“I’m going to tie you up in knots, old man,” said Jim Barclay, with a smile, as he picked up the ball and stepped into the box in batting practice at the training camp. “I’ve heard that kind of talk before,” retorted Joe Matson, known all over the country as “Baseball Joe,” the king pitcher of the Giants. “But untying knots is the best thing I do. Give me the best you have in the shop.” Jim wound up and put one over that just cut the corner of the plate. Joe made a mighty swing ...
“I’m going to tie you up in knots, old man,” said Jim Barclay, with a smile, as he picked up the ball and stepped into the box in batting practice at the training camp.
“I’ve heard that kind of talk before,” retorted Joe Matson, known all over the country as “Baseball Joe,” the king pitcher of the Giants. “But untying knots is the best thing I do. Give me the best you have in the shop.”
Jim wound up and put one over that just cut the corner of the plate. Joe made a mighty swing at it, but it was just beyond his reach.
“Nearly broke your back reaching for that one, eh?” laughed Jim, as the ball was thrown back to him.
“I was just kidding you that time,” grinned Joe. “I’m going to kill the next one.”
Again the ball whizzed to the plate. It was a fast, straight ball with a slight hop to it. Joe caught it near the end of his bat and “leaned on it” heavily. The ball soared out between right and center, and the outfielders covering that position gave one look at it and then turned and ran with the ball. But it kept on and on until it cleared the fence, and the discomfited fielders threw up their hands and came slowly back to their positions.
Jim looked sheepish, and Joe, who was his chum and best friend, laughed outright as he relinquished the bat to the next man in line.
“A sweet home run, Jim,” he remarked.
“I should say so!” snorted Jim. “That hit was good for two home runs. The ball was ticketed for kingdom come.”
“Who was it said that pitchers couldn’t hit?” laughed Mylert, the burly catcher of the Giant team, as he took Joe’s place.
“I’ll tell the world that some of them can!” exclaimed Jim, as he prepared to try his luck again. “Gee, Joe, if that had happened to me in a regular game, it would have broken my heart.”
Two keen-eyed men in uniform had been standing near the side lines, watching intently every move of the players, as they tried out their batting eyes and arms. One was stocky and of medium height, with hair that had begun to grey at the temples. The other was stout and ruddy, with a twinkle in his eyes that bespoke good nature. Both were veterans of many hard-fought baseball campaigns, and both had played on the Baltimore Orioles when that great organization of stars was the sensation of the baseball world.
“Did you see that hit, Robbie?” asked McRae, the manager of the Giants, of his stout companion.
“Not all of it,” replied Robson, the coach of the team. “But I followed it as far as the fence. That was a whale of a wallop. I’ll bet the ball’s going yet,” and the man chuckled gleefully.
“Of course, this was only in practice,” mused McRae. “Perhaps Barclay wasn’t trying over hard.”
“Don’t kid yourself, Mac,” replied Robson. “Barclay wasn’t just lobbing them up. That ball came over like a bullet. It had a hop on it too, but Joe gauged it just right. I tell you that boy is a wonder. If he wasn’t a wizard in the box, he’d be a terror at the bat.”
“I wish there were two of him, Robbie,” said the manager, smiling. “One to cover the mound and the other to use as a pinch hitter or play him in the outfield. That would make a combination hard to beat.”
“It was the best day’s work you ever did when you got that lad from St. Louis,” remarked Robson. “I’ll bet the Cardinal’s manager feels like throwing a fit every time he thinks what a fool he was to let him go.”
“Well,” said McRae, “if everybody’s foresight in baseball was as good as his hindsight, there’d be no trading done. I don’t mind saying that I throw out my chest a little for having seen what was in the kid. He’s certainly been the making of the team.”
“One thing is certain; and that is that you wouldn’t have the World’s Championship tucked away if it hadn’t been for his great work in the Series,” rejoined Robson. “He just had those Chicago birds eating out of his hand.”
“Right you are,” admitted McRae. “Here’s hoping he’ll repeat this season.”
“Don’t worry a bit about that,” was Robson’s confident answer. “You can see for yourself that he’s been going great guns in practice. And even at that he hasn’t been letting himself out. He’s taking good care of that old soup-bone of his.”