Baseball Joe, Captain of the Team; or, Bitter Struggles on the Diamond

       Lester Chadwick / Young Adult
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Baseball Joe, Captain of the Team; or, Bitter Struggles on the Diamond
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JOE SLID INTO THE RUBBER IN A CLOUD OF DUST.]

Baseball Joe Captain of the Team

OR

Bitter Struggles On the Diamond

_By_ LESTER CHADWICK

AUTHOR OF

”BASEBALL JOE OF THE SILVER STARS,” ”BASEBALL JOE, HOME RUN KING,” ”THERIVAL PITCHERS,” ”THE EIGHT-OARED VICTORS,” ETC.

_ILLUSTRATED_

NEW YORK

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

BOOKS BY LESTER CHADWICK

=THE BASEBALL JOE SERIES=

=12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.=

BASEBALL JOE OF THE SILVER STARS BASEBALL JOE ON THE SCHOOL NINE BASEBALL JOE AT YALE BASEBALL JOE IN THE CENTRAL LEAGUE BASEBALL JOE IN THE BIG LEAGUE BASEBALL JOE ON THE GIANTS BASEBALL JOE IN THE WORLD SERIES BASEBALL JOE AROUND THE WORLD BASEBALL JOE, HOME RUN KING BASEBALL JOE SAVING THE LEAGUE BASEBALL JOE, CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM

=THE COLLEGE SPORTS SERIES=

=12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.=

THE RIVAL PITCHERS A QUARTERBACK'S PLUCK BATTING TO WIN THE WINNING TOUCHDOWN FOR THE HONOR OF RANDALL THE EIGHT-OARED VICTORS

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, New York

Copyright, 1924, by CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

=Baseball Joe, Captain of the Team=

Printed in U. S. A.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE I QUEER TACTICS 1 II A BITTER STRUGGLE 10 III THROWN AWAY 24 IV FROM BAD TO WORSE 34 V A STARTLING SUGGESTION 44 VI PERPLEXING PROBLEMS 52 VII BAD NEWS FOR JIM 64 VIII THE HIDDEN-BALL TRICK 73 IX THE NEW CAPTAIN 85 X GETTING IN SHAPE 95 XI WINGING THEM OVER 104 XII AN AMAZING FEAT 119 XIII CLEVER STRATEGY 130 XIV DEEPENING MYSTERY 143 XV TROUBLE BREWING 148 XVI OUT FOR REVENGE 156 XVII STEALING HOME 162 XVIII A TEST OF NERVE 167 XIX THE WARNING BUZZ 172 XX THE PACKAGE OF MYSTERY 177 XXI DROPPING BACK 182 XXII UNDER HEAVY STRAIN 189 XXIII BLUNDERING OLD REGGIE 195 XXIV GETTING A CONFESSION 204 XXV IN THE DEPTHS 210 XXVI OFF HIS STRIDE 216 XXVII TAKEN BY SURPRISE 221 XXVIII A FRESH SPURT 226 XXIX THE SNAKE'S HEAD 233 XXX THE FINAL BATTLE 243

BASEBALL JOE CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM

CHAPTER I

QUEER TACTICS

”No use talking, Joe, we seem to be on the toboggan,” remarked JimBarclay, one of the first string pitchers of the Giant team, to hisclosest chum, Joe Matson; as they came out of the clubhouse at theChicago baseball park and strolled over toward their dugout in theshadow of the grandstand.

”You're right, old boy,” agreed Joe--”Baseball Joe,” as he was known bythe fans all over the country. ”We seem to be headed straight for thecellar championship, and at the present rate it won't be long before weland there. I can't tell what's got into the boys. Perhaps I'm as muchto blame as any of the rest of them. I've lost the last two games Ipitched.”

”Huh!” snorted Jim. ”Look at the way you lost them! You never pitchedbetter in your life. You had everything--speed, curves, control, andthat old fadeaway of yours was working like a charm. But the boysplayed behind you like a lot of sand-lotters. They simply threw thegame away--handed it to the Cubs on a silver platter. What they did inthe field was a sin and a shame. And when it came to batting, they wereeven worse. The home run and triple you pasted out yourself were theonly clouts worth mentioning.”

”The boys do seem to have lost their batting eyes,” agreed Joe. ”Andwhen it comes to fielding, they're all thumbs. What do you think thetrouble is?”

”Search me,” replied Jim. ”We've got the same team we had when westarted the season. Look at the way we started off: Three out of fourfrom the Brooklyns, the same from the Bostons, and a clean sweep fromthe Phillies. It looked as though we were going to go through theLeague like a prairie fire. But the instant we struck the West we wentdown with a sickening thud. Pittsburgh wiped up the earth with us. TheReds walked all over us. The Cubs in the last two games have given usthe razz. We're beginning to look like something the cat dragged in.”

”I can't make it out,” observed Joe, thoughtfully. ”Of course, everyteam gets in a slump sometimes. But this has lasted longer than usual,and it's time we snapped out of it. McRae will be a raving lunatic ifwe don't.”

”He's pretty near that now,” replied Jim. ”And I don't wonder. He'd sethis heart on winning the flag this season, and it begins to look asthough his cake was dough.”

”Even Robbie's lost his smile,” said Joe. ”And things must be prettybad when he gets into the doleful dumps.”

”I thought that when we got those rascals, Hupft and McCarney, off theteam, everything would be plain sailing,” remarked Jim. ”They seemed tobe the only disorganizing element.”

”Yes,” agreed Joe. ”And especially when we got such crackerjacks intheir places as Jackwell and Bowen. But speaking of them, have younoticed anything peculiar about them?”

”Great Scott!” exclaimed Jim, in some alarm. ”You don't mean tointimate that they're crooks, too?”

”Not at all,” replied Joe. ”From all I can see, they are as white asany men on the team. And they certainly know baseball from A to Z.They can run rings around Hupft and McCarney. But, just the same, I'venoticed something odd about them from the start.”

”What, for instance?” asked Jim, with quickened interest.

”They seem nervous and scared at times,” answered Joe. ”Jackwell, atthird, keeps looking towards that part of the grandstand. The other dayI was going to throw to him, to catch Elston napping; but I saw thatJackwell wasn't looking at me, and so I held the ball. And I've noticedthat when he's coming into the bench between innings he lets his eyesrange all over the stands.”

”Looking to see if his girl was there, perhaps,” laughed Jim.

”Nothing so pleasant as that,” asserted Joe. ”It was as though he werelooking for some one he didn't want to see. And the same thing is trueof Bowen. Of course he's out at center, and I can't observe him as wellas I can Jackwell. But when he's been sitting in the dugout waiting forhis turn at bat, he's always squinting at the fans in the stands andthe bleachers. The other boys aren't that way.”

”This is all news to me,” remarked Jim. ”I've noticed that they've beenrather clannish and stuck close together, but that's natural enough,seeing that they were pals in the minor-league team from which McRaebought them and that they don't feel quite at home yet in big-leaguecompany.”

”Well, you keep your eye on them and see if you don't notice what I'vebeen telling you about,” counseled Joe. ”Of course, it may not mean athing, but all the same it's struck me as queer.”

By this time the two pitchers had reached the Giants' dugout, wheremost of their teammates had already gathered.

It was a beautiful day in early summer. The Eastern teams' invasion ofthe West was in full swing, and baseball enthusiasm was running highall over the circuit. The Giants, after a disastrous series of games inPittsburgh and Cincinnati, had struck Chicago. Or, perhaps, it wouldbe more correct to say that Chicago had struck them, for the Cubs hadtaken the first two games with ease.

No doubt that accounted for the tremendous throng that had been pouringinto the gates that afternoon, until now the stands and bleachers werecrowded with enthusiastic fans. For if there was anything in the worldthat Chicago dearly loved, it was to see the Giants beaten. One gamefrom the haughty Giants, the champions of the world, was more keenlyrelished than two games from any other club.

The rivalry between the teams of the two great cities was intense,dating from the days when the old Chicagos, with ”Pop” Anson and FrankChance at their head, had been accustomed to sweeping everything beforethem. Now the tables had been turned, and for the last few years, theGiants, with McRae as their astute manager and Baseball Joe as theirpitching ”ace,” had had the upper hand. Twice in succession the Giantshad won the championship of the National League and had wound up theseason in a blaze of glory by also winning the World Series.

This year they were desperately anxious to repeat. And, as Jim hadsaid, it looked at the beginning of the season as though they weregoing to do it. They got off on the right foot and had an easy time ofit in the games with the other Eastern clubs.

But with the Western clubs it was another story. A ”jinx” seemed to bepursuing them. Pittsburgh had tied the can to them, and the Reds, notto be outdone, had tightened the knot. The Cubs thus far had clawedthem savagely. They had tasted blood, and their appetite had grown withwhat it had fed upon. And for that reason the sport lovers of the WindyCity had turned out in force to see the Cubs once more make the Giants”their meat.”

McRae, the manager, was sitting on the bench with Robson, hisassistant, as Joe and Jim approached. There was an anxious furrow onhis brow, and even the rotund and rubicund ”Robbie,” usually jolly andsmiling, seemed in the depths of gloom.

McRae's face lightened a little when he saw Joe.

”I'm going to put you in to pitch to-day, Matson,” he said. ”How's theold soup-bone feeling?”

”Fine and dandy,” returned Joe, with a smile.

”I want you to stand those fellows on their heads,” said the manager.”They've been making monkeys of us long enough.”

”I'll do my best, Mac,” promised Joe, as he picked up a ball preparatoryto going out for warming-up practice.

”Your best is good enough,” replied McRae.

Joe and Jim went out with their respective catchers and limbered uptheir pitching arms.

”How are they coming, Mylert?” Joe called out to the veteran catcher,who was acting as his backstop.

”Great,” pronounced Mylert. ”You've got speed to burn and your curvesare all to the merry. That hop of yours is working fine. You'll havethem breaking their backs to get at the ball.”

McRae, in the meantime, had beckoned to Iredell, the captain of theteam.

”Look here, Iredell,” he asked abruptly, ”what's the matter with thisteam? Why are they playing like a lot of old women?”

”I'm sure I don't know,” replied Iredell, flushing and twirling his capnervously.

”Don't know?” snapped McRae. ”Who should know if you don't? You're thecaptain, aren't you?”

”Sure,” admitted Iredell. ”But for all that, I can't always get ontowhat's in the minds of the fellows. I've talked to them and razzed themand done everything except to lam them. They're just in a slump, andthey don't seem able to get out. Some of them think a jinx is on theirbacks. I'm playing my own position well enough, ain't I?”

”Yes, you are,” McRae was forced to admit, for Iredell was one ofthe crack shortstops of the League, and so far had been batting andfielding well. ”But that isn't enough. To be a good shortstop is onething, and to be a good captain is another. I figured you'd be both.Tell me this. Are there any cliques in the team? Any fellows out to doanother or show him up? Any fights in the clubhouse that I haven't beentold about?”

”No,” replied Iredell, ”nothing that's worth noticing. Of course, theboys are as sore as boils over the way they keep on losing, and theirtempers are on a hair trigger. Once in a while something is said thatmakes one of them take a crack at another. But that's usually over in aminute and they shake hands and make up. There aren't any real grudgesamong the boys that I know of.”

”Well, things have got to change, and it's largely up to you to changethem,” growled McRae. ”If the job's too big for you, perhaps somebodyelse will have to take it. I've often found that a shake up in thebatting order will work wonders. Perhaps the same thing's true of ashake up in captains.”

The flush in Iredell's face grew deeper and his eyes glinted withanger. But he said nothing, and as McRae turned to say something toRobbie, indicating that the interview was ended, he moved away sullenlyfrom the dugout.

Just then the bell rang as a signal for the Giants to run out forpractice. The white uniforms of the Chicagos faded away from thediamond, while the gray-suited Giants scattered to their severalpositions in the field and on the bases.

Jackwell, who had been standing near Joe while the latter was puttingthe balls over to Mylert, started to run out with the rest, butsuddenly he halted and stood in his tracks like a stone image.

Joe, who, out of the corner of his eye, had noted the action, turned tohim in surprise.

”What's the matter, Jackwell?” he asked, eying the new third basemankeenly.

”I--I can't go on,” stammered Jackwell.

Joe noted that he had suddenly turned white.


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