Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How To Play Ball

"I'm no speech maker," said Nicols, the little right fielder, addressing a number of little boys who had named a club after him, "but if you like I'll give you a pointer or two, and you can take 'em or leave 'em, just as you like. First, when you go to bat don't sneak up there but pick up your club determined like and look at the pitcher as you'd look at a mosquito which you had the dead wood on.  Then when he curls the ball away up around your left ear just duck your head, look mad, and whisper, 'Oh, you sucker, you know better than to give me a good ball.'  That's what you call workin' a pitcher-makin' him mad as a bull-so mad that he'll put the ball just where you say he can't put it, but where you know he's going to put it, and when he puts it there smash her right in the eye.  Then when you've smashed her don't stop to admire the smash, but make for first as though the devil was trying to catch hold of your coat tails.  When you reach first don't stop unless you hear the captain yell: 'Hole yer first; hole it!'  If he yells 'Hole it,' obey orders.  Don't think you know more than him, because if you get to thinkin' that way your head will begin to swell, and all the ice in St. Louis won't take down the swellin'.  If you only reach first, place your arms akimbo and look at the pitcher as though you had got there by a fluke and was goin' to hold to her if it was the last act.  If you're a runner, and not one of those tired cusses that crawl when they think they're flyin', make for your second the moment he pitches the ball, and when you get near the bag, grab hold of it and come up smilin' at the umpire, as though you meant to say, 'Oh, I beat the ball about a foot, and he never touched me anyhow!'  If you work it right, the umpire will sing out, 'Hole yer second!'  But, fellers, if you can't run when you reach first, stay there, and thank God you have got that far.  Don't try to make second, for if you do the catcher will make a blooming gillie out of you.  But make out that you are a dandy on the run, and bob up and down like a bear dancing on a red-hot stove.  That kind of business works up the pitcher, and he'll try to catch you nappin', but instead he'll fire the ball away over the first baseman's head.  Then if you can run a little bit you can get all the way round.  But take care that he don't catch you nappin'.  If he does that the captain will call you a bum base runner and you'll feel like clubbin' the life out of yourself."-[St. Louis Critic.]
-Cleveland Herald, April 10, 1884

It's like something out of Mark Twain, isn't it?

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