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Now go on reading. Do you think you can predict the game results ? Why (not) ?
The colored men ran in from the field happily. Big Poe was first to bat. I cheered. He picked up the bat in one hand like a toothpick and idled over to the plate and laid the bat on his thick shoulder, smiling along its polished surface toward the stands where the colored women sat with their fresh flowery cream dresses stirring over their legs, which hung down between the seat intervals like crisp new sticks of ginger ; their hair was all fancily spun and hung over their ears. Big Poe looked in particular at the little, dainty-as-a-chicken-bone shape of his girl friend Katherine. She was the one who made the beds at the hotel and cottages every morning, who tapped on your door like a bird and politely asked if you was done dreaming, ‘cause if you was she’d clean away all them old nightmares and bring in a fresh batch—please use them one at a time, thank you. Big Poe shook his head, looking at her, as if he couldn’t believe she was there. Then he turned, one hand balancing the bat, his left hand dangling free at his side, to await the trial pitches. They hissed past, spatted into the open mouth of the catcher’s mitt, were hurled back. The umpire grunted. The next pitch was the starter.
Big Poe let the first ball go by him.
“Stee-rike !” announced the umpire. Big Poe winked good-naturedly at the white folks. Bang ! “Stee-rike two !” cried the umpire.
The ball came for the third time.
Big Poe was suddenly a greased machine pivoting ; the dangling hand swept up to the butt end of the bat, the bat swiveled, connected with the ball — Whack ! The ball shot up into the sky, away down toward the wavering line of oak trees, down toward the lake, where a white sailboat slid silently by. The crowd yelled, me loudest ! There went Uncle George, running on his stubby, wool-stockinged legs, getting smaller with distance. Big Poe stood for a moment watching the ball go. Then he began to run. He went around the bases, loping, and on the way home from third base he waved to the colored girls naturally and happily and they waved back, standing on their seats and shrilling. Ten minutes later, with the bases loaded and run after run being driven in, and Big Poe coming to bat again, my mother turned to me. “They’re the most inconsiderate people,” she said.
“But that’s the game,” I said. “They’ve only got two outs.”
“But the score’s seven to nothing,” my mother protested.
“Well, just you wait until our men come to bat,” said the lady next to my mother, waving away a fly with a pale blue-veined hand. “Those Negroes are too big for their britches.”
“Stee-rike two !” said the umpire as Big Poe swung.
“All the past week at the hotel,” said the woman next to my mother, staring out at Big Poe steadily, “the hotel service has been simply terrible. Those maids don’t talk about a thing save the Cakewalk Jamboree, and whenever you want ice water it takes half an hour to fetch it, they’re so busy sewing.”
“Ball one !” said the umpire.
The woman fussed. “I’ll be glad when this week’s over, that’s what I got to say,” she said.
“Ball two !” said the umpire to Big Poe.
“Are they going to walk him ?” asked my mother of me. “Are they crazy ?” To the woman next to her: “That’s right. They been acting funny all week. Last night I had to tell Big Poe twice to put extra butter on my popcorn. I guess he was trying to save money or something.”
“Ball three !” said the umpire.
The lady next to my mother cried out suddenly and fanned herself furiously with her newspaper. “Land, I just thought. Wouldn’t it be awful if they won the game ? They might, you know. They might do it.”
My mother looked at the lake, at the trees, at her hands. “I don’t know why Uncle George had to play. Make a fool of himself. Douglas, you run tell him to quit right now. It’s bad on his heart.”
“You’re out !” cried the umpire to Big Poe.
“Ah,” sighed the grandstand.
The side was retired. Big Poe laid down his bat gently and walked along the base line. The white men pattered in from the field looking red and irritable, with big islands of sweat under their armpits. Big Poe looked over at me. I winked at him. He winked back. Then I knew he wasn’t so dumb. He’d struck out on purpose.
Long Johnson was going to pitch for the colored team. He ambled out to the rubber, worked his fingers around in his fists to limber them up.
First white man to bat was a man named Kodimer, who sold suits in Chicago all year round.
Long Johnson fed them over the plate with tired, unassuming, controlled accuracy. Mr. Kodimer chopped. Mr. Kodimer swatted. Finally Mr. Kodimer bunted the ball down the third-base line.
“Out at first base,” said the umpire, an Irishman named Mahoney.
Second man up was a young Swede named Moberg. He hit a high fly to center field which was taken by a little plump Negro who didn’t look fat because he moved around like a smooth, round glob of mercury.
Third man up was a Milwaukee truck driver. He whammed a line drive to center field. It was good. Except that he tried to stretch it into a two-bagger. When he pulled up at second base, there was Emancipated Smith with a white pellet in his dark, dark hand, waiting.
My mother sank back in her seat, exhaling. “Well, I never !”
“It’s getting hotter,” said the lady elbow-next. “Think I`ll go for a stroll by the lake soon. It’s too hot to sit and watch a silly game today. Mightn’t you come along with me, missus ?” she asked Mother.
It went on that way for five innings.
It was eleven to nothing and Big Poe had struck out three times on purpose, and in the last half of the fifth was when Jimmie Cosner came to bat for our side again. He’d been trying all afternoon, clowning, giving directions, telling everybody just where he was going to blast that pill once he got hold of it. He swaggered up toward the plate now, confident and bugle-voiced. He swung six bats in his thin hands, eying them critically with his shiny green little eyes. He chose one, dropped the others, ran to the plate, chopping out little islands of green fresh lawn with his cleated heels. He pushed his cap back on his dusty red hair. “Watch this !” he called out loud to the ladies. “You watch me show these dark boys ! Ya-hah !”
Long Johnson on the mound did a slow serpentine wind-up. It was like a snake on a limb of a tree, uncoiling, suddenly darting at you. Instantly Johnson’s hand was in front of him, open, like black fangs, empty. And the white pill slashed across the plate with a sound like a razor.
Jimmie Cosner put his bat down and stood glaring at the umpire. He said nothing for a long time. Then he spat deliberately near the catcher’s foot, took up the yellow maple bat again, and swung it so the sun glinted the rim of it in a nervous halo. He twitched and sidled it on his thin-boned shoulder, and his mouth opened and shut over his long nicotined teeth.
Clap ! went the catcher’s mitt.
Cosner turned, stared.
The catcher, like a black magician, his white teeth gleaming, opened up his oily glove. There, like a white flower growing, was the baseball.
“Stee-rike two !” said the umpire, far away in the heat.
Jimmie Cosner laid his bat across the plate and hunched his freckled bands on his hips. “You mean to tell me that was a strike ?”
“That’s what I said,” said the umpire. “Pick up the bat.” “To hit you on the head with,” said Cosner sharply. “Play ball or hit the showers !”
Jimmie Cosner worked his mouth to collect enough saliva to spit, then angrily swallowed it, swore a bitter oath instead. Reaching down, he raised the bat, poised it like a musket on his shoulder. And here came the ball ! It started out small and wound up big in front of him. Powie ! An explosion off the yellow bat. The ball spiraled up and up. Jimmie lit out for first base. The ball paused, as if thinking about gravity up there in the sky. A wave came in on the shore of the lake and fell down. The crowd yelled. Jimmie ran. The ball made its decision, came down.
“I’m safe !” protested Jimmie two minutes later.
Âñå ìàòåðèàëû ïðåäñòàâëåííûå íà ñàéòå èñêëþ÷èòåëüíî ñ öåëüþ îçíàêîìëåíèÿ ÷èòàòåëÿìè è íå ïðåñëåäóþò êîììåð÷åñêèõ öåëåé èëè íàðóøåíèå àâòîðñêèõ ïðàâ. Ñòóäàëë.Îðã (0.008 ñåê.)