of. As the season went on Joe's name figured more and more
often in the papers.
He's got reporters on his staff! sneered Willard.
Well, I wish we all had, observed Manager Watson. Publicity
counts, and I want all I can get for my players. It's a wonder some of
you fellows wouldn't have your name in the papers oftener.
I don't play to the grandstand, growled the grouchy pitcher.
Maybe it would help some if you did, the manager remarked quietly.
The baseball practice and play went on. Joe was called on more often
now to pitch a game, as Mr. Watson was kind enough to say some of the
club's success was due to him, and while of course he was not
considered the equal of the veteran pitchers, he was often referred to
as a comer.
What Joe principally lacked was consistency. He could go in and
pitch a brilliant game, but he could not often do it two days in
succession. In this respect he was not unlike many celebrated young
pitchers. Joe was not fully developed yet. He had not attained his full
growth, and he had not the stamina and staying power that would come
with added years. But he was acquiring experience and practice that
would stand him in good stead, and his natural good health, and clean
manner of living, were in his favor.
The Cardinals had come back to St. Louis in high spirits over their
splendid work on the road.
We ought to take at least three from the Phillies, said Boswell,
for they were to play four games with the Quaker City nine. That will
If we win them, remarked Joe, with a smile.
Well, we're depending on you to help, retorted the trainer.
Joe only smiled.
There was some discussion in the papers as to who would pitch the
first game against the Phillies, and it was not settled until a few
minutes before the game was called, when Slim Cooney was sent in.
I guess Mr. Watson wants to make sure of at least the first one,
remarked Joe, as he sat on the bench.
Oh, you'll get a chance, Boswell assured him. You want to keep
yourself right on edge. No telling when you'll be called on.
It was a close game, and it was not until the eleventh inning that
the home team pulled in the winning run. Then, with jubilant faces, the
members hurried to the clubhouse.
Whew! whistled Cooney, as he swung his southpaw arm about. I sure
will be lame to-morrow.
You can have a rest, the manager informed him. And be sure to
have your arm massaged well. This is going to be a stiffer proposition
than I thought.
Did you see him at the game? asked Rad of Joe, as they walked
No. Was he there?
He sure was! I had a glimpse of him over in the bleachers when I
ran after that long drive of Mitchell's. He was with that Wessel, but
they didn't look my way.
Humph! mused Joe. Well, I suppose he's got a right to come to our
games. If he bothers me, though, I'll take some action.
I don't know, yet. But I'm through standing for his nonsense.
I don't blame you.
If Joe could have seen Shalleg and Wessel talking to a certain
tough looking character, after the game, and at the same time
motioning in his direction, he would have felt added uneasiness.
Oh, let's go out to some summer garden and cool off, proposed Rad
after supper. It was a hot night, and sitting about the hotel was
All right, agreed Joe, and they started for a car. The same
tough looking character who had been talking with Wessel and Shalleg
took the car as well.
Coming back, after sitting through an open-air moving picture
performance, Joe and Rad found all the cars crowded. It was an open
one, and Joe and Rad had given their seats to ladies, standing up and
holding to the back of the seat in front of them. Just beyond Joe was a
burly chap, the same one who had left the hotel at the time they did.
He kept his seat.
Then, as the car reached a certain corner, this man got up
Let me past! I want to get off! he exclaimed, in unnecessarily
rough tones to Joe, at the same time pressing hard against him.
Certainly, the young pitcher replied, removing his hands from the
seat in front of him. At that moment the car stopped with a sudden
jerk, and the fellow grabbed Joe by the right arm, twisting it so that
the ball player cried out, involuntarily.
'Scuse me! muttered the fellow. I didn't mean to grab youse so
hard. I didn't know youse was so tender, he sneered.
Seems to me you could have grabbed the seat, objected Joe, wincing
The other did not answer, but afterward Rad said he thought he saw
him wink and grin maliciously.
Hurt much? asked Rad of Joe, as the fellow got off and the car
went on again.
It did for a minute. It's better now.
It looked to me as though he did that on purpose, said Rad.
He certainly was very clumsy, spoke one of the ladies to whom Joe
and Rad had given their places. He stepped on my foot, too.
Joe worked his arm up and down to limber the muscles, and then
thought little more about the incident. That is, until the next
morning. He awoke with a sudden sense of pain, and as he stretched out
his pitching arm, he cried out.
What's the matter? asked Rad.
My arm's sore and lame! complained Joe. Say, this is tough luck!
And maybe I'll get a chance to pitch to-day.
CHAPTER XXIV. A TIGHT GAME
Rad gave a look at his chum, and then, sliding out of bed, ran to
No luck! he exclaimed.
What do you mean? asked Joe.
I mean it isn't raining.
What has that got to do with it? the young pitcher wanted to know,
as he moved his sore arm back and forth, a little frown of pain showing
on his face at each flexing movement.
Why, if it rained we wouldn't have any game, and you'd get a chance
to rest and get in shape. It's a dead cinch that you or Barter will be
called on to-day. Willard has 'Charlie-horse,' and he can't pitch. So
it's you or Barter.
Then I guess it will have to be Barter, said Joe with a grimace.
I'm afraid I can't go in. And yet I hate to give up and say I can't
pitch. It's tough luck!
Does it hurt much? Rad wanted to know.
Enough, yes. I could stand it, ordinarily, but every time I move it
will make it worse.
Is it where that fellow pinched you, in getting off the car last
He didn't pinch me, said Joe, it was a deliberate twist.
Deliberate? questioned Rad in surprise.
It sure was! exclaimed the young pitcher decidedly. The more I
think of it the more I'm certain that he did it deliberately.
But why should he? went on Rad. You didn't prevent him from
getting out of the car. There was plenty of room for him to pass. Why
should he try to hurt you?
I don't know, answered Joe, unless he was put up to it by
By Jove! Shalleg! Yes! cried Rad. I believe you're right. Shalleg
is jealous of you, and he wants to see you kept out of the game, just
because he didn't make the nine. And I guess, too, he'd be glad to see
the Cardinals lose just to make Manager Watson feel sore. That's it,
Joe, as sure as you're a foot high!
Oh, I don't know as he thought the Cardinals would lose because I
didn't pitch, said Joe, slowly, but he may have been set on me by
Shalleg, out of spite. Well, there's no use thinking about that now.
I've got to do something about this arm. I think I'll send word that I
won't be in shape to-day.
No, don't you do it! cried Rad. Maybe we can fix up your arm. I
know how to make a dandy liniment that my mother used on me when I was
a small chap.
Liniment sounds good, said Joe with a smile. But I guess I'd
better have Boswell look at it. He's got some of his own
Yes, and then you'd have to admit that you're lame, and give the
whole thing away! interrupted Rad. Don't do it. Leave it to me.
There's some time before the game and I can give you a good rubbing,
meanwhile. I'll send out to the drug store, get the stuff made up, and
doctor you here.
There'll be no need to tell 'em anything about it if I can get you
into shape, and then, if you're called on, you can go in and pitch. If
they think you're crippled they won't give you a chance.
That's so, admitted Joe.
Still, you wouldn't go in if you didn't think you could do good
work, went on his chum.
Certainly I would not, agreed Joe. That would be too much like
throwing the game. Well, see what you can do, Rad. I'd like to get a
good whack at the fellow who did this, though, he went on, as he
worked his arm slowly back and forth.
Rad rang for a messenger, and soon had in from a drug store a bottle
of strong-smelling liniment, with which he proceeded to massage Joe's
arm. He did it twice before the late breakfast to which they treated
themselves, and once afterward, before it was time to report at the
park for morning practice.
Does it feel better? asked Rad, as his chum began to do some
A whole lot, yes.
It was impossible to wholly keep the little secret from Boswell. He
watched Joe for a moment and then asked suddenly:
A bit, yes, the pitcher was reluctantly obliged to admit.
You come in the clubhouse and have it attended to! ordered the
trainer. I can't have you, or any of the boys, laid up.
Then, as he got out his bottle of liniment, and looked at Joe's arm,
one of the ligaments of which had been strained by the cruel twist,
Boswell said, sniffing the air suspiciously:
You've been using some of your own stuff on that arm; haven't you?
Yes, admitted Joe.
I thought so. Well, maybe it's good, but my stuff is better. I'll
soon have you in shape.
He began a scientific massage of the sore arm, something of which,
with all his good intentions, Rad was not capable. Joe felt the
difference at once, and when he went back to practice he was almost
How about you? asked Rad, when he got the chance.
I guess I'll last outif I have to pitch, replied Joe. But it's
not certain that I shall go in.
The Phillies are out to chew us up to-day, went on his chum. It's
going to be a tight game. Don't take any chances.
I won't; you may depend on that.
There was a conference between Boswell and the manager.
Who shall I put in the box? asked the latter, for he often
depended in a great measure on the old trainer.
Let Barter open the ball, and see how he does. It's my notion that
he won't stand the pace, for he's a little off his feed. But I want to
take a little more care of Matson, and this will give him a couple of
innings to catch up.
Matson! cried the manager. Has he
Just a little soreness, said Boswell quickly, for that was all he
imagined it to be. He had not asked Joe how it happened, for which the
young pitcher was glad. It'll be all right with a little more
rubbing. He knew Joe's hope, and wanted to do all he could to further
All right. Announce Barter and Russell as the battery. And you look
after Matson; will you?
I sure will. I think Joe can pitch his head off if he gets the
I hope he doesn't lose his head, commented the manager grimly.
It's going to be a hard game.
Which was the opinion of more than one that day.
Joe was taken in charge by Boswell, and in the clubhouse more
attention was given to the sore arm.
How does it feel now? asked the trainer, anxiously.
Fine! replied Joe, and really the pain seemed all gone.
Then come out and warm up with me. You'll be needed, if I am any
To Joe's delight he found that he could send the ball in as swiftly
as ever, and with good aim.
You'll do! chuckled Boswell. And just in time, too. There goes a
home run, and Barter's been hit so hard that we'll have to take him
It was the beginning of the third inning, and, sure enough, when it
came the turn of the Cardinals to bat, a substitution was made, and the
Get ready, Joe. You'll pitch the rest of the game.
Joe nodded, with a pleased smile, but, as he raised his arm to bend
it back and forth, a sharp spasm of pain shot through it.
Whew! whistled Joe, under his breath. I wonder if the effects of
that liniment are wearing off? If they are, and that pain comes back,
I'm done for, sure. What'll I do?
There was little time to think; less to do anything. Joe would not
bat that inning, that was certain. He took a ball, and, nodding to Rad,
who was not playing, went out to the bull-pen.
What's up? asked Rad, cautiously.
I felt a little twinge. I just want to try the different balls, and
find which I can deliver to best advantage to myself. You catch.
Rad nodded understandingly. To Joe's delight he found that in
throwing his swift one, the spitter, and his curves he had no pain. But
his celebrated fadeaway made him wince when he twisted his arm into the
peculiar position necessary to get the desired effect.
Wow! mused Joe. I can't deliver that, it's a sure thing. Well,
I'm not going to back out now. I'll stay in as long as I can. But it's
going to hurt!
He shut his teeth, and, trying to keep away from his face the shadow
of pain, threw his fadeaway to Rad again.
The pain shot through his arm like a sharp knife.
But I'll do it! thought Joe, grimly.
CHAPTER XXV. IN NEW YORK
That's good, called Rad, as he caught a swift one. You'll do,
But only the young pitcher knew what an effort it was going to cost
him to stay in that game. And stay he must.
It was time for the Cardinals to take the field. The Phillies were
two runs ahead, and that lead must be cut down, and at least one more
tally made if the game were to be won.
Can we do it? thought Joe. He felt the pain in his arm, but he
ground his teeth and muttered: I'm going to do it!
The play started off with the new pitcher in the box. The news went
flashing over the telegraph wires from the reporters on the ground to
the various bulletin boards through the country, and to the newspaper
offices. Baseball Joe was pitching for the Cardinals.
But Joe was not thinking of the fame that was his. All he thought of
was the effort he must make to pitch a winning game.
Fortunately for him three of the weakest batters on the Phillies
faced him that inning. Joe knew it, and so did the catcher, for he did
not signal for the teasing fadeaway, for which Joe was very glad.
Joe tried a couple of practice balls, but he did not slam them in
with his usual force, at which the man in the mask wondered. He had not
heard of Joe's lame arm, and he reasoned that his partner was holding
back for reasons best known to himself.
Ball one! yelled the umpire when Joe had made his first delivery
to the batter. Joe winced, partly with pain, and partly because of the
wasted effort that meant so much to him.
The next one won't be a ball! he muttered fiercely. He sent in a
puzzling curve that enticed the batter.
That's better! yelled Boswell, from the coaching line. Serve 'em
some more like that, Joe.
And Joe did. No one but himself knew the effort it cost him, but he
kept on when it was agony to deliver the ball. Perhaps he should not
have done it, for he ran the chance of injuring himself for life, and
also ran the chance of losing the game for his team.
But Joe was younghe did not think of those things. He just
pitchednot for nothing had he been dubbed Baseball Joe.
You're out! snapped the umpire to the first batter, who turned to
the bench with a sickly grin.
Joe faced the next one. To his alarm the catcher signalled for a
fadeaway. Joe shook his head. He thought he could get away with a
straight, swift one.
But when the batter hit it Joe's heart was in his throat until he
saw that it was a foul. By a desperate run Russell caught it. Joe
pitched the next man out cleanly.
That's the way to do it!
Joe, you're all right!
Now we'll begin to do something!
Thus cried his teammates.
And from then on the Phillies were allowed but one more tally. This
could not be helped, for Joe was weakening, and could not control the
ball as well as at first. But the run came in as much through errors on
the part of his fellow players as from his own weakness.
Meanwhile the Cardinals struck a batting streak, and made good,
bunching their hits. The ending of the eighth inning saw the needed
winning run go up in the frame of the Cardinals, and then it was Joe's
task to hold the Phillies hitless in their half of the ninth.
How he did it he did not know afterward. His arm felt as though
someone were jabbing it with a knife. He gritted his teeth harder and
harder, and stuck it out. But oh! what a relief it was when the umpire,
as the third batter finished at the plate, called:
The Cardinals had won! Joe's work for the day was finished. But at
what cost only he knew. Pure grit had pulled him through.
Say, did you pitch with that arm? asked Boswell in surprise as he
saw Joe under the shower in the clubhouse later.
Well, I made a bluff at it, said Joe, grimly and gamely.
Well, I'll be Charlie-horsed! exclaimed the trainer. Say, you
won't do any more pitching for a week! I've got to take you in hand.
Of course the story of Joe's grit got out, and the papers made much
of how he had pitched through nearly a full game, winning it, too,
which was more, with a badly hurt arm.
But don't you take any such chances as that again! cried Manager
Watson, half fiercely, when he heard about it. I can't have my
pitchers running risks like that. Pitchers cost too much money!
This was praise enough for Joe.
And so he had a much-needed rest. Under the care of Boswell the arm
healed rapidly, though, for some time, Joe was not allowed to take part
in any big games, for which he was sorry.
Whether it was the example of Joe's grit, or because they had
improved of late was not made manifest, but the Cardinals took three of
the four games with the Phillies, which made Manager Watson gleeful.
They called us tail-enders! he exulted, but if we don't give the
Giants a rub before the end of the season I'll miss my guess!
The Cardinals were on the move again. They went from city to city,
playing the scheduled games, winning some and losing enough to keep
them about in fifth place. Joe saw much of life, of the good and bad
sides. Many temptations came to him, as they do to all young fellows,
whether in the baseball game, or other business or pleasure. But Joe
passed them up. Perhaps the memory of a certain girl helped him.
Often it does.
The Cardinals came to New York, once more to do battle with the
But you won't get a game! declared Manager McGraw to Muggins
Won't we? I don't know about that. I'm going to spring my colt slab
artist on you again.
Um, said the manager of the Cardinals.
Um, responded the manager of the Giants, laughing.
St. Louis did get one game of a double-header, and Joe, whose arm
was in perfect trim again, pitched. It was while he was on the mound
that a certain man, reputed to be a scout for the Giants, was observed
to be taking a place where he could watch the young pitcher to
Up to your old tricks; eh, Jack? asked a man connected with the
management of the Cardinals. Who are you scouting for now?
Well, that little shortstop of yours looks pretty good to me, was
the drawling answer. What you s'pose you'll be asking for him.
He's not for sale. Now if you mentioned the centre fielder,
Nothing doing. I've got one I'll sell you cheap.
I don't suppose you want to make an offer for Matson; do you?
asked the Cardinal man with a slow wink.
Oh, no, we've got all the pitchers we can use, the Giant scout
responded quickly. It is thus that their kind endeavor to deceive one
But, as the game went on, it might have been observed that the Giant
scout changed his position, where he could observe Joe in action from
Didn't see anything of Shalleg since we struck Manhattan; did you,
Joe? asked Rad, as he and his chum, taking advantage of a rainy day in
New York, were paying a visit to the Museum of Natural History.
No, replied Joe, pausing in front of a glass case containing an
immense walrus. I don't want to see him, either. I'm sure he planned
to do me some harm, and I'm almost positive that some of his tools had
to do with my sore arm. But I can't prove it.
That's the trouble, admitted Rad. Well, come on, I want to see
that model of the big whale. They say it's quite a sight.
The rain prevented games for three days, and the players were
getting a bit stale with nothing to do. Then the sun came out, the
grounds dried up and the series was resumed. But the Cardinals were not
Philadelphia was the next stopping place, and there, once again, the
Cardinals proved themselves the masters of the Quakers. They took three
games straight, and sweetened up their average wonderfully, being only
a game and a half behind the fourth club.
If we can only keep up the pace! said the manager, wistfully.
Joe, are you going to help us do it?
I sure am! exclaimed the young pitcher.
There was one more game to play with the Phillies. The evening
before it was scheduled, which would close their stay in the Quaker
City, Joe left the hotel, and strolled down toward the Delaware River.
He intended to take the ferry over to Camden, in New Jersey, for a
friend of his mother lived there, and he had promised to call on her.
Joe did not notice that, as he left the hotel, he was closely
followed by a man who walked and acted like Wessel. But the man wore a
heavy beard, and Wessel, the young pitcher remembered was usually
But Joe did not notice. If he had perhaps he would have seen that
the beard was false, though unusually well adjusted.
Joe turned his steps toward the river front. It was a dark night,
for the sky was cloudy and it looked like rain.
Joe just missed one ferryboat, and, as there would be some little
time before the other left, he strolled along the water front, looking
at what few sights there were. Before he realized it, he had gone
farther than he intended. He found himself in a rather lonely
neighborhood, and, as he turned back a bearded man, who had been
walking behind the young pitcher for some time, stepped close to him.
I beg your pardon, the man began, speaking as though he had a
heavy cold, but could you direct me to the Reading Terminal?
Yes, said Joe, who had a good sense of direction, and had gotten
the lay of the land pretty well fixed in his mind. Let's see
nowhow I can best direct you?
He thought for a moment. By going a little farther away from the
ferry he could put the stranger on a thoroughfare that would be more
direct than traveling back the way he had come.
If you wouldn't mind walking along a little way, said the man
eagerly. I'm a stranger here, and
Oh, I'll go with you, offered Joe, good-naturedly. I'm not in any
Be careful, Joe! Be careful!
CHAPTER XXVI. ADRIFT
There, said Baseball Joe, coming to a halt at a dark street
corner, the stranger close beside him, if you go up that way, and turn
as I told you to, it will take you directly to the Reading Terminal.
I don't know how to thank you, mumbled the other. He seemed to be
fumbling in his pocket. I'll give you my card, he went on. If you
are ever in San Francisco
But it was not a card that he pulled from the inner pocket of his
coat. It was a rag, that bore a strange, faint odor. Joe stepped back,
but not quickly enough. He suspected something wrong, but he was too
An instant later the stranger had thrown one powerful arm about the
young pitcher, and, with his other hand he pressed the
chloroform-saturated rag to Joe's nose and mouth.
Joe tried to cry out, and struggled to free himself. But his senses
seemed leaving him under the influence of the powerful drug.
At that moment, as though it had been timing itself to the movements
of the man who had followed Joe, there drove up a large ramshackle cab,
and out of it jumped two men.
Did you get him, Wes? one asked eagerly.
I sure did. Here, help me. He's gone off. Get him into the cab.
Poor Joe's senses had all but left him. He was an inert mass, but he
could hear faintly, and he recognized the voice of Shalleg.
He tried to rouse himself, but it was as though he were in a heavy
sleep, or stupor. He felt himself being lifted into a cab. The door
slammed shut, and then he was rattled away over the cobbles.
I wonder what they're going to do with me? Joe thought. He had
enough of his brain in working order to do that. Once more he tried to
Better tie him up, suggested a voice he now recognized as that of
the fellow who had twisted his arm on the street car.
Yes, I guess we had, agreed Shalleg. And then to the Delaware
Joe was too weak, and too much under the influence of the drug, to
care greatly what they did with himthat is, in a sense, though a
feeling of terror took possession of him at the words.
The river! gasped Wessel. I thought you said there'd be no
And there won't! promised the leader of the conspirators.
But you said to tie him, and then to the river with him.
You don't s'pose I'm going to chuck him in; do you? was the angry
I don't know.
Well, I'm not! I'm just going to put him out of the way for a time.
I told him I'd get even with him for not helping me out of a hole, and
then for spreading reports about me, that kept me from getting a place
on the Cardinals, as well as on any other team. I told him I'd fix
So, this was the secret of Shalleg's animosity! He had a fancied
grievance against Joe, and was taking this means of gratifying his
passion for revenge. Joe, dimly hearing, understood now. He longed to
be able to speak, to assure Shalleg that he was all wrong, but they had
bound a rag about his mouth, and he could not utter a sound, even had
not the chloroform held his speech in check.
Pass over those ropes, directed Shalleg to his cronies in the cab,
which lurched and swayed over the rough stones. The cab held four, on a
pinch, and Joe was held and supported by one of the men. The gag in the
young pitcher's mouth was made tighter, and ropes were passed about his
arms and feet. He could not move.
What's the game? asked Wessel, as the trussing-up was finished.
Well, I don't want to do him any real harm, growled Shalleg, but
I'm going to put him out of the game, just as I was kept out of it by
his tattling tongue. I'm going to make him fail to show up to-morrow,
and the next day, too, maybe. That'll put a crimp in his record, and in
the Cardinals', too, for he's been doing good work for them. I'll say
that about him, much as I hate him!
Joe heard this plot against him, heard it dimly, through his
half-numbed senses, and tried to struggle free from his bonds. But he
On rattled the cab. Joe could not tell in which direction they were
going, but he was sure it was along the lonely river front. The effects
of the chloroform were wearing off, but the gag kept him silent, and
the ropes bound his hands and feet.
Have any trouble trailing him? asked Shalleg of Wessel, who had
disguised himself with a false beard.
Not a bit, was the answer. It was pie! I pretended I had lost my
The men laughed. Either they thought Joe was still incapable of
hearing them, or they did not care if their identity and plans were
A multitude of thoughts rushed through Joe's head. He did not
exactly understand what the men were going to do with him. They had
spoken of taking him to the river. Perhaps they meant to keep him
prisoner on a boat until his contract with the St. Louis team would be
void, because of his non-appearance. And Joe knew how hard it would be
to get back in the game after that.
True, he could explain how it had happened, and he felt sure he
would not be blamed. But when would he get a chance to make
explanations? And there was the game to-morrow! He knew he would be
called on to pitch, for Mr. Watson had practically told him so. And Joe
would not be on hand.
Aren't we 'most there? asked Wessel.
Yes, answered Shalleg, shortly.
What are we to do? asked the other.
You'll know soon enough, was the half-growled reply.
The cab rattled on. Then it came to a stop. Joe could smell the
dampness of the river, and he realized that the next act in the episode
was about to be played.
He felt himself being lifted out of the cab, and he had a glimpse of
a street, but it was too dark to recognize where it was, and Joe was
not well enough acquainted with Philadelphia to know the neighborhood.
Then a handkerchief was bound over his eyes, and he was in total
He heard whispered words between Shalleg and the driver of the cab,
but could not make out what they were. Then the vehicle rattled off.
Catch hold of him now, directed Shalleg to his companions. We'll
carry him down to the river.
To the river! objected Wessel, and Joe felt a shiver go through
Well, to the boat then! snapped Shalleg. Don't talk so much.
Joe felt himself being carried along, and, a little later, he was
laid down on what he felt was the bottom of a boat. A moment later he
could tell by the motion of the craft that he was adrift on the
CHAPTER XXVII. THE RESCUE
For a few moments Joe was in a sort of daze. He was extremely
uncomfortable, lying on the hard bottom of the boat, and there seemed
to be rough water, for the craft swayed, and bobbed up and down.
Joe wondered if he was alone, for he did not hear the noise of oars
in the locks, nor did he catch the voices of the three rascals.
But it soon developed that they were with him, for, presently Wessel
Where are we going with him?
Keep still! snapped Shalleg in a tense whisper. Do you want
someone to hear us?
No, someone on these ships. We're right alongside of 'em yet. Keep
still; can't you!
Wessel subsided, but one of Joe's questions was answered. There were
other problems yet unsolved, though. What were they going to do with
him? He could only wait and learn.
The bandage was still over his eyes, and he tried, by wrinkling the
skin of his forehead, to work it loose. But he could not succeed. He
wished he could have some glimpse, even a faint one, in the darkness,
of where he was, though perhaps it would have done him little good.
Take the oars now, directed Shalleg, after a pause. I guess it's
safe to row out a bit. There aren't so many craft here now. But go
Hadn't we better show a light? asked the man who had twisted Joe's
arm. We might be run down!
Light nothing! exclaimed Shalleg, who now spoke somewhat above a
whisper. I don't want some police launch poking her nose up here. It's
light enough for us to see to get out of the way if anything comes
along. I'm not going to answer any hails.
Oh, all right, was the answer.
Joe's head was beginning to clear itself from the fumes of the
chloroform, and he could think more clearly. He wondered more and more
what his fate was to be. Evidently the men were taking him somewhere in
a rowboat. But whether he was to be taken wherever they were going, in
this small craft, or whether it was being used to transport them to a
larger boat, he could not, of course, determine.
The men rowed on for some time in silence.
It's getting late, ventured Wessel at length.
Not late enough, though, growled Shalleg.
Joe went over, in his mind, all the events that had been crowded
into the last few hours. He had told Rad that he was going to see his
mother's friend in Camden, but had given no address.
They won't know but what I'm staying there all night, he reasoned.
And they won't start to search for me until some time to-morrow. When
I don't show up at the game they'll think it's queer, and I suppose
they'll fine me. I wouldn't mind that if they only come and find me.
But how can they do it? There isn't a clue they could follow, as far as
I know. Not one!
He tried to think of some means by which he could be traced, and
rescued by his friends, but he could imagine none. No one who knew him
had seen him come down to the ferry, or walk through the deserted
neighborhood. And, as far as he knew, no one had seen the bearded
stranger accost him.
I'll just have disappearedthat's all, mused poor Joe, lying on
the hard and uncomfortable bottom of the boat.
For some time longer the three men, or rather two of them, rowed on,
paying no attention to Joe. Then Shalleg spoke.
I guess we're far enough down the river, he said. We can go
And take him with us? asked Wessel.
Well, you don't think I'm going to chuck him overboard; do you?
demanded Shalleg. I told you I wasn't going to do anything violent.
But what are you going to do?
Wait, and you'll see, was the rather unsatisfactory answer.
Joe wished it was settled. He, too, was wondering.
The course of the boat seemed changed. By the motion the men were
rowing across a choppy current, probably toward shore. Joe found this
to be so, a little later, for the boat's side grated against what was
probably a wooden pier.
Light the lantern, directed Shalleg.
But I thought you didn't want to be seen, objected Wessel.
Do as I tell you, was the sharp rejoinder. We're not going to be
seen. We're going to leave the boat.
And leave him in it? asked the other man.
Yes, I'm going to turn him adrift down the river, went on the
chief conspirator. I'll stick a light up, though, so he won't be run
down. I don't wish him that harm.
Are you going to leave him tied? Wessel wanted to know.
I sure am! was the rejoinder. Think I want him giving the alarm,
and having us nabbed? Not much!
Dimly, from beneath the handkerchief over his eyes, Joe saw the
flash as a match was struck, and the lantern lighted. Then he heard it
being lashed to some upright in the boat. A little later Joe felt the
craft in which he lay being shoved out into the stream, and then he
realized that he was alone, drifting down the Delaware, toward the bay,
and tied hand and foot, as well as being gagged. He was practically
There, I guess that'll teach him not to meddle in my affairs any
more! said Shalleg bitterly. Then Joe heard no more, save the lapping
of the waves against the side of the craft.
For a time his senses seemed to leave him under the terrible strain,
and when he again was in possession of his faculties he could not tell
how long he had been drifting alone, nor had he any idea of the time,
save that it was still night.
Well, I've got to do something! decided Joe. I've got to try and
get rid of this gag, and yell for help, and to do that I've got to have
the use of my hands.
Then he began to struggle, but the men who had trussed him up had
done their evil work well, and he only cut his wrists on the cruel
bonds. He was on his back, and he wished there was some rough
projection in the bottom of the boat, against which he could rub his
rope-entangled wrists. But there was none.
How the hours of darkness passed Joe never knew. He was thankful for
one thingthat there was a light showing in his boat, for he would not
be run down in the darkness by some steamer, or motor craft. By
daylight he hoped the drifting boat might be seen, and picked up. Then
he would be rescued. Even now, if he could only have called, he might
have been saved.
Gradually Joe became aware that morning had come. He could see a
film of light beneath the bandage over his eyes. The boat was bobbing
up and down more violently now.
I must be far down the bay, thought Joe.
He was cramped, tired, and almost parched for a drink. He had dozed
fitfully through the night, and his eyes smarted and burned under the
Suddenly he heard voices close at hand, above the puffing of a
Look there! someone exclaimed. A boat is adrift. Maybe we can
work that into the film.
Maybe, assented another voice. Let's go over and see, anyhow. We
want this reel to be a good one.
Dimly Joe wondered what the words meant. He heard the voices, and
the puffing of the motor coming nearer. Then the latter sound ceased.
Some craft bumped gently against his, and a man cried:
Someone is in this boat!
CHAPTER XXVIII. MOVING PICTURES
For a moment silence followed the announcement that meant so much to
Joe. He could hear murmurs of surprise, and the violent motion of the
craft in which he lay, bound helpless and unseeing, told him that the
work of rescue was under way. The motor boat, he reflected, must be
making fast to the other. The bandage over Joe's eyes prevented him
from seeing what went on. Then came a series of exclamations and
questions, and, to Joe's surprise, the voices of women and girls
mingled with those of men.
My, look, Jackson! a man's voice exclaimed. He's bound, and
gagged. There's been some crime here!
You're right. We must get him aboard our boat.
Joe could tell, by the motion of the boat which contained him, that
some of the rescue party were getting into it to aid him. Then he felt
the bandage being taken from his eyes, and the gag from his mouth.
Hand me a knife, somebody! called a man. I'll cut these ropes.
Joe opened his eyes, and closed them again with a feeling of pain.
The sudden light of a bright, sunny morning was too much for him.
He's alive, anyhow, a girl's voice said.
Joe half opened his eyes this time, and saw a strange sight.
Alongside his boat was a cabin motor craft, and on the rear deck he
could see gathered a number of men, women and girls. What took Joe's
attention next was a queer oblong box, with a crank at one side, and a
tube projecting from it, mounted on a tripod. Then, as his eyes became
more accustomed to the light, Joe saw bending over him in the boat, two
One of them had a knife, with which he quickly cut the ropes that
bound Joe's arms and feet. It was a great relief.
He sat up and looked about him. The motor boat was a large and fine
one, and was slowly drifting down into Delaware Bay, for Joe could see
a vast stretch of water on all sides.
Too bad we can't work this rescue into a scene, spoke one of the
men on the motor craft.
Joe looked at him wonderingly, and then at the machine on the bow of
the boat. All at once he realized what it wasa moving picture camera.
He had seen them before.
Are you folks in the movies? he asked as he stood up, with the
help of the two men.
That's what we are, was the answer. We came out early this
morning to do a bit of 'water stuff,' when we saw your boat adrift. We
put over to it, and were surprised to see you tied in it. Can you tell
us what happened?
Yes, answered Joe, I was practically kidnapped!
Come aboard, and have some coffee, urged a motherly-looking woman
of the party.
Yes, do, added another member of the company. We have just had
The aroma of coffee was grateful to Joe, and soon he was aboard the
motorboat, sipping a steaming cup.
Kidnapped; eh? remarked one of the men. Then we'd better save
that boat for you. It will be a clue to those who did it.
Oh, I know who did it, all right, answered Joe, who was rapidly
feeling more like himself. I don't need the boat for evidence. But,
since you have been so kind to me, I wish you'd do one thing more.
Name it, promptly said the man who seemed to be in charge of the
Get me somewhere so I can send word to Philadelphiato Manager
Watson of the St. Louis Cardinals. I want to explain what happened, so
he won't expect me in the game to-day.
Are you a member of the St. Louis team? asked one of the men,
One of the pitchersmy name is Matson.
The two leading men of the company looked at each other in an odd
It couldn't have happened better; could it, Harry? one asked.
Our hero was a trifle mystified until the man called Harry
You see, it's this way, he said. My name is Harry Kirk, and this
is James Morton, nodding toward the other man. We manage a moving
picture company, most of whom you now see, and he indicated those
about him. We have been doing a variety of stuff, and we want to get
some baseball pictures. We've been trying to induce some of the big
teams to play an exhibition game for us, but so far we haven't been
successful. Now if you would use your influence with your manager, and
he could induce some other team to play a short game, why we'd be ever
so much obliged.
Of course I'll do all I can! cried Joe. I can't thank you enough
for your rescue of me, and the least I could do would be to help you
out! I'm pretty sure I can induce Mr. Watson to let his team give an
That's all we wantan opening wedge, said Mr. Kirk, but we
couldn't seem to get it. Our finding of you was providential.
It was for me, anyhow, said Joe. I don't know what might have
happened to me if I had drifted much farther.
Joe explained how it had happened, and the unreasoning rage of
Shalleg toward him.
He ought to be sent to jail for life, to do such a thing as that!
burst out Mr. Kirk. You'll inform the police; won't you?
I think I had better, said Joe, thoughtfully.
The motor began its throbbing, and the big boat cut through the
water, towing the small craft, in which Joe had spent so many
The young pitcher was himself again, thanks to a good breakfast, and
when the dock was reached was able to talk to Manager Watson over the
telephone. It was then nearly noon, and Joe was in no shape to get in
the game that day.
To say that the news he gave the manager astonished Mr. Watson is
putting it mildly.
You stay where you are, directed his chief. I'll send someone
down to see you, or come myself. We'll get after this Shalleg and his
gang. This has gone far enough!
What about the game to-day? asked Joe.
Don't you worry about that. We'll beat the Phillies anyhow, though
I was counting on you, Joe. But don't worry.
CHAPTER XXIX. SHALLEG'S DOWNFALL
Plans to capture Shalleg and his cronies were carefully made, but
were unsuccessful, for, it appeared, the scoundrel and his cronies had
fled after putting Joe into the boat.
The moving picture people readily agreed to keep silent about the
affair, and Manager Watson said he would explain Joe's absence from the
game in a way that would disarm suspicion.
Joe soon recovered from his unpleasant and dangerous experience and,
true to his promise, used his influence to induce Mr. Watson to play an
exhibition game for the moving picture people.
Of course we'll do it! the manager exclaimed. That would be small
pay for what they did for you. I'll see if we can't play the Phillies
right here. Of course it will have to be arranged with the high moguls,
but I guess it can be.
And it was. The game was not to count in the series, for some
changes and new rules had to be adopted to make it possible to get it
within the scope of the moving picture cameras. And the picture
managers agreed to pay a sum that made it worth while for the players,
Joe included, to put up a good game of ball.
To his delight Joe was selected to pitch for his side, and fully
himself again, he put up a corking good game, to quote his friend
Well, I'm not sorry to be leaving Philadelphia, remarked Joe to
Rad, when their engagement in the Quaker City was over, and they were
to go on to Brooklyn. I always have a feeling that Shalleg will show
I only wish he would! exclaimed Rad.
I don't! said Joe, quickly.
I mean and be captured, his chum added, quickly.
Oh, that's different, laughed Joe.
Taking three of the four games from the Superbas, two of them on the
same day, in a double-header, the St. Louis team added to their own
prestige, and, incidentally, to their standing in the league, gaining
I think we have a good chance of landing third place, the manager
exulted when they started West. They were to play Chicago in their home
town, then work their way to New York for a final set-to with the
Giants, and end the season on Robison Field.
And in St. Louis something happened that, for a long time, took
Shalleg out of Joe's path.
The first game with Chicago had been a hard one, but by dint of hard
work, and good pitching (Joe going in at the fourth inning to replace
Barter), the Cardinals won.
And we'll do the same to-morrow, good-naturedly boasted Manager
Watson, to Mr. Mandell of the Cubs.
Well, maybe you will, but I have a good chance to put it all over
you, said the Chicago manager, and there was that in his manner which
caused Mr. Watson to ask quickly:
What do you mean?
Just this. How much chance do you think you'd have to win if our
men knew your battery signals?
Not much, of course, but the thing is impossible!
Is it? asked the other, quietly. Not so impossible as you
suppose. I have just received an offer to have the signals disclosed to
me before the game to-morrow.
By whom? cried Manager Watson. If any of my players is trying to
throw the team
Go easy, advised the other with a smile. It's nothing like that.
The offer came from a man, who, I understand, tried unsuccessfully to
become a member of the Cardinals.
That's who it was.
Where can I get him? asked Mr. Watson, eagerly. He's wanted on a
good deal more serious charge than that. Where can I get him?
I thought you might want to see him, said the Chicago manager, so
I put him off. I've made an appointment with him
Which the police and I will keep! interrupted Mr. Watson.
Perhaps that would be better, agreed Mr. Mandell.
So the plot for the downfall of Shalleg was laid. It appeared that
he had come back to St. Louis, and, by dint of careful watching, and by
his knowledge of the game, he had managed to steal the signal system
used between the Cardinal pitchers and catchers. This he proposed
disclosing to the Chicago team, but of course the manager would have
nothing to do with the scheme.
Shalleg had named a low resort for the transfer of the information
he possessed, he to receive in exchange a sum of money. He was in
desperate straits, it appeared.
The Cubs' manager, Joe and Mr. Watson, with a detective, went to the
appointed meeting place. The manager went in alone, but the others were
hiding, in readiness to enter at a signal.
Did you bring the money? asked Shalleg, eagerly, as he saw the man
with whom he hoped to make a criminal deal.
I have the money, yes, was the cool answer. Are you prepared to
disclose to me the Cardinal battery signals?
Yes, but don't speak so loud, someone might hear you! whined
That's just what I want! cried the manager in loud tones, and that
was the signal for the officer to come in. He, Joe and Mr. Watson had
heard enough to convict Shalleg.
Ha! A trap! cried the released player, as he saw them close in on
him. He made a dash to get away, but, after a brief struggle, the
detective overpowered him, for Shalleg's manner of life was not such as
to make him a fighter.
He saw that it was no use to bluff and bluster, and, his nerve
completely gone, he made a full confession.
After his unsuccessful attempt to borrow money of Joe, he really
became imbued with the idea that our hero had injured him, and was
spreading false reports about him. So he set out to revenge himself on
It was Shalleg who induced Wessel to pick a quarrel with Joe, hoping
to disable the pitcher so he could not play ball that season. It was a
mean revenge to plot. And it was Shalleg's idea, in luring Joe to the
lonely house, on the plea of helping Rad, to involve him in a fight
that might disable, or disgrace, him so that he would have to resign
from the Cardinals. Likewise it was a tool of Shalleg's who kept track
of Joe, who boarded the same car as did our hero, and who so cruelly
twisted his arm, hoping to put him out of the game.
Shalleg denied having induced Wessel to enter Joe's room that night
in question, but his denial can be taken for what it was worth. As to
Weasel's object, it could only be guessed at. It may have been robbery,
or some worse crime.
And then, when all else failed, Shalleg tried the desperate plan of
kidnapping Joe, but, as he explained, he did not really intend bodily
harm. And perhaps he did not. He was a weak and criminally bad man, but
perhaps there was a limit.
Well, this is the end! the former ball player said, bitterly, as
he was handcuffed, and led away. I might have known better.
Some time afterward, when the ball season had closed, Shalleg was
tried on the charge of mistreating Joe, and was convicted, being
sentenced to a long term. His cronies were not caught, but as they were
only tools for Shalleg no one cared very much whether or not they were
CHAPTER XXX. THE HARDEST BATTLE
Filled to overflowing were the big bleachers. Crowded were the
grandstands. Above the noise made by the incoming elevated trains, and
the tramp of thousands of feet along the boarded run-ways leading to
the big concrete Brush Stadium at the Polo Grounds, could be heard the
shrill voices of the vendors of peanuts, bottled ginger ale and ice
Out on the perfect diamond, laid out as though with rule and
compass, men in white and other men in darker uniforms were practicing.
Balls were being caught, other balls were being batted.
It was a sunny, perfect day, hot enough to make fast playing
possible, and yet with a refreshing breeze.
Well, Joe, are we going to win? asked Rad, as he and his chum went
to the bench after their warm-up work.
I don't know, answered the young pitcher slowly. They're a hard
team to beat.
It was the final game between the Giants and the Cardinals. To win
it meant for the St. Louis team that they would reach third place. And
if they did get third position, it was practically certain that they
could keep it, for their closing games in St. Louis were with the
tail-enders of the league.
Are you going to pitch, Joe?
I don't know that, either. Haven't heard yet, was the answer.
Just then a messenger came up to Joe.
There's somebody in that box, he said, indicating one low down,
and just back of home plate, who wants to speak to you.
Joe looked around, and a delighted look came over his face as he saw
his father and mother, Clara, and one other.
Mabel! exclaimed Joe, and then he hurried over.
Say, this is great! he cried, with sparkling eyes. I didn't know
you folks were coming, and he kissed his mother and sister, and
wishedbut there! I said I wouldn't tell secrets.
Your father found he had some business in New York, explained Mrs.
Matson, so we thought we would combine pleasure with it, and see you
And they looked me up, and brought me along, added Mabel. I just
happened to be in town. Now we want to see you win, Joe!
I don't even know that I'll play, he said, wistfully.
Joe felt that he could bide his time, and yet he did long to be the
one to open the game, as it was an important one, and a record-breaking
crowd was on hand to see it.
But it was evident that Manager Watson's choice of a pitcher must be
changed. It needed but two innings to demonstrate that, for the Giants
got four hits and three runs off Slim Cooney, who, most decidedly, was
not in form.
The substitution of a batter was made, and the manager nodded at
You'll pitch! he said, grimly. And I want you to win!
And I want to, replied Joe, as he thought of those in the box
It was to be Baseball Joe's hardest battle. Opposed to him on the
mound for the Giants was a pitcher of world-wide fame, a veteran,
well-nigh peerless, who had won many a hard-fought game.
I might describe that game to you in detail, but I will confine
myself to Joe's efforts, since it is in him we are most interested. I
might tell of the desperate chances the Cardinals took to gain runs,
and of the exceptionally good stick work they did, against the
redoubtable pitcher of the Giants.
For a time this pitcher held his opponents to scattering hits. Then,
for a fatal moment, he went up in the air. It was a break that was at
once taken advantage of by the Cardinals. They slammed out two terrific
hits, and, as there were men on bases, the most was made of them. Two
wild throws, something exceptional for the Giants, added to the luck,
and when the excitement was over the Cardinals had tied the game.
Now, we've got 'em going!
Only one run to win, boys!
Hold 'em down, Joe!
Thus came the wild cries from the stands. Excitement was at its
There was a hasty consultation between the peerless pitcher and the
veteran catcher. They had gone up in the air, but now they were down to
earth again. From then on, until the beginning of the ninth inning, the
Cardinals did not cross home plate, and they got very few hits. It was
a marvelous exhibition of ball twirling.
But if the Giant pitcher did well, Joe did even better, when you
consider that he was only rounding out his first season in a big
league, and that he was up against a veteran of national fame, the
announcement that he was going to be in the game being sufficient to
attract a large throng.
Good work, old man! Good work! called Boswell, when Joe came to
the bench one inning, after having allowed but one hit. Can you keep
II hope so.
It was a great battlea hard battle. The Giants worked every trick
they knew to gain another run, but the score remained a tie. Goose egg
after goose egg went up on the score board. The ninth inning had
started with the teams still even.
We've just got to get that run! declared Manager Watson.
We've just got to get it. Joe, you are to bat first. See if you
can't get a hit!
Pitchers are proverbially weak hitters. One ingenious theory for it
is that they are so used to seeing the ball shooting away from them,
and toward the batter, that, when the positions are reversed, and they
see the ball coming toward them they get nervous.
Ball! was the umpire's first decision in Joe's favor. The young
pitcher was rather surprised, for he knew the prowess of his opponent.
And then Joe decided on what might have proved to be a foolish
I'm going to think that the next one will be a swift, straight one,
and I'm going to dig in my spikes and set for it, he decided. And he
did. He made a beautiful hit, and amid the wild yells of the crowd he
started for first. He beat the ball by a narrow margin, and was
A pinch hitter was up next, and amid a breathless silence he was
watched. But the peerless pitcher was taking no chances, and walked
him, thinking to get Joe later.
But he did not. For, as luck would have it, Rad Chase made the hit
of his life, a three-bagger, and with the crowd going wild, two runs
came in, giving the Cardinals the game, if they could hold the Giants
And it was up to Joe to do this. Could he?
As Joe walked to the mound, for that last momentous inning, he
glanced toward the box where his parents, sister and Mabel sat. A
little hand was waved to him, and Joe waved back. Then he faced his
Thud! went the ball in Doc Mullin's big mitt.
Ball! droned the umpire.
Thud! went another. The batter stood motionless.
The batter indignantly tapped the rubber.
You can't get it! yelled the crowd, as the ball shot up in a foul.
The umpire tossed a new ball to Joe, for the other had gone too far
away to get back speedily.
Joe wet the horsehide, and sent it drilling in. The batter made a
slight motion, as though to hit it, but refrained:
Strike! You're out! said the umpire, stolidly.
Why, that ball was
You're out! and the umpire waved him aside, impatiently.
Joe grinned in delight.
But when he saw the next man, Home Run Crater, facing him, our
hero felt a little shaky. True, the chances were in favor of the
Cardinals, but baseball is full of chances that make or break.
If he wallops it! thought Joe.
But Crater did not wallop it. In his characteristic manner he swung
at the first delivery, and connected with it. Over Joe's head it was
going, but with a mighty jump Joe corraled it in one hand, a
sensational catch that set the crowd wild. Joe was playing the game of
Only one more!
Strike him out!
The game is ours, Joe!
But another heavy hitter was up, and there was still work for
Baseball Joe to do.
To his alarm, as he sent in his first ball, there came to his arm
that had been twisted on the car, a twinge of pain.
My! I hope that doesn't bother me, thought Joe, in anxiety.
Ball one, announced the umpire.
Joe delivered a straight, swift one. His arm hurt worse, and he
gritted his teeth to keep from crying out.
Strike! grunted the umpire, and there was some balm for Joe in
The batter hit the next one for a dribbler, and just managed to
If I could only have managed to get him out! mused Joe. I'd be
done now. But I've got to do it over again. I wonder if I can last
To his relief the next batter up was one of the weakest of the
Giants, and Joe was glad. And even yet a weak batter might make a hit
that would turn the tables.
I've got to do it! murmured Joe, and he wound up for the delivery.
Strike! announced the umpire. Joe's heart beat hard.
Here goes for the fadeaway, he said to himself, though it will
hurt like fun!
It did, bringing a remembrance of the old hurt. But it fooled the
batter, and there were two strikes on him.
The game was all but over. With two out, and two strikes called,
there could be but one result, unless there was to be something that
occurs but once in a lifetime. And it did not occur.
Strike! You're out! was the umpire's decision, and that was the
end. The Cardinals had won, thanks, in a great measure, to Joe Matson's
That's the stuff!
Third place for ours!
Three cheers for Joe MatsonBaseball Joe! called his teammates,
who crowded around him to clap him on the back and say all sorts of
nice things. Joe stood it, blushingly, for a moment, and then he made
his way over to the box. As he walked along, a certain quiet man who
had been intently watching the game said softly to himself.
He must be mine next season. I guess I can make a trade for him.
He'd be a big drawing card for the Giants.
Oh, Joe, it was splendid! Splendid! cried Mabel, enthusiastically.
Fine! said his father.
Do you get any extra when your side wins? asked his mother, while
the crowd smiled.
Well, yes, in a way, answered Joe. You get treated extra well.
And it's going to be my treat this time, said Mabel, with a laugh.
I want you all to come to dinner with me. You'll come; won't you,
Joe? she asked, pleadingly.
Of course, he said.
And bring a friend, if you like, and she glanced at Clara.
I'll bring Rad, Joe answered.
They lived the great game over again at the table of the hotel where
Mable was stopping.
Is your arm lame? asked Mrs. Matson, noticing that her son favored
his pitching member a trifle.
Oh, I can finish out the season, said Joe. The remainder will be
easyonly a few more games.
And then what? asked Rad.
Well, a vacation, I suppose, and then get ready for another season
with the Cardinals.
But Joe was not destined to remain with the Western team. The
horizon was widening, and those of you who wish to follow further the
adventures of our hero may do so in the succeeding volume, which will
be called Baseball Joe on the Giants; Or, Making Good as a Ball
Twirler in the Metropolis.
In that we shall see how Joe rose to even higher fame, through grit,
hard work and ability.
Well, you turned the trick, old man! declared Manager Watson,
when, a few days later, the team was on the way back to St. Louis. You
did it. I felt sure you could.
Well, I didn't, at one time, was the rejoinder. My arm
started to go back on me.
Well, there's one consolation, Shalleg and his crowd will never get
another chance at you, went on the manager. Now take care of
yourself. I'm only going to let you play one gamethe closing one at
St. Louis. We won't need our stars against the tail-enders.
And the Cardinals did not, winning handily with a number of second
string men playing.
Where are you going, Joe? asked Rad, as they sat in their hotel
room one evening, for Joe was dolling up.
Out to a moving picture show.
Yes. That film of the exhibition game we played in Philadelphia is
being shown in town. Come on up.
Sure, assented Rad; and as they went out together we will take
leave of Baseball Joe.