Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/545

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513
AMERICA'S NATIONAL GAME

eloquent presentation of the desirability of protection against loss by fire, he allowed me to write his risk in one of my uncle's companies. One night a big fire broke out on Lake Street, and the losses were so heavy that every company for which my uncle had an agency went broke. I heard that a large, two-fisted blacksmith, whose place of business before the conflagration had been on Lake Street, was looking for a tall, young insurance solicitor. During the brief remainder of my sojourn in Chicago I went daily a few blocks out of my way to avoid apologizing for a defunct insurance company, and incidentally to escape a "licking."

After the insurance failures at Chicago, I returned to Rockford and obtained employment as bookkeeeper in the Rockford Register office, also doing similar work for Mr. A. N. Nicholds, agent for the Charter Oak Life Insurance Co., with the understanding that I was to pitch for the Forest Citys. The newspaper soon got into financial troubles and the insurance company failed.

Having now been present as mourner at the obsequies of one retail and one wholesale grocery establishment, several insurance companies and a newspaper, I lost confidence in the ordinary channels of business enterprise and determined in the future to devote my energies professionally to the great American national game.

Therefore, when Harry Wright appeared at Rockford one day in the fall of 1870, with an offer of $2,500 per annum, one-fifth to be paid spot cash, I signed a contract to pitch for the original Boston professional club. The Base Ball history of the five following years is familiar to