Baseball joe in the big.., p.1
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       Baseball Joe in the Big League; or, A Young Pitcher's Hardest Struggles, p.1

           Lester Chadwick
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Baseball Joe in the Big League; or, A Young Pitchers Hardest Struggles


  Produced by Juliet Sutherland and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  HE BEAT THE BALL BY A NARROW MARGIN, AND WAS DECLAREDSAFE. Page 245.]

  Baseball Joe in the Big League OR A Young Pitcher's Hardest Struggles

  _By_ LESTER CHADWICK

  AUTHOR OF "BASEBALL JOE OF THE SILVER STARS," "BASEBALL JOE AT YALE," "BASEBALL JOE IN THE CENTRAL LEAGUE," "THE RIVAL PITCHERS," "THE EIGHT-OARED VICTORS," ETC.

  _ILLUSTRATED_

  NEW YORK CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

  Copyright, 1915, by CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

  Baseball Joe in the Big League Printed in U. S. A.

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER PAGE

  I TWO LETTERS 1

  II TO THE RESCUE 11

  III AN UPSET 19

  IV AN APPEAL 30

  V THE THREAT 38

  VI A WARNING 46

  VII BASEBALL TALK 54

  VIII THE QUARREL 61

  IX JOE IS DRAFTED 70

  X OFF TO ST. LOUIS 77

  XI GOING DOWN SOUTH 87

  XII THE QUARRELING MAN 97

  XIII UNDER SUNNY SKIES 103

  XIV HARD WORK 112

  XV ANOTHER THREAT 122

  XVI JOE'S TRIUMPH 129

  XVII "PLAY BALL!" 140

  XVIII HOT WORDS 148

  XIX JOE GOES IN 153

  XX STAGE FRIGHT 162

  XXI A QUEER MESSAGE 175

  XXII IN DANGER 182

  XXIII A LAME ARM 191

  XXIV A TIGHT GAME 201

  XXV IN NEW YORK 208

  XXVI ADRIFT 217

  XXVII THE RESCUE 223

  XXVIII MOVING PICTURES 229

  XXIX SHALLEG'S DOWNFALL 234

  XXX THE HARDEST BATTLE 240

  BASEBALL JOE IN THE BIG LEAGUE

  CHAPTER I

  TWO LETTERS

  "Whew!" whistled Joe Matson, the astonishment on his bronzed face beingindicated by his surprised exclamation of:

  "Well, what do you know about that, Sis?"

  "What is it, Joe?" asked his sister Clara, as she looked up from aletter she was reading to see her brother staring at a sheet of paper hehad just withdrawn from an envelope, for the morning mail had beendelivered a few minutes before. "What is it?" the girl went on, layingaside her own correspondence. "Is it anything serious--anything aboutfather's business? Don't tell me there is more trouble, Joe!"

  "I'm not going to, Clara. It isn't trouble, but, if what he says istrue, it's going to make a big difference to me," and Joe looked out ofthe window, across a snowy expanse of yard, and gazed at, withoutconsciously seeing, a myriad of white flakes swirling down through thewintry air.

  "No, it isn't exactly trouble," went on Joe, "and I suppose I ought tobe corkingly glad of it; but I hadn't counted on leaving the CentralBaseball League quite so soon."

  "Oh, Joe! Have you lost your place?" exclaimed Clara. "And just afteryou have done so well, too; and helped them win the pennant! I call thata shame! I thought baseball men were better 'sports' than that."

  "Listen to her--my little sister using slang!" laughed Joe.

  "'Sports' isn't slang," defended Clara. "I've heard lots of girls useit. I mean it in the right sense. But have you really lost your place onthe team, Joe?"

  "Well, not exactly, Sis, but I'm about to, I'm afraid. However, I guessI may as well make the best of it, and be glad. I sure can use the extramoney!"

  "I certainly don't know what you're talking about," went on Clara, witha helpless look at her big, handsome brother, "and I suppose you'll takeyour own time in telling me. But I _would_ like to know what it allmeans, Joe. And about extra money. Who's going to give it to you?"

  "Nobody. I'll have to earn it with this pitching arm of mine," and theyoung baseball player swung it around, as though "winding-up" for aswift delivery.

  "Look out, Joe!" cried Clara, but she gave the warning too late.

  At that moment Mrs. Matson entered the room with a jug of water, whichshe intended pouring on a window-box of flowers. Joe's arm struck thejug a glancing blow, and sent it flying, the water spraying over thefloor, and the jug itself falling, and cracking into many pieces.

  For a moment there was a momentous silence, after two startledscreams--one each from Mrs. Matson and Clara. Then Joe cried gaily:

  "Out at first! Say, Momsey, I hope I didn't hit you!"

  "No, you didn't," and she laughed now. "But what does it all mean? Areyou practicing so early in the season? Oh, my carpet! It will beruined!" she went on, as she saw the water. "But I'm glad I didn't bringin a good jug. Did you hurt your hand?"

  "Nary a hurt," said Joe, with a smile. "Ha! I'll save _you_ from awetting!" he exclaimed, as he stooped quickly and picked up an unopenedletter, the address of which was in a girlish hand.

  "Get the mop, while you're at it," advised Clara. A little later Joe hadsopped up the water, and quiet was restored.

  "And now suppose you tell us all about it," suggested Mrs. Mason. "Whywere you practicing gymnastics, Joe?" and she smiled at her athleticson.

  "I was just telling Clara that my pitching arm was likely to bring me inmore money this year, Momsey, and I was giving it a twirl, when youhappened to get in my way. Now I'll tell you all about it. It's thisletter," and Joe held out the one he had been reading.

  "Are you sure it isn't the _other_?" asked Clara, with a sly look at herbrother, for she had glanced at the writing on the unopened envelope Joehad picked up from the floor. "Let me read that other letter, Joe," sheteased.

  "A little later--maybe!" he parried. "But this one," and he flutteredthe open sheet in his hand, "this one is from Mr. Gregory, manager ofthe Pittston team, with whom I have the honor to be associated," and Joebowed low to his mother and sister. "Mr. Gregory gives me a bit of news.It is nothing less than that the manager of the St. Louis Nationals isnegotiating for the services of yours truly--your humble servant, JosephMatson," and again the young ball player bowed, and laughed.

  "Joe, you don't mean it!" cried his sister. "You're going to belong to amajor league team!" for Clara was almost as ardent a baseball "fan" aswas her brother.

  "Well, it looks like it, Sis," replied Joe, slowly, as he glanced at theletter again. "Of course it isn't settled, but Mr. Gregory says I'mpretty sure to be drafted to St. Louis."

  "Drafted!" exclaimed his mother. "That sounds like war times, when theyused to draft men to go to the front. Do you mean you haven't any choicein the matter, Joe?"

  "Well, that's about it, Momsey," the young man explained. "You see,baseball is pretty well organized. It has to be, to make it the successit is," he added frankly, "though lots of people are opposed to thesystem
. But I haven't been in it long enough to find fault, even if Iwanted to--which I don't."

  "But it seems queer that you can't stay with the Pittston team if youwant to," said Mrs. Matson.

  "I don't know as I want to," spoke Joe, slowly, "especially when I'llsurely get more money with St. Louis, besides having the honor ofpitching for a major league team, even if it isn't one of thetop-notchers, and a pennant winner. So if they want to draft me, letthem do their worst!" and he laughed, showing his even, white teeth.

  "You see," he resumed, "when I signed a contract with the Pittstons, ofthe Central League, I gave them the right to control my services as longas I played baseball. I had to agree not to go to any other teamwithout permission, and, in fact, no other organized team would take meunless the Pittston management released me. I went into it with my eyesopen.

  "And, you see, the Pittston team, being one of the small ones, has togive way to a major league team. That is, any major league team, likethe St. Louis Nationals, can call for, or draft, any player in a smallerteam. So if they call me I'll have to go. And I'll be glad to. I'll getmore money and fame.

  "That is, I hope I will," and Joe spoke more soberly. "I know I'm notgoing to have any snap of it. It's going to be hard work from the wordgo, for there will be other pitchers on the St. Louis team, and I'llhave to do my best to make a showing against them.

  "And I will, too!" cried Joe, resolutely. "I'll make good, Momsey!"

  "I hope so, my son," she responded, quietly. "You know I was not much infavor of your taking up baseball for a living, but I must say you havedone well at it, and after all, if one does one's best at anything, thatis what counts. So I hope you make good with the St. Louis team--Isuppose 'make good' is the proper expression," she added, with a smile.

  "It'll do first-rate, Momsey," laughed Joe. "Now let's see what elseGregory says."

  He glanced over the letter again, and remarked:

  "Well, there's nothing definite. The managers are laying their plans forthe Spring work, and he says I'm being considered. He adds he will besorry to lose me."

  "I should think he would be!" exclaimed Clara, a flush coming into hercheeks. "You were the best pitcher on his team!"

  "Oh, I wouldn't go as far as to say that!" cried Joe, "though Iappreciate your feeling, Sis. I had a good bit of luck, winning some ofthe games the way I did. Well, I guess I'll go look up some St. Louisrecords, and see what I'm expected to do in the batting average linecompared with them," the player went on. "The St. Louis team isn't awonder, but it's done pretty fair at times, I believe, and it's a stepup for me. I'll be more in line for a place on the New York Giants, orthe Philadelphia Athletics if I make a good showing in Missouri,"finished Joe.

  He started from the room, carrying the two letters, one of which he hadnot yet opened.

  "Who's it from?" asked Clara, with a smile, as she pointed to the heavy,square envelope in his hand.

  "Oh, one of my many admirers," teased Joe. "I can't tell just which oneuntil I open it. And, just to satisfy your curiosity, I'll do so now,"and he proceeded to slit the envelope with his pocket-knife.

  "Oh, it's from Mabel Varley!" he exclaimed.

  "Just as if you didn't know all the while!" scoffed Clara. "You wouldn'tforget her handwriting so soon, Joe Matson."

  "Um!" he murmured, non-committally. "Why, this is news!" he cried,suddenly. "Mabel and her brother Reggie are coming here!"

  "Here!" exclaimed Clara. "To visit us?"

  "Oh, no, not that exactly," Joe went on. "They're on a trip, it seems,and they're going to stop off here for a day or so. Mabel says they'lltry to see us. I hope they will."

  "I've never met them," observed Clara.

  "No," spoke Joe, musingly. "Well, you may soon. Why!" he went on,"they're coming to-day--on the afternoon express. I must go down to thestation to meet them, though the train is likely to be late, if thissnow keeps up. Whew! see it come down!" and he went over to the windowand looked out.

  "It's like a small blizzard," remarked Clara, "and it seems to begrowing worse. Doesn't look much like baseball; does it, Joe?"

  "I should say not! Say, I believe I'll go down to the station, anyhow,and see what the prospects are. Want to come, Sis?"

  "No, thank you. Not in this storm. Where are the Varleys going to stop?"

  "At the hotel. Reggie has some business in town, Mabel writes. Well, Isure will be glad to see him again!"

  "_Him_? _Her_, you mean!" laughed Clara. "Oh, Joe, you _are_ so simple!"

  "Humph!" he exclaimed, as he put the two letters into his pocket--bothof great importance to him. "Well, I'll go down to the station."

  Joe was soon trudging through the storm on the way to the depot.

  "The St. Louis 'Cardinals'!" he mused, as he bent his head to the blast,thinking of the letters in his pocket. "I didn't think I'd be in linefor a major league team so soon. I wonder if I can make good?"

  Thinking alternately of the pleasure he would have in seeing Miss MabelVarley, a girl in whom he was more than ordinarily interested, and ofthe new chance that had come to him, Joe soon reached the depot. Hisinquiries about the trains were not, however, very satisfactorilyanswered.

  "We can't tell much about them in this storm," the station master said."All our trains are more or less late. Stop in this afternoon, and I mayhave some definite information for you."

  And later that day, when it was nearly arrival time for the train onwhich Mabel and Reggie were to come, Joe received some news thatstartled him.

  "There's no use in your waiting, Joe," said the station master, as theyoung ball player approached him again. "Your train won't be in to-day,and maybe not for several days."

  "Why? What's the matter--a wreck?" cried Joe, a vision of injuredfriends looming before him.

  "Not exactly a wreck, but almost as bad," went on the official. "Thetrain is stalled--snowed in at Deep Rock Cut, five miles above here, andthere's no chance of getting her out."

  "Great Scott!" cried Joe. "The express snowed in! Why, I've got friendson that train! I wonder what I can do to help them?"

 
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