Monday, December 22, 2008

Baseball Joe in the Big League

Baseball Joe in the Big League


A Young Pitcher's Hardest Struggles





Copyright, 1915, by

Baseball Joe in the Big League
Printed in U. S. A.

































Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER I TWO LETTERS

Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER I TWO LETTERS

"Whew!" whistled Joe Matson, the astonishment on his bronzed face being
indicated by his surprised exclamation of:

"Well, what do you know about that, Sis?"

"What is it, Joe?" asked his sister Clara, as she looked up from a
letter she was reading to see her brother staring at a sheet of paper he
had just withdrawn from an envelope, for the morning mail had been
delivered a few minutes before. "What is it?" the girl went on, laying
aside her own correspondence. "Is it anything serious--anything about
father's business? Don't tell me there is more trouble, Joe!"

"I'm not going to, Clara. It isn't trouble, but, if what he says is
true, it's going to make a big difference to me," and Joe looked out of
the window, across a snowy expanse of yard, and gazed at, without
consciously seeing, a myriad of white flakes swirling down through the
wintry air.

"No, it isn't exactly trouble," went on Joe, "and I suppose I ought to
be corkingly glad of it; but I hadn't counted on leaving the Central
Baseball League quite so soon."

"Oh, Joe! Have you lost your place?" exclaimed Clara. "And just after
you have done so well, too; and helped them win the pennant! I call that
a shame! I thought baseball men were better 'sports' than that."

"Listen to her--my little sister using slang!" laughed Joe.

"'Sports' isn't slang," defended Clara. "I've heard lots of girls use
it. I mean it in the right sense. But have you really lost your place on
the team, Joe?"

"Well, not exactly, Sis, but I'm about to, I'm afraid. However, I guess
I may as well make the best of it, and be glad. I sure can use the extra

"I certainly don't know what you're talking about," went on Clara, with
a helpless look at her big, handsome brother, "and I suppose you'll take
your own time in telling me. But I would like to know what it all
means, Joe. And about extra money. Who's going to give it to you?"

"Nobody. I'll have to earn it with this pitching arm of mine," and the
young baseball player swung it around, as though "winding-up" for a
swift delivery.

"Look out, Joe!" cried Clara, but she gave the warning too late.

At that moment Mrs. Matson entered the room with a jug of water, which
she intended pouring on a window-box of flowers. Joe's arm struck the
jug a glancing blow, and sent it flying, the water spraying over the
floor, and the jug itself falling, and cracking into many pieces.

For a moment there was a momentous silence, after two startled
screams--one each from Mrs. Matson and Clara. Then Joe cried gaily:

"Out at first! Say, Momsey, I hope I didn't hit you!"

"No, you didn't," and she laughed now. "But what does it all mean? Are
you practicing so early in the season? Oh, my carpet! It will be
ruined!" she went on, as she saw the water. "But I'm glad I didn't bring
in a good jug. Did you hurt your hand?"

"Nary a hurt," said Joe, with a smile. "Ha! I'll save you from a
wetting!" he exclaimed, as he stooped quickly and picked up an unopened
letter, the address of which was in a girlish hand.

"Get the mop, while you're at it," advised Clara. A little later Joe had
sopped up the water, and quiet was restored.

"And now suppose you tell us all about it," suggested Mrs. Mason. "Why
were you practicing gymnastics, Joe?" and she smiled at her athletic

"I was just telling Clara that my pitching arm was likely to bring me in
more money this year, Momsey, and I was giving it a twirl, when you
happened to get in my way. Now I'll tell you all about it. It's this
letter," and Joe held out the one he had been reading.

"Are you sure it isn't the other ?" asked Clara, with a sly look at her
brother, for she had glanced at the writing on the unopened envelope Joe
had picked up from the floor. "Let me read that other letter, Joe," she

"A little later--maybe!" he parried. "But this one," and he fluttered
the open sheet in his hand, "this one is from Mr. Gregory, manager of
the Pittston team, with whom I have the honor to be associated," and Joe
bowed low to his mother and sister. "Mr. Gregory gives me a bit of news.
It is nothing less than that the manager of the St. Louis Nationals is
negotiating for the services of yours truly--your humble servant, Joseph
Matson," and again the young ball player bowed, and laughed.

"Joe, you don't mean it!" cried his sister. "You're going to belong to a
major league team!" for Clara was almost as ardent a baseball "fan" as
was her brother.

"Well, it looks like it, Sis," replied Joe, slowly, as he glanced at the
letter again. "Of course it isn't settled, but Mr. Gregory says I'm
pretty sure to be drafted to St. Louis."

"Drafted!" exclaimed his mother. "That sounds like war times, when they
used to draft men to go to the front. Do you mean you haven't any choice
in the matter, Joe?"

"Well, that's about it, Momsey," the young man explained. "You see,
baseball is pretty well organized. It has to be, to make it the success
it is," he added frankly, "though lots of people are opposed to the
system. But I haven't been in it long enough to find fault, even if I
wanted to--which I don't."

"But it seems queer that you can't stay with the Pittston team if you
want to," said Mrs. Matson.

"I don't know as I want to," spoke Joe, slowly, "especially when I'll
surely get more money with St. Louis, besides having the honor of
pitching for a major league team, even if it isn't one of the
top-notchers, and a pennant winner. So if they want to draft me, let
them do their worst!" and he laughed, showing his even, white teeth.

"You see," he resumed, "when I signed a contract with the Pittstons, of
the Central League, I gave them the right to control my services as long
as I played baseball. I had to agree not to go to any other team
without permission, and, in fact, no other organized team would take me
unless the Pittston management released me. I went into it with my eyes

"And, you see, the Pittston team, being one of the small ones, has to
give way to a major league team. That is, any major league team, like
the St. Louis Nationals, can call for, or draft, any player in a smaller
team. So if they call me I'll have to go. And I'll be glad to. I'll get
more money and fame.

"That is, I hope I will," and Joe spoke more soberly. "I know I'm not
going to have any snap of it. It's going to be hard work from the word
go, for there will be other pitchers on the St. Louis team, and I'll
have to do my best to make a showing against them.

"And I will, too!" cried Joe, resolutely. "I'll make good, Momsey!"

"I hope so, my son," she responded, quietly. "You know I was not much in
favor of your taking up baseball for a living, but I must say you have
done well at it, and after all, if one does one's best at anything, that
is what counts. So I hope you make good with the St. Louis team--I
suppose 'make good' is the proper expression," she added, with a smile.

"It'll do first-rate, Momsey," laughed Joe. "Now let's see what else
Gregory says."

He glanced over the letter again, and remarked:

"Well, there's nothing definite. The managers are laying their plans for
the Spring work, and he says I'm being considered. He adds he will be
sorry to lose me."

"I should think he would be!" exclaimed Clara, a flush coming into her
cheeks. "You were the best pitcher on his team!"

"Oh, I wouldn't go as far as to say that!" cried Joe, "though I
appreciate your feeling, Sis. I had a good bit of luck, winning some of
the games the way I did. Well, I guess I'll go look up some St. Louis
records, and see what I'm expected to do in the batting average line
compared with them," the player went on. "The St. Louis team isn't a
wonder, but it's done pretty fair at times, I believe, and it's a step
up for me. I'll be more in line for a place on the New York Giants, or
the Philadelphia Athletics if I make a good showing in Missouri,"
finished Joe.

He started from the room, carrying the two letters, one of which he had
not yet opened.

"Who's it from?" asked Clara, with a smile, as she pointed to the heavy,
square envelope in his hand.

"Oh, one of my many admirers," teased Joe. "I can't tell just which one
until I open it. And, just to satisfy your curiosity, I'll do so now,"
and he proceeded to slit the envelope with his pocket-knife.

"Oh, it's from Mabel Varley!" he exclaimed.

"Just as if you didn't know all the while!" scoffed Clara. "You wouldn't
forget her handwriting so soon, Joe Matson."

"Um!" he murmured, non-committally. "Why, this is news!" he cried,
suddenly. "Mabel and her brother Reggie are coming here!"

"Here!" exclaimed Clara. "To visit us?"

"Oh, no, not that exactly," Joe went on. "They're on a trip, it seems,
and they're going to stop off here for a day or so. Mabel says they'll
try to see us. I hope they will."

"I've never met them," observed Clara.

"No," spoke Joe, musingly. "Well, you may soon. Why!" he went on,
"they're coming to-day--on the afternoon express. I must go down to the
station to meet them, though the train is likely to be late, if this
snow keeps up. Whew! see it come down!" and he went over to the window
and looked out.

"It's like a small blizzard," remarked Clara, "and it seems to be
growing worse. Doesn't look much like baseball; does it, Joe?"

"I should say not! Say, I believe I'll go down to the station, anyhow,
and see what the prospects are. Want to come, Sis?"

"No, thank you. Not in this storm. Where are the Varleys going to stop?"

"At the hotel. Reggie has some business in town, Mabel writes. Well, I
sure will be glad to see him again!"

" Him ? Her , you mean!" laughed Clara. "Oh, Joe, you are so simple!"

"Humph!" he exclaimed, as he put the two letters into his pocket--both
of great importance to him. "Well, I'll go down to the station."

Joe was soon trudging through the storm on the way to the depot.

"The St. Louis 'Cardinals'!" he mused, as he bent his head to the blast,
thinking of the letters in his pocket. "I didn't think I'd be in line
for a major league team so soon. I wonder if I can make good?"

Thinking alternately of the pleasure he would have in seeing Miss Mabel
Varley, a girl in whom he was more than ordinarily interested, and of
the new chance that had come to him, Joe soon reached the depot. His
inquiries about the trains were not, however, very satisfactorily

"We can't tell much about them in this storm," the station master said.
"All our trains are more or less late. Stop in this afternoon, and I may
have some definite information for you."

And later that day, when it was nearly arrival time for the train on
which Mabel and Reggie were to come, Joe received some news that
startled him.

"There's no use in your waiting, Joe," said the station master, as the
young ball player approached him again. "Your train won't be in to-day,
and maybe not for several days."

"Why? What's the matter--a wreck?" cried Joe, a vision of injured
friends looming before him.

"Not exactly a wreck, but almost as bad," went on the official. "The
train is stalled--snowed in at Deep Rock Cut, five miles above here, and
there's no chance of getting her out."

"Great Scott!" cried Joe. "The express snowed in! Why, I've got friends
on that train! I wonder what I can do to help them?"

Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER II TO THE RESCUE

Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER II TO THE RESCUE

Joe Matson looked so worried at the information imparted by the station
master that the latter asked him:

"Any particular friends of yours on that train?"

"Very particular," declared the young ball player. "And I hope no harm
comes to them."

"Well, I don't know as any great harm will come," went on the station
master. "The train's snowed in, and will have to stay there until we can
get together a gang of men and shovel her out. It won't be easy, for
it's snowing harder every minute, and Deep Rock Cut is one of the worst
places on the line for drifts. But no other train can run into the
stalled one, that's sure. The only thing is the steam may get low, and
the passengers will be cold, and hungry."

"Isn't there any way to prevent that?" asked Joe, anxiously.

"I s'pose the passengers could get out and try to reach some house or
hotel," resumed the railroad man, "but Deep Rock Cut is a pretty lonely
place, and there aren't many houses near it. The only thing I see to do
would be for someone to go there with a horse and sled, and rescue the
passengers, and that would be some job, as there's quite a trainload
of them."

"Well, I'm going to try and get my friends that way, anyhow!" cried
Joe. "I'll go to the rescue," and he set off for home through the storm
again, intending to hire a rig at a livery stable, and do what he could
to take Mabel and her brother from the train.

And, while Joe is thus making his preparations, I will tell my new
readers something about the previous books of this series, in which Joe
Matson, or "Baseball Joe," as he is called, has a prominent part.

The initial volume was called "Baseball Joe of the Silver Stars; Or, The
Rivals of Riverside," and began with my hero's career in the town of
Riverside. Joe joined the ball team there, and, after some hard work,
became one of the best amateur pitchers in that section of the country.
He did not have it all easy, though, and the fight was an uphill one.
But Joe made good, and his team came out ahead.

"Baseball Joe on the School Nine; Or, Pitching for the Blue Banner," the
second book in the series, saw our hero as the pitcher on a better
organized team than were the Silver Stars. Joe had taken a step forward.
He did not make the school nine without a struggle, for he had rivals,
and a strong effort was made to keep him out of the game.

But Joe proved his worth, and when a critical time came he pitched to
victory, thus defeating the plans of his enemies.

It was quite a step forward for Joe to go to Yale from Excelsior Hall,
where he had gotten his early education.

Naturally Joe wanted to play on the Yale team, but he had to wait some
time before his ambition was gratified. In "Baseball Joe at Yale; Or,
Pitching for the College Championship," I related how, after playing
during his freshman year on the class team, Joe was picked as one of the
pitchers for the varsity.

Then, indeed, he was proud and happy, but he knew it would not be as
easy as it had been at Excelsior Hall. Every step upward meant harder
work, but Joe welcomed the chance.

And when finally the deciding game came--the one with Princeton at the
Polo Grounds, New York--Joe had the proud distinction of pitching for
Yale--and he pitched to victory.

Joe's ambition, ever since he had taken an interest in baseball, had
been to become a professional player. His mother had hoped that he
would become a minister, or enter one of the more learned professions,
but, though Joe disappointed her hopes, there was some compensation.

"Better let the boy have his own way," Mr. Matson had said. "I would
rather see him a good ball player than a half-rate lawyer, or doctor;
and, after all, there is good money to be made on the diamond."

So, when Joe received an offer from the manager of one of the minor
league professional teams, he took it. In "Baseball Joe in the Central
League; Or, Making Good as a Professional Pitcher," the fourth volume of
the series, I related Joe's experiences when he got his start in
organized baseball. How he was instrumental in bringing back on the
right path a player who had gone wrong, and how he fought to the last,
until his team won the pennant--all that you will find set down in the

I might add that Joe lived with his father, mother, and sister in the
town of Riverside, where Mr. Matson was employed in the Royal Harvester
Works, being an able inventor.

Joe had many friends in town, one in particular being Tom Davis, who had
gone to Excelsior Hall with him. Of late, however, Joe had not seen so
much of Tom, their occupations pursuing divergent paths.

It was while Joe was on his way to join the Pittston team, of the
Central League, that he made the acquaintance of Reggie Varley, a rich,
and somewhat dudish, young man; and the acquaintance was made in an odd
manner. For Reggie practically accused Joe of knowing something of some
jewelry that was missing from a valise.

Of course Joe did not take it, but for some time the theft remained
quite a mystery, until Joe solved the secret. From then on he and Reggie
were good friends, and Reggie's sister Mabel and Joe were----

Oh, well, what's the use of telling on a fellow? You wouldn't like it
yourself; would you?

The baseball season came to an end, and the Pittston team covered itself
with glory, partly due to Joe's good pitching. Cold weather set in, and
the players took themselves to their various Winter occupations, or
pleasures. Joe went home, to wait until the training season should open,
in preparation for league games on the velvety, green diamonds.

Several weeks of inaction had passed, the holidays were over, Winter had
set in with all earnestness, and now we find Joe hurrying along, intent
on the rescue of Reggie and his sister from the snow-stalled train.

"I hope they will not freeze before I get to them," thought Joe, as he
staggered through the blinding snow. "They can't, though, for there'll
be sure to be steam for some hours yet. I guess I'll stop home, and get
something to eat for them, and a bottle of coffee. I'll put it in one of
those vacuum flasks, and it will keep hot."

So intent was Joe on his rescue that, for the time, he gave no more
thought to the matter of joining the St. Louis nine, important as that
matter was to him.

"I'd better get a team of horses, and a light sled," he mused, as he
turned in the direction of the livery stable. "There will be some heavy
going between here and Deep Rock Cut, and I'll need a good team to pull

A little later he was leaving his order with the proprietor.

"I'll fix you up, Joe," said the stable boss, who was a baseball "fan,"
and a great admirer of our hero. "I'll give you the best team in the
place, and they'll get you through, if any horses can. I expect I'll
have other calls, if, as you say, the train is stalled, for there'll
likely be other folks in town who have friends aboard her. But you've
got the first call, and I'm glad of it."

"I'll be back in a little while," called Joe, as he hurried off. "I'm
going around to my house to put up some lunch and coffee."

"Good idea! I'll have everything ready for you when you come back."

On Joe hurried once more, through the swirl of white flakes that cut
into his face, blown on the wings of a bitter wind. He bent his head to
the blast, and buttoned his overcoat more closely about him, as he
fought his way through the drifts.

It had been snowing since early morning, and there were no signs to
indicate that the storm was going to stop. It was growing colder, too,
and the wind seemed to increase in violence each hour. Though it was
only a little after one o'clock in the afternoon, it was unusually dark,
and Joe realized that night would soon be at hand, hastened by the
clouds overhead.

"But the snow will make it light enough to see, I guess," reasoned Joe.
"I hope I can keep to the road. It wouldn't be much of a joke to get
Reggie and Mabel out of the train, into the comfortable sled, and then
lose them on the way home."

Quickly explaining to his mother and sister his plan of going for the
two friends in the stalled train, Joe hastily put up some sandwiches,
while Clara made coffee and poured it into the vacuum bottle.

"Perhaps you'd better bring them here, Joe, instead of taking them to
the hotel," suggested his mother. "Mabel will be wet and cold, perhaps,
and I could make her more comfortable here than she would be at the
hotel. We have room enough."

"She can share my room," proposed Clara.

"That's good of you," and Joe flashed a grateful look at his sister. "I
hope you will like Mabel," he added, softly.

"I guess I will; if you do," laughed Clara.

"Well, I sure do," and Joe smiled.

Then, with a big scarf to wrap about his neck, and carrying the basket
of food and coffee, Joe set out for the livery stable, to start to the

Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER III AN UPSET

Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER III AN UPSET

"Here you are, Joe. Best team in the stable. I could have hired 'em out
twice over since you went; but I wouldn't do it. Other folks have got
the scare, too, about friends on the stalled train," and the livery boss
handed Joe the reins of a pair of prancing horses, hitched to a light,
but strong cutter.

"Thanks, Mr. Blasser," said Joe. "I'll take good care of 'em."

"And hold 'em in a bit at the start," advised the man. "They haven't
been out for a couple of days, and they're a bit frisky. But they'll
calm down after a while."

With a jingle of bells, and a scattering of the snow from their hoofs,
the horses leaped forward when Joe gave them their heads, and down the
whitened street they trotted, on the way to Deep Rock Cut.

This was a place where the railroad went through a rocky defile, about a
mile long. It had been the scene of more than one wreck, for there was
a dangerous curve in it, and in the Winter it was a source of worry to
the railroad men, for the snow piled high in it when there was a storm
of more than usual severity. In the Summer a nearby river sometimes rose
above its banks, and filled the cut with water, washing out the track.

Altogether Deep Rock Cut was a cause of much anxiety to the railroad
management, but it was not practical to run the line on either side of
it, so its use had been continued.

"And very likely it's living up to its reputation right now," mused Joe,
as he drove down the main street, and then turned to another that would
take him out of the town, and to a highway that led near Deep Rock Cut.
"It sure must be living up to its reputation right now, though, of
course, the storm is to blame.

"Whew! It certainly does blow!" he commented, as he held the reins in
one hand, and drew more closely about his throat the muffler he had
brought with him. "Stand to it, ponies!" Joe called to the sturdy
steeds. They had started off at a lively pace, but the snow soon slowed
them down. They started up again, however, at the sound of Joe's voice,
and settled down into a steady pull that took them over the ground at a
good pace.

Now that he was actually on the way to the rescue Joe allowed his
thoughts to go back to the baseball letter that was in his pocket, next
to the one from Mabel.

"I wonder how they came to pick me out?" he mused, as he recalled the
possibility that he would go to St. Louis. "They must have had a scout
at some of the Central League games, though generally the news of that
is tipped off beforehand.

"That must have been the way of it, though," he went on, still communing
with himself. "I don't know that I played so extra well, except maybe at
the last, and then--then I just had to--to make good. Well, I'm glad
they picked me out. Wonder if any other members of the Pittston team are
slated to go? Can't be, though, or Gregory would have told me of it.

"And I wonder how much more salary I'll get? Of course I oughtn't to
think too much about money, for, after all, it's the game I like. But,
then, I have to live, and, since I'm in organized baseball, I want to be
at the top of the heap, the same as I would if I were a lawyer, or a
doctor. That's it--the top of the heap--the New York Giants for mine--if
I can reach 'em," and he smiled quizzically.

"Yes, I guess lots of the fellows would give their eye teeth to have my
chance. Of course, it isn't settled yet," Joe told himself, "but there
must have been a good foundation for it, or Gregory wouldn't have taken
the trouble to write to me about it."

Joe found the road to Deep Rock Cut fully as bad, in the matter of
snowdrifts, as he had expected. It was rather slow going when he got to
the open country, where the wind had full sweep, and progress, even on
the part of the willing horses, was slower.

Joe picked out the best, and easiest, route possible, but that was not
saying much, and it was not until nearly three o'clock, and growing
quite dark, that he came within sight of the cut. Then the storm was so
thick that he could not see the stalled train.

"I'll have to leave the team as near to it as I can get, and walk in to
tell Reggie and Mabel that I've come for them," Joe decided.

The highway crossed the railroad track a short distance from the end of
the cut nearest Riverside, and Joe, halting a moment to listen, and to
make sure no trains were approaching, drove over the rails.

"Though there isn't much danger, now, of a train getting through that,"
he said to himself, as he saw the big drift of snow that blocked the
cut. Behind that drift was the stalled train, he reflected, and then, as
he looked at the white mound, he realized that he had made a mistake.

"I can never get through that drift myself," he said. "I'll have to
drive up to the other end of the cut, by which the engine and cars
entered. Stupid of me not to have thought of that at first."

He turned his horses, and again sought the highway that led along the
cut, parallel to it, and about a quarter of a mile distant. Joe
listened, again hoping he could hear the whistle of the approaching
rescue-train, for at the station he had been told one was being fitted
out, and would carry a gang of snow shovelers. But the howl of the wind
was all that came to his ears.

"This means another mile of travel," Joe thought, as he urged on the
horses. "It will be pitch dark by the time I get back to town with them.
I hope Mabel doesn't take cold. It sure is bitter."

Joe found the going even harder as he kept on, but he would not give up

"There's one consolation," he reasoned, "the wind will be at our backs
going home. That will make it easier."

The road that crossed the track at the other end of Deep Rock Cut was
farther from the beginning of the defile, and Joe, leaving the horses in
a sheltering clump of trees, struggled down the track, the rails of
which were out of sight under the snow.

"I wonder if Mabel can walk back?" he said aloud. "If not I guess Reggie
and I can carry her. It's pretty deep. I didn't get here any too soon."

Something dark loomed up before him, amid the wall of white, swirling

"There's the train!" exclaimed Joe, in relief.

It was indeed the rear coach of the stalled passenger train, and, a
moment later, Joe was climbing the snow-encumbered steps. It proved to
be the baggage car, and, as Joe entered, he surprised a number of men
who were smoking, and playing cards on an upturned trunk.

"Hello!" exclaimed one of them, in surprise at the sight of the ball
player. "Where'd you come from? Is the rescue-train here?"

"Not yet," Joe answered. "I came to take a couple of friends into town."

"Say, I wish I had a friend like you!" cried the man, with a laugh. "I
sure would like to get into town; but I don't dare start out and tramp
it--not with my rheumatism. How much room have you got in your airship?"

"I came in a cutter," responded Joe, with a smile.

"Say, you got some grit!" declared the man. "I like your nerve!"

"Oh, Joe's got plenty of nerve--of the right sort!" called a brakeman,
and Joe, nodding at him, recognized a railroad acquaintance who had
been present at some of the town ball games.

"A couple of my friends are in one of the coaches, Mr. Wheatson,"
explained Joe. "I'm going to drive back with them."

"Go ahead and look for 'em," invited the brakeman. "The train is yours,
as far as I'm concerned. I guess we're tied up here all night."

"They're going to start out a rescue-train," Joe informed the men in the
baggage car, for the telegraph wires had gone down after the first
message, telling of the stalled train, had been sent.

"That's good news," replied one of the men. "Well, all we can do is to
stay here, and play cards. It's nice and warm in here, anyhow."

"Yes, it will be until the coal for the engine gives out," spoke a
player, who seemed to take a rather gloomy view of matters. "And what
are we going to do about supper? I'd like to know that!"

Joe wished he could have brought along enough food for all the stranded
passengers, but this was impossible. He went on through the train, and
presently came to where Mabel and her brother were seated in the parlor
car, looking gloomily out at the storm.

"Well!" exclaimed Joe, with a smile, as he stood just back of them. They
both turned with a flash, and a look of pleased surprise came over the
faces of Reggie and his sister as they saw him.

"Joe Matson!" cried Reggie, jumping up, and holding out his hand. "Where
in the world did you come from? I didn't know you were on this train."

"I wasn't," laughed Joe. "I just boarded it, and I've come for you," he
added, as he gave Mabel his hand.

"Oh, but I'm glad to see you!" she exclaimed. "Isn't this just perfectly
awful, to be snowed in like this! And they tell us there's no chance of
getting out to-night."

"There is for you," remarked Joe, quietly.

"How?" asked Reggie, quickly. "Did they push the relief-train through?"

"I'm all the relief-train there is," announced Joe, and he told about
having the cutter in readiness.

"Say, that's fine of you!" cried Reggie. "Shall we go with him, Mabel?"

"Well, I rather guess so," she answered. "I couldn't stay here another

"It won't be much fun traveling through the storm," Joe warned his
friends. At this Reggie looked a bit doubtful, but his sister exclaimed:

"I don't mind it! I love a storm, anyhow, and I just can't bear sitting
still, and doing nothing. Besides, there isn't a thing to eat aboard
this train, for they took off the dining car right after lunch."

"I brought along a little something. It's in the cutter," Joe said. "I
didn't bring it in here for fear the famished passengers would mob me
for it," he added, with a smile. "Well, if you're willing to trust
yourself with me, perhaps we'd better start," he went on. "It is getting
darker all the while, and the snow is still falling."

"I'll be ready at once!" cried Mabel. "Reggie, get down the valises;
will you, please? Can you take them?" she asked of Joe.

"Oh, yes--room for them in the cutter," he assured her.

The other passengers looked on curiously, and enviously, when they heard
where Reggie and his sister were going. But, much as Joe would have
liked to take them all to a place of comfort, he could not. The three
went back to the baggage car, and, saying good-bye to the card-players,
stepped out into the storm.

"I guess your brother and I had better carry you, Mabel," suggested Joe,
as he saw the deep snow that led along the track to where he had left
the cutter.

"Indeed you'll not--thank you!" she flashed back at him. "I have on
stout shoes, and I don't mind the drifts." She proved it by striding
sturdily through them, and soon the three were at the cutter, the
horses whinnying impatiently to be gone.

"Have some hot coffee and a sandwich," invited Joe, as he got out the
basket, and served his guests.

"Say, you're all right!" cried Reggie. Mabel said nothing, but the look
she gave Joe was reward enough.

The coffee in the vacuum bottle was warm and cheering, and soon, much
refreshed from the little lunch, and bundled up well in the robes Joe
had brought, Reggie and his sister were ready for the trip to town.

"Step along!" cried the young baseball player to the horses, and glad
enough they were to do so. Out to the highway they went, and it was not
until they were some distance away from the cut that Joe noticed how
much worse the going was. The snow was considerably deeper, and had
drifted high in many more places.

"Think you can make it?" asked Reggie, anxiously.

"Well, I'm going to make a big try!" responded Joe. "I've got a good
team here."

Half an hour later it was quite dark, but the white covering on the
ground showed where the road was faintly outlined. Joe let the horses
have their heads, and they seemed to know they were going toward their
stable, for they went along at a good pace.

"There's a bad drift!" exclaimed Joe as, ahead of him, he saw a big
mound of snow. He tried to guide the horses to one side, and must have
given a stronger pull on the reins than he realized. For the steeds
turned sharply, and, the next moment, the cutter suddenly turned over on
its side, spilling into the snow the three occupants.

Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER IV AN APPEAL

Baseball Joe in the Big League CHAPTER IV AN APPEAL

"Look out there!"

"See if you can grab the horses, Reggie!"

"Mabel, are you hurt?"

Fast and excitedly came the exclamations, as Joe managed to free himself
from the entanglement of robes and lines. Then he stood up, and, giving
a hasty glance to see that Mabel and her brother were extricating
themselves (apparently little if any hurt), the young pitcher sprang for
the heads of the horses, fearing they might bolt.

But, as if the steeds had done mischief enough; or, possibly because
they were well trained, and had lost most of their skittishness in the
cold, they stood still.

"For which I'm mighty glad!" quoth Joe, as he looked to see that no part
of the harness was broken, a fact of which he could not be quite sure in
the darkness.

"Are you all right, Mabel?" called Joe, as he stood at the heads of the

"All right, Joe, yes, thank you. How about yourself?"

"Oh, I haven't a scratch. The snow is soft. How about you, Reggie?"

"Nothing worse than about a peck of snow down my neck. What happened,

"Hit a drift and turned too suddenly. I guess you'll wish I had left you
in the train; won't you?"

"No, indeed!" laughed Mabel. "This isn't anything, nor the first upset
I've been in--Reggie tipped us over once."

"Oh, that was when I was first learning how to drive," put in the other
youth, quickly. "But can we go on, Joe?"

"I think so. Nothing seems to be broken. We'll have to right the sled,
though. I wonder if the horses will stand while we do it? I wouldn't
like them to start up, but----"

"Let me hold them!" begged Mabel. "I'm not afraid, and with me at their
heads you boys can turn the sled right side up. It isn't tipped all the
way over, anyhow."

She shook the snow from her garments, and made her way to where Joe
stood, holding the reins close to the heads of the horses. It was still
snowing hard, and with the cold wind driving the flakes into swirls and
drifts, it was anything but pleasant. Had they been left behind by the
horses running away, their plight would have been dangerous enough.

"Perhaps I can help you," suddenly called a voice out of the storm, and
Joe and the others turned quickly, to see whence it had come.

The snow-encrusted figure of a man made its way over the piles of snow,
and stood beside Joe.

"I'll hold the horses for you," the stranger went on. "You seem to have
had an accident. I know something about horses. I'll hold them while you
right the sled."

"Thanks," said Joe, and, as he spoke, he wondered where he had heard
that voice before. He knew he had heard it, for there was a familiar
ring to it. But it was not light enough to make out the features of the
man. Besides, he was so wrapped up, with a slouch hat drawn low over his
face, and a scarf pulled up well around his neck, that, even in
daylight, his features would have been effectually concealed.

"I guess they won't need much holding," Joe went on, all the while
racking his brain to recall the voice. He wanted to have the man speak
again, that he might listen once more.

And the unknown, who had appeared so suddenly out of the storm, did not
seem to have anything to conceal. He spoke freely.

"Don't worry about the horses," he remarked. "I can manage them."

"They won't need a lot of managing," responded Joe. "I guess they've had
pretty nearly all the tucker taken out of them in the storm. It was
pretty hard coming from Riverside."

"Are you from there?" the man asked rather quickly.

"Yes," answered Joe, "and we're going back."

"Then I'm glad I met you!" the man exclaimed, and Joe, who had half
formed an opinion as to his identity, changed his mind, for the voice
sounded different now. "Yes, I'm glad I met you," the stranger went on.
"I was looking for someone to ask the road to Riverside, and you can
tell me. I guess I lost my way in the storm. I heard your sleigh-bells,
and I was heading for them when I heard you upset. You can show me the
shortest road to Riverside; can't you?"

"We can do better than that," spoke Joe, trying, but still
unsuccessfully, to get a look at the man's face. "We've got plenty of
room in the sled, and you can ride back with us, once we get it on the
runners again. Come on, Reggie, give me a hand, if you will, and we'll
get this cutter right side up with care."

"If it needs three of you, I can take my place at the horses," suggested
Mabel, who was standing beside Joe, idly looking through the
fast-gathering darkness at the stranger.

"Oh, the two of us can easily do it," said the young ball player. "It
isn't heavy. Come on, Reggie. Better stand a bit back, Mabel. It might
slip," he advised.

Joe and his friend easily righted the sleigh, while the stranger stood
at the heads of the horses, who were now quiet enough. Then, the
scattered robes having been collected, and the baggage picked up, all
was in readiness for a new start.

Joe tucked the warm blanket well around Mabel, and then called to the

"Get up on the front seat, and I'll soon have you in Riverside. It isn't
very far now."

"Thanks," said the man, briefly. "This is better luck than I've had in
some time."

For a while, after the mishap, none of the occupants of the cutter
spoke, as the willing horses pulled it through the big drifts of snow.
Joe drove more carefully, taking care not to turn too suddenly, and he
avoided, as well as he could, the huge heaps of white crystals that,
every moment, were piling higher.

Reggie was snuggling down in the robes, and Mabel, too, rather worn out
by the events of the day, and the worry of being snowed in, maintained

As for Joe, he had all he could do to manage the horses in the storm,
though the beasts did not seem inclined to make any more trouble. The
man on the seat beside him appeared wrapped, not only in his heavy
garments, but in a sort of gloomy silence, as well. He did not speak
again, and Joe was still puzzling over his identity.

"For I'm sure I've met him before, and more than once," reasoned Joe.
"But then I've met so many fellows, playing ball all around the country,
that it's no wonder I can't recall a certain voice. Maybe I'll get a
chance to have a good look at him later."

"You'll come right to our house," said Joe, turning to speak to Mabel
and Reggie. "Mother said so."

"Oh, but we have our rooms engaged at the hotel," objected the other

"That doesn't matter. You can go there later, if you like. But mother
insisted that I bring you home," Joe went on. "You can be more
comfortable there--at least, until you get over this cold trip."

"It's perfectly lovely of your mother," declared Mabel. "But I don't
want to put her to so much inconvenience."

"It isn't any inconvenience at all," laughed Joe. "She wants to meet
you, and so does my sister Clara."

"And I want to meet them," responded Mabel, with a blush that was unseen
in the darkness.

"Well, have it your own way," said Reggie, who was, perhaps, rather too
much inclined to give in easily. Life came very easy to him, anyhow.
"It's very nice of you to put us up, Joe. By the way, how is your
father since the operation?"

"Oh, he has almost entirely recovered. His eyesight is better than ever,
he says."

"How lovely!" cried Mabel. "And how lucky it was, Joe, that your share
of the money your team got for winning the pennant helped to make the
operation possible."

"Yes, I sure do owe a debt of gratitude to baseball," admitted the young

"Do you play ball?" suddenly asked the man on the seat beside Joe.

"Yes, I play at it," was the modest answer.

"Amateur or professional?"

"Professional. I am with the Central League."

Was it fancy, or did the man give a sudden start, that might indicate
surprise? Joe could not be sure.

"I suppose you'll be at it again this year, Joe," put in Reggie.

"Oh, yes. But I may change my club. I'll tell you about it later. We'll
soon be at the house. Is there any special place I can take you to, in
Riverside?" asked Joe of the stranger.

"Well, I'm looking for a young fellow named Matson," was the unexpected

"Matson?" cried Joe. "Why, that's my name!"

"Joe Matson?" the man exclaimed, drawing slightly away in order,
possibly, to get a better look at the young player.

"I'm Joe Matson--yes. Are you looking for me?"

"I was, and I'm glad I found you!" the man exclaimed. "I've got a very
special request to make of you. Is there some hotel, or boarding house,
where I could put up, and where I could see you--later?" he asked,

"Why, yes, there are several such places in town," said Joe, slowly,
trying, harder than ever, to place the man who had so unexpectedly

"Take me to a quiet one--not too high-priced," requested the man in a
low voice. "I want to see you on a very particular matter--that is, it's
particular to me," he added, significantly. "Will you come and see
me--after you take care of your friends?"

"Why, yes, I guess so--perhaps to-morrow," replied Joe, for he did not
fancy going out in the storm again that night. "But why can't you stop
off at my house now?" he asked.

"No, I don't want to do that," the man objected. "I'd rather you would
come to see me," and there was a note of appeal in his voice.

"Very well, I'll see you to-morrow," Joe promised, wondering if this
man's seeking of him had any connection with his possible draft to the
St. Louis Cardinals.