Page images

Fig. 4.

Thrown Ball Grounder, founding Player, runnir



good first baseman, a fine fielder. He 'll get the of base-ball: the entire game, at times a chamball. I will save my strength.” And ninety-eight pionship even, may depend, though the player times out of a hundred, Saier would have fielded knows it not, on any play he makes. There never the ball cleanly, if once he got his hands on it. was a close-score game played which could not But this happened to be one of the other two have gone the other way had some one single play times. And Evers was right where he belonged, been otherwise accomplished. backing Saier up. He fielded the ball which got Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the by Saier, made the out at second, prevented one making of double plays, those spectacular perand perhaps two scores, and held the runner at formances in which, with the bases full and one third. It is plays of this sort that make Evers out, for instance, a most unfavorable situation is such a famous second baseman !

turned to the advantage of the defending team Now, of course, it is not always possible for by two men being retired at once; or that equally infielders to back each other up on every fielded interesting situation, “two on, none out, and a ball. The balls come too fast, and there are too many other things to do. It would be foolish, indeed, for one player to back up another when he has work of his own to do in covering a base. But there are nine men playing a defensive game, and it is a rare play which engages more than three or four of them at once (outside of a runout between bases), so there is usually some one so entirely out of a play he must either stand and watch or put himself in position where, if anything goes wrong, he will be of some use to his team. Perhaps only once in a hundred times will his effort bear fruit, but he has the satisfaction of knowing that he is playing the game; and the hundredth time, when he manages to pull off the unexpected happening, he will be more than repaid for the effort he has put into his many correct but unproductive "backing-up plays," by the satisfaction of having played the game as well as it could be played.

Outside of the mere mechanical perfection of the fielder's work-his ability to "scoop up” balls, throw from curiously distorted positions, pick up grounders with unerring accuracy, etc., - the

“Tinker to Evers to Chance." This famous double play was beauty of playing any infield position lies in its achieved so often that the phrase in the score has become a byword. head-work; in a knowledge of how to “play the

One reason why it was so uniformly successful, whether started by

Tinker to Evers, or Evers to Tinker, was that both “played the ball ball," and what to do with it after you get it.

--neither let the ball play him! In the diagram, Tinker runs in on the Often the latter knowledge is easier to come by he let the ball“ play him," and remained at the position":4,", both runthan the former. Many a man who has a quick "Tinker ran in on the ball and saved that half-second of time. brain, a fine throwing arm, and a world of ability in handling the ball after he gets it, fails as an batting rally starting," which is nipped at the beinfielder because he lets the "ball play him," in- ginning by a double play that cuts off the two stead of “playing the ball.”

budding runs ! "Playing the ball,” not letting the "ball play “Tinker to Evers to Chance," the lilting little you,” is nothing more than base-ball language for line written in the score so many times when the "going after it." There are times, of course, great Chicago Cubs were winning four pennants when the fielder is lucky if he is able to get hold and three World Championships, was possible, of the ball at all. But there are plenty of other and became famous, for no other reason than times when he has a great choice as to where he 'that Evers and Tinker-as clever a second basewill meet the ball, whether he will play back and man and short-stop as ever played the game-are let the ball come to him on a bound, or run in and both like wildcats in their quickness, both alert, scoop it up before it has a chance to bound more aggressive, and hungry for work, and both pastthan once; and on this decision, occasionally, may masters of the art of “playing the ball.” rest the game! That, too, is one of the beauties Consider the diagram in Fig. 4. Devore is on




Tinker CAS



ball and cuts off two or three bounds.

He saves half a second. Had

first, Snodgrass is at bat. The score is a tie, the But whenever such a phrase appears, some one inning the ninth, one out, and one run wins the has "played the ball” instead of letting it "play game for New York.

Snodgrass hits a swift him.” Had the first man to get an assist in the ground ball which goes leaping and bounding over double play waited for the ball, there would have the turf. The infield has been playing deep, ex- been no double play to tell about. Hence it bepecting a hit-out rather than a bunt. Tinker runs hooves all young infielders who study this dialightly in, but very swiftly, watching the ball, and gram to study also the multitude of plays of which calculating to a nicety just how many times it will it is a type, and learn to judge the bounding ball, bound, where it will bound, and where he will and meet it and play it as soon as it is possible meet it. He knows that the least “wobble" will to do so, never forgetting for an instant that mean a man on second or third, and still only one every second means at least twenty feet for a out. What he wants is, “no one on and-every tearing base-runner; that a quarter of a second one out!"

clipped from the time in which the ball is played So he cuts in on the ball and saves, perhaps, means five feet. half a second. He meets the ball, scoops it up, The time has gone by, and long ago, when an and whirls it over to Evers, who has lost no time outfielder was me

nerely a human ball-basket and getting on second base. The scooped ball is a catapult. Mere ability to catch fly balls, gallop little to Evers's right-hand side; Tinker is an over the turf and turn drives into outs, and then artist. It is n't too hard for Evers to meet with line the ball back to the diamond, even, with a both bare hand and glove at once, it is n't so hard strong throwing arm, to the plate, is not enough. a throw as to make a muff probable, yet it is Nor does adding a batting record of more than swift-for those precious pieces of seconds that:300 to fielding and throwing ability make a player Tinker has saved by “playing the ball” and not into a real outfielder-a Cobb, a Wheat, a Speaker, waiting for it to “play him," must be utilized. a Magee, a Milan, a Clarke, a Lewis, a Schulte. Evers, getting the ball on his right side, has no It takes more than batting, fielding, and throwneed to move his arm far; he steps on the bag, ing to make a real outfielder. It takes a head! turns his body, and the ball flies straight for Look at the records of the great outfielders now Chance's mit, for Chance has covered first with playing the game, and you will see just what a the crack of the bat.

quick brain means in outfielding. Oh, yes, we Twice the umpire waves a thumb over his must start with Cobb! The player who led the shoulder – “Out-out,” he calls, mits are world at the bat, in 1911, and his league, in twocitedly thrown on the ground, the Cubs come to base hits, three-base hits, greatest number of bat and have another chance to win, and “Tinker runs, and most stolen bases, can hardly be mento Evers to Chance” appears in the box score tioned second to any other outfielder! Cobb had under the heading “double play."

the greatest number of put-outs of all outfielders Had Tinker waited at A in the diagram for in the American League last year. Now there the ball to come to him, his half-second would are other outfielders who are just as sure and have been lost, Devore would have slid in under certain judges of fly balls as Cobb-a number his throw to Evers, and Evers's throw might well have higher fielding percentages. But Cobb adds have landed in Chance's mit after Snodgrass had to his speed instant judgment, and a splendid crossed the bag; and then there would have been knowledge of batters; and he got the put-out two on and still but one out, and there would record, regardless of the number of games played, have been no “Tinker to Evers to Chance" in the solely on those things-judgment (head-work) box score !

plus speed. The great Cub machine is not what it once was. Murphy, of Philadelphia, had the greatest numChance, the “Peerless Leader" has had to retire ber of assists: thirty-four for 1911. Incidentally, from active work, head trouble, due to being hit Murphy is captain of the Athletics this year, the by pitched balls, making it impossible for him to veteran Davis being now manager for Cleveland. stand the strain and heat of play. Nevertheless, It may be stated that Connie Mack does n't pick "Tinker to Evers to Saier" appears reasonably the least brainy of his outfielders for his field often in the box score at that. And the Phila- captain ! delphia Athletics, with their stars at short and Milan, of Washington, had thirty-three assists second, are establishing a catch-line of their own. for the year, and was second only to Cobb in the While “Barry to Collins to McInnis' lacks the number of put-outs he had to his credit-347. lilting measure of the older, more famous, line, But Milan's fielding percentage for the year is it is very much to the point-indeed, “Fletcher to the same as that of Cobb, and he was second in Doyle to Merkle” is a frequent score phrase! his league in the number of stolen bases, getting



Fig. 5.

--The Ball
w Player running

Player, walking



[ocr errors]


H* Cobb

G Cabb

[ocr errors]

2o Baseman

Milan, "F"

a total of fifty-eight, to Cobb's eighty-three. grabbed the ball after a bound or so, and turned This comparison is no attempt to make Milan to throw to hold Cobb at second. But he saw that seem a rival of Cobb, star player though he is. Cobb had turned second, already taken a lead, and The figures are given because it shows that the was facing the outfield. Milan knew what was two are not so very far apart when it comes to going to happen. Cobb was going to "sprint" for

third the instant he, Milan, let the ball go.

So he made a bluff throw. That is, he motioned, but did n't throw. Cobb laughed, and danced back a little toward second. His eye is too quick and his intelligence too keen to be fooled like that. So Milan inched in and toward left field a little, and bluffed again, this time toward second base; and Cobb increased his lead. Four times they went through this performance, Cobb seeming to dare Milan to throw to either base, Milan angling in and toward left field, seeming to dare Cobb to sprint. Of course Milan could have thrown to third at any time and thus have made Cobb retreat to second or try to beat the ball.

But Milan did n't want to. He is rightly proud of a throwing arm which has few equals, and while acknowledging Cobb as a great player, he did n't exactly feel that his arm should be made a

mock of in that style! So he held his throw and Cobb was on first, Craw

angled always in and toward left field. You can ford up, who hit a single to left center. Milan, the Wash

see in the diagram how he did it-he started from ington center-fielder, galloped

A with the crack of the bat, went to B and got over and got the ball, Cobb turning second and keeping

the ball, then loafed over to E, and finally to F, a good lead toward third. Milan walked in, and mo

while Cobb, who had come from C to D with the

hit, was increasing his lead toward third, going retreated. a little more, and motioned

to G, and finally to H. advanced in his lead. Finally

And there they stood: the great base-runner al

most half-way to third; a great outfielder trying ing a dash for third, but Cobb had waited too long-Milan

to outguess him. And he did, too! Cobb was a threw, and got his man. The

little too daring with the throwing arm that Milan put-out was credited to the

wields. Cobb suddenly started for third, like a got was an assist-bût it was his put-out, really

shot. But Milan threw, and the ball beat the

runner, and in the midst of a cloud of dust, little BASE-RUNNER, AND MILAN, AS FIELDER.

Kid Elberfeld, at third, was seen jabbing a ball

on the ribs of the famous runner! Cobb went to doing the stunts which require heads as well as the bench, “out," amid the noisiest demonstration feet and arms, and to lend a point to the base-ball from the stands ever heard in Washington, incident illustrated in Fig. 5. This particular in- greater than when a game is won ! cident, moreover, shows one play in which Cobb It was brains that created that contest; brains was both outguessed and outplayed--and those in- which gave Milan thirty-three assists from the cidents, it must be stated, happen but rarely to outfield in a year, and brains in Cobb which dares the wonderful player generally conceded to be so great a chance, and “gets away with it" nine the equal, if not the superior, of any man who times out of ten. If he always got away with it, ever played the game.

he would n't be human! That he does it so often Cobb was on first base, Crawford at bat, one makes him the great player he is. out. It is a bad combination for the team on the And the "fine points" of playing the outfielddefensive. Crawford has a mighty bat, and far beyond the mere mechanical ability to run, mighty arms, and many, many mighty hits are judge flies, catch them in spite of the handicaps stored in both ! The outfielders play deep for of wind and sun, to throw cleanly, accurately, him, usually. This particular day he sent a slash- quickly, and strongly-are found in the brains and ing single to left of center. Milan, center-fielder the wit, the keenness, of those men whose playfor the Washington team, galloped over and ing the outfield positions has made them famous.

tioned to throw to third. Cobb

Milan walked in

to throw to second. Cobb


Milan teased Cobb into mak


third baseman and all Milan



Not only in outguessing the runner, but in outfield. Neither in mechanical ability, in knowknowledge of the batter and the effect of the ledge of the game, or in completeness of knowledge pitch, are outfield brains shown. Cobb's 376 put- of batters, can you really compete with men who outs in 1911 came as much from his deep study of make a business of what to you is play. But you every batter-his knowledge of how they would can try steadily to make of your play something be likely to hit each sort of pitched ball, and besides mere mechanical brilliance-something where it would most likely be hit-as from his besides a mere catching of the ball and returning speed and skill. Study the batters who play it to the base ahead of the runner. In playing against you; study your own pitchers and what the outfield, strive to outguess the runner, and they pitch; learn which man bats an in-curve to get as many assists to your credit as you can; right field and which to left; where he bats out- and even if most of them result merely because curves and straight balls; and then, knowing what the runner tries to stretch a single into a double, is to be pitched, place yourself so that the hit, if a double into a triple, or a triple into a home run, made, will be but a single, and the seemingly safe now and then will come the chance to outguess line drive one of many unexpected and brilliant and outwit the batsman, and then you can feel outfield put-outs. That, too, is playing the game! exultant in the thought that you, too, like Milan

It is not expected that you can emulate all that and Cobb, have played the game with brains and Cobb, or Milan, or Wheat, or Speaker does in the with wit as well as strength and skill.

(To be continued.)

[ocr errors]

By permission of C. W. Faulkner & Co., Ltd., London, E. C., England, owners of the copyright.


[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]


A PROFESSOR, both learned and wise,
Once heaved the profoundest of sighs:

"I am,” confessed he,

"Absolutely at sea On the subject of Gooseberry-Pies!"

NO TALKING SHOP A SCHOOL MA'AM of much reputation In her steamer chair took up her station,

And when asked could she tell

How some word they should spell, She said, “Yes, but not during vacation !"

« PreviousContinue »