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Catcher gets ball from pitcher and throws toward second. Runner on third, seeing ball thrown apparently to second, and second baseman running to cover the bag, starts home. Short-stop runs in, snatches the ball on the “short throw '' long before it gets to second, and returns it to catcher at plate, who blocks runner and touches him out. While runner has time to score from third if ball really goes to second, he has not time if the throw is shortened. But the problem has complications when the runner on first steals second very slowly—since the temptation is then to play for him, and the man on third won't try to score while the delayed steal is being tried until he sees the play is being made for the runner from first.
yesterday, in earactly the same circumstances? They don't play base-ball—they just stand round and fool with the ball,” exclaims a spectator. But let us look at our score book. Yesterday there was a man on third in the fifth inning, with only one out. The score was a tie. The infield played way in, expecting a bunt. If the bunt got to any one's hands in time, the play would be at the plate, and the run cut off. If the batter hit it out and it went through the fielders, the run would score. But the run would score on a hit, no matter where the infield played. And if they played for a hit, of course there would be a bunt. So they had to play in for the bunt (Fig. 6). But, to-day, the inning is the ninth, there is one out, a man on third, and the score five to one in favor of the team in the field. They don't play in, because they intend to let the man on third score, if, by so doing, they can get a good chance at the man going to first. What do they care whether the final score is five to one or five to four, so long as it is five to something in their
favor? Whereas, if they play in and don't field that bunt home in time, there will be a run in and still only one out, and so much more chance to prolong the game. And when you are ahead, it is a base-ball rule that the quicker the game ends, the better it is for you ! The spectators forget, but the players don't forget, that there is always a chance of a hard throw home being fumbled, of the man sliding through or around the catcher, or the ball being dropped by the catcher in the mêlée at the plate. But the play to first base involves none of these risks—if the ball gets there first, that 's all there is to it. While strategic plays are often arranged by managers or captains, and result in plays involving half the infield, more often the strategic point which wins a game or cuts off a run is the result of some one individual's quick thinking or quick acting. An instance which illustrates the point came in the fourth inning of the first game in the last World's Championship Series; and as the score was two to one in favor of New York, it can fairly be said to have saved the day. Snodgrass received a base on balls—a welcome gift, as the hitting done against Bender that day was very light indeed. Murray sacrificed Snodgrass along, being retired at first, Collins to Davis. Merkle, crazy for a hit which would bring Snodgrass home, was over-anxious, and Bender struck him out, amid a demonstration of cheers from the crowded stands. Then Herzog was up, and he “came across” with a stinging grounder to Collins. Snodgrass raced for third as the ball was hit. Collins, ordinarily a sure fielder of grounders, fumbled; either the ball was too hard hit to handle, or he was over-nervous. Devlin, coaching at third, took a chance, and showed that his wise old base-ball head had learned much of strategy in its many years of guiding a crack player's body. He sent Snodgrass home ! It was a chance, of course, and many a coacher would have hesitated to take it. But Devlin saw a mental picture and acted on it. He acted in the wink of an eye; yet what must have raced through his brain was this: “A fumble—rather short throw— ought to be accurate to catch Snodgrass—but Snodgrass has a flying start—is still running— Collins won't expect him to go home—will straighten up with the ball—then, suddenly seeing Snodgrass still going, he will throw—maybe a wild throw—Go it, old boy!” and his waving arms also told Snodgrass to scoot for home. The runner, of course, had no idea where the ball was, but the stands' uproar and a downward wave of Devlin's arm as he passed, told him the play would be close. So he slid at the plate—and slid safely, for Collins did exactly as Devlin had figured he would be apt to do—he sent home a throw which, though a fine one considering his position and the haste with which it was made, was yet anything but perfect, and by the time the ball was caught off to one side of the plate, Snodgrass was home ! That was Devlin's run, if Snodgrass did make it, and it showed a baseball strategic mind of a high order to think all that out and send the runner home in the tiny fraction of a second in which it had to be accomplished. McGraw, king of strategists, says that basestealing is “the gentle art of taking first a lead, and then a chance.” Strategy then can surely be called “risking the opportunity" Not to be outdone, Myers, the great Giant catcher, showed his head-work as on a par with his arm. Ordinarily a man, when on first, does not steal second from a hit which has opened an inning. The chances are too good for a pass
A man on third, one out, fifth inning, score a tie. The run at the plate must be cut off if possible. If a hit results, or a hard-hit ball which could be fielded to first (but not to home), the run scores anyhow. If they play back for a ball like this, a bunt is sure. So they play in for a bunt, the first baseman fields it, and the run is cut off.
But in the ninth inning and the fielding side far ahead, with one out, they play back, knowing that they can run in for a bunt in time to get the man at first, which will prevent the long continuance of the game, even if the runner on third scores, and sure they can also field the hardhit ball to first.
may result in a fumble, thus giving two men a base instead of one. But Myers figured it all out that with the score a tie in the sixth inning, Collins would try to steal. Baker followed Collins, and Collins knew that if he was on second
and Baker could hit a single, the game would be won right there. Whereas, if he stayed on first and Baker singled, he might be held on second or third, and Murphy, who followed, had been helpless before Mathewson. So Myers watched his chance, and signaled to Mathewson for a “pitch-out” as Collins started for second; and Collins was easily retired with an accurate throw, as in Fig. 4, and the Athletics were never dangerous again. Later, the Giants batted out a clean run, and won the game strictly on their merits, for while Collins's fumble gave them their first run, it was Devlin's brains and judgment which made it possible, and it was Myers who cut off Collins from the chance of a score. True, Baker did not follow with a hit, but with Collins on second, there is no telling what he might have done. Indeed, later in the series, he demonstrated with two home runs and seven other hits, what he could do Before the “infield fly” rule was decreed, double plays in which runners had no chance at all, were occasionally made. With first base and second base occupied, for instance, the batter would send a little fly toward second base. The short-stop would let it fall—“trap it,” in other words—thus making it a hit. The two men on the bases would then have to advance. Shortstop would pick up the ball, touch the man running from second to third (who had not dared to start until he saw whether the ball was caught or not), then toss the ball to second, thus retiring the runner from first by a force-out, and perhaps there might still be even a chance to get the runner coming down to first, by a quick throw. If so, it would complete a triple play. Now, however, with less than two out and first and second occupied, the umpire calls “infield fly” as soon as such a ball is hit, and the batter is automatically out, whether the ball be caught or
Nevertheless, a play on the “trap” order is not quite extinct, though managed in another way. A splendid example of it occurred in a game between Chicago and New York, in 1908, which finally ended two to one in favor of Chicago. With New York runners on second and third, and no one out in the seventh, things looked blue for Chicago. They looked worse when Seymour hit a high, short fly to right—a “Texas Leaguer.” For Evers stood still ; he made no move for the ball. Chance was too far off to field it. The man on third, seeing this, scuttled for home, and the man on second hurried for third, while Seymour tore down to first. But Evers was taking a chance. Once the runners were started, he made a wild dash, just managed to reach the ball,
“HOME GROUNDS '' OF THE
BROOKLYN CLUB, NATIONAL LEAGUE.
caught and clung to it; then, with the peculiar throw which he seems able to manage from any position, no matter how contorted he may be, he threw to the plate. Every runner immediately scuttled back to base ! And Kling, seeing this, ran in on the throw, caught it, and doubled the runner at second base—and there were two out and no score ? That ended that rally | Note that Evers did not try to double Seymour at first— he first cut off the run—then let Kling and Tinker do the double ! Had Evers done as he could well
have done, trotted back and caught the little fly with ease, there would have been no attempt to run by any one; and there would have been but one out. But he tricked the runners into thinking the ball would fall safe—that he had lost its direction in the sun–and so he got a double play and no score. And that is another of the plays which Evers thinks up and displays on the instant—another evidence of the lightning-quick brain which so well directs the lightning-quick body. Thus skill plus strategy makes the star !
had burned their fingers, and there was not even a stray cap to be found on the lawn which had not been exploded in the toy pistols. The lemonade had been consumed, and the ice-cream, except the one dish apiece which Mother was saving until after the evening fireworks. Father always let them have a few rockets, candles, pinwheels, and red fire, but this year they had treble the quantity, due to Uncle Jack's generosity, for he was spending his summer vacation with them, and declared that he wanted “a real patriotic Fourth.” Would the sun never go down, the younger children wondered, while the older boys lounged about on the veranda, trying, with the superiority of their years, to enter into the conversation of their elders; but nevertheless they were as anxious as the youngsters to begin the fun. Presently Uncle Jack came to the rescue, saying: “Suppose I tell you a Fourth of July story; something that happened to me
when I was a lad about your size, Ned.” "Hurrah! Uncle Jack is going to tell us a story ! Here, don't push so, you fellows; you need n't think you can have the whole step 1"
“One day a chum of mine, Hal Wilson, and I decided to go fishing, so, with poles over our shoulders and a bait-can in our hands, we were soon on our way. A new pier had been recently built by the government, and, as it was longer than the others, we decided to try our luck off the end of it. We sat just beneath a new sixteeninch-bore gun which overlooked the harbor, and cast in our hooks for bass, bluefish, or anything else that came our way. “The fishing was good enough, but the trouble was with the catching ! We had caught only a few small ones and were dangling our lines in a listless sort of way, when I was startled to hear a gruff voice just behind me. I looked up and saw a couple of men. By his hat I knew one of them was a soldier, though, by the way he stood, a cloak hid his uniforn. They were both chunky fellows. One had a dark beard and smoked a big black cigar. The other was just the same build, but his hair and mustache were somewhat gray. As we lived so near the fort, I was accustomed to seeing soldiers, and should have paid no further attention to these men, had it not been for what they said and did to me. “‘Hello, sonny" said the man who was not smoking. ‘How 'd you like to have me put you in the cannon and shoot you out 2' “‘I should n't like it, sir, for it would probably kill me,” I answered. “Then I saw him wink at the other man, the one with the cigar, and, without further warning, he grabbed me, picked me up, and made as if to squeeze me into the mouth of that cannon, head first “Oh, you would n't have laughed, boys, if you had been in my place, for I was about the scaredest lad you ever saw, except Hal. He was so scared he took to his heels as soon as he saw the man pick me up. “I struggled and kicked and yelled, certain sure that they were going to put me into the cannon's mouth, head and shoulders, in spite of all my squirming. This tussle did not last more than a few seconds, but it seemed almost hours before they stood me on my feet once more. I grabbed my precious string of fish and started to follow Hal's example, when each of the men drew a dime from his pocket and, handing them to me, smilingly assured me that I was not in the least harmed and had no cause for fear. “I accepted their dimes, but, still fearing they might wish to repeat their performance, I started to skedaddle along the pier toward shore. “I had gone only a short distance when I was stopped by another military man. He was tall and slim, and had a sad face. Evidently he had seen my late adventure, for he said to me: “‘My boy, don't you know who that man is who spoke to you—the man with the cigar?'
“Again I confessed my ignorance, and he replied: “‘Why that is General Phil Sheridan' “I was pretty well overawed at hearing all this, but still had courage to say: “‘And who are you, sir? “I remember the sad-looking face relaxed into a smile, as he answered: “‘Oh, I am General Sherman. The three of us have been inspecting these new guns and are now waiting down here at the pier for the cutter which is to take us to Jersey City. There it comes now, so good-by, my lad!' “I ran home as fast as I could to tell my wonderful story to my mother and to show her my dimes. And if you will turn on the electric light,” concluded Uncle Jack, “I will let you see them, too, for I have carried them ever since; only we must hurry, for here comes your father with the biggest bundle of fireworks I ever saw "