Baseball Joe on the School Nine/Chapter 15
A STRANGE DISCOVERY
"Three cheers for Excelsior Hall!" cried Captain Elmer Dalton of the Morningside team. "All ready boys, with a will!"
The cheers were deafening and perhaps they were all the more hearty because it was the winning nine and its supporters who were giving them.
The crowd swarmed over the diamond, players and spectators mingling. Everybody was talking at once, the losing side and their supporters trying to explain how the defeat had come about, and the victors exulting in their victory.
"I don't see what's the matter with you fellows, anyhow," growled Hiram, as he strode over and joined the little group of disconsolate ones who were walking toward the dressing room. "You ought to have beaten 'em."
"And so we would have if they'd given me decent support," broke in Luke. "There were too many changes on the team."
"And I suppose you think I'm responsible for that," retorted Hiram quickly.
"I didn't say so. One thing, though; there's got to be another change."
"That's right," added the manager scowling at the team, but neither he nor Luke intimated where the change ought to be made.
"They're right on that one point," said Peaches, "a big shift is needed, and I can tell 'em one place to make it, if not two."
"Where?" asked Teeter.
"Pitcher for one," replied Peaches quickly, "and catcher for the other. If we had two good men as a battery there would have been a different story to-day."
"What's that?" quickly demanded Hiram, turning around, for Peaches had unconsciously spoken louder than he intended.
"I said I agreed with you," spoke the lad diplomatically, "that if we'd had some changes the result would have been different to-day," but he did not mention the changes.
"Well, it's all over," remarked Joe to Tom, as they descended from the grandstand. "Let's get back home. Jove! But it's too bad to start the season with a defeat."
"Somebody had to lose," replied Tom philosophically. "We couldn't both win, and I didn't expect it would turn out much different when I heard the talk on the way to the game. But it will teach Luke and Hiram a lesson."
"If they want to learn it—yes."
"Oh, don't worry. They'll be only too anxious, after to-day. But I notice some of the Trinity Hall and Lakeview Prep, players here. Getting a line on us, I guess."
"Shouldn't wonder. We play Trinity next week."
"Well, we ought to win that game. Hurry up, Joe, and we can get the next trolley back. No autos for us."
As the two chums hurried across the diamond they found themselves in the midst of a crowd of Morningside players and students. At the sight of one lad In the uniform of Mornlngslde, a uniform not soiled by the dust and grime of the diamond, Tom plucked Joe by the sleeve.
"For the love of Mike, look there!" exclaimed the former first baseman of the Silver Stars.
"Where?" asked Joe, and Tom pointed to the player in the spick and span new uniform.
"Sam Morton!" gasped Joe, as he recognized his former rival on the Stars and his sometime enemy. "Sam Morton! What's he doing here?"
"Looks as if he was on the nine," replied Tom. "He's in one of the Morningside uniforms, but he didn't take part in the game."
"Sam Morton here!" went on Joe, wonderingly. "It doesn't seem possible. I wonder why we didn't hear something about it? It sure is he, and yet—"
"Wait, I'll ask some one," volunteered Tom, and tapping on the shoulder a Morningside player near him, he asked: "Is he one of your nine?" Tom pointed to Sam Morton, who had not yet observed our heroes.
"What? Oh, yes; he's a newcomer here I believe, but he had quite a reputation, so Captain Dalton put him on as substitute pitcher."
"Substitute pitcher!" gasped Joe.
"Yes, he's rather good I believe. He hasn't had much practice with us as yet or we'd have played him part of the time against you fellows to-day. Why, do you know him?"
"Yes. He used to be on the same town team with me," replied Joe.
"He'll probably play next week," went on the Morningside lad, "and when we meet you fellows again he'll probably do what Ted Clay did to-day," and he grinned cheerfully—there is nothing like a cheerful enemy.
"Sam Morton here," murmured Joe, as if unable to believe it, while his old enemy strode on without having seen him, and the Morningside lad, who had given them the information swung about on his way to the dressing rooms.
"Say, that's going some!" exclaimed Joe, as he and Tom walked on. "Fancy meeting Sam Morton here. I didn't hear that he was going to boarding school."
"Neither did L He must have made up his mind lately. Probably he began right after the Easter vacation. I didn't spot him at the time of the banner parade.
"Me, either. But there was such a mob of fellows that it was hard to find anyone. But if he's here and he makes good, and pitches in some of the games, and if——"
"If you get the chance to pitch for the school nine, you and Sam may fight your old battles over again," finished Tom.
"That's right," agreed Joe.
It was a discouraged, disgruntled and altogether unhappy crowd of lads that returned to Excelsior Hall late that afternoon. Despondency perched like a bird of ill-omen on the big flagstaff; and a celebration that some of the lads had arranged for, in case of a victory, did not come off.
Tom and Joe were seated in their room, talking over various matters, including the game of the day, when there came the usual signal on their door, indicating that a friend stood without.
"That's Teeter," predicted Tom.
"Peaches," was Joe's guess, but when he swung open the portal both lads stood there. On their faces were looks ofexcitement.
"What's up?" demanded Joe.
"Lots. Special meeting of the athletic committee called. In the gym. Come on!" panted Peaches.
"We're going to protest against the way Hiram manages the team!" added Teeter.
"Come on!" urged Peaches, recovering his breath. "We want you with us. There's a lot of feeling against Hiram and Luke. They practically lost the game for us to-day. The revolt is spreading. It's a chance for you, Joe. Come on."
"There's going to be a hot time!" predicted Teeter. "We have permission to hold a meeting. All the fellows are coming. Get a move on."
Joe and Tom grabbed up their caps and hurried after their chums, Joe with a wildly-beating heart. Had his chance come?