Marty Brown, Mascot by Ralph
Copyright, 1898, by The Century Co. All rights reserved.
Martin—more familiarly “Marty”—Brown’s
connection with the Summerville
Baseball Club had begun the previous spring,
when, during a hotly contested game with the
High School nine, Bob Ayer, Summerville’s
captain, watching his men go down like nine-pins
before the puzzling curves of the rival
pitcher, found himself addressed by a small
snub-nosed, freckle-faced youth with very
bright blue eyes and very dusty bare feet:
“Want me ter look after yer bats?”
“All right,” was the cheerful response.
The umpire called two strikes on the batsman,
and Bob muttered his anger.
“I don’t want nothin’ fer it,” announced
the boy beside him, insinuatingly, digging a
hole in the turf with one bare toe.
Bob turned, glad of something to vent his
wrath upon. “No! Get out of here!” he
“All right,” was the imperturbable answer.
Then the side was out, and Bob trotted to
first base. That half inning, the last of the
seventh, was a tragedy for the town nine, for
the High School piled three runs more on
their already respectable lead, and when Bob
came in he had well-defined visions of defeat.
It was his turn at the bat. When he went to
select his stick he was surprised to find the
barefooted, freckle-faced youth in calm possession.
“What—?” he began angrily.
Marty leaped up and held out a bat. Bob
took it, astonished to find that it was his own
pet “wagon-tongue,” and strode off to the
plate, too surprised for words. Two minutes
later, he was streaking toward first base on a
safe hit to center field. An error gave him
second, and the dwindling hopes of Summerville
began to rise again. The fellows found
the High School pitcher and fairly batted him
off his feet, and when the side went out it had
added six runs to its tally, and lacked but one
of being even with its opponent. Meanwhile
Marty rescued the bats thrown aside, and
arranged them neatly, presiding over them
gravely, and showing a marvelous knowledge
of each batsman’s wants.
Summerville won that game by two runs,
and Bob Ayer was the first to declare, with
conviction, that it was all owing to Marty.
The luck had changed, he said, as soon as the
snub-nosed boy had taken charge of the club’s
Every one saw the reasonableness of the
assertion, and Marty was thereupon adopted
as the official mascot and general factotum of
the Summerville Baseball Club. Since then
none had disputed Marty’s right to that position,
and he had served tirelessly, proudly,
mourning the defeats and glorying in
the victories as sincerely as Bob Ayer himself.
Marty went to the grammar-school “when
it kept,” and in the summer became a wage-earner
to the best of his ability, holding insecure
positions with several grocery and
butcher stores as messenger and “special delivery.”
But always on Saturday afternoons
he was to be found squatting over the bats at
the ball-ground; he never allowed the desire
for money to interfere with his sacred duty
as mascot and custodian of club property.
Every one liked Marty, and he was as much
a part of the Summerville Baseball Club as if
one of the nine. His rewards consisted chiefly
of discarded bats and balls; but he was well
satisfied: it was a labor of love with him, and
it is quite probable that, had he been offered
a salary in payment of the services he rendered,
he would have indignantly refused it.
For the rest, he was fifteen years old, was not
particularly large for his age, still retained
the big brown freckles and the snub nose, had
lively and honest blue eyes, and, despite the
fact that his mother eked out a scanty living
by washing clothes for the well-to-do of the
town, had a fair idea of his own importance,
without, however, risking his popularity by
becoming too familiar. The bare feet were
covered now by a pair of run-down and very
dusty shoes, and his blue calico shirt and well-patched
trousers were always clean and neat.
On his brown hair rested, far back, a blue-and-white
baseball cap adorned with a big S,
the gift of Bob Ayer, and Marty’s only badge
To-day Marty had a grievance. He sat on
a big packing-box in front of Castor’s Cash
Grocery and kicked his heels softly against
its side. Around him the air was heavy with
the odor of burning paper and punk, and
every instant the sharp sputter of fire-crackers
broke upon his reverie. It was the Fourth
of July and almost noon. It was very hot,
too. But it was not that which was troubling
Marty. His grief sprung from the fact that,
in just twenty minutes by the town-hall clock
up there, the Summerville Baseball Club, supported
by a large part of the town’s younger
population, would take the noon train for
Vulcan to play its annual game with the nine
of that city; and it would go, Marty bitterly
reflected, without its mascot.
Vulcan was a good way off—as Marty
viewed distance—and the fare for the round
trip was $1.40, just $1.28 more than Marty
possessed. He had hinted to Bob Ayer and
to “Herb” Webster, the club’s manager, the
real need of taking him along—had even been
gloomy and foretold a harrowing defeat for
their nine in the event of his absence from
the scene. But Summerville’s finances were
at low ebb, and, owing to the sickness of one
good player and the absence of another, her
hopes of capturing the one-hundred-dollar
purse which was yearly put up by the citizens
of the rival towns were but slight. So Marty
was to be left behind. And that was why
Marty sat on the packing-case and grieved,
refusing to join in the lively sport of his
friends who, farther up the street, were firing
off a small brass cannon in front of Hurlbert’s
Already, by ones and twos, the Vulcan-bound
citizens were toiling through the hot
sun toward the station. Marty watched them,
and scowled darkly. For the time he was a
radical socialist, and railed silently at the unjust
manner in which riches are distributed.
Presently a group of five fellows, whose ages
varied from seventeen to twenty-one, came
into sight upon the main street. They wore
gray uniforms, with blue and white stockings
and caps of the same hues, and on their
breasts were big blue S’s. Two of them carried,
swung between them, a long leather bag
containing Marty’s charge, the club’s bats.
The players spied the boy on the box, and
hailed him from across the street. Marty’s
reply was low-toned and despondent. But
after they had turned the corner toward the
station, he settled his cap firmly on his head
and, sliding off the box, hurried after them.
The station platform was well filled when
he gained it. Bob Ayer was talking excitedly
to Joe Sleeper, and Marty, listening from a
distance, gathered that Magee, the Summerville
center-fielder, had not put in his appearance.
“If he fails us,” Bob was saying anxiously,
“it’s all up before we start. We’re
crippled already. Has any one seen him?”
None had, and Bob, looking more worried
than before, strode off through the crowd to
seek for news. Of course, Marty told himself,
he didn’t want Summerville to lose, but,
just the same, if they did, it would serve
them right for not taking him along. A long
whistle in the distance sounded, and Bob came
back, shaking his head in despair.
“Not here,” he said.
A murmur of dismay went up from the
group, and Marty slid off the baggage-truck
and approached the captain.
“Say, let me go along, won’t yer, Bob?”
Bob turned, and, seeing Marty’s eager
face, forgot his worry for the moment, and
asked kindly: “Can you buy your ticket?”
“No.” Marty clenched his hands and
looked desperately from one to another of
the group. The train was thundering down
the track beside the platform. “But you
fellows might buy me one. And I’d pay yer
“Say, Bob, let’s take him,” said Hamilton.
“Goodness knows, if we ever needed a
mascot, we need one to-day! Here, I’ll chip
in a quarter.”
“So’ll I,” said Sleeper. “Marty ought
to go along; that’s a fact.”
“Here’s another.” “You pay for me,
Dick, and I’ll settle with you when we get
back.” “I’ll give a quarter, too.”
“All aboard!” shouted the conductor.
“All right, Marty; jump on,” cried Bob.
“We’ll find the money—though I don’t know
where your dinner’s coming from!”
Marty was up the car-steps before Bob had
finished speaking, and was hauling the long
bag from Wolcott with eager hands. Then
they trooped into the smoking-car, since the
day-coaches were already full, and Marty sat
down on the stiff leather seat and stood the
bag beside him. The train pulled out of the
little station, and Marty’s gloom gave place
to radiant joy.
The journey to Vulcan occupied three-quarters
of an hour, during which time Bob
and the other eight groaned over the absence
of Magee and Curtis and Goodman, predicted
defeat in one breath and hoped for victory in
the next, and rearranged the batting list in
eleven different ways before they were at last
satisfied. Marty meanwhile, with his scuffed
shoes resting on the opposite seat, one brown
hand laid importantly upon the leather bag
and his face wreathed in smiles, kept his blue
eyes fixedly upon the summer landscape that
slid by the open window. It was his first railway
trip of any length, and it was very wonderful
and exciting. Even the knowledge that
defeat was the probable fate ahead of the expedition
failed to more than tinge his pleasure
At Vulcan the train ran under a long iron-roofed
structure, noisy with the puffing of engines,
the voices of the many that thronged
the platforms, and the clanging of a brazen
gong announcing dinner in the station restaurant.
Marty was awed but delighted. He
carried one end of the big bag across the street
to the hotel, his eager eyes staring hither and
thither in wide amaze. Vulcan boasted of a
big bridge-works and steel-mills, and put on
many of the airs of a larger city. Bob told
Marty that they had arranged for his dinner
in the hotel dining-room, but the latter demurred
on the score of expense.
“Yer see, I want ter pay yer back, Bob,
and so I guess I don’t want ter go seventy-five
cents fer dinner. Why, that’s more’n
what three dinners costs us at home. I’ll just
go out and get a bit of lunch, I guess. Would
yer lend me ten cents?”
Marty enjoyed himself thoroughly during
the succeeding half-hour: He bought a five-cent
bag of peanuts and three bananas, and
aided digestion by strolling about the streets
while he consumed them, at last finding his
way to the first of the wonderful steel-mills
and wandering about freely among the bewildering
cranes, rollers, and other ponderous
machines. He wished it was not the Fourth
of July; he would like to have seen things at
work. Finally, red-faced and perspiring, he
hurried back to the hotel and entered a coach
with the others, and was driven through the
city to the ball-ground. This had a high board
fence about it, and long tiers of seats half
encircling the field. There were lots of persons
there, and others were arriving every
minute. Marty followed the nine into a little
dressing-room built under the grand stand,
and presently followed them out again to a
bench in the shade just to the left of the home
plate. Here he unstrapped his bag and arranged
the bats on the ground, examining
them carefully, greatly impressed with his
The Vulcans, who had been practising on
the diamond, trotted in, and Bob and the
others took their places. The home team wore
gray costumes with maroon stockings and
caps, and the big V that adorned the shirts
was also maroon. Many of them were workers
in the steel-mills, and to Marty they
seemed rather older than the Summervilles.
Then the umpire, a very small man in a snuff-colored
alpaca coat and cap, made his appearance,
and the men at practise came in.
The umpire tossed a coin between Bob and
the Vulcans’ captain, and Bob won with
“heads!” and led his players into the field.
A lot of men just back of Marty began to
cheer for the home team as Vulcan’s first man
went to bat.
It were sorry work to write in detail of
the disastrous first seven innings of that game.
Summerville’s hope of taking the one-hundred-dollar
purse home with them languished
and dwindled, and finally faded quite away
when, in the first half of the seventh inning,
Vulcan found Warner’s delivery and batted
the ball into every quarter of the field, and
ran their score up to twelve. Summerville
went to bat in the last half plainly discouraged.
Oliver struck out. Hamilton hit to
second base and was thrown out. Pickering
got first on balls, but “died” there on a well-fielded
fly of Warner’s.
Vulcan’s citizens yelled delightedly from
grand stand and bleachers. Summerville had
given a stinging defeat to their nine the year
before at the rival town, and this revenge
was glorious. They shouted gibes that made
Marty’s cheeks flush and caused him to double
his fists wrathfully and wish that he were
big enough to “lick somebody”; and they
groaned dismally as one after another of the
blue-and-white players went down before Baker’s
superb pitching. Summerville’s little
band of supporters worked valiantly against
overwhelming odds to make their voices
heard, but their applause was but a drop in
that sea of noise.
The eighth inning began with the score 12
to 5, and Stevens, captain and third-baseman
of the Vulcans, went to bat with a smile of
easy confidence upon his face. He led off with
a neat base-hit past short-stop. The next
man, Storrs, their clever catcher, found Warner’s
first ball, and sent it twirling skyward
in the direction of left field. Webster was
under it, but threw it in badly, and Stevens
got to third. The next batsman waited coolly
and took his base on balls. Warner was badly
rattled, and had there been any one to put in
his place he would have been taken out. But
Curtis, the substitute pitcher, was ill in bed at
Summerville, and helpless Bob Ayer ground
his teeth and watched defeat overwhelm him.
With a man on third, another on first, and
but one out, things again looked desperate.
Warner, pale of face, wrapped his long
fingers about the ball and faced the next batsman.
The coaches kept up a volley of disconcerting
advice to the runners, most of it
intended for the pitcher’s ear, however. On
Warner’s first delivery the man on first went
leisurely to second, well aware that the Summerville
catcher would not dare to throw lest
the runner on third should score. With one
strike against him and three balls, the man
at bat struck at a rather deceptive drop and
started for first. The ball shot straight at
Warner, hot off the bat. The pitcher found
it, but fumbled. Regaining it quickly, he
threw to the home plate, and the Vulcan captain
speedily retraced his steps to third. But
the batsman was safe at first, and so the three
bases were full.
“Home run! Home run, O’Brien!”
shrieked the throng as the next man, a red-haired
little youth, gripped his stick firmly.
O’Brien was quite evidently a favorite as well
as a good player. Warner and Oliver, Summerville’s
catcher, met and held a whispered
consultation to the accompaniment of loud
ridicule from the audience. Then the battery
took their places.
“Play for the plate,” cried Bob at first
Warner’s first delivery was a wide throw
that almost passed the catcher. “Ball!”
droned the umpire. The men on bases were
playing far off, and intense excitement
reigned. On the next delivery Warner steadied
himself and got a strike over the plate.
A shout of applause from the plucky Summerville
spectators shattered the silence. Another
strike; again the applause. O’Brien
gripped his bat anew and looked surprised
and a little uneasy.
“He can’t do it again, O’Brien!”
shrieked an excited admirer in the grand
But O’Brien didn’t wait to see. He found
the next delivery and sent it whizzing, a
red-hot liner, toward second. Pandemonium
broke loose. Sleeper, Summerville’s second-baseman,
ran forward and got the ball head
high, glanced quickly aside, saw the runner
from first speeding by, lunged forward,
tagged him, and then threw fiercely, desperately
home. The sphere shot like a cannonball
into Oliver’s outstretched hands, there
was a cloud of yellow dust as Stevens slid for
the home plate, and then the umpire’s voice
droned: “Out, here!”
Summerville, grinning to a man, trotted in,
and the little handful of supporters yelled
themselves hoarse and danced ecstatically
about. Even the Vulcan enthusiasts must applaud
the play, though a bit grudgingly. For
the first time in many innings, Marty, squatting
beside the bats, drew a big scrawling 0 in
the tally which he was keeping on the ground,
with the aid of a splinter.
It was the last half of the eighth inning,
and Bob Ayer’s turn at the bat. Marty found
his especial stick, and uttered an incantation
beneath his breath as he held it out.
“We’re going to win, Bob,” he whispered.
Bob took the bat, shaking his head.
“I’m afraid you don’t work as a mascot
to-day, Marty,” he answered smilingly. But
Marty noticed that there was a look of resolution
in the captain’s face as he walked toward
the box, and took heart.
Summerville’s admirers greeted Bob’s appearance
with a burst of applause, and Vulcan’s
captain motioned the field to play farther
out. Vulcan’s pitcher tossed his arms
above his head, lifted his right foot into the
air, and shot the ball forward. There was a
sharp crack, and the sphere was sailing
straight and low toward center field. Bob
touched first and sped on to second. Center
field and left field, each intent upon the ball,
discovered each other’s presence only when
they were a scant four yards apart. Both
paused—and the ball fell to earth! Bob,
watching, flew toward third. It was a close
shave, but he reached it ahead of the ball in
a cloud of dust, and, rising, shook himself in
the manner of a dog after a bath. Summerville’s
supporters were again on their feet,
and their shouts were extraordinary in volume,
considering their numbers. Vulcan’s
citizens, after a first burst of anger and dismay,
had fallen into chilling silence. Marty
hugged himself, and nervously picked out
The latter, Summerville’s short-stop and
a mere boy of seventeen, was only an ordinary
batsman, and Marty looked to see him strike
out. But instead, after waiting with admirable
nerve while ball after ball shot by him, he
tossed aside his stick and trotted to first base
on balls, amid the howls of the visitors. Summerville’s
first run for four innings was
scored a moment later when Bob stole home
on a passed ball.
Summerville’s star seemed once more in
the ascendant. Howe was now sitting contentedly
on second base. “Herb” Webster
gripped his bat firmly and faced the pitcher.
The latter, for the first time during the game,
was rattled. Bob, standing back of third,
coached Howe with an incessant roar:
“On your toes! Get off! Get off! Come
on, now! Come on! He won’t throw! Come
on, come on! That’s right! That’s the way!
Now! Wh-o-o-a! Easy! Look out! Try it
Baker received the ball back from second,
and again faced the batsman. But he was
worried, and proved it by his first delivery.
The ball went far to the right of the catcher,
and Howe reached third base without hurrying.
When Baker again had the ball, he
scowled angrily, made a feint of throwing to
third, and, turning rapidly, pitched. The ball
was a swift one and wild, and Webster drew
back, then ducked. The next instant he was
lying on the ground, and a cry of dismay
arose. The sphere had hit him just under the
ear. He lay there unconscious, his left hand
still clutching his bat, his face white under its
coat of tan. Willing hands quickly lifted him
into the dressing-room, and a doctor hurried
from the grand stand. Bob, who had helped
carry him off the field, came out after a few
minutes and went to the bench.
“He’s all right now,” he announced.
“That is, he’s not dangerously hurt, you
know. But he won’t be able to play again to-day.
Doctor says he’d better go to the hotel,
and we’ve sent for a carriage. I wish to goodness
I knew where to find a fellow to take his
place! Think of our coming here without a
blessed substitute to our name! I wish I had
Magee for a minute; if I wouldn’t show him
a thing or two! Warner, you’d better take
poor Webster’s place as runner; I’ll tell the
In another moment the game had begun
again, Warner having taken the place of the
injured left-fielder at first base, and Sleeper
having gone to bat. Vulcan’s pitcher was
pale and his hands shook as he once more
began his work; the injury to Webster had
totally unnerved him. The immediate result
was that Sleeper knocked a two-bagger that
brought Howe home, placed Warner on third
and himself on second; and the ultimate result
was that five minutes later, when Oliver
fouled out to Vulcan’s third-baseman, Sleeper
and Wolcott had also scored, and the game
stood 12 to 9.
Bob Ayer meanwhile had searched unsuccessfully
for a player to take the injured Webster’s
place, and had just concluded to apply
to Vulcan’s captain for one of his substitutes,
when he turned to find Marty at his side.
“Are yer lookin’ fer a feller to play left
“Yes,” answered Bob, eagerly. “Do you
know of any one?”
Bob stared in surprise, but Marty looked
back without flinching. “I can play, Bob;
not like you, of course, but pretty well. And,
besides, there ain’t no one else, is there? Give
me a show, will yer?”
Bob’s surprise had given place to deep
thought. “Why not?” he asked himself. Of
course Marty could play ball; what Summerville
boy couldn’t, to some extent? And, besides,
as Marty said, there was no one else.
Bob had seen Marty play a little while the nine
was practising, and, so far as he knew, Marty
was a better player than any of the Summerville
boys who had come with the nine and now
sat on the grand stand. The other alternative
did not appeal to him: his pride revolted at
begging a player from the rival club. He
turned and strode to the bench, and Marty
eagerly watched him conferring with the others.
In a moment he turned and nodded.
A ripple of laughter and ironic applause
crept over the stands as Marty, attired in his
blue shirt and unshapen trousers, trotted out
to his position in left field. The boy heard it,
but didn’t care. His nerves were tingling
with excitement. It was the proudest moment
of his short life. He was playing with
the Summerville Baseball Club! And deep
down in his heart Marty Brown pledged his
last breath to the struggle for victory.
Vulcan started in on their last inning with
a determination to add more runs to their
score. The first man at bat reached first base
on a safe hit to mid-field. The second, Vulcan’s
center-fielder and a poor batsman, struck
out ingloriously. When the next man strode
to the plate, Bob motioned the fielders to
spread out. Marty had scarcely run back a
half dozen yards when the sharp sound of ball
on bat broke upon the air, and high up against
the blue sky soared the little globe, sailing
toward left field. Marty’s heart was in his
mouth, and for the moment he wished himself
back by the bench, with no greater duty than
the care of the bats. It was one thing to play
ball in a vacant lot with boys of his own age,
and another to display his powers in a big
game, with half a thousand excited persons
watching him. At first base the runner was
poised ready to leap away as soon as the ball
fell into the fielder’s hands—or to the ground!
The latter possibility brought a haze before
Marty’s eyes, and for an instant he saw at least
a dozen balls coming toward him; he wondered,
in a chill of terror, which was the
real one! Then the mist faded, he stepped
back and to the right three paces, telling himself
doggedly that he had to catch it, put up
A shout of applause arose from the stands,
and the ball was darting back over the field to
second base. Marty, with a swelling heart,
put his hands in his trousers pockets and whistled
to prove his indifference to applause.
The batsman was out, but the first runner
stood safely on third base. And then, with
two men gone, Vulcan set bravely to work and
filled the remaining bases. A safe hit meant
two more runs added to Vulcan’s score. The
fielders, in obedience to Bob’s command, crept
in. The grand stand and the bleachers were
noisy with the cheers of the spectators. Warner
glanced around from base to base, slowly
settled himself into position, and clutched the
ball. The noise was deafening, but his nerves
were again steady, and he only smiled carelessly
at the efforts of the coaches to rattle
him. His arms shot up, and a straight delivery
sent the sphere waist high over the plate.
“Strike!” crooned the umpire. Applause
from the Summerville deputation was drowned
in renewed shouts and gibes from the rest of
the audience. Warner received the ball, and
again, very deliberately, settled his toe into
the depression in the trampled earth. Up
shot his arms again, again he lunged forward,
and again the umpire called:
The batter stooped and rubbed his hands
in the dust, and then gripped the stick resolutely.
The ball went back to Warner, and he
stepped once more into the box. For a moment
he studied the batsman deliberately, a
proceeding which seemed to worry that youth,
since he lifted first one foot and then the other
off the ground and waved his bat impatiently.
“Play ball!” shrieked the grand stand.
Warner smiled, rubbed his right hand reflectively
upon his thigh, glanced casually
about the bases, lifted one spiked shoe from
the ground, tossed his arms up, and shot the
ball away swiftly. Straight for the batsman’s
head it went, then settled down, down,
and to the left as though attracted by Oliver’s
big gloves held a foot above the earth just back
of the square of white marble. The man at
bat, his eyes glued to the speeding sphere, put
his stick far around, and then, with a sudden
gasp, whirled it fiercely. There was a thud
as the ball settled cozily into Oliver’s leather
gloves, a roar from the onlookers, and above
it all the umpire’s fatal:
Marty, watching breathless and wide-eyed
from the field, threw a handspring and uttered
a whoop of joy. The nines changed places,
and the last half of the last inning began with
the score still 12 to 9 in favor of Vulcan.
“Play carefully, fellows,” shouted Vulcan’s
captain as Hamilton went to bat.
“We’ve got to shut them out.”
“If youse can,” muttered Marty, seated
on the bench between Bob and Wolcott.
It looked as though they could. Bob
groaned as Hamilton popped a short fly into
second-baseman’s hands, and the rest of the
fellows echoed the mournful sound.
“Lift it, Will, lift it!” implored Bob as
Pickering strode to the plate. And lift it he
did. Unfortunately, however, when it descended
it went plump into the hands of right
field. In the stand half the throng was on
its feet. Bob looked hopelessly at Warner as
the pitcher selected a bat.
“Cheer up, Bob,” said the latter, grinning.
“I’m going to crack that ball or know
the reason why!”
The Vulcan pitcher was slow and careful.
They had taken the wearied Baker out and
put in a new twirler. Warner let his first
effort pass unnoticed, and looked surprised
when the umpire called it a strike. But he
received the next one with a hearty welcome,
and sent it speeding away for a safe hit, taking
first base amid the wild cheers of the little
group of blue-and-white-decked watchers.
Hamilton hurried across to coach the runner,
and Bob stepped to the plate. His contribution
was a swift liner that was too hot for the
pitcher, one that placed Warner on second
and himself on first. Then, with Hamilton
and Sleeper both coaching at the top of their
lungs, the Vulcan catcher fumbled a ball at
which Howe had struck, and the two runners
moved up. The restive audience had overflowed
on to the field now, and excitement
reigned supreme. Another strike was called
on Howe, and for a moment Summerville’s
chances appeared to be hopeless. But a minute
later the batter was limping to first, having
been struck with the ball, and the pitcher was
angrily grinding his heel into the ground.
“Webster at bat!” called the scorer.
“That’s you, Marty,” said Wolcott. “If
you never do another thing, my boy, swat that
Marty picked out a bat and strode courageously
to the plate. A roar of laughter
greeted his appearance.
“Get on to Blue Jeans!” “Give us a
home run, kid!” “Say, now, sonny, don’t
fall over your pants!”
It needed just that ridicule to dispel
Marty’s nervousness. He was angry. How
could he help his “pants” being long? he
asked himself, indignantly. He’d show those
dudes that “pants” hadn’t anything to do
with hitting a baseball! He shut his teeth
hard, gripped the bat tightly, and faced the
pitcher. The latter smiled at his adversary,
but was not willing to take any chances, with
the bases full. And so, heedless of the requests
to “Toss him an easy one, Joe!” he
delivered a swift, straight drop over the plate.
“Strike!” droned the little umpire, skipping
Marty frowned, but gave no other sign of
the chill of disappointment that traveled down
his spine. On the bench Wolcott turned to
his next neighbor and said, as he shook his
“Hard luck! If it had only been some
one else’s turn now, we might have scored. I
guess little Marty’s not up to curves.”
Marty watched the next delivery carefully—and
let it pass.
“Ball!” called the umpire.
Again he held himself in, although it was
all he could do to keep from swinging at the
dirty-white globe as it sped by him.
“That’s right, Marty; wait for a good
one,” called Wolcott, hoping against hope that
Marty might get to first on balls. Marty
made no answer, but stood there, pale of face
but cool, while the ball sped around the bases
and at last went back to the pitcher. Again
the sphere sped forward. Now was his time!
With all his strength he swung his bat—and
twirled around on his heel! A roar of laughter
swept across the diamond.
“Strike two!” cried the umpire.
But Marty, surprised at his failure, yet undaunted,
heard nothing save the umpire’s unmoved
voice. Forward flew the ball again,
this time unmistakably wide of the plate, and
the little man in the snuff-colored alpaca coat
motioned to the right.
Bob, restlessly lifting his feet to be off and
away on his dash to third, waited with despairing
heart. Victory or defeat depended upon
the next pitch. A three-bagger would tie the
score, a safe hit would bring Sleeper to the
bat! But as he looked at the pale-faced, odd-looking
figure beside the plate he realized how
hopeless it all was. The pitcher, thinking
much the same thoughts, prepared for his last
effort. Plainly the queer little ragamuffin
was no batsman, and a straight ball over the
plate would bring the agony to an end. Up
went his hand, and straight and sure sped the
Now, there was one kind of ball that Marty
knew all about, and that was a nice, clean,
straight one, guiltless of curve or drop or rise,
the kind that “Whitey” Peters pitched in
the vacant lot back of Keller’s Livery Stable.
And Marty knew that kind when he saw it
coming. Fair and square he caught it, just
where he wanted it on the bat. All his
strength, heart, and soul were behind that
swing. There was a sharp crack, a sudden
mighty roar from the watchers, and Marty
was speeding toward first base.
There was one kind of ball that Marty knew all about.
High and far sped the ball. Center and
left fielder turned as one man and raced up
the field. Obeying instructions, they had
been playing well in, and now they were to
rue it. The roar of the crowd grew in volume.
Warner, Bob, and Howe were already racing
home, and Marty, running as hard as his legs
would carry him, was touching second. Far
up the field the ball was coming to earth slowly,
gently, yet far too quickly for the fielders.
“A home run!” shrieked Wolcott. “Come
on—oh, come on, Marty, my boy!”
Warner was home, now Bob, and then
Howe was crossing the plate, and Marty was
leaving second behind him. Would the fielder
catch it? He dared look no longer, but sped
onward. Then a new note crept into the
shouts of the Vulcans, a note of disappointment,
of despair. Up the field the center-fielder
had tipped the ball with one outstretched
hand, but had failed to catch it! At
last, however, it was speeding home toward
“Come on! Come on, Marty!” shrieked
The boy’s twinkling feet spurned the third
bag and he swung homeward. The ball was
settling into the second-baseman’s hands.
The latter turned quickly and threw it
straight, swift, unswerving toward the plate.
“Slide!” yelled Bob and Warner, in a
Marty threw himself desperately forward;
there was a cloud of brown dust at the plate,
a thug as the ball met the catcher’s gloves.
The little man in the alpaca coat turned
away with a grin, and picked up his mask
The score was 13 to 12 in Summerville’s
favor; Marty’s home run had saved the day!
In another minute or two it was all over.
Sleeper had popped a high fly into the hands
of the discomfited center-fielder, and the
crowds swarmed inward over the diamond.
It was a tired, hungry, but joyous little
group that journeyed back to Summerville
through the soft, mellow summer twilight.
Marty and the leather bat-case occupied a
whole seat to themselves. Marty’s freckled
face was beaming with happiness and pride,
his heart sang a pæan of triumph in time to
the clickety-click of the car-wheels, and in one
hand, tightly clenched, nestled a ten-dollar
It was his share of the hundred-dollar
purse the nine had won, Bob had explained,
and it had been voted to him unanimously.
And next spring he was to join the team as
substitute! And Marty, doubting the trustiness
of his pockets, held the shining prize
firmly in his fist and grinned happily over the
praise and thanks of his companions.
“It wasn’t nothin’, that home run; any
feller could have done that!” And, besides,
he explained, he had known all along that they
were going to win. “Why,—don’t you see?—the
other fellers didn’t have no mascot!”