Authors: Matt Christopher
To Daren Krupa
Text copyright © 1988 by Matthew F. Christopher
Illustrations copyright © 1988 by George Ulrich
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM OR BY ANY ELECTRONIC OR MECHANICAL MEANS, INCLUDING
INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS, WITHOUT PERMISSION IN WRITING FROM THE PUBLISHER, EXCEPT BY A REVIEWER WHO MAY
QUOTE BRIEF PASSAGES IN A REVIEW.
First eBook Edition: December 2009
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and
not intended by the author.
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He’s going to bunt.
T. V. Adams, the Peach Street Mudders’ third baseman, studied the Green Dragons’ batter, Dirk Farman. Dirk was holding his
bat a little lower than usual, and he was leaning forward. T.V. was
he was going to bunt.
It was the bottom of the first inning. Dale Emerson, the leadoff man, was on second base after he had hit a double off Zero
Bunting wouldn’t be the greatest idea right
now, T.V. thought. Not with a man on second base and no outs. But the decision was up to the coach. And, apparently, the Green
Dragons’ coach had given the batter the bunt sign. It was meant to surprise the Mudders’ infield, and it might have if T.V.
hadn’t figured out the batter’s move.
T.V. considered yelling over to first baseman Turtleneck Jones to watch for a bunt. But that would only warn the Dragons’
coach and he might change his sign. T.V. decided to keep silent.
T.V. stepped up to the baseline. He was short and stocky, but fast. He ran in a few more steps as Zero steamed in the pitch.
T.V.’s heart leaped as he saw Dirk lower his bat and lay a perfect bunt down the third-base line!
T.V. was on it like a dog on a bone. He scooped it up, saw Dale break for third base, then head back for second. But Dale
was too late. T.V. snapped the ball to second baseman
Chuck Philips, and Chuck tagged him out.
“Nice going, T.V.!” a fan shouted from the bleachers near him.
“Thanks,” T.V. murmured, more to himself than out loud.
Greg Barnes, the Dragons’ center fielder, was up next. T.V. watched him carefully. The Dragons wore light-green, white-trimmed
uniforms, and Greg’s was clean as a whistle.
After Zero blazed in two inside, knee-high pitches, T.V. had him pegged. “Keep them up around his chin, Zero,” he said softly.
Zero winked at him, letting T.V. know that he had gotten the message, then threw three straight pitches up close to Greg’s
chin. The last pitch would have been a ball, but Greg swung at all three and struck out.
“That-a-way-to-go, Zee!” T.V. cried, smacking his bare fist into the pocket of his glove.
Cleanup hitter Eddie Kolski was up next.
Eddie was a right-handed batter, and right-handed batters usually pull the ball to left field. But T.V. remembered that Eddie
hit the ball to right field most of the time during batting practice.
“Alfie!” he yelled to Alfie Maples, the Mudders’ right fielder. “Play closer to the foul line!”
Alfie took two steps toward the right-field foul line.
“More!” T.V. yelled.
Alfie didn’t move.
Eddie connected with the next pitch and drove it within ten feet of the right-field foul line for a triple, scoring Dirk.
“I told you!” T.V. shouted, disgusted.
Alfie didn’t respond, as if he hadn’t heard him. But T.V. was sure that he had. Alfie had snatched up a blade of grass and
was chewing it.
Then Andy Jackson came to bat and
slammed a grass-cutting grounder halfway between T.V. and the bag. T.V. dived for it, gloved it, then whipped it to first.
Too high! The ball sailed over Turtleneck’s head. Eddie scored. Andy went to second base, and T.V. was chalked up with an
Peach Street Mudders 0, Green Dragons 2.
He was sick.
“Guess you didn’t predict that bad throw, did you, T.V.?” a voice said as T.V. headed back to his position.
T.V. glanced toward the bleachers and saw that the speaker was the same fan who had yelled to him earlier. He was tall and
husky and wore a red sweatshirt. A short kid with thick glasses was sitting next to him.
T.V. didn’t answer him. He couldn’t take the time to talk to a fan right now, no matter whose side he was on.
Cush Boochie popped a fly to Bus Mercer at shortstop, ending the bottom of the first inning.
“You’re up, T.V.,” said Coach Russ Parker as he headed for the third-base coaching box. “Let’s get on.”
T.V. got his bat and stepped into the batter’s box. He wished he could predict what right-hander Bucky Neal would pitch to
him, but he couldn’t. Not this first time, anyway.
“Strike!” the ump boomed as Bucky steamed in a knee-high pitch.
Bucky’s second pitch was almost in the same spot.
T.V. corked it to right center field for a double.
He felt better. The hit made up for that wild throw.
Chuck Philips flied out to left field. Then Alfie sparked up the team by smashing a ground-ball single through second base,
scoring T.V. Bus walked. And Rudy Calhoun,
with three balls and a strike, blasted a triple to the left field fence.
The fans loved it.
Watching them closely from second base, T.V. had figured out almost exactly where the batters were going to hit the ball.
He hadn’t figured on Bus getting a walk — that was the pitcher’s doing, not the batter’s — but his guesses about Chuck’s and
Alfie’s hits were right on the button.
Guesses? No. He studied the way they stood at the plate and the way they swung at the pitches, and he knew. He didn’t have
Both Zero and Barry popped out, ending the half-inning. But the Mudders had chalked up three runs to go into the lead, 3 to
The Green Dragons picked up a run during their turn at bat, then held the Mudders scoreless in the top of the third.
Eddie Kolski led off in the bottom of the third and connected with a triple. It landed
in almost exactly the same spot where he had hit his first three-bagger. Again Alfie had ignored T.V.’s advice to play close
to the foul line.
What do I have to do to make you believe me? T.V. felt like shouting at him.
Andy Jackson drove a sharp liner over Chuck’s head, a hit that T.V. hadn’t counted on. He predicted Cush Boochie’s ground
ball to short, which was an out. But he failed to read Beans Malone’s buntlike hit toward third base correctly. Both were
hits he never could have predicted, even if he’d been able to read a crystal ball.
“Closer to second, Chuck!” T.V. cried to his friend at second base as the Green Dragons’ first baseman, Lefty Cash, stepped
up to the plate. “Stay in center, José!” he yelled to the center fielder, José Mendez.
This time T.V.’s prediction was almost perfect. Lefty slammed a pitch directly at José
but slightly over his head. José ran back, reached for the ball, had it for a moment, then dropped it!
“Oh, no!” T.V. moaned.
Bucky Neal doubled, scoring two runs.
The inning ended with the Dragons leading, 6 to 3.
“Hey, T.V.,” the man in the red sweatshirt said as T.V. headed for the dugout. “You can really read those batters.”
The boy with the glasses, who was eating a hotdog now, smiled. “Yeah. What are you, a spy?” he said, then chuckled.
T.V. wondered what he was talking about.
Then he realized the kid must have meant that T.V. seemed to know a lot about the Green Dragon batters.
He gave the sod a hard kick as he headed for the dugout. Spy! That kid made it sound as though T.V. had done something sneaky.