Baseball Joe on the School Nine/Chapter 9

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"The meeting will come to order!" called Hiram. "I'll cuff some of you fellows over the head if you don't sit down."

It was rather an unparliamentary way of doing things, but it proved effective, and at length quiet reigned. As Peaches had said, Hiram began by stating what they were there for, and by announcing that the make-up of the nine was in order.

Some unimportant business was disposed of, there were remarks from several lads about what the season might have in store, there were many determinations expressed about how well the Excelsior team would play that season, and then Hiram said:

"Nominations for the team are in order. Of course we expect that there will be a lot more fellows named than we can use, but there'll probably be a weeding-out when we get at practice. The team named to-night will only be a tentative one.

"Like pie!" murmured Tom. "You and Luke have it all up your sleeves."

"Has the nominating committee anything to report?" asked Hiram, looking over at Luke. His crony arose. Luke was chairman of the nominating committee, as well as chairman of the committee on membership.

"Your committee would recommend the following names," said Luke, and then he read off most of those named by Peaches to Tom. He did not call off his own name, however, and there was a blank opposite the positions of pitcher and left field.

"Say, what's the matter, don't I play?" demanded Peaches, jumping up.

"Oh, yes," answered Luke quickly. "But we haven't just decided where. I'm going to leave that with Hiram, and also the position for left field."

"Well, I'll settle it right now!" exclaimed the manager. "You'll play left field, Peaches, and Charlie Borden will move up from there to first base."

"What did I tell you? " murmured Peaches to Tom. "What about the stunt you were going to pull off?"

"It isn't time yet. See the gang I have with me?" and Tom motioned to a lot of lads in the rear of the hall.

"What is it—a rough house?" asked Peaches, and then he noticed for the first time that the athletic meeting was much better attended than usual.

"Those are new members," declared Tom in a whisper. "I'm counting on turning the balance of power away from Hiram and the crowd with him. I've been canvassing the last week, and I've got a lot of fellows to join who never took an interest in sports before."

"Oh, ho! So that's your game!" exclaimed Peaches. "Well, it's a good one all right."

"They'll all vote for Joe for pitcher," went on Tom.

"I notice that there are still two vacancies in the team," spoke Jake Weston, who had been named as shortstop. "We had such success with Luke as catcher last year, that I move that he again go behind the bat."

"Second it," sung out Harry Lauter.

"It has been moved and seconded," began Hiram, and there came a shout of "ayes" before he had finished.

"That's the way it always is," whispered Peaches. "Luke pretends he's too modest to name himself, and some one else does it for him. Oh, the cut-and-dried program is going through all right!"

"Wait and see," suggested Tom with a wink.

"Are the selections of the nominating committee sanctioned?" asked Hiram.

Again came a chorus of "ayes."

"What about the pitcher?" asked Luke. "Will you name him, Hiram?"

"Yes!" said the manager and he looked about the room until his eyes lit on those of Joe. "I'll name Frank Brown as regular pitcher with Larry Akers as substitute."

Again came the chorus of confirmation.

"Just as I told you," murmured Peaches.

Tom was on his feet as the murmurs died away. Hiram was speaking.

"That completes the regular nine," the manager said, "and it only remains to name the substitutes. I think we will let them go until you fellows have had some practice, so we can get a line on you. There's time enough. We'll begin regular practice next week, if the weather permits, and then I'll arrange for games. I have some in prospect, and the Blue Banner—"

"Mr. Chairman!" interrupted Tom.

"Well, what is it?" snapped Hiram. "I'm talking, and I don't want anyone to butt in."

"I rise to a point of order," went on Tom, in a loud voice. "The nominations have not been closed, and I want to put in nomination the name of a friend, who is one of the best pitchers that ever—"

"None of that!" cried Hiram. "Get down to business. I'll allow your point of order. Who do you name?"

"Joe Matson!" cried Tom, "and—"

"You can't elect him, what's the use of trying?" sneered Luke.

"Maybe I can't, with your crowd, but I came here to-night with some friends of mine, new members of the athletic committee, and they'll vote for Joe, and I think we can outvote you!" cried Tom defiantly.

"That's right!" yelled the lads toward whom he waved his hand. "Joe Matson for pitcher."

Luke turned pale. So did Hiram as they looked at each other. This was something they had not counted on—an effective trick.

"For myself and for these new members I demand a vote on the name of Joe Matson!" went on Tom, ignoring Joe's efforts to stop him.

"That's right—we're for Joe!" yelled the new crowd. There were many of them, and with the usual element always ready to break away from him, Hiram knew that he would lose on the combination.

"One moment!" he shouted, banging his gavel. Then he hurried over to Luke and the two conferred excitedly, while there was a near-pandemonium in the gymnasium.

"I have an announcement to make!" shouted Hiram after a bit, making his way back to the platform. "It is true that you have the right to nominate any one you please—that is, a member of the athletic committee has, and members have the right to vote as they please. But I have to inform this audience that Sister Davis is not yet a fully-qualified member of this committee. That is not just yet." Hiram sneered disagreeably.

"Why not? I signed my application, was properly endorsed, and paid in my dues!" cried Tom. "And so did these other fellows."

"That's right," shouted his crowd in a chorus.

"Very true," went on Hiram coolly. He was master of the situation now, and he knew it.

"But there is a rule of this organization, which states that at the discretion of the chairman, and the manager and captain of the team, or any two of them, new members may be taken on probation for three months, and during that term of probation they have no voting power, so you see—"

"That's an old rule!"

"It's never been enforced!"

"It's rotten!"

"That's only a trick!"

These were some of the cries that greeted the announcement Hiram made.

"It may never have been enforced, but it's going to be now!" he shouted. "It was made to cover just such snap cases as this. You tried to work a trick, Tom Davis, but you got left. You and those other lads can't vote for three months, and so the team stands as originally named."

"But we have no captain—your rule won't work. You said the manager, chairman and captain could appply that rule. Who is the captain?" demanded Tom, as he saw his game blocked.

"Luke Fodick is captain of this nine; isn't he?" shouted Hiram, closing the last loophole.

"Aye!" yelled the bully's crowd.

"No!" yelled Tom's.

"The ayes have it," announced the chairman, "and Luke and I agreed on enforcing that rule at this time. Besides, I am acting as chairman in place of Henry Clay, who isn't present, and I have his voting proxy, so Henry and I also agree on it, if you question the election of Luke."

"That ends it," murmured Peaches in Tom's ear. "Henry Clay never does preside as chairman. He's only a figurehead for Hiram, and that's well known. Hiram always votes for him. I guess you're beaten Tom."

"I'm afraid so. I wish I'd known about that rule."

"I'd forgotten it myself," admitted Peaches. "It's rotten, but you can't do anything unless you outvote Hiram."

The bully was smiling mockingly at Tom and Joe. The young pitcher felt rather foolish, but he gave Tom credit for originating a bold move and one that, under ordinary circumstances, would have been effective.

"You may renew your nomination in three months, if you like. Sister Davis," spoke Hiram sarcastically "as you and the others will then be voting members. I believe that is about all the business to come before us to-night." And he announced the adjournment of the meeting.