Monday, September 30, 2013

ZANE GREY - SHORT STORIES








File:Zane Grey.jpg

Pearl Zane Grey  1872 –  1939




Pearl Zane Grey  was an American author  best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the American frontier.



Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) was his best-selling book. In addition to the success of his printed works, they later had second lives and continuing influence when adapted as films and television productions. As of 2012, 112 films, two television episodes, and a television series, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater,  had been made that were based loosely on his novels and short stories.




 LITERARY WORKS




Grey became one of the first millionaire authors. With his veracity and emotional intensity, he connected with millions of readers worldwide, during peacetime and war, and inspired many Western writers who followed him. Zane Grey was a major force in shaping the myths of the Old West; his books and stories were adapted into other media, such as film and TV productions. He was the author of more than 90 books, some published posthumously and/or based on serials  originally published in magazines. His total book sales exceed 40 million.



Grey wrote not only Westerns, but two hunting books, six children’s books, three baseball books, and eight fishing books. Many of them became bestsellers. It is estimated that he wrote over nine million words in his career. From 1917 to 1926, Grey was in the top ten best-seller list nine times, which required sales of over 100,000 copies each time. Even after his death, Harper had a stockpile of his manuscripts and continued to publish a new title each year until 1963.During the 1940s and afterward, as Grey's books were reprinted as paperbacks, his sales exploded.




HOLLYWOOD AND OTHER MEDIA



Grey started his association with Hollywood  when William Fox  bought the rights to Riders of the Purple Sage for $2,500 in 1916. The ascending arc of Grey’s career matched that of the motion picture industry. It eagerly adapted Western  stories to the screen practically from its inception, with Bronco Billy Anderson becoming the first major western star. Legendary director John Ford was then a young stage hand and William S. Hart, who had been a real cowhand, was defining the persona of the film cowboy.The Grey family moved to California to be closer to the film industry and to enable Grey to fish in the Pacific.





After his first two books were adapted to the screen, Grey formed his own motion picture  company. This allowed him to control production values and faithfulness to his books. After seven films he sold his company to Jesse Lasky,  who was a partner of the founder of Paramount Pictures.  Paramount made a number of movies based on Grey's writings and hired him as advisor. Many of his films were shot at locations described in his books.





In 1936 Grey appeared as himself in a feature film shot in Australia, White Death  (1936).



Grey became disenchanted by the commercial exploitation and pirating of his works. He felt his stories and characters were diluted by being adapted to film. Nearly fifty of his novels were converted into over one hundred Western movies, the most by any Western author. Shortly after Grey's death, the success of Fritz Lang's Western Union (1941), a film based on one of his books, helped bring about a resurgence in Hollywood westerns. Its costars were Randolph Scott  and Robert Young.  The period of the 1940s and 1950s included the great works of John Ford,  who successfully used the settings of Grey’s novels in Arizona and Utah.



The success of Grey's The Lone Star Ranger  (a novel later turned into a 1930 film) and King of the Royal Mounted  (popular as a series of Big Little Books  and comics, later turned into a 1936 film), inspired two radio series by George Trendle (WXYZ, Detroit).  Later these were adapted again for television, forming the series The Lone Ranger  and Challenge of the Yukon (Sgt. Preston of the Yukon on TV). More of Grey's work was featured in adapted form on the Zane Grey Show, which ran on the Mutual Broadcasting System for five months in the 1940s, and the “Zane Grey Western Theatre”, which had a five-year run of 145 episodes.



source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zane_Grey






THE RUBE






It was the most critical time I had yet experienced in my career as a baseball manager. And there was more than the usual reason why I must pull the team out. A chance for a business deal depended upon the good-will of the stockholders of the Worcester club. On the outskirts of the town was a little cottage that I wanted to buy, and this depended upon the business deal. My whole future happiness depended upon the little girl I hoped to install in that cottage.



Coming to the Worcester Eastern League team, I had found a strong aggregation and an enthusiastic following. I really had a team with pennant possibilities. Providence was a strong rival, but I beat them three straight in the opening series, set a fast pace, and likewise set Worcester baseball mad. The Eastern League clubs were pretty evenly matched; still I continued to hold the lead until misfortune overtook me.



Gregg smashed an umpire and had to be laid off. Mullaney got spiked while sliding and was out of the game. Ashwell sprained his ankle and Hirsch broke a finger. Radbourne, my great pitcher, hurt his arm on a cold day and he could not get up his old speed. Stringer, who had batted three hundred and seventy-one and led the league the year before, struck a bad spell and could not hit a barn door handed up to him.



Then came the slump. The team suddenly let down; went to pieces; played ball that would have disgraced an amateur nine. It was a trying time. Here was a great team, strong everywhere. A little hard luck had dug up a slump and now ! Day by day the team dropped in the race. When we reached the second division the newspapers flayed us. Worcester would never stand for a second division team. Baseball admirers, reporters, fans especially the fans are fickle. The admirers quit, the reporters grilled us, and the fans, though they stuck to the games with that barnacle-like tenacity peculiar to them, made life miserable for all of us. I saw the pennant slowly fading, and the successful season, and the business deal, and the cottage, and Milly

But when I thought of her I just could not see failure. Something must be done, but what ? I was at the end of my wits. When Jersey City beat us that Saturday, eleven to two, shoving us down to fifth place with only a few percentage points above the Fall River team, I grew desperate, and locking my players in the dressing room I went after them. They had lain down on me and needed a jar. I told them so straight and flat, and being bitter, I did not pick and choose my words.


"And fellows,'' I concluded, "you've got to brace. A little more of this and we can't pull out. I tell you you're a championship team. We had that pennant cinched. A few cuts and sprains and hard luck and you all quit ! You lay down ! I've been patient. I've plugged for you. Never a man have I fined or thrown down. But now I'm at the end of my string. I'm out to fine you now, and I'll release the first man who shows the least yellow. I play no more substitutes. Crippled or not, you guys have got to get in the game.''


I waited to catch my breath and expected some such outburst as managers usually get from criticized players. But not a word! Then I addressed some of them personally.



"Gregg, your lay-off ends today. You play Monday. Mullaney, you've drawn your salary for two weeks with that spiked foot. If you can't run on it well, all right, but I put it up to your good faith. I've played the game and I know it's hard to run on a sore foot. But you can do it. Ashwell, your ankle is lame, I know now, can you run ?''



"Sure I can. I'm not a quitter. I'm ready to go in,'' replied Ashwell.



"Raddy, how about you ?'' I said, turning to my star twirler.



"Connelly, I've seen as fast a team in as bad a rut and yet pull out,'' returned Radbourne. "We're about due for the brace. When it comes  look out ! As for me, well, my arm isn't right, but it's acting these warm days in a way that tells me it will be soon. It's been worked too hard. Can't you get another pitcher ? I'm not knocking Herne or Cairns. They're good for their turn, but we need a new man to help out. And he must be a crackerjack if we're to get back to the lead.''



"Where on earth can I find such a pitcher ?'' I shouted, almost distracted.



"Well, that's up to you,'' replied Radbourne.



Up to me it certainly was, and I cudgeled my brains for inspiration. After I had given up in hopelessness it came in the shape of a notice I read in one of the papers. It was a brief mention of an amateur Worcester ball team being shut out in a game with a Rickettsville nine. Rickettsville played Sunday ball, which gave me an opportunity to look them over.



It took some train riding and then a journey by coach to get to Rickettsville. I mingled with the crowd of talking rustics. There was only one little ``bleachers'' and this was loaded to the danger point with the feminine adherents of the teams. Most of the crowd centered alongside and back of the catcher's box. I edged in and got a position just behind the stone that served as home plate.



Hunting up a player in this way was no new thing to me. I was too wise to make myself known before I had sized up the merits of my man. So, before the players came upon the field I amused myself watching the rustic fans and listening to them. Then a roar announced the appearance of the Rickettsville team and their opponents, who wore the name of Spatsburg on their Canton flannel shirts. The uniforms of these country amateurs would have put a Philadelphia Mummer's parade to the blush, at least for bright colors. But after one amused glance I got down to the stern business of the day, and that was to discover a pitcher, and failing that, baseball talent of any kind.

Never shall I forget my first glimpse of the Rickettsville twirler. He was far over six feet tall and as lean as a fence rail. He had a great shock of light hair, a sunburned, sharp-featured face, wide, sloping shoulders, and arms enormously long. He was about as graceful and had about as much of a baseball walk as a crippled cow.



"He's a rube !'' I ejaculated, in disgust and disappointment.



But when I had seen him throw one ball to his catcher I grew as keen as a fox on a scent. What speed he had! I got round closer to him and watched him with sharp, eager eyes. He was a giant. To be sure, he was lean, rawboned as a horse, but powerful. What won me at once was his natural, easy swing. He got the ball away with scarcely any effort. I wondered what he could do when he brought the motion of his body into play.


"Bub, what might be the pitcher's name ?'' I asked of a boy.



"Huh, mister, his name might be Dennis, but it ain't. Huh !'' replied this country youngster. Evidently my question had thrown some implication upon this particular player.



"I reckon you be a stranger in these parts,'' said a pleasant old fellow. "His name's Hurtle  Whitaker Hurtle. Whit fer short. He hain't lost a gol-darned game this summer. No sir-ee ! Never pitched any before, nuther.''



Hurtle ! What a remarkably fitting name !



Rickettsville chose the field and the game began. Hurtle swung with his easy motion. The ball shot across like a white bullet. It was a strike, and so was the next, and the one succeeding. He could not throw anything but strikes, and it seemed the Spatsburg players could not make even a foul.



Outside of Hurtle's work the game meant little to me. And I was so fascinated by what I saw in him that I could hardly contain myself. After the first few innings I no longer tried to. I yelled with the Rickettsville rooters. The man was a wonder. A blind baseball manager could have seen that. He had a straight ball, shoulder high, level as a stretched string, and fast. He had a jump ball, which he evidently worked by putting on a little more steam, and it was the speediest thing I ever saw in the way of a shoot. He had a wide-sweeping outcurve, wide as the blade of a mowing scythe. And he had a drop an unhittable drop. He did not use it often, for it made his catcher dig too hard into the dirt. But whenever he did I glowed all over. Once or twice he used an underhand motion and sent in a ball that fairly swooped up. It could not have been hit with a board. And best of all, dearest to the manager's heart, he had control. Every ball he threw went over the plate. He could not miss it. To him that plate was as big as a house.



What a find ! Already I had visions of the long- looked-for brace of my team, and of the pennant, and the little cottage, and the happy light of a pair of blue eyes. What he meant to me, that country pitcher Hurtle ! He shut out the Spatsburg team without a run or a hit or even a scratch. Then I went after him. I collared him and his manager, and there, surrounded by the gaping players, I bought him and signed him before any of them knew exactly what I was about. I did not haggle. I asked the manager what he wanted and produced the cash; I asked Hurtle what he wanted, doubled his ridiculously modest demand, paid him in advance, and got his name to the contract. Then I breathed a long, deep breath; the first one for weeks. Something told me that with Hurtle's signature in my pocket I had the Eastern League pennant. Then I invited all concerned down to the Rickettsville hotel.



We made connections at the railroad junction and reached Worcester at midnight in time for a good sleep. I took the silent and backward pitcher to my hotel. In the morning we had breakfast together. I showed him about Worcester and then carried him off to the ball grounds.



I had ordered morning practice, and as morning practice is not conducive to the cheerfulness of ball players, I wanted to reach the dressing room a little late. When we arrived, all the players had dressed and were out on the field. I had some difficulty in fitting Hurtle with a uniform, and when I did get him dressed he resembled a two-legged giraffe decked out in white shirt, gray trousers and maroon stockings.


Spears, my veteran first baseman and captain of the team, was the first to see us.


"Sufferin' umpires !'' yelled Spears. ``Here, you Micks! Look at this Con's got with him !''


What a yell burst from that sore and disgruntled bunch of ball tossers ! My players were a grouchy set in practice anyway, and today they were in their meanest mood.


"Hey, beanpole !''


"Get on to the stilts !''


"Con, where did you find that ?''


I cut short their chaffing with a sharp order for batting practice.


"Regular line-up, now no monkey biz,'' I went on. "Take two cracks and a bunt. Here, Hurtle,'' I said, drawing him toward the pitcher's box, ``don't pay any attention to their talk. That's only the fun of ball players. Go in now and practice a little. Lam a few over.''


Hurtle's big freckled hands closed nervously over the ball. I thought it best not to say more to him, for he had a rather wild look. I remembered my own stage fright upon my first appearance in fast company. Besides I knew what my amiable players would say to him. I had a secret hope and belief that presently they would yell upon the other side of the fence.


McCall, my speedy little left fielder, led off at bat. He was full of ginger, chipper as a squirrel, sarcastic as only a tried ball player can be.


"Put 'em over, Slats, put 'em over,'' he called, viciously swinging his ash.


Hurtle stood stiff and awkward in the box and seemed to be rolling something in his mouth. Then he moved his arm. We all saw the ball dart down straight that is, all of us except McCall, because if he had seen it he might have jumped out of the way. Crack! The ball hit him on the shin.


McCall shrieked. We all groaned. That crack hurt all of us. Any baseball player knows how it hurts to be hit on the shinbone. McCall waved his bat madly.


"Rube ! Rube ! Rube !'' he yelled.


Then and there Hurtle got the name that was to cling to him all his baseball days.


McCall went back to the plate, red in the face, mad as a hornet, and he sidestepped every time Rube pitched a ball. He never even ticked one and retired in disgust, limping and swearing. Ashwell was next. He did not show much alacrity. On Rube's first pitch down went Ashwell flat in the dust. The ball whipped the hair of his head. Rube was wild and I began to get worried. Ashwell hit a couple of measly punks, but when he assayed a bunt the gang yelled derisively at him.


"What's he got ?'' The old familiar cry of batters when facing a new pitcher !


Stringer went up, bold and formidable. That was what made him the great hitter he was. He loved to bat; he would have faced anybody; he would have faced even a cannon. New curves were a fascination to him. And speed for him, in his own words, was ``apple pie.'' In this instance, surprise was in store for Stringer. Rube shot up the straight one, then the wide curve, then the drop. Stringer missed them all, struck out, fell down ignominiously. It was the first time he had fanned that season and he looked dazed. We had to haul him away.


I called off the practice, somewhat worried about Rube's showing, and undecided whether or not to try him in the game that day. So I went to Radbourne, who had quietly watched Rube while on the field. Raddy was an old pitcher and had seen the rise of a hundred stars. I told him about the game at Rickettsville and what I thought of Rube, and frankly asked his opinion.


"Con, you've made the find of your life,'' said Raddy, quietly and deliberately.


This from Radbourne was not only comforting; it was relief, hope, assurance. I avoided Spears, for it would hardly be possible for him to regard the Rube favorably, and I kept under cover until time to show up at the grounds.


Buffalo was on the ticket for that afternoon, and the Bisons were leading the race and playing in topnotch form. I went into the dressing room while the players were changing suits, because there was a little unpleasantness that I wanted to spring on them before we got on the field.


"Boys,'' I said, curtly, "Hurtle works today. Cut loose, now, and back him up.''


I had to grab a bat and pound on the wall to stop the uproar.


"Did you mutts hear what I said? Well, it goes. Not a word, now. I'm handling this team. We're in bad, I know, but it's my judgment to pitch Hurtle, rube or no rube, and it's up to you to back us. That's the baseball of it.''


Grumbling and muttering, they passed out of the dressing room. I knew ball players. If Hurtle should happen to show good form they would turn in a flash. Rube tagged reluctantly in their rear. He looked like a man in a trance. I wanted to speak encouragingly to him, but Raddy told me to keep quiet.


It was inspiring to see my team practice that afternoon. There had come a subtle change. I foresaw one of those baseball climaxes that can be felt and seen, but not explained. Whether it was a hint of the hoped-for brace, or only another flash of form before the final let-down, I had no means to tell. But I was on edge.


Carter, the umpire, called out the batteries, and I sent my team into the field. When that long, lanky, awkward rustic started for the pitcher's box, I thought the bleachers would make him drop in his tracks. The fans were sore on any one those days, and a new pitcher was bound to hear from them.


"Where ! Oh, where ! Oh, where !''


"Connelly's found another dead one !''


"Scarecrow !''


"Look at his pants !''


"Pad his legs !''


Then the inning began, and things happened. Rube had marvelous speed, but he could not find the plate. He threw the ball the second he got it; he hit men, walked men, and fell all over himself trying to field bunts. The crowd stormed and railed and hissed. The Bisons pranced round the bases and yelled like Indians. Finally they retired with eight runs.


Eight runs ! Enough to win two games ! I could not have told how it happened. I was sick and all but crushed. Still I had a blind, dogged faith in the big rustic. I believed he had not got started right. It was a trying situation. I called Spears and Raddy to my side and talked fast.


"It's all off now. Let the dinged rube take his medicine,'' growled Spears.


"Don't take him out,'' said Raddy. "He's not shown at all what's in him. The blamed hayseed is up in the air. He's crazy. He doesn't know what he's doing. I tell you, Con, he may be scared to death, but he's dead in earnest.''


Suddenly I recalled the advice of the pleasant old fellow at Rickettsville.


"Spears, you're the captain,'' I said, sharply. "Go after the rube. Wake him up. Tell him he can't pitch. Call him `Pogie !' That's a name that stirs him up.''

"Well, I'll be dinged! He looks it,'' replied Spears. ``Here, Rube, get off the bench. Come here.''


Rube lurched toward us. He seemed to be walking in his sleep. His breast was laboring and he was dripping with sweat.


"Who ever told you that you could pitch ?'' asked Spears genially. He was master at baseball ridicule. I had never yet seen the youngster who could stand his badinage. He said a few things, then wound up with: "Come now, you cross between a hayrack and a wagon tongue, get sore and do something. Pitch if you can. Show us ! Do you hear, you tow-headed Pogie!''


Rube jumped as if he had been struck. His face flamed red and his little eyes turned black. He shoved his big fist under Capt. Spears' nose.


"Mister, I'll lick you fer thet after the game ! And I'll show you dog-goned well how I can pitch.''


"Good !'' exclaimed Raddy; and I echoed his word. Then I went to the bench and turned my attention to the game. Some one told me that McCall had made a couple of fouls, and after waiting for two strikes and three balls had struck out. Ashwell had beat out a bunt in his old swift style, and Stringer was walking up to the plate on the moment. It was interesting, even in a losing game, to see Stringer go to bat. We all watched him, as we had been watching him for weeks, expecting him to break his slump with one of the drives that had made him famous. Stringer stood to the left side of the plate, and I could see the bulge of his closely locked jaw. He swung on the first pitched ball. With the solid rap we all rose to watch that hit. The ball lined first, then soared and did not begin to drop till it was far beyond the right-field fence. For an instant we were all still, so were the bleachers. Stringer had broken his slump with the longest drive ever made on the grounds. The crowd cheered as he trotted around the bases behind Ashwell. Two runs.


"Con, how'd you like that drive ?'' he asked me, with a bright gleam in his eyes.


"O-h !a beaut !'' I replied, incoherently. The players on the bench were all as glad as I was. Henley flew out to left. Mullaney smashed a two- bagger to right. Then Gregg hit safely, but Mullaney, in trying to score on the play, was out at the plate.


"Four hits ! I tell you fellows, something's coming off,'' said Raddy. "Now, if only Rube''


What a difference there was in that long rustic ! He stalked into the box, unmindful of the hooting crowd and grimly faced Schultz, the first batter up for the Bisons. This time Rube was deliberate. And where he had not swung before he now got his body and arm into full motion. The ball came in like a glint of light. Schultz looked surprised. The umpire called "Strike !''


"Wow !'' yelled the Buffalo coacher. Rube sped up the sidewheeler and Schultz reached wide to meet it and failed. The third was the lightning drop, straight over the plate. The batter poked weakly at it. Then Carl struck out and Manning following, did likewise. Three of the best hitters in the Eastern retired on nine strikes! That was no fluke. I knew what it meant, and I sat there hugging myself with the hum of something joyous in my ears.


Gregg had a glow on his sweaty face. "Oh, but say, boys, take a tip from me ! The Rube's a world beater! Raddy knew it; he sized up that swing, and now I know it. Get wise, you its !''


When old Spears pasted a single through shortstop, the Buffalo manager took Clary out of the box and put in Vane, their best pitcher. Bogart advanced the runner to second, but was thrown out on the play. Then Rube came up. He swung a huge bat and loomed over the Bison's twirler. Rube had the look of a hitter. He seemed to be holding himself back from walking right into the ball. And he hit one high and far away. The fast Carl could not get under it, though he made a valiant effort. Spears scored and Rube's long strides carried him to third. The cold crowd in the stands came to life; even the sore bleachers opened up. McCall dumped a slow teaser down the line, a hit that would easily have scored Rube, but he ran a little way, then stopped, tried to get back, and was easily touched out. Ashwell's hard chance gave the Bison's shortstop an error, and Stringer came up with two men on bases. Stringer hit a foul over the right-field fence and the crowd howled. Then he hit a hard long drive straight into the centerfielder's hands.


"Con, I don't know what to think, but ding me if we ain't hittin' the ball,'' said Spears. Then to his players: "A little more of that and we're back in our old shape. All in a minute at 'em now ! Rube, you dinged old Pogie, pitch !''


Rube toed the rubber, wrapped his long brown fingers round the ball, stepped out as he swung and zing ! That inning he unloosed a few more kinks in his arm and he tried some new balls upon the Bisons. But whatever he used and wherever he put them the result was the same--they cut the plate and the Bisons were powerless.

That inning marked the change in my team. They had come hack. The hoodoo had vanished. The championship Worcester team was itself again.

The Bisons were fighting, too, but Rube had them helpless. When they did hit a ball one of my infielders snapped it up. No chances went to the outfield. I sat there listening to my men, and reveled in a moment that I had long prayed for.


"Now you're pitching some, Rube. Another strike ! Get him a board !'' called Ashwell.


"Ding 'em, Rube, ding 'em !'' came from Capt. Spears.


"Speed ? Oh-no !'' yelled Bogart at third base.


" It's all off, Rube ! It's all off all off !''


So, with the wonderful pitching of an angry rube, the Worcester team came into its own again. I sat through it all without another word; without giving a signal. In a way I realized the awakening of the bleachers, and heard the pound of feet and the crash, but it was the spirit of my team that thrilled me. Next to that the work of my new find absorbed me. I gloated over his easy, deceiving swing. I rose out of my seat when he threw that straight fast ball, swift as a bullet, true as a plumb line. And when those hard-hitting, sure bunting Bisons chopped in vain at the wonderful drop, I choked back a wild yell. For Rube meant the world to me that day.


In the eighth the score was 8 to 6. The Bisons had one scratch hit to their credit, but not a runner had got beyond first base. Again Rube held them safely, one man striking out, another fouling out, and the third going out on a little fly.


Crash ! Crash ! Crash ! Crash ! The bleachers were making up for many games in which they could not express their riotous feelings.


"It's a cinch we'll win !'' yelled a fan with a voice. Rube was the first man up in our half of the ninth and his big bat lammed the first ball safe over second base. The crowd, hungry for victory, got to their feet and stayed upon their feet, calling, cheering for runs. It was the moment for me to get in the game, and I leaped up, strung like a wire, and white hot with inspiration. I sent Spears to the coaching box with orders to make Rube run on the first ball. I gripped McCall with hands that made him wince.


Then I dropped back on the bench spent and panting. It was only a game, yet it meant so much! Little McCall was dark as a thunder cloud, and his fiery eyes snapped. He was the fastest man in the league, and could have bunted an arrow from a bow. The foxy Bison third baseman edged in. Mac feinted to bunt toward him then turned his bat inward and dumped a teasing curving ball down the first base line. Rube ran as if in seven-league boots. Mac's short legs twinkled; he went like the wind; he leaped into first base with his long slide, and beat the throw.


The stands and bleachers seemed to be tumbling down. For a moment the air was full of deafening sound. Then came the pause, the dying away of clatter and roar, the close waiting, suspended quiet. Spears' clear voice, as he coached Rube, in its keen note seemed inevitable of another run.


Ashwell took his stand. He was another left- hand hitter, and against a right-hand pitcher, in such circumstances as these, the most dangerous of men. Vane knew it. Ellis, the Bison captain knew it, as showed plainly in his signal to catch Rube at second. But Spears' warning held or frightened Rube on the bag.


Vane wasted a ball, then another. Ashwell could not be coaxed. Wearily Vane swung; the shortstop raced out to get in line for a possible hit through the wide space to his right, and the second baseman got on his toes as both base runners started.


Crack ! The old story of the hit and run game ! Ashwell's hit crossed sharply where a moment before the shortstop had been standing. With gigantic strides Rube rounded the corner and scored. McCall flitted through second, and diving into third with a cloud of dust, got the umpire's decision. When Stringer hurried up with Mac on third and Ash on first the whole field seemed racked in a deafening storm. Again it subsided quickly. The hopes of the Worcester fans had been crushed too often of late for them to be fearless.


But I had no fear. I only wanted the suspense ended. I was like a man clamped in a vise. Stringer stood motionless. Mac bent low with the sprinters' stoop; Ash watched the pitcher's arm and slowly edged off first. Stringer waited for one strike and two balls, then he hit the next. It hugged the first base line, bounced fiercely past the bag and skipped over the grass to bump hard into the fence. McCall romped home, and lame Ashwell beat any run he ever made to the plate. Rolling, swelling, crashing roar of frenzied feet could not down the high piercing sustained yell of the fans. It was great. Three weeks of submerged bottled baseball joy exploded in one mad outburst! The fans, too, had come into their own again.


We scored no more. But the Bisons were beaten. Their spirit was broken. This did not make the Rube let up in their last half inning. Grim and pale he faced them. At every long step and swing he tossed his shock of light hair. At the end he was even stronger than at the beginning. He still had the glancing, floating airy quality that baseball players call speed. And he struck out the last three batters.


In the tumult that burst over my ears I sat staring at the dots on my score card. Fourteen strike outs ! one scratch hit ! No base on balls since the first inning ! That told the story which deadened senses doubted. There was a roar in my ears. Some one was pounding me. As I struggled to get into the dressing room the crowd mobbed me. But I did not hear what they yelled. I had a kind of misty veil before my eyes, in which I saw that lanky Rube magnified into a glorious figure. I saw the pennant waving, and the gleam of a white cottage through the trees, and a trim figure waiting at the gate. Then I rolled into the dressing room.

Somehow it seemed strange to me. Most of the players were stretched out in peculiar convulsions. Old Spears sat with drooping head. Then a wild flaming-eyed giant swooped upon me. With a voice of thunder he announced:

"I'm a-goin' to lick you, too !''


After that we never called him any name except Rube.





THE RUBE'S HONEYMOON






"He's got a new manager. Watch him pitch now !'' That was what Nan Brown said to me about Rube Hurtle, my great pitcher, and I took it as her way of announcing her engagement.


My baseball career held some proud moments, but this one, wherein I realized the success of my matchmaking plans, was certainly the proudest one. So, entirely outside of the honest pleasure I got out of the Rube's happiness, there was reason for me to congratulate myself. He was a transformed man, so absolutely renewed, so wild with joy, that on the strength of it, I decided the pennant for Worcester was a foregone conclusion, and, sure of the money promised me by the directors, Milly and I began to make plans for the cottage upon the hill.


The Rube insisted on pitching Monday's game against the Torontos, and although poor fielding gave them a couple of runs, they never had a chance. They could not see the ball. The Rube wrapped it around their necks and between their wrists and straight over the plate with such incredible speed that they might just as well have tried to bat rifle bullets.


That night I was happy. Spears, my veteran captain, was one huge smile; Radbourne quietly assured me that all was over now but the shouting; all the boys were happy.


And the Rube was the happiest of all. At the hotel he burst out with his exceeding good fortune. He and Nan were to be married upon the Fourth of July !


After the noisy congratulations were over and the Rube had gone, Spears looked at me and I looked at him.


"Con,'' said he soberly, ``we just can't let him get married on the Fourth.''


"Why not ? Sure we can. We'll help him get married. I tell you it'll save the pennant for us. Look how he pitched today ! Nan Brown is our salvation !''


"See here, Con, you've got softenin' of the brain, too. Where's your baseball sense ? We've got a pennant to win. By July Fourth we'll be close to the lead again, an' there's that three weeks' trip on the road, the longest an' hardest of the season. We've just got to break even on that trip. You know what that means. If the Rube marries Nan--what are we goin' to do? We can't leave him behind. If he takes Nan with us  why it'll be a honeymoon ! An' half the gang is stuck on Nan Brown ! An' Nan Brown would flirt in her bridal veil ! . . . Why Con, we're up against a worse proposition than ever.''


"Good Heavens ! Cap. You're right,'' I groaned. "I never thought of that. We've got to postpone the wedding. . . . How on earth can we ? I've heard her tell Milly that. She'll never consent to it. Say, this'll drive me to drink.''


"All I got to say is this, Con. If the Rube takes his wife on that trip it's goin' to be an all- fired hummer. Don't you forget that.''


"I'm not likely to. But, Spears, the point is this will the Rube win his games ?''


"Figurin' from his work today, I'd gamble he'll never lose another game. It ain't that. I'm thinkin' of what the gang will do to him an' Nan on the cars an' at the hotels. Oh ! Lord, Con, it ain't possible to stand for that honeymoon trip ! Just think !''


"If the worst comes to the worst, Cap, I don't care for anything but the games. If we get in the lead and stay there I'll stand for anything. . . . Couldn't the gang be coaxed or bought off to let the Rube and Nan alone ?''


"Not on your life ! There ain't enough love or money on earth to stop them. It'll be awful. Mind, I'm not responsible. Don't you go holdin' me responsible. In all my years of baseball I never went on a trip with a bride in the game. That's new on me, an' I never heard of it. I'd be bad enough if he wasn't a rube an' if she wasn't a crazy girl-fan an' a flirt to boot, an' with half the boys in love with her, but as it is...''


Spears gave up and, gravely shaking his head, he left me. I spent a little while in sober reflection, and finally came to the conclusion that, in my desperate ambition to win the pennant, I would have taken half a dozen rube pitchers and their baseball-made brides on the trip, if by so doing I could increase the percentage of games won. Nevertheless, I wanted to postpone the Rube's wedding if it was possible, and I went out to see Milly and asked her to help us. But for once in her life Milly turned traitor.


"Connie, you don't want to postpone it. Why, how perfectly lovely ! . . . Mrs. Stringer will go on that trip and Mrs. Bogart. . . . Connie, I'm going too !''


She actually jumped up and down in glee. That was the woman in her. It takes a wedding to get a woman. I remonstrated and pleaded and commanded, all to no purpose. Milly intended to go on that trip to see the games, and the fun, and the honeymoon.


She coaxed so hard that I yielded. Thereupon she called up Mrs. Stringer on the telephone, and of course found that young woman just as eager as she was. For my part, I threw anxiety and care to the four winds, and decided to be as happy as any of them. The pennant was mine ! Something kept ringing that in my ears. With the Rube working his iron arm for the edification of his proud Nancy Brown, there was extreme likelihood of divers shut-outs and humiliating defeats for some Eastern League teams.


How well I calculated became a matter of baseball history during that last week of June. We won six straight games, three of which fell to the Rube's credit. His opponents scored four runs in the three games, against the nineteen we made. Upon July 1, Radbourne beat Providence and Cairns won the second game. We now had a string of eight victories. Sunday we rested, and Monday was the Fourth, with morning and afternoon games with Buffalo.


Upon the morning of the Fourth, I looked for the Rube at the hotel, but could not find him. He did not show up at the grounds when the other boys did, and I began to worry. It was the Rube's turn to pitch and we were neck and neck with Buffalo for first place. If we won both games we would go ahead of our rivals.

So I was all on edge, and kept going to the dressing-room to see if the Rube had arrived. He came, finally, when all the boys were dressed, and about to go out for practice. He had on a new suit, a tailor-made suit at that, and he looked fine. There was about him a kind of strange radiance. He stated simply that he had arrived late because he had just been married. Before congratulations were out of our mouths, he turned to me.


"Con, I want to pitch both games today,'' he said.


"What ! Say, Whit, Buffalo is on the card today and we are only three points behind them. If we win both we'll be leading the league once more. I don't know about pitching you both games.''


"I reckon we'll be in the lead tonight then,'' he replied, "for I'll win them both.''


I was about to reply when Dave, the ground- keeper, called me to the door, saying there was a man to see me. I went out, and there stood Morrisey, manager of the Chicago American League team. We knew each other well and exchanged greetings.


"Con, I dropped off to see you about this new pitcher of yours, the one they call the Rube. I want to see him work. I've heard he's pretty fast. How about it ?''


"Wait till you see him pitch,'' I replied. I could scarcely get that much out, for Morrisey's presence meant a great deal and I did not want to betray my elation.


"Any strings on him ?'' queried the big league manager, sharply.


"Well, Morrisey, not exactly. I can give you the first call. You'll have to bid high, though. Just wait till you see him work.''


"I'm glad to hear that. My scout was over here watching him pitch and says he's a wonder.''


What luck it was that Morrisey should have come upon this day ! I could hardly contain myself. Almost I began to spend the money I would get for selling the Rube to the big league manager. We took seats in the grand stand, as Morrisey did not want to be seen by any players, and I stayed there with him until the gong sounded. There was a big attendance. I looked all over the stand for Nan, but she was lost in the gay crowd. But when I went down to the bench I saw her up in my private box with Milly. It took no second glance to see that Nan Brown was a bride and glorying in the fact.


Then, in the absorption of the game, I became oblivious to Milly and Nan; the noisy crowd; the giant fire-crackers and the smoke; to the presence of Morrisey; to all except the Rube and my team and their opponents. Fortunately for my hopes, the game opened with characteristic Worcester dash. Little McCall doubled, Ashwell drew his base on four wide pitches, and Stringer drove the ball over the right-field fence three runs !


Three runs were enough to win that game. Of all the exhibitions of pitching with which the Rube had favored us, this one was the finest. It was perhaps not so much his marvelous speed and unhittable curves that made the game one memorable in the annals of pitching; it was his perfect control in the placing of balls, in the cutting of corners; in his absolute implacable mastery of the situation. Buffalo was unable to find him at all. The game was swift short, decisive, with the score 5 to 0 in our favor. But the score did not tell all of the Rube's work that morning. He shut out Buffalo without a hit, or a scratch, the first no-hit, no-run game of the year. He gave no base on balls; not a Buffalo player got to first base; only one fly went to the outfield.


For once I forgot Milly after a game, and I hurried to find Morrisey, and carried him off to have dinner with me.


"Your rube is a wonder, and that's a fact,'' he said to me several times. "Where on earth did you get him ? Connelly, he's my meat. Do you understand ? Can you let me have him right now ?''


"No, Morrisey, I've got the pennant to win first. Then I'll sell him.''


"How much ? Do you hear ? How much ?'' Morrisey hammered the table with his fist and his eyes gleamed.


Carried away as I was by his vehemence, I was yet able to calculate shrewdly, and I decided to name a very high price, from which I could come down and still make a splendid deal.


"How much ?'' demanded Morrisey.


"Five thousand dollars,'' I replied, and gulped when I got the words out.


Morrisey never batted an eye.


"Waiter, quick, pen and ink and paper !''


Presently my hand, none too firm, was signing my name to a contract whereby I was to sell my pitcher for five thousand dollars at the close of the current season. I never saw a man look so pleased as Morrisey when he folded that contract and put it in his pocket. He bade me good-bye and hurried off to catch a train, and he never knew the Rube had pitched the great game on his wedding day.


That afternoon before a crowd that had to be roped off the diamond, I put the Rube against the Bisons. How well he showed the baseball knowledge he had assimilated ! He changed his style in that second game. He used a slow ball and wide curves and took things easy. He made Buffalo hit the ball and when runners got on bases once more let out his speed and held them down. He relied upon the players behind him and they were equal to the occasion.


It was a totally different game from that of the morning, and perhaps one more suited to the pleasure of the audience. There was plenty of hard hitting, sharp fielding and good base running, and the game was close and exciting up to the eighth, when Mullaney's triple gave us two runs, and a lead that was not headed. To the deafening roar of the bleachers the Rube walked off the field, having pitched Worcester into first place in the pennant race.


That night the boys planned their first job on the Rube. We had ordered a special Pullman for travel to Toronto, and when I got to the depot in the morning, the Pullman was a white fluttering mass of satin ribbons. Also, there was a brass band, and thousands of baseball fans, and barrels of old foot-gear. The Rube and Nan arrived in a cab and were immediately mobbed. The crowd roared, the band played, the engine whistled, the bell clanged; and the air was full of confetti and slippers, and showers of rice like hail pattered everywhere. A somewhat dishevelled bride and groom boarded the Pullman and breathlessly hid in a state room. The train started, and the crowd gave one last rousing cheer. Old Spears yelled from the back platform:


"Fellers, an' fans, you needn't worry none about leavin' the Rube an' his bride to the tender mercies of the gang. A hundred years from now people will talk about this honeymoon baseball trip. Wait till we come back an' say, jest to put you wise, no matter what else happens, we're comin' back in first place !''


It was surely a merry party in that Pullman. The bridal couple emerged from their hiding place and held a sort of reception in which the Rube appeared shy and frightened, and Nan resembled a joyous, fluttering bird in gray. I did not see if she kissed every man on the team, but she kissed me as if she had been wanting to do it for ages. Milly kissed the Rube, and so did the other women, to his infinite embarrassment. Nan's effect upon that crowd was most singular. She was sweetness and caprice and joy personified.


We settled down presently to something approaching order, and I, for one, with very keen ears and alert eyes, because I did not want to miss anything.


"I see the lambs a-gambolin','' observed McCall, in a voice louder than was necessary to convey his meaning to Mullaney, his partner in the seat.


"Yes, it do seem as if there was joy aboundin' hereabouts,'' replied Mul with fervor.


"It's more spring-time than summer,'' said Ashwell, ``an' everything in nature is runnin' in pairs. There are the sheep an' the cattle an' the birds. I see two kingfishers fishin' over here. An' there's a couple of honey-bees makin' honey. Oh, honey, an' by George, if there ain't two butterflies foldin' their wings round each other. See the dandelions kissin' in the field !''


Then the staid Captain Spears spoke up with an appearance of sincerity and a tone that was nothing short of remarkable.


" Reggie, see the sunshine asleep upon yon bank. Ain't it lovely ? An' that white cloud sailin' thither amid the blue how spontaneous ! Joy is a-broad o'er all this boo-tiful land today Oh, yes ! An' love's wings hover o 'er the little lambs an' the bullfrogs in the pond an' the dicky birds in the trees. What sweetness to lie in the grass, the lap of bounteous earth, eatin' apples in the Garden of Eden, an' chasin' away the snakes an' dreamin' of Thee, Sweet-h-e-a-r-t ''


Spears was singing when he got so far and there was no telling what he might have done if Mullaney, unable to stand the agony, had not jabbed a pin in him. But that only made way for the efforts of the other boys, each of whom tried to outdo the other in poking fun at the Rube and Nan. The big pitcher was too gloriously happy to note much of what went on around him, but when it dawned upon him he grew red and white by turns.


Nan, however, was more than equal to the occasion. Presently she smiled at Spears, such a smile! The captain looked as if he had just partaken of an intoxicating wine. With a heightened color in her cheeks and a dangerous flash in her roguish eyes, Nan favored McCall with a look, which was as much as to say that she remembered him with a dear sadness. She made eyes at every fellow in the car, and then bringing back her gaze to the Rube, as if glorying in comparison, she nestled her curly black head on his shoulder. He gently tried to move her; but it was not possible. Nan knew how to meet the ridicule of half a dozen old lovers. One by one they buried themselves in newspapers, and finally McCall, for once utterly beaten, showed a white feather, and sank back out of sight behind his seat.


The boys did not recover from that shock until late in the afternoon. As it was a physical impossibility for Nan to rest her head all day upon her husband's broad shoulder, the boys toward dinner time came out of their jealous trance. I heard them plotting something. When dinner was called, about half of my party, including the bride and groom, went at once into the dining-car. Time there flew by swiftly. And later, when we were once more in our Pullman, and I had gotten interested in a game of cards with Milly and Stringer and his wife, the Rube came marching up to me with a very red face.


"Con, I reckon some of the boys have stolen my our grips,'' said he.


"What ?'' I asked, blankly.


He explained that during his absence in the dining-car someone had entered his stateroom and stolen his grip and Nan's. I hastened at once to aid the Rube in his search. The boys swore by everything under and beyond the sun they had not seen the grips; they appeared very much grieved at the loss and pretended to help in searching the Pullman. At last, with the assistance of a porter, we discovered the missing grips in an upper berth. The Rube carried them off to his stateroom and we knew soon from his uncomplimentary remarks that the contents of the suitcases had been mixed and manhandled. But he did not hunt for the jokers.


We arrived at Toronto before daylight next morning, and remained in the Pullman until seven o'clock. When we got out, it was discovered that the Rube and Nan had stolen a march upon us. We traced them to the hotel, and found them at breakfast. After breakfast we formed a merry sight-seeing party and rode all over the city.


That afternoon, when Raddy let Toronto down with three hits and the boys played a magnificent game behind him, and we won 7 to 2, I knew at last and for certain that the Worcester team had come into its own again. Then next day Cairns won a close, exciting game, and following that, on the third day, the matchless Rube toyed with the Torontos. Eleven straight games won! I was in the clouds, and never had I seen so beautiful a light as shone in Milly's eyes.


From that day The Honeymoon Trip of the Worcester Baseball Club, as the newspapers heralded it was a triumphant march. We won two out of three games at Montreal, broke even with the hard-fighting Bisons, took three straight from Rochester, and won one and tied one out of three with Hartford. It would have been wonderful ball playing for a team to play on home grounds and we were doing the full circuit of the league.


Spears had called the turn when he said the trip would be a hummer. Nan Hurtle had brought us wonderful luck.


But the tricks they played on Whit and his girl- fan bride !


Ashwell, who was a capital actor, disguised himself as a conductor and pretended to try to eject Whit and Nan from the train, urging that love-making was not permitted. Some of the team hired a clever young woman to hunt the Rube up at the hotel, and claim old acquaintance with him. Poor Whit almost collapsed when the young woman threw her arms about his neck just as Nan entered the parlor. Upon the instant Nan became wild as a little tigress, and it took much explanation and eloquence to reinstate Whit in her affections.


Another time Spears, the wily old fox, succeeded in detaining Nan on the way to the station, and the two missed the train. At first the Rube laughed with the others, but when Stringer remarked that he had noticed a growing attachment between Nan and Spears, my great pitcher experienced the first pangs of the green-eyed monster. We had to hold him to keep him from jumping from the train, and it took Milly and Mrs. Stringer to soothe him. I had to wire back to Rochester for a special train for Spears and Nan, and even then we had to play half a game without the services of our captain.


So far upon our trip I had been fortunate in securing comfortable rooms and the best of transportation for my party. At Hartford, however, I encountered difficulties. I could not get a special Pullman, and the sleeper we entered already had a number of occupants. After the ladies of my party had been assigned to berths, it was necessary for some of the boys to sleep double in upper berths.


It was late when we got aboard, the berths were already made up, and soon we had all retired. In the morning very early I was awakened by a disturbance. It sounded like a squeal. I heard an astonished exclamation, another squeal, the pattering of little feet, then hoarse uproar of laughter from the ball players in the upper berths. Following that came low, excited conversation between the porter and somebody, then an angry snort from the Rube and the thud of his heavy feet in the aisle. What took place after that was guess-work for me. But I gathered from the roars and bawls that the Rube was after some of the boys. I poked my head between the curtains and saw him digging into the berths.


"Where's McCall ?'' he yelled.


Mac was nowhere in that sleeper, judging from the vehement denials. But the Rube kept on digging and prodding in the upper berths.


"I'm a-goin' to lick you, Mac, so I reckon you'd better show up,'' shouted the Rube.


The big fellow was mad as a hornet. When he got to me he grasped me with his great fence- rail splitting hands and I cried out with pain.


"Say! Whit, let up ! Mac's not here. . . . What's wrong ?''


"I'll show you when I find him.'' And the Rube stalked on down the aisle, a tragically comic figure in his pajamas. In his search for Mac he pried into several upper berths that contained occupants who were not ball players, and these protested in affright. Then the Rube began to investigate the lower berths. A row of heads protruded in a bobbing line from between the curtains of the upper berths.


"Here, you Indian ! Don't you look in there ! That's my wife's berth !'' yelled Stringer.


Bogart, too, evinced great excitement.


"Hurtle, keep out of lower eight or I'll kill you,'' he shouted.


What the Rube might have done there was no telling, but as he grasped a curtain, he was interrupted by a shriek from some woman assuredly not of our party.

"Get out! you horrid wretch! Help! Porter! Help! Conductor !''


Instantly there was a deafening tumult in the car. When it had subsided somewhat, and I considered I would be safe, I descended from my berth and made my way to the dressing room. Sprawled over the leather seat was the Rube pommelling McCall with hearty good will. I would have interfered, had it not been for Mac's demeanor. He was half frightened, half angry, and utterly unable to defend himself or even resist, because he was laughing, too.


"Dog-gone it ! Whit I didn't do it ! I swear it was Spears ! Stop thumpin' me now or I'll get sore. . . . You hear me ! It wasn't me, I tell you. Cheese it !''


For all his protesting Mac received a good thumping, and I doubted not in the least that he deserved it. The wonder of the affair, however, was the fact that no one appeared to know what had made the Rube so furious. The porter would not tell, and Mac was strangely reticent, though his smile was one to make a fellow exceedingly sure something out of the ordinary had befallen. It was not until I was having breakfast in Providence that I learned the true cause of Rube's conduct, and Milly confided it to me, insisting on strict confidence.


"I promised not to tell,'' she said. "Now you promise you'll never tell.''


"Well, Connie,'' went on Milly, when I had promised, "it was the funniest thing yet, but it was horrid of McCall. You see, the Rube had upper seven and Nan had lower seven. Early this morning, about daylight, Nan awoke very thirsty and got up to get a drink. During her absence, probably, but any way some time last night, McCall changed the number on her curtain, and when Nan came back to number seven of course she almost got in the wrong berth.''

"No wonder the Rube punched him !'' I declared. "I wish we were safe home. Something'll happen yet on this trip.''


I was faithful to my promise to Milly, but the secret leaked out somewhere; perhaps Mac told it, and before the game that day all the players knew it. The Rube, having recovered his good humor, minded it not in the least. He could not have felt ill-will for any length of time. Everything seemed to get back into smooth running order, and the Honeymoon Trip bade fair to wind up beautifully.


But, somehow or other, and about something unknown to the rest of us, the Rube and Nan quarreled. It was their first quarrel. Milly and I tried to patch it up but failed.


We lost the first game to Providence and won the second. The next day, a Saturday, was the last game of the trip, and it was Rube's turn to pitch. Several times during the first two days the Rube and Nan about half made up their quarrel, only in the end to fall deeper into it. Then the last straw came in a foolish move on the part of wilful Nan. She happened to meet Henderson, her former admirer, and in a flash she took up her flirtation with him where she had left off.


"Don't go to the game with him, Nan,'' I pleaded. "It's a silly thing for you to do. Of course you don't mean anything, except to torment Whit. But cut it out. The gang will make him miserable and we'll lose the game. There's no telling what might happen.''


"I'm supremely indifferent to what happens,'' she replied, with a rebellious toss of her black head. "I hope Whit gets beaten.''


She went to the game with Henderson and sat in the grand stand, and the boys spied them out and told the Rube. He did not believe it at first, but finally saw them, looked deeply hurt and offended, and then grew angry. But the gong, sounding at that moment, drew his attention to his business of the day, to pitch.


His work that day reminded me of the first game he ever pitched for me, upon which occasion Captain Spears got the best out of him by making him angry. For several innings Providence was helpless before his delivery. Then something happened that showed me a crisis was near. A wag of a fan yelled from the bleachers.


"Honeymoon Rube !''


This cry was taken up by the delighted fans and it rolled around the field. But the Rube pitched on, harder than ever. Then the knowing bleacherite who had started the cry changed it somewhat.


"Nanny's Rube !'' he yelled.


This, too, went the rounds, and still the Rube, though red in the face, preserved his temper and his pitching control. All would have been well if Bud Wiler, comedian of the Providence team, had not hit upon a way to rattle Rube.


"Nanny's Goat !'' he shouted from the coaching lines. Every Providence player took it up.


The Rube was not proof against that. He yelled so fiercely at them, and glared so furiously, and towered so formidably, that they ceased for the moment. Then he let drive with his fast straight ball and hit the first Providence batter in the ribs. His comrades had to help him to the bench. The Rube hit the next batter on the leg, and judging from the crack of the ball, I fancied that player would walk lame for several days. The Rube tried to hit the next batter and sent him to first on balls. Thereafter it became a dodging contest with honors about equal between pitcher and batters. The Providence players stormed and the bleachers roared. But I would not take the Rube out and the game went on with the Rube forcing in runs.


With the score a tie, and three men on bases one of the players on the bench again yelled  "Nanny's Goat !''


Straight as a string the Rube shot the ball at this fellow and bounded after it. The crowd rose in an uproar. The base runners began to score. I left my bench and ran across the space, but not in time to catch the Rube. I saw him hit two or three of the Providence men. Then the policemen got to him, and a real fight brought the big audience into the stamping melee. Before the Rube was collared I saw at least four blue-coats on the grass.


The game broke up, and the crowd spilled itself in streams over the field. Excitement ran high. I tried to force my way into the mass to get at the Rube and the officers, but this was impossible. I feared the Rube would be taken from the officers and treated with violence, so I waited with the surging crowd, endeavoring to get nearer. Soon we were in the street, and it seemed as if all the stands had emptied their yelling occupants.


A trolley car came along down the street, splitting the mass of people and driving them back. A dozen policemen summarily bundled the Rube upon the rear end of the car. Some of these officers boarded the car, and some remained in the street to beat off the vengeful fans.


I saw some one thrust forward a frantic young woman. The officers stopped her, then suddenly helped her on the car, just as I started. I recognized Nan. She gripped the Rube with both hands and turned a white, fearful face upon the angry crowd.


The Rube stood in the grasp of his wife and the policemen, and he looked like a ruffled lion. He shook his big fist and bawled in far-reaching voice:


"I can lick you all !''


To my infinite relief, the trolley gathered momentum and safely passed out of danger. The last thing I made out was Nan pressing close to the Rube's side. That moment saw their reconciliation and my joy that it was the end of the Rube's Honeymoon.




THE RUBE' PENNANT





"Fellows, it's this way. You've got to win today's game. It's the last of the season and means the pennant for Worcester. One more hard scrap and we're done! Of all the up-hill fights any bunch ever made to land the flag, our has been the best. You're the best team I ever managed, the gamest gang of ball players that ever stepped in spikes. We've played in the hardest kind of luck all season, except that short trip we called the Rube's Honeymoon. We got a bad start, and sore arms and busted fingers, all kinds of injuries, every accident calculated to hurt a team's chances, came our way. But in spite of it all we got the lead and we've held it, and today we're still a few points ahead of Buffalo.''


I paused to catch my breath, and looked round on the grim, tired faces of my players. They made a stern group. The close of the season found them almost played out. What a hard chance it was, after their extraordinary efforts, to bring the issue of the pennant down to this last game !


"If we lose today, Buffalo, with three games more to play at home, will pull the bunting,'' I went on. "But they're not going to win! I'm putting it up to you that way. I know Spears is all in; Raddy's arm is gone; Ash is playing on one leg; you're all crippled. But you've got one more game in you, I know. These last few weeks the Rube has been pitching out of turn and he's about all in, too. He's kept us in the lead. If he wins today it'll be Rube's Pennant. But that might apply to all of you. Now, shall we talk over the play today ? Any tricks to pull off ? Any inside work ?''


"Con, you're pretty much upset an' nervous,'' replied Spears, soberly. "It ain't no wonder. This has been one corker of a season. I want to suggest that you let me run the team today. I've talked over the play with the fellers. We ain't goin' to lose this game, Con. Buffalo has been comin' with a rush lately, an' they're confident. But we've been holdin' in, restin' up as much as we dared an' still keep our lead. Mebbee it'll surprise you to know we've bet every dollar we could get hold of on this game. Why, Buffalo money is everywhere.''


"All right, Spears, I'll turn the team over to you. We've got the banner crowd of the year out there right now, a great crowd to play before. I'm more fussed up over this game than any I remember. But I have a sort of blind faith in my team. . . . I guess that's all I want to say.''


Spears led the silent players out of the dressing room and I followed; and while they began to toss balls to and fro, to limber up cold, dead arms, I sat on the bench.


The Bisons were prancing about the diamond, and their swaggering assurance was not conducive to hope for the Worcesters. I wondered how many of that vast, noisy audience, intent on the day's sport, even had a thought of what pain and toil it meant to my players. The Buffalo men were in good shape; they had been lucky; they were at the top of their stride, and that made all the difference.


At any rate, there were a few faithful little women in the grand stand Milly and Nan and Rose Stringer and Kate Bogart who sat with compressed lips and hoped and prayed for that game to begin and end.


The gong called off the practice, and Spears, taking the field, yelled gruff encouragement to his men. Umpire Carter brushed off the plate and tossed a white ball to Rube and called: ``Play!'' The bleachers set up an exultant, satisfied shout and sat down to wait.


Schultz toed the plate and watched the Rube pitch a couple. There seemed to be no diminution of the great pitcher's speed and both balls cut the plate. Schultz clipped the next one down the third- base Line. Bogart trapped it close to the bag, and got it away underhand, beating the speedy runner by a nose. It was a pretty play to start with, and the spectators were not close-mouthed in appreciation. The short, stocky Carl ambled up to bat, and I heard him call the Rube something. It was not a friendly contest, this deciding game between Buffalo and Worcester.


"Bing one close to his swelled nut !'' growled Spears to the Rube.


Carl chopped a bouncing grounder through short and Ash was after it like a tiger, but it was a hit. The Buffalo contingent opened up. Then Manning faced the Rube, and he, too, vented sarcasm. It might not have been heard by the slow, imperturbable pitcher for all the notice he took. Carl edged off first, slid back twice, got a third start, and on the Rube's pitch was off for second base with the lead that always made him dangerous. Manning swung vainly, and Gregg snapped a throw to Mullaney. Ball and runner got to the bag apparently simultaneously; the umpire called Carl out, and the crowd uttered a quick roar of delight.


The next pitch to Manning was a strike. Rube was not wasting any balls, a point I noted with mingled fear and satisfaction. For he might have felt that he had no strength to spare that day and so could not try to work the batters. Again he swung, and Manning rapped a long line fly over McCall. As the little left fielder turned at the sound of the hit and sprinted out, his lameness was certainly not in evidence. He was the swiftest runner in the league and always when he got going the crowd rose in wild clamor to watch him. Mac took that fly right off the foul flag in deep left, and the bleachers dinned their pleasure.


The teams changed positions. "Fellers,'' said Spears, savagely, "we may be a bunged-up lot of stiffs, but, say! We can hit ! If you love your old captain sting the ball !''


Vane, the Bison pitcher, surely had his work cut out for him. For one sympathetic moment I saw his part through his eyes. My Worcester veterans, long used to being under fire, were relentlessly bent on taking that game. It showed in many ways, particularly in their silence, because they were seldom a silent team. McCall hesitated a moment over his bats. Then, as he picked up the lightest one, I saw his jaw set, and I knew he intended to bunt. He was lame, yet he meant to beat out an infield hit. He went up scowling.


Vane had an old head, and he had a varied assortment of balls. For Mac he used an under hand curve, rising at the plate and curving in to the left-hander. Mac stepped back and let it go.


"That's the place, Bo,'' cried the Buffalo infielders. "Keep 'em close on the Crab.'' Eager and fierce as McCall was, he let pitch after pitch go by till he had three balls and two strikes. Still the heady Vane sent up another pitch similar to the others. Mac stepped forward in the box, dropped his bat on the ball, and leaped down the line toward first base. Vane came rushing in for the bunt, got it and threw. But as the speeding ball neared the baseman, Mac stretched out into the air and shot for the bag. By a fraction of a second he beat the ball. It was one of his demon- slides. He knew that the chances favored his being crippled; we all knew that some day Mac would slide recklessly once too often. But that, too, is all in the game and in the spirit of a great player.


"We're on,'' said Spears; "now keep with him.''


By that the captain meant that Mac would go down, and Ashwell would hit with the run.


When Vane pitched, little McCall was flitting toward second. The Bison shortstop started for the bag, and Ash hit square through his tracks. A rolling cheer burst from the bleachers, and swelled till McCall overran third base and was thrown back by the coacher. Stringer hurried forward with his big bat.


"Oh ! My !'' yelled a fan, and he voiced my sentiments exactly. Here we would score, and be one run closer to that dearly bought pennant.


How well my men worked together ! As the pitcher let the ball go, Ash was digging for second and Mac was shooting plateward. They played on the chance of Stringer's hitting. Stringer swung, the bat cracked, we heard a thud somewhere, and then Manning, half knocked over, was fumbling for the ball. He had knocked down a terrific drive with his mitt, and he got the ball in time to put Stringer out. But Mac scored and Ash drew a throw to third base and beat it. He had a bad ankle, but no one noticed it in that daring run.


"Watch me paste one !'' said Captain Spears, as he spat several yards. He batted out a fly so long and high and far that, slow as he was, he had nearly run to second base when Carl made the catch. Ash easily scored on the throw-in. Then Bogart sent one skipping over second, and Treadwell, scooping it on the run, completed a play that showed why he was considered the star of the Bison infield.


"Two runs, fellers !'' said Spears. "That's some ! Push 'em over, Rube.''


The second inning somewhat quickened the pace. Even the Rube worked a little faster. Ellis lined to Cairns in right; Treadwell fouled two balls and had a called strike, and was out; McKnight hit a low fly over short, then Bud Wiler sent one between Spears and Mullaney. Spears went for it while the Rube with giant strides ran to cover first base. Between them they got Bud, but it was only because he was heavy and slow on his feet.


In our half of that inning Mullaney, Gregg and Cairns went out in one, two, three order.


With Pannell up, I saw that the Rube held in on his speed, or else he was tiring. Pannell hit the second slow ball for two bases. Vane sacrificed, and then the redoubtable Schultz came up. He appeared to be in no hurry to bat. Then I saw that the foxy Buffalo players were working to tire the Rube. They had the situation figured. But they were no wiser than old Spears.


"Make 'em hit, Rube. Push 'em straight over. Never mind the corners. We don't care for a few runs. We'll hit this game out.''


Shultz flied to Mac, who made a beautiful throw to the plate too late to catch Pannell. Carl deliberately bunted to the right of the Rube and it cost the big pitcher strenuous effort to catch his man.


"We got the Rube waggin !'' yelled a Buffalo player.


Manning tripled down the left foul line--a hit the bleachers called a screamer. When Ellis came up, it looked like a tie score, and when the Rube pitched it was plain that he was tired. The Bisons yelled their assurance of this and the audience settled into quiet. Ellis batted a scorcher that looked good for a hit. But the fast Ashwell was moving with the ball, and he plunged lengthwise to get it square in his glove. The hit had been so sharp that he had time to get up and make the throw to beat the runner. The bleachers thundered at the play.


"You're up, Rube,'' called Spears. "Lam one out of the lot !''


The Rube was an uncertain batter. There was never any telling what he might do, for he had spells of good and bad hitting. But when he did get his bat on the ball it meant a chase for some fielder. He went up swinging his huge club, and he hit a fly that would have been an easy home run for a fast man. But the best Rube could do was to reach third base. This was certainly good enough, as the bleachers loudly proclaimed, and another tally for us seemed sure.


McCall bunted toward third, another of his teasers. The Rube would surely have scored had he started with the ball, but he did not try and missed a chance. Wiler, of course, held the ball, and Mac got to first without special effort. He went down on the first pitch. Then Ash lined to Carl. The Rube waited till the ball was caught and started for home. The crowd screamed, the Rube ran for all he was worth and Carl's throw to the plate shot in low and true. Ellis blocked the Rube and tagged him out.


It looked to the bleachers as if Ellis had been unnecessarily rough, and they hissed and stormed disapproval. As for me, I knew the Bisons were losing no chance to wear out my pitcher. Stringer fouled out with Mac on third, and it made him so angry that he threw his bat toward the bench, making some of the boys skip lively.


The next three innings, as far as scoring was concerned, were all for Buffalo. But the Worcester infield played magnificent ball, holding their opponents to one run each inning.


That made the score 4 to 2 in favor of Buffalo.


In the last half of the sixth, with Ash on first base and two men out, old Spears hit another of his lofty flies, and this one went over the fence and tied the score. How the bleachers roared ! It was full two minutes before they quieted down. To make it all the more exciting, Bogart hit safely, ran like a deer to third on Mullaney's grounder, which Wiler knocked down, and scored on a passed ball. Gregg ended the inning by striking out.


"Get at the Rube !'' boomed Ellis, the Bison captain. "We'll have him up in the air soon. Get in the game now, you stickers !''


Before I knew what had happened, the Bisons had again tied the score. They were indomitable. They grew stronger all the time. A stroke of good luck now would clinch the game for them. The Rube was beginning to labor in the box; Ashwell was limping; Spears looked as if he would drop any moment; McCall could scarcely walk. But if the ball came his way he could still run. Nevertheless, I never saw any finer fielding than these cripped players executed that inning.


"Ash, Mac can you hold out ?'' I asked, when they limped in. I received glances of scorn for my question. Spears, however, was not sanguine.


"I'll stick pretty much if somethin' doesn't happen,'' he said; "but I'm all in. I'll need a runner if I get to first this time.''


Spears lumbered down to first base on an infield hit and the heavy Manning gave him the hip. Old Spears went down, and I for one knew he was out in more ways than that signified by Carter's sharp: "Out !''


The old war-horse gathered himself up slowly and painfully, and with his arms folded and his jaw protruding, he limped toward the umpire.


"Did you call me out ?'' he asked, in a voice plainly audible to any one on the field.


" Yes,'' snapped Carter.


"What for ? I beat the ball, an' Mannin' played dirty with me gave me the hip.''


"I called you out.''


" But I wasn't out !''


" Shut up now ! Get off the diamond !'' ordered Carter, peremptorily.


" What ? Me ? Say, I'm captain of this team. Can't I question a decision ?''


"Not mine. Spears, you're delaying the game.''


"I tell you it was a rotten decision,'' yelled Spears. The bleachers agreed with him.


Carter grew red in the face. He and Spears had before then met in field squabbles, and he showed it.


" Fifty dollars !''


"More ! You cheap-skate you piker ! More !''


"It's a hundred !''


"Put me out of the game !'' roared Spears.


"You bet ! Hurry now skedaddle !''


"Rob-b-ber !'' bawled Spears.


Then he labored slowly toward the bench, all red, and yet with perspiration, his demeanor one of outraged dignity. The great crowd, as one man, stood up and yelled hoarsely at Carter, and hissed and railed at him. When Spears got to the bench he sat down beside me as if in pain, but he was smiling.


"Con, I was all in, an' knowin' I couldn't play any longer, thought I'd try to scare Carter. Say, he was white in the face. If we play into a close decision now, he'll give it to us.''


Bogart and Mullaney batted out in short order, and once more the aggressive Bisons hurried in for their turn. Spears sent Cairns to first base and Jones to right. The Rube lobbed up his slow ball. In that tight pinch he showed his splendid nerve. Two Buffalo players, over-anxious, popped up flies. The Rube kept on pitching the slow curve until it was hit safely. Then heaving his shoulders with all his might he got all the motion possible into his swing and let drive. He had almost all of his old speed, but it hurt me to see him work with such desperate effort. He struck Wiler out.


He came stooping into the bench, apparently deaf to the stunning round of applause. Every player on the team had a word for the Rube. There was no quitting in that bunch, and if I ever saw victory on the stern faces of ball players it was in that moment.


"We haven't opened up yet. Mebbee this is the innin'. If it ain't, the next is,'' said Spears.


With the weak end of the batting list up, there seemed little hope of getting a run on Vane that inning. He had so much confidence that he put the ball over for Gregg, who hit out of the reach of the infield. Again Vane sent up his straight ball, no doubt expecting Cairns to hit into a double play. But Cairns surprised Vane and everybody else by poking a safety past first base. The fans began to howl and pound and whistle.


The Rube strode to bat. The infield closed in for a bunt, but the Rube had no orders for that style of play. Spears had said nothing to him. Vane lost his nonchalance and settled down. He cut loose with all his speed. Rube stepped out, suddenly whirled, then tried to dodge, but the ball hit him fair in the back. Rube sagged in his tracks, then straightened up, and walked slowly to first base. Score 5 to 5, bases full, no outs, McCall at bat. I sat dumb on the bench, thrilling and shivering. McCall ! Ashwell ! Stringer to bat !


"Play it safe ! Hold the bags !'' yelled the coacher.


McCall fairly spouted defiance as he faced Vane.


"Pitch ! It's all off ! An' you know it !''


If Vane knew that, he showed no evidence of it. His face was cold, unsmiling, rigid. He had to pitch to McCall, the fastest man in the league; to Ashwell, the best bunter; to Stringer, the champion batter. It was a supreme test for a great pitcher. There was only one kind of a ball that McCall was not sure to hit, and that was a high curve, in close. Vane threw it with all his power. Carter called it a strike. Again Vane swung and his arm fairly cracked. Mac fouled the ball. The third was wide. Slowly, with lifting breast, Vane got ready, whirled savagely and shot up the ball. McCall struck out.


As the Buffalo players crowed and the audience groaned it was worthy of note that little McCall showed no temper. Yet he had failed to grasp a great opportunity.


"Ash, I couldn't see 'em,'' he said, as he passed to the bench. "Speed, whew ! look out for it. He's been savin' up. Hit quick, an' you'll get him.''


Ashwell bent over the plate and glowered at Vane.


"Pitch ! It's all off ! An' you know it !'' he hissed, using Mac's words.


Ashwell, too, was left-handed; he, too, was extremely hard to pitch to; and if he had a weakness that any of us ever discovered, it was a slow curve and change of pace. But I doubted if Vane would dare to use slow balls to Ash at that critical moment. I had yet to learn something of Vane. He gave Ash a slow, wide-sweeping sidewheeler, that curved round over the plate. Ash always took a strike, so this did not matter. Then Vane used his deceptive change of pace, sending up a curve that just missed Ash's bat as he swung.


"Oh ! A-h-h ! hit !'' wailed the bleachers.


Vane doubled up like a contortionist, and shot up a lightning-swift drop that fooled Ash completely. Again the crowd groaned. Score tied, bases full, two out, Stringer at bat !


"It's up to you, String,'' called Ash, stepping aside.


Stringer did not call out to Vane. That was not his way. He stood tense and alert, bat on his shoulder, his powerful form braced, and he waited. The outfielders trotted over toward right field, and the infielders played deep, calling out warnings and encouragement to the pitcher. Stringer had no weakness, and Vane knew this. Nevertheless he did not manifest any uneasiness, and pitched the first ball without any extra motion. Carter called it a strike. I saw Stringer sink down slightly and grow tenser all over. I believe that moment was longer for me than for either the pitcher or the batter. Vane took his time, watched the base runners, feinted to throw to catch them, and then delivered the ball toward the plate with the limit of his power.


Stringer hit the ball. As long as I live, I will see that glancing low liner. Shultz, by a wonderful play in deep center, blocked the ball and thereby saved it from being a home run. But when Stringer stopped on second base, all the runners had scored.


A shrill, shrieking, high-pitched yell ! The bleachers threatened to destroy the stands and also their throats in one long revel of baseball madness.

Jones, batting in place of Spears, had gone up and fouled out before the uproar had subsided.


"Fellers, I reckon I feel easier,'' said the Rube. It was the only time I had ever heard him speak to the players at such a stage


"Only six batters, Rube,'' called out Spears. "Boys, it's a grand game, an' it's our'n !''


The Rube had enough that inning to dispose of the lower half of the Buffalo list without any alarming bids for a run. And in our half, Bogart and Mullaney hit vicious ground balls that gave Treadwell and Wiler opportunities for superb plays. Carl, likewise, made a beautiful running catch of Gregg's line fly. The Bisons were still in the game, still capable of pulling it out at the last moment.


When Shultz stalked up to the plate I shut my eyes a moment, and so still was it that the field and stands might have been empty. Yet, though I tried, I could not keep my eyes closed. I opened them to watch the Rube. I knew Spears felt the same as I, for he was blowing like a porpoise and muttering to himself:  "Mebee the Rube won't last an' I've no one to put in !''


The Rube pitched with heavy, violent effort. He had still enough speed to be dangerous. But after the manner of ball players Shultz and the coachers mocked him.


" Take all you can,'' called Ellis to Shultz.


Every pitch lessened the Rube's strength and these wise opponents knew it. Likewise the Rube himself knew, and never had he shown better head work than in this inning. If he were to win, he must be quick. So he wasted not a ball. The first pitch and the second, delivered breast high and fairly over the plate, beautiful balls to hit, Shultz watched speed by. He swung hard on the third and the crippled Ashwell dove for it in a cloud of dust, got a hand in front of it, but uselessly, for the hit was safe. The crowd cheered that splendid effort.


Carl marched to bat, and he swung his club over the plate as if he knew what to expect. "Come on, Rube !'' he shouted. Wearily, doggedly, the Rube whirled, and whipped his arm. The ball had all his old glancing speed and it was a strike. The Rube was making a tremendous effort. Again he got his body in convulsive motion two strikes ! Shultz had made no move to run, nor had Carl made any move to hit. These veterans were waiting. The Rube had pitched five strikes  could he last ?


"Now, Carl !'' yelled Ellis, with startling suddenness, as the Rube pitched again.


Crack ! Carl placed that hit as safely through short as if he had thrown it. McCall's little legs twinkled as he dashed over the grass. He had to head off that hit and he ran like a streak. Down and forward he pitched, as if in one of his fierce slides, and he got his body in front of the ball, blocking it, and then he rolled over and over. But he jumped up and lined the ball to Bogart, almost catching Shultz at third-base. Then, as Mac tried to walk, his lame leg buckled under him, and down he went, and out.


" Call time,'' I called to Carter. "McCall is done. . . . Myers, you go to left an' for Lord's sake play ball !''


Stringer and Bogart hurried to Mac and, lifting him up and supporting him between them with his arms around their shoulders, they led him off amid cheers from the stands. Mac was white with pain.


" Naw, I won't go off the field. Leave me on the bench,'' he said. "Fight 'em now. It's our game. Never mind a couple of runs.''


The boys ran back to their positions and Carter called play. Perhaps a little delay had been helpful to the Rube. Slowly he stepped into the box and watched Shultz at third and Carl at second. There was not much probability of his throwing to catch them off the base, but enough of a possibility to make them careful, so he held them close.


The Rube pitched a strike to Manning, then another. That made eight strikes square over the plate that inning. What magnificent control! It was equaled by the implacable patience of those veteran Bisons. Manning hit the next ball as hard as Carl had hit his. But Mullaney plunged down, came up with the ball, feinted to fool Carl, then let drive to Gregg to catch the fleeting Shultz. The throw went wide, but Gregg got it, and, leaping lengthwise, tagged Shultz out a yard from the plate.


One out. Two runners on bases. The bleachers rose and split their throats. Would the inning never end ?


Spears kept telling himself: " They'll score, but we'll win. It's our game !''


I had a sickening fear that the strange confidence that obsessed the Worcester players had been blind, unreasoning vanity.


" Carl will steal,'' muttered Spears.  "He can't be stopped.''


Spears had called the play. The Rube tried to hold the little base-stealer close to second, but, after one attempt, wisely turned to his hard task of making the Bisons hit and hit quickly. Ellis let the ball pass; Gregg made a perfect throw to third; Bogart caught the ball and moved like a flash, but Carl slid under his hands to the bag. Manning ran down to second. The Rube pitched again, and this was his tenth ball over the plate. Even the Buffalo players evinced eloquent appreciation of the Rube's defence at this last stand.


Then Ellis sent a clean hit to right, scoring both Carl and Manning. I breathed easier, for it seemed with those two runners in, the Rube had a better chance.

Treadwell also took those two runners in, the Rube had a way those Bisons waited. They had their reward, for the Rube's speed left him. When he pitched again the ball had control, but no shoot. Treadwell hit it with all his strength. Like a huge cat Ashwell pounced upon it, ran over second base, forcing Ellis, and his speedy snap to first almost caught Treadwell.


Score 8 to 7. Two out. Runner on first. One run to tie.


In my hazy, dimmed vision I saw the Rube's pennant waving from the flag-pole.


``It's our game !'' howled Spears in my ear, for the noise from the stands was deafening. ``It's our pennant !''


The formidable batting strength of the Bisons had been met, not without disaster, but without defeat. McKnight came up for Buffalo and the Rube took his weary swing. The batter made a terrific lunge and hit the ball with a solid crack It lined for center.


Suddenly electrified into action, I leaped up. That hit ! It froze me with horror. It was a home-run. I saw Stringer fly toward left center. He ran like something wild. I saw the heavy Treadwell lumbering round the bases. I saw Ashwell run out into center field.


``Ah-h!'' The whole audience relieved its terror in that expulsion of suspended breath. Stringer had leaped high to knock down the ball, saving a sure home-run and the game. He recovered himself, dashed back for the ball and shot it to Ash.


When Ash turned toward the plate, Treadwell was rounding third base. A tie score appeared inevitable. I saw Ash's arm whip and the ball shoot forward, leveled, glancing, beautiful in its flight. The crowd saw it, and the silence broke to a yell that rose and rose as the ball sped in. That yell swelled to a splitting shriek, and Treadwell slid in the dust, and the ball shot into Gregg's hands all at the same instant.


Carter waved both arms upwards. It was the umpire's action when his decision went against the base-runner. The audience rolled up one great stenorian cry.


"Out !''


I collapsed and sank back upon the bench. My confused senses received a dull roar of pounding feet and dinning voices as the herald of victory. I felt myself thinking how pleased Milly would be. I had a distinct picture in my mind of a white cottage on a hill, no longer a dream, but a reality, made possible for me by the Rube's winning of the pennant.




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