Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/325

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To me was delegated the task of approaching the enemy with a view of making a capture. I was given a carte blanche in the matter, with instructions to pay the price necessary to produce the result. I didn't fancy the job a little bit. The enterprise was not at all to my liking. I tried to beg off; but it was no use. It was urged with force that I had been a player, knew all the boys, and could gain a hearing where no one else could, and that hopes of success would be greater with me than with any other.

So I reluctantly consented, and determined to go after big game. I sent a note to Mike Kelly, the "King,"—then at the zenith of his popular career—whose sale I had manipulated at Chicago, to whom I could talk unreservedly, and whose defection from the ranks of the enemy would cause greater consternation than that of any other, I thought. I invited Kelly to meet me at my hotel. He came. We passed the usual conventional civilities, talked about health, the weather and kindred exciting topics, until at length I opened the ball with the question.

"How are things going with the game, Mike?"

"Oh, the game's gone to —————."

"What? You don't mean to say that the managers are getting discouraged?"

"Aw, ————— the managers!"

"Why, what's the matter?" incredulously.

"Everything's the matter; everybody's disgusted; clubs all losing money; we made a ————— foolish blunder when we went into it."

I thought the time was ripe. Placing a check for