Right From The Shoulder
The Smoky City was all agog over the games. It had won championships
before, but that was in the days of Fred Clarke and Honus Wagner and
other fence breakers. It had been a good many years since it had seen a
pennant floating over Forbes Field, and old-timers were wont to shake
their heads sadly and say they never would see it again.
But this year the "dope" pointed in the right direction. The management
of the team had strengthened the weak point in the infield by a winter
trade that had brought to them "Rabbit" Baskerville, the crackerjack
shortstop of the Braves. The benefit of the change had been manifested
in the spring practice when the Rabbit had put new pep and ginger
in the team. And in the regular games so far they had had little
difficulty in winning a large majority from their rivals. How they
would hold out against the Giants was the problem that yet remained
to be solved. But unless the Giants showed a decided reversal from the
form in which they had been playing recently, it would not be so very
hard to take them also into camp.
The Giants themselves felt none too much confidence, as they prepared
for this important series. One bit of luck came to them, however, in
the return at this juncture of Larry Barrett to the team. He had been
down with an attack of intermittent fever that had kept him out of part
of the spring practice and had prevented him thus far from playing in
any of the regular games. But on the team's arrival in Pittsburgh, they
found Barrett waiting for them, looking a little lighter than usual,
but declaring himself in excellent condition and fit to play the game
of his life.
The previous year he had guarded the keystone bag, and by general
consent was regarded as the best second baseman in the League. His
batting too was a powerful asset to the team, as season after season he
ranked among the .300 hitters. Apart from his superb playing at bat and
in the field, he also helped to keep the boys in good spirits. His wit
and love of fun had gained him the nickname of "Laughing Larry," and no
team of which Larry was a member could stay long in the doleful dumps.
His coming made necessary a change in the team. Allen, who had not
made a success in playing the "sun field," was benched, and Denton,
whose batting could not be spared, was shifted to right field in his
place, while Larry resumed his old position at second.
On the morning of the day of the first game, McRae called his players
together for a few words of counsel. At least he called it counsel. The
players were apt to refer to it as roasting.
"I've been thinking," he said, "that I've got the greatest collection
of false alarms of any manager in either of the big leagues."
This was not an especially encouraging beginning, but each of the men
tried to look as though the manager could not by any possibility be
referring to him. Some of them hoped that he would not descend from
generalities to particulars.
The manager's keen eyes ranged around the circle as though looking for
contradiction. There was a silence as of the tomb.
"You fellows haven't been playing baseball," he went on. "You've been
playing hooky. Look at the way you've let the other teams walk over
you. The Chicagos took three out of four from you. The Cardinals
grabbed two out of three, and it's only the mercy of heaven that rain
kept them from copping another. Look at the way you've been batting.
Every team in the League except the Phillies has a better average.
You've got enough beef about you to knock the ball out of the lot, and
you've been doing fungo hitting, knocking up pop flies. What in the
name of seven spittin' cats do you mean by it? Every time you collect
your salaries you ought to be arrested for getting money on false
He paused for a moment, and some of the more hopeful players thought
that perhaps he was through. But he was only getting his breath. He
faced them scornfully.
"Giants!" he exclaimed with sarcasm. "Giants you call yourselves. Get
wise to yourselves. If you're Giants, I'm a Chinaman. It's dwarfs you
are, pygmies. Now I want you boobs to get one thing into your heads.
Get it straight. You've got to win this series from Pittsburgh. Do you
get me? You've got to! If you don't, I'll disband the whole team and
start getting another one from the old ladies' home."
Much more he said to the same effect, with the result that when the
men, with heightened color and nerves rasped by his caustic tongue
lashing, left the clubhouse, they were in red-hot fighting mood.
Pygmies were they? Well, on the ball field they'd prove to McRae that
he didn't know what he was talking about.
An immense crowd was present that filled Forbes Field to capacity when
the bell rang for the beginning of the game. Joe had pitched only two
days before, and McRae decided to send Markwith into the box.
In the first inning, Dawley, the Pittsburgh pitcher, found it hard to
locate the plate, and Curry was passed to first. On the hit and run
play, Iredell popped to the pitcher, and Curry had all he could do to
get back to first. Burkett lined a clean hit over the second baseman's
head, but by sharp fielding Curry was kept from going beyond the middle
bag. On the next ball pitched, Curry tried to steal third but was
thrown out. Burkett in the meantime had got to second, but he was left
there when Wheeler sent a long fly to center that Ralston captured
after a hard run.
The Pittsburghs were not long in proving that they had their batting
clothes on. Ralston landed on the first ball that Markwith sent up for
a home run. The crowd chortled with glee, and the Giants and the few
supporters they had in the stands were correspondingly glum. The blow
seemed to shake Markwith's nerve, and the next batter was passed. Bemis
sent a sizzling grounder to Iredell and it bounced off his glove, the
batter reaching first and Baskerville taking second on the play. Astley
dribbled a slow one to Markwith, who turned to throw to third, but
finding that Baskerville was sure of making the bag, turned and threw
high to Burkett at first. The tall first baseman leaped high in the air
and knocked it down, but not in time to get his man. With the bases
full Brown slapped a two bagger to center that cleared the bases, three
men galloping over the plate in succession.
It was evidently not Markwith's day, and McRae beckoned him to come
in to the bench while the crowd jeered the visitors and cheered their
own favorites. Poor Markwith looked disconsolate enough, and after a
moment's conference with McRae, which he was not anxious to prolong, he
meandered over the field to the showers.
"Bring on the next victim!" taunted some of the spectators. "All
pitchers look alike to us to-day. Next dead one to the front."
McRae held a brief consultation with Robbie, and then nodded to Jim.
"Go to it, Jim," encouraged Joe. "I'm rooting for you, old man. Pull
some of the feathers out of those birds. It's a tough job bucking
against a four run lead, but you're the boy to do it."
"I'll do my best," answered Jim, as he put on his glove and went into
It was the cue for the crowd to try to rattle him. The coachers began
chattering like a lot of magpies, and the man on second began to dance
about the bag and shout to Garrity, the next batsman, to bring him in.
Jim sent one over the plate that cut it in half, but the batsman had
orders to wait him out, under the supposition that he would be wild.
So he let the second one go by also.
"Strike two!" called the umpire.
Garrity braced. This was getting serious. This time Jim resorted to a
fadeaway that Garrity swung at with all his might. But the ball eluded
him and dropped into Mylert's mitt.
"You're out!" snapped the umpire, waving him away from the plate.
Next: Jim's Winning Ways
Previous: Three In A Row