Sample P24 from Samuel Elkin, "The Ball Player," Nugget, 6: 5 (October, 1961) 25-26, 31. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,004 words 642 (32.0%) quotesP24

Used by permission of Nugget. 0010-1830

Samuel Elkin, "The Ball Player," Nugget, 6: 5 (October, 1961) 25-26, 31.

Typographical Errors: quitely [for quietly] [0560]want [for wants] [1510]

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There was a crowd in the stands for a change and the sun was hot . The new Riverside pitcher turned out to have an overhand fast ball that took a hop . For a few innings the Anniston team couldn't figure him out . Then , in the fifth , Anniston's kid catcher caught onto a curve and smacked the ball into left center field . Eddie Lee , Riverside's redheaded playing manager , ran after the ball but it rolled past him . Phil Rossoff cut over to center from left field to get the relay . Eddie caught up with the ball near the fence and threw it to Phil . `` Third ! ! Third base '' ! ! Eddie shouted . Phil spun around and made an accurate throw into Mike Deegan's hands on third base . Mike caught the ball just as the catcher slid into the bag . But the Anniston boy had begun his slide too late . He came into the bag with his body and Mike Deegan brought the ball down full in his face . `` You bastard '' ! ! The Anniston catcher screamed . He jumped to his feet and started to throw punches . Mike Deegan tossed his glove away and began to swing at the catcher . This brought in everybody from both sides , while the spectators stood up and added to the uproar . The fighters were separated in a few minutes . The game was resumed . But Mike Deegan was boiling mad now . When the inning was over he cursed the Anniston catcher all the way into the dugout . Phil Rossoff , coming in from left field , stopped at the water fountain for a drink . Mike Deegan was standing beside it , facing the field . He was eyeing the Anniston catcher warming up his pitcher before the inning began . `` Keep your eyes open , sonny '' ! ! Mike yelled to the catcher . `` You're in for trouble '' . The Anniston catcher did not reply with words . He simply turned to Mike and smiled . This so infuriated Deegan that he spun around and said : `` I'll get that little bastard . So help me God , I'll get him '' .

Phil Rossoff said : `` Why don't you leave him alone '' ? ?

`` Mind your own goddamn business '' , Mike Deegan said .

Phil shrugged . He stepped into the dugout , wondering why Deegan was always looking for trouble . Maybe the answer was in his eyes . When Deegan smiled his eyes never fit in with his lips .

In the last of the sixth inning Mike Deegan got up to bat and hit a fast ball over the left fielder's head . By the time the fielder got his hands on the ball Deegan was rounding third base and heading for home . The left fielder threw and it was a good one . But Mike had no chance of being tagged . The Anniston catcher was straddling home plate . All Deegan had to do was slide , fall away , but instead , he rammed into the catcher .

Both fell heavily to the ground .

Only Mike got to his feet . He went back to touch home plate , turned and walked to the dugout without looking back .

The Anniston players and their manager ran out on the field . They poured water over their catcher's face . He did not move . Then the manager called for a doctor . The Riverside physician came down to look over the injured ballplayer . Then , quickly , and a little nervously , the doctor ordered a couple of ballplayers to carry the catcher into the dressing room .

Mike Deegan was sitting on the bench , watching . When the ballplayers started to carry the catcher off the field he said : `` That ought to teach the sonofabitch '' .

Phil Rossoff , seated next to Deegan , got up and moved to the other end of the bench .

The Anniston manager was coming over to the Riverside dugout . He was followed by four of his men . It began to look as if something was going to happen . Mike sat quietly watching the manager come nearer . Eddie Lee moved over to Mike Deegan's side . No one said a word .

The Anniston manager came right up to the dugout in front of Mike . His face was flushed .

`` Deegan '' , the manager said , his voice pitched low , quivering . `` That was a rotten thing to do '' .

`` For God's sake '' , Mike said , waving the manager away . `` Stop it , will you ? ? Tell your guys not to block the plate '' .

`` You didn't have to ram him '' .

`` That's what you say '' .

The Anniston manager looked at Eddie Lee . It was a cold and calculated look . He turned and went back across the field to his dugout . He called in the pitcher who had been pitching , and a big , heavy , powerfully built right hander moved out to the mound for Anniston .

The game started again and in the eighth inning Mike Deegan came up to bat . Everyone in the ball park seemed to be standing and shouting .

The first ball the hefty pitcher threw came in for Mike's head . Deegan fell into the dirt , the ball going over him . He arose slowly and brushed himself off . He got back into the batter's box and on the next pitch dropped into the dirt again .

`` Hit the bum '' ! ! Somebody yelled from the Anniston bench .

In the Riverside dugout Frankie Ricco , shortstop , whispered into Phil's ear : `` There's gonna be a fight '' .

`` Look at those bastards '' ! ! Charlie Haydon , a pitcher , said . `` They're looking for trouble '' .

Mike was slow getting into the box this time . When he finally did he had to duck his head quickly away as the pitch came in .

`` Listen '' ! ! He shouted to the pitcher . `` One more and I'm coming out there '' ! !

`` I'll be waiting '' ! ! The pitcher yelled back .

Mike Deegan pounded the rubber plate with the end of his bat . He stood flat-footed in the box , but not very close to the plate now . The pitcher wound up and the ball came in straight for Mike's head . Deegan dropped , got up , turned and , holding the bat with both hands up against his chest , began to walk slowly out to the mound . The pitcher tossed his glove away and came towards Mike Deegan . They were both walking towards each other , unhurried .

Riverside and Anniston players rushed out on the field . In the next moment , it seemed , the infield was crowded with spectators , ballplayers , cops , kids and a dog . There was much shouting and screaming . Fights sprang up and were quickly squelched . Mike and the Anniston pitcher were pulled away before they even came together .

Phil Rossoff and two other Riverside players did not go out on the field when the fighting started .

After the game , Phil was taking off his sweatshirt in the dressing room when Mike Deegan came in .

`` It's a helluva thing '' , Mike said , looking at Phil , `` when a guy's own team-mate won't come out and help him in a fight '' .

Phil sighed and pulled the wet sweatshirt over his head . Frankie Ricco sat down on the bench near Phil . The other players were undressing quietly . Eddie Lee had not come in yet .

Mike went over to Phil and stood over him . `` Why the hell didn't you come out when you saw them gang up on me '' ? ?

`` I didn't think it was necessary '' .

`` Well ! ! Now that's just fine ! ! You didn't think it was necessary '' . Mike placed both his hands on his hips . He pushed his jaw forward . `` Listen , wise guy , if you think I'm gonna do all the fighting for this ball club you're crazy '' .

Mike had a good two inches over Phil and Phil had to look up into Mike's face .

`` I didn't ask you to fight for the ball club '' , Phil said slowly . `` Nobody else did , either '' .

`` You trying to say I started the fight '' ? ?

`` I'm not trying to say anything '' .

Phil turned away and opened his locker , and then he heard Mike Deegan say : `` You're yellow , Rossoff '' ! ! And Phil banged his locker door shut and spun around . But before anything could happen Frankie Ricco was between them and Eddie Lee had come into the dressing room .

`` Phil , come into my office '' , Eddie said .

Phil followed Eddie into the office and shut the door . He sat down before Eddie's desk .

`` I'm doing you a favor '' , Eddie said quickly . `` You get your unconditional release as of today '' .

Phil's eyes widened just a trifle .

`` The best thing for you to do '' , Eddie said , `` is go home . You don't belong in professional baseball '' .

Phil had to clear his throat . `` Is this because of what happened out there '' ? ?

`` No '' , Eddie said . `` But it does confirm what I've suspected all along '' .

Phil stood up . `` Listen ! ! This is the second time .

`` Sit down , sit down '' , Eddie said . `` I'm not saying you're yellow . I am saying you're not a professional ballplayer '' .

Eddie Lee leaned forward over the desk . `` Now listen to me , Phil . I'm not steering you wrong . You haven't got the heart for baseball '' .

Phil shook his head and Eddie frowned . Suddenly his voice grew hard . `` What the hell do you think baseball is ? ? You're not in the big leagues , but if you can't give and take down here what the hell do you think it'll be like up there '' ? ?

Phil started to say something but Eddie cut him short . `` Now don't tell me what a good ball player you are . I know you've got talent . But what you haven't got is the heart to back up that talent with . The heart , Phil . You just haven't got the heart for pro-ball , and that's it '' .

Dazed , Phil said : `` I don't get it . My batting average ''

Eddie stood up abruptly , then sat down just as abruptly . `` What difference does your batting average make ? ? Or your fielding average . Or even the way you run bases . I tell you when it's necessary to hurt in order to win -- you won't do it . That's what I mean by no heart for the game . Baseball's no cinch . Deegan had no business ramming into that kid out there . He did it because he knows for each guy he puts out of commission that's one less who might take his job away later on . What the hell do you think baseball is ? ? A sport ? ? It's a way of life , goddamit ! ! And you've got to be ready to cut to ribbons anybody who wants to take your way of life away from you '' ! !

He's wrong ! ! Phil thought . It's only his opinion . There were other clubs in this league . He stood up slowly . He was a little pale and shaky . His lips felt glued together .

`` I think you're wrong , Eddie '' , he said finally .

Eddie nodded . `` Okay . You'll get your pay in the morning '' .

Phil turned and left the room , hearing Eddie say : `` Someday you'll see I was right '' .

Phil shut the door behind him . Outside in the dressing room , Frankie Ricco sat on the bench dressed in his street clothes .

`` What happened '' ? ? Frankie asked .

Phil said : `` I got my release '' .

`` You crazy '' ? ?

Phil shrugged .

`` What for '' ? ?

Phil sighed .

Frankie shook his head . `` I don't get it '' .

`` I don't know '' , Phil said .

They were silent for a few moments . Then Frankie said : `` What are you gonna do '' ? ?

Phil started to take his clothes off and Frankie sat down on the bench again . Phil took off one shoe and stared at it .

`` Don't take it like this '' , Frankie said . `` Hell , plenty of guys get let out and come back later . The leagues are full of guys like that '' .

Phil was very quiet .

`` What are you gonna do , Phil '' ? ?

Phil did not answer .

`` Why not try another club '' ? ?

Phil looked up . What the hell right did Eddie have saying a thing like that ? ?

`` Springfield's in tomorrow '' , Frankie said . `` Talk to Whitey Jackson '' .

He just didn't know what he was talking about , saying a thing like that .

`` Will you do it , Phil '' ? ?

`` Do what '' ? ?

`` Ask Whitey for a job '' .

Phil nodded . `` Sure '' , he said . `` Springfield come in tomorrow '' ? ?

Frankie nodded .

`` I'll speak to Whitey '' .

`` Atta boy '' .

`` I'll talk to him , all right '' .

`` Don't worry '' , Frankie said . `` You'll get a job there . He needs outfielders bad '' .

`` I'm not worried about it '' , Phil said .

`` That's the way to talk . What else did Eddie have to say '' ? ?

`` Nothing '' , Phil said .