Lefty Locke Pitcher-Manager - Burt L. Standish - ebook

Lefty Locke Pitcher-Manager ebook

burt l standish

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Burt L. Standish wrote another excellent sports history. Lefty is a pitcher in the baseball team. The dream of every coach. His dedication in the game hit every fan in the stands. However, things are not so simple, baseball is not just a sports game. Each opponent wants to knock out the best player from game.

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Liczba stron: 310

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Contents

CHAPTER I. AN UNEXPECTED OFFER

CHAPTER II. SOMETHING QUEER

CHAPTER III. THE FEDERAL POLICY

CHAPTER IV. THE MAGNETIZED BALL

CHAPTER V. A MAN OF MYSTERY

CHAPTER VI. PECULIAR BEHAVIOR

CHAPTER VII. THE TEST

CHAPTER VIII. AT NECESSITY’S DEMAND

CHAPTER IX. TORTURING DOUBT

CHAPTER X. THE ONLY DOOR

CHAPTER XI. BURNING SPEED

CHAPTER XII. TOO MUCH TEMPTATION

CHAPTER XIII. THE PERPLEXING QUESTION

CHAPTER XIV. ONLY ONE WAY

CHAPTER XV. SIGNING THE MANAGER

CHAPTER XVI. THE WRONG STOOL PIGEON

CHAPTER XVII. GETTING INTO ACTION

CHAPTER XVIII. THE FIRST DEAL

CHAPTER XIX. A FLEETING GLIMPSE

CHAPTER XX. A RIDDLE TO SOLVE

CHAPTER XXI. THE MAN AHEAD

CHAPTER XXII. A DOUBTFUL VICTORY

CHAPTER XXIII. ALL WRONG

CHAPTER XXIV. WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS

CHAPTER XXV. HIDDEN TRACKS

CHAPTER XXVI. NOT MUCH SHOW

CHAPTER XXVII. THE SUSPENDED AX

CHAPTER XXVIII. THE GAGE OF WAR

CHAPTER XXIX. THE JAWS OF THE TRAP

CHAPTER XXX. ONE AGAINST THREE

CHAPTER XXXI. LIGHT ON A DARK SPOT

CHAPTER XXXII. ONE CHANCE

CHAPTER XXXIII. ONE IN A MILLION

CHAPTER XXXIV. WEEGMAN’S PROPOSAL

CHAPTER XXXV. THE SHATTERING STROKE

CHAPTER XXXVI. THE TEST OF MYSTERIOUS JONES

CHAPTER XXXVII. THE RETURN OF LEFTY

CHAPTER I. AN UNEXPECTED OFFER

Lefty Locke gave the man a look of surprise. The soft, bright moonlight was shining full on Weegman’s face, and he was chuckling. He was always chuckling or laughing outright, and Locke had grown tired of it. It was monotonous.

“What do you mean?” the pitcher asked. “Tinware for Kennedy! I don’t believe I get you.”

Weegman snapped his fingers; another little trick that was becoming monotonous and irritating. “That’s poor slang perhaps,” he admitted; “but you’ve been in the game long enough to understand it. Collier is going to tie the can to old Jack.”

Lefty moved his chair round on the little vine-covered porch in order to face his visitor squarely. Frogs were chorusing in the distance, and the dynamo in the electric power house on the edge of the town kept up its constant nocturnal droning.

“I could scarcely believe you meant just that,” said the star slabman of the Blue Stockings soberly. “Being Charles Collier’s private secretary, and therefore to a large extent aware of his plans, I presume you know what you’re talking about.”

“You can bet on it,” laughed Weegman, leaning back and puffing at his cigar. “I’m the man Collier left to carry out his orders regarding the team. I have full instructions and authority.”

“But I’m sure Kennedy has no inkling of this. I correspond with him regularly, and I know he expected a new contract to sign before Mr. Collier went abroad. He wrote me that the contract was to be mailed him from New York, but that he supposed Collier, being a sick man, forgot it at the last moment.”

Weegman took the cigar from his mouth, and leaned forward on the arm of his chair. “A new manager of the right sort is hard to find,” he stated confidentially, “and Collier wasn’t ready to let go all holds until he had some one else in view at least.”

Locke uttered a smothered exclamation of incredulity. “Do you mean to tell me that Charles Collier was handing old Jack Kennedy a deal as deceitfully crooked as that?” he cried. “I can’t believe it. Kennedy has been a faithful and loyal manager. Three years ago, when Collier secured the controlling interest in the club, his bad judgment led him to drop Kennedy and fill his place with Al Carson. You know what happened. Carson made a mess of it, and old Jack was called back at the last moment to save the day. He did it and won the championship for the Blue Stockings by a single game. Since then–”

“Come now!” chuckled Weegman, snapping his fingers again. “You know you were the man who really won that championship by your air-tight pitching. Why do you want to give somebody else the credit? Kennedy merely went in as a pinch hitter–”

“And pounded the only run of the game across the rubber. No matter how air-tight a pitcher’s work may be, to win games the team behind him has got to hit. Kennedy was there with the goods.”

“That’s ancient history now. What has he done since then? As a player, he’s a has-been. He’s lost his eyes so that he can’t even bat in the pinches now. His sun has set, and he may as well retire to his farm and settle down for old age.”

“He hasn’t lost his brains,” asserted Locke warmly. “Playing or pinch hitting is a small part of a manager’s business. Once since then he’s copped the bunting for us, and last year it was hard luck and injury to players that dropped us into third position.”

“I don’t blame you,” said Weegman good naturedly. “You ought to stand up for him. It shows the right spirit. He gave you your chance–practically plucked you from the brambles. But,” he supplemented disparagingly, “he was desperately hard up for twirlers that season. You were sort of a lucky guess on his part. Save for the fact that he’s never been able to win a world’s championship, old Jack’s been picking four-leaf clovers all his life. He’s too soft and easy-going for a manager; not enough drive to him.”

It was Lefty Locke’s turn to laugh, but his merriment held more than a touch of irony. “Jack Kennedy has won pennants or kept in the first division, at least, with teams that would have been fighting for the subcellar under any other manager. When meddlers have not interfered he’s always been able to get the last ounce of baseball out of every man under him. While he has handled it the club has always been a big paying proposition. What he has done has been nothing short of miraculous considering the niggardly policy forced upon him by those in power. It’s the lowest-salaried team in the league. We have men getting twenty-five hundred or three thousand who should be drawing down twice as much, and would be with any other winning Big League club. Only a man with Kennedy’s magnetism and tact could have kept them going at high pressure, could have kept them from being dissatisfied and lying down. What they’ve accomplished has been done for him, not for the owners. And now you tell me he’s to be canned. There’s gratitude!”

“My dear man,” chirruped Weegman, “baseball is business, and gratitude never goes far in business. Granting what you say may have been true in the past, it’s plain enough that the old man’s beginning to lose his grip. He fell down last season, and now that the Feds are butting in and making trouble, he’s showing himself even more incompetent. Talk about gratitude; it didn’t hold Grist or Orth, and now it’s reported that Dillon is negotiating with the outlaws. You know what that means; our pitching staff is all shot to pieces. If the players were so true to Kennedy, why didn’t they wait for their contracts?”

“How could Jack send them contracts when he hasn’t one himself? If he had the authority now, perhaps he could save Dillon for us even yet. Billy Orth is hot-headed and impulsive, and he thought he wasn’t given a square deal. As for Grist, old Pete’s days are numbered, and he knows it. He was wise to the talk about asking waivers on him. It was a ten-to-one shot he’d have been sent to the minors this coming season. With the Federals offering him a three-year contract at nearly twice as much as he ever received, he’d have been a fool to turn it down. All the same, he had a talk with Kennedy before he signed. Jack couldn’t guarantee him anything, so he jumped.”

“That’s it!” exclaimed Weegman triumphantly. “There’s a sample of Kennedy’s incompetence right there. He should have baited Grist along, and kept him away from the Feds until the season was well under way, when they would have had their teams made up, and probably wouldn’t have wanted Pete. Then, if he didn’t come up to form, he could be let out to the minors.”

Lefty’s face being in the shadow, the other man did not see the expression of contempt that passed over it. For a few minutes the southpaw was too indignant to reply. When he did, however, his voice was level and calm, though a trifle hard.

“So that would have been your way of doing it! Grist has had hard luck with all his investments; I understand he’s saved very little. He’s a poor man.”

Weegman lolled back again, puffing at his cigar. “That’s his lookout. Anyway, he’s not much loss. But these confounded Feds aren’t through; they’re after Dirk Nelson, too. What d’ye know about that! Our best catcher! They seem to be trying to strip our whole team.”

“Knowing something about the salaries our players get, probably they figure it should be easy stripping.”

Suddenly the visitor leaned forward again, and gazed hard at Locke. He was not laughing now. “Have they been after you?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“I thought likely. Made you a big offer?”

“Yes.”

“What have you done?”

“Nothing.”

“Good!” exclaimed Weegman. “It’s a good thing for you that you kept your head. They’re outside organized ball, and any man who jumps to them will be blacklisted. All this talk about the money they have behind them is pure bluff.”

“Think so?”

“I know it. They’re plunging like lunatics, and they’ll blow up before the season’s over. They haven’t got the coin.”

“Then how does it happen they are signing players for three years, and handing over certified checks in advance for the first year, besides guaranteeing salaries by bank deposits for the full tenure of contracts?”

“Oh, they’ve got some money, of course,” admitted Weegman lightly; “but, as I say, they’re spending it like drunken sailors. When the Feds explode, the fools who have jumped to them will find themselves barred from organized ball for all time; they’ll be down and out. The outlaws may hurt us a little this year, but after that–nothing doing. Just the same, I own up we’ve got to put a check on ’em before they rip the Blue Stockings wide open. That’s what brings me down here to Fernandon to see you.”

“Really!” said Lefty interestedly. “You seem to be shouldering a lot of responsibility.”

“I am,” chuckled Charles Collier’s private secretary. “It was all arranged with Mr. Collier before he sailed. He left me with proper authority. I am to sign up the manager for the team.”

“Is that right?” exclaimed Locke, surprised. “Then, according to your own statement, if you want to save the Blue Stockings from being riddled, you’d better be about it.”

“I am,” said Weegman. “That’s why I’ve come to you.”

“For advice?”

“Oh, no!” He laughed heartily. “I don’t need that. I know what I’m about. I’ve brought a contract. I want you to put your name to it. Your salary will be advanced fifteen hundred dollars.”

“The Feds offered to double it. As a pitcher–”

“You’re not getting this extra money on account of your pitching,” interposed Weegman promptly. “I’m offering you the increase of salary to assume the additional duties of manager.”

CHAPTER II. SOMETHING QUEER

The expression of amazement that leaped into the eyes of Lefty Locke was masked by a shadow. He stiffened, and sat bolt upright, speechless.

Bailey Weegman, having stated the business that had unexpectedly brought him down from the North to the Florida town where the great left-hander of the Blue Stockings was spending the winter with his wife, once more settled back, taking a long, satisfied pull at the stump of his fragrant Havana. He was chuckling beneath his breath. A gentle breeze crept into the leaves of the vine-covered porch and set them whispering like gossips. The dynamo droned drowsily in the distance.

Presently Lefty found his voice. “What’s the joke?” he asked a trifle harshly.

“No joke,” assured the jovial visitor. “I’m not given to joking. I’m a man of business.”

“But it’s preposterous! A pitcher for manager!”

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