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Authors: Matt Christopher,Ellen Beier

Man Out at First

BOOK: Man Out at First
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To Kimberley Marie, Evan Andrew,
Paul Michael, and Julia Catherine


Text copyright © 1993 by Matthew F. Christopher

Illustrations copyright © 1993 by Ellen Beier


Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at

First eBook Edition: December 2009

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental
and not intended by the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-09490-0



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10


“Wish me luck, Mom!” Turtleneck Jones called as he headed toward the door.

“Good luck, tall guy!” Mrs. Jones called back.

Turtleneck grinned. His mom always said that just before he went out to play baseball. He
tall for an eight-year-old. That's why Coach Parker had him play first base for the Peach Street Mudders.

He grabbed his glove and ran outside. At this time of year, nothing in this world was better than playing baseball!

He had just stepped off the porch when he heard a moan from the house next door. He looked over and saw his neighbor, Mr.
Ebenezer Shaw, clutching his leg in pain.

“Wait a minute, Mr. Shaw!” Turtleneck cried. “I'll be right there!”

He rattled down the remaining steps and rushed next door. He saw the problem right away. Mr. Shaw's foot had fallen through
a rotten part of his porch steps.

“Doggone step!” Mr. Shaw grunted. “Been meaning to fix it, but kept putting it off… putting it off. You should always take
care of problems right away, Theodore.”

“I guess so,” Turtleneck said. He bent down to knock some of the broken pieces of wood aside so that Mr. Shaw could pull out
his leg.

After a few minutes the old man's foot was free. Turtleneck helped him into the house. The Peach Street Mudders were playing
the Joy Street Devils that afternoon and he didn't want to be late. Coach Parker didn't tolerate lateness. But Turtleneck
had to make sure Mr. Shaw was okay before he headed to the baseball diamond.

“Thanks, Theodore,” Mr. Shaw said as he sat down in an easy chair and leaned his white cane against his leg. “I might have
been stuck there all afternoon if you hadn't come along.”

Turtleneck wondered why Mr. Shaw, a blind man, would want to live all by himself in this big, old house. Turtleneck's mom
had told him that Mr. Shaw was very independent. But it was dangerous, Turtleneck thought.

Turtleneck bent down to give Mr. Shaw's foot a good look. “I don't see any bleeding or swelling, Mr. Shaw. Does anything hurt?”

“Nah.” Mr. Shaw waved his hand. “I feel fine. Just a bit foolish.” He pointed toward his wall of books. “Those books have
taught me how to fix things, like leaky sinks and broken toasters.” Mr. Shaw laughed. “Looks
like I'll have to re-read the one on how to fix porch steps! Maybe you'd like to help me repair that hole?”

“I don't really know that much about carpentry, but I'll try,” Turtleneck said. Then he glanced up at the clock on the wall.
“Yikes!” He quickly jumped to his feet and grabbed his glove.

“I'm going to be late for my baseball game, Mr. Shaw! See you later!”


Turtleneck ran all the way to the baseball field. By the time he got there, the game had already started.

Coach Parker was sitting at the end of the dugout with the substitute members of the team. The rest of the Peach Street Mudders
were out on the field. Turtleneck went over to apologize. “Sorry, Coach. I—I had to help a guy. His foot was stuck.”

The coach looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “That's a new one. Grab some pine, T.”

Turtleneck sat down next to Tootsie Malone, the outfield substitute, and looked at the scoreboard. It was already the bottom
of the first inning. Then he glanced at the field and saw men on second and third.

“There's only one out so far. And they've already got one run,” Tootsie said. “Jake Avery belted a homer.”

“Rats,” said Turtleneck. Jake Avery was the Joy Street Devils' leadoff hitter.

Sitting on the bench was a pain. Turtleneck could remember a time not too long ago when he sat on the bench more often than
he played. New guys on a team—especially if they didn't have much experience—had to expect that. The better players always
started first, then were replaced after three or four innings, provided there were enough subs to replace them.

Sparrow Fisher, the Mudders' left-handed pitcher, threw three strikes to Phil Hanson for the second out. Then little Sammy
Mc Fall hit a pop-up to third base.

One inning was over and the Joy Street Devils led, 1–0.

Leading off for the Mudders was T.V. Adams. The husky third baseman had a knack for guessing where a lot of the opposing batters
would hit a pitch. Turtleneck hoped T.V. would come up with a good hit himself this time.

“Strike!” yelled the ump.

! T.V. sent the ball soaring into left center field. He ran past first base, then stopped at second for a double.

Nick Chong got on first base when the Devils' shortstop missed a hot grounder. T.V. ran to third. He was in a good spot to
score and tie the game.

But he never did. Alfie Maples popped up to the pitcher and Bus Mercer struck out. Rudy Calhoun walked to load the bases,
but Sparrow grounded out to end the half inning.

The Joy Street Devils' fans cheered and whistled.

Turtleneck hoped the coach would tell him to take Bob Lopine's place at first. But the coach just yelled to the team to get
out there and “play some heads-up ball!”

He's probably forgotten that I'm here, Turtleneck thought. Why did Mr. Shaw have to get his foot caught in that rotten old
step, anyway?

The Devils' Frankie Bass blasted the first pitch for a double. Then Stretch Cantor hit a single through second and Frankie
slid into home for another run. Reggie Mize flied out to left field. Two more singles resulted in another run before the Mudders
could get the Devils out. Joy Street Devils 3, Peach Street Mudders 0.

At the top of the third, Barry “hit-away kid” McGee, the Mudders' best hitter, walloped a double over the shortstop's head.
José Mendez stepped into the batter's box and Bob
Lopine took his place in the warm-up area. José took two strikes and then hit a double, an unusual thing for him. Barry made
it home. Devils 3, Mudders 1.

I might as well have stayed home, Turtleneck thought.

Then he heard someone call his name.


“Turtleneck!” Coach Parker called again. “You're pinch-hitting for Bob.”

“You heard him, Turtleneck,” said Nick Chong, grinning. “Get a hit up there, okay?”

Turtleneck grabbed a bat and warmed up.

“Hey, Turtleneck! Think quick!” Nick called.

Turtleneck spun around quickly. He reached out his hands just in time to catch the batting helmet Nick had tossed to him.
He grinned at Nick and put the helmet on.

Then he stepped into the batter's box. He
took two strikes, stepped out of the box for a few seconds, then took two balls.

The next pitch was right down the middle.
! Turtleneck sent the ball soaring to right center field. He raced around the bases for a stand-up triple. His heart pounded
with joy.

José had made it home on Turtleneck's triple. The Mudders were only one run behind.

“Hey, man! You did it!” Nick called out to Turtleneck.

Rudy echoed, “Yeah, good thing you showed up today!”

“I didn't know you had it in you, 1'!” Bus Mercer yelled. “You're full of surprises today, aren't you?”

BOOK: Man Out at First
5.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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