Read The Spy on Third Base Online

Authors: Matt Christopher

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BOOK: The Spy on Third Base
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When he got there, some of the guys looked familiar. He recognized two from the Stockade Bulls baseball team. The short, husky
one was Chet Barker, the Bulls’ catcher. The tall, skinny one was Stick Jolly, the Bulls’ third baseman.

“Look who’s here! T.V. Adams, the great mind-reader!” Chet yelled. He was standing on the diving board, ready to dive off.
Stick
was sitting on the edge of the pool, his wet black hair matted down.

 

T. V. blushed. Oh, no, he thought. Not that again.

“See you made the headlines!” Stick’s high-pitched voice came across the pool. “Wow! A psychic! You might be on TV, T.V.!
Hah!”

T.V. glared at him.

Stick and Chet laughed.

“Don’t let those goons get to you,” someone said from behind T.V.

T.V. whirled around and found himself facing Alfie. Chuck stood next to him, shuffling his feet.

“We saw the article about you,” Alfie said. He seemed nervous. “And Chuck and I were talking.”

“We’re sorry about yesterday,” Chuck said. His eyes were red from swimming underwater. “We acted like jerks.”

T.V. grinned. He felt as though a block of ice had melted inside him.

“Coming in?” Alfie asked. “The water’s great.”

“Yeah,” T.V. said. “I’ll go change, and…”

Just then Stick walked up to them, a crooked smile on his face. “How do you do it, T.V.? What kind of power have you got?”

T.V. tried to keep his cool. “I haven’t got any power,” he said firmly. “I just study the batters, that’s all. Anybody could
do the same thing.”

The crooked smile broadened. “Well, look, pal. Don’t try to study us when we play you guys on Thursday.”

Stick’s threat sounded familiar, but T.V. was sure that Stick wasn’t the one who had called. Not with that high voice.

“He’s right!” Chet Barker yelled, springing up and down on the edge of the diving board. “It’ll never work on us! We’re the
Bulls, man!”

Then he dove, making a complete turn in the air before straightening out and hitting the water, fingertips first.

6

The day was gray in more ways than one as T.V. Adams waited for his turn to bat. There wasn’t a blue patch in the whole sky,
as if the sun were having a day off. And T.V., gloomy as the day, had made up his mind he wasn’t going to do any “spying”
in this game against the Stockade Bulls. He’d been threatened too many times and the butt of too many jokes since the game
against the Green Dragons.

And just a few moments ago someone in the crowd had shouted at him, “What’s he going to do, T.V.? Hit or strike out?”

The person was referring to José Mendez, who was batting now. It was the top of the first inning. There was one out, and Bus
was on first base. He had smashed a single through the pitcher’s box. I don’t know and I don’t care, T.V. wanted to say to
the fan, but he kept his thoughts to himself.

José drilled a line drive directly at the first baseman. Bus started to run, then bolted back to tag up. Ted Jackson, the
Stockades’ first baseman, beat him to it. Three outs.

“Okay, T.V.!” yelled that same voice again as the teams exchanged sides. “Now’s your chance to see what you can do!”

T.V. tried to ignore the heckler, but it was hard to ignore a voice like that. It sounded as if it were coming out of a bull
horn.

T.V. watched leadoff man Jim Hance tap
the end of his bat against the plate, then stand with it about six inches off his shoulder. After two sharp swings, T.V. had
a good idea where Jim might hit the ball — if Jim hit it at all — but he kept his prediction to himself. He wasn’t going to
get involved with that sort of stuff again.

Sparrow Fisher, on the mound for the Mudders, threw the next two pitches outside. Then Jim popped out to short left field,
exactly where T.V. had thought he would. And Phil Klines grounded out to the shortstop.

Then Ted Jackson singled, and cleanup hitter Adzie Healy stepped up to the plate. After Sparrow’s second pitch and Adzie’s
first swing, T.V. had a strong hunch that Adzie was going to hit the ball to right center field.

Sparrow blazed in the next pitch and, as T.V. had predicted, Adzie slammed it directly to right center field for a triple,
scoring Ted.

But that was it. Catcher Chet Barker — the
kid T.V. and Chuck had seen at the pool — flied out to left.

The Mudders couldn’t do anything until the top of the fourth inning, when Chuck doubled to left center field and scored on
Turtleneck’s single. Then Rudy knocked Turtleneck in with a big triple to deep right field but died on third base when nobody
could hit to score him.

The Bulls had scored three times in the bottom of the second inning. And now, in the bottom of the fourth, they were going
great guns again. Ralph Healy, Adzie’s brother, had started it off with a ground double to right field. And Adzie ended it
with a home run over the left field fence.

Mudders 2, Stockades 8.

T.V. had predicted another long ball rocketing off Adzie’s bat because of Adzie’s strong swing. But, in spite of the wise
remarks from some of the fans, he preferred to keep his calls
to himself. Maybe they’d forget about him and keep their mouths shut.

“You haven’t said a word to any of us the whole time,” Alfie said as he trotted off the field with T.V. “You’re not keeping
mum because of what Chuck and I said to you after that first game, are you? We said we were sorry.”

“No,” said T.V. “It’s not that. I’ve just changed my mind, that’s all.”

Alfie gave him a long look and didn’t say any more.

The game ended with the Stockade Bulls winning 10 to 2.

That night T.V. received a phone call — a very short call — from a familiar voice: “Thanks, pal.”

7

T.V.’s hand shook as he put down the receiver. He still didn’t know who it was, but it didn’t make much difference. He had
never felt more humiliated in his life.

Suddenly, he began to feel mixed emotions. Was he right or wrong to let the fans and the Stockade Bulls needle him into keeping
quiet about his predictions?

Maybe, if he had spied on the Stockade batters and told his teammates how to play
them, the score might have been a lot different, 4 to 2, or 3 to 2, say.

He felt guilty. He had let his teammates down. Darn! he thought. I can’t win! No matter what I do!

It was only eight-thirty when he said goodnight to his parents and went to bed. He didn’t want to stay up and think about
that call and the game any longer.

But sleep didn’t come easily. Now his mind churned with questions about his having special “powers.” Those two guys in the
stands and that newspaper article had sure started something.

The thoughts were even stronger in his mind the next day. He was sitting on the front porch, facing the street, when he said
to himself, “Maybe I really
am
psychic. Everybody seems to think so, even that reporter. Maybe I’m a
freak
!”

He hadn’t realized that he was talking out
loud until he said “freak!” He turned around to see if anyone had heard him, but he was alone.

“Oh, boy, T.V. thought. I’ve gone bananas!

His stomach began to feel woozy and he went inside. He lay down on the living room sofa and soon fell asleep. He dreamed that
some stranger whose face he couldn’t see was chasing him. He screamed and screamed.

Somebody shook him awake. He opened his eyes and stared into his mother’s worried face.

“T.V.! You were having a bad dream!” she whispered. “How do you feel, dear?”

“My stomach …” he started to say, then wished he hadn’t. He knew what she would say now.

“I’m going to have your father take you to Doctor Erickson.”

Just what he had figured.

 

Within an hour, T.V. was on the doctor’s cushioned table, shaking like a nervous puppy. What if the doctor found something
wrong with him? What if he really
was
different from everyone else?

8

The doctor set aside his stethoscope and smiled. “Worried about something, Theodore?” he asked. “Like not getting hits in
your baseball games, maybe?”

T.V. shrugged. “No.”

Dr. Erickson put his hands on T.V.’s knees and looked him straight in the eyes. “Get any ribbing from people — from the fans
— about that reporter’s little joke? You know, about those ‘powers’ you have?”

T. V. stared at him in surprise. I guess everyone in town — maybe in the whole state — has read that column! he thought.

“I think that’s your problem, T.V.,” the doctor said. “You’re worried too much about what people are saying. And all that
worrying is making your stomach hurt. It happens to a lot of us.” He smiled again and patted T.V. gently on the shoulder.
“You’re perfectly fine. Put your shirt on.”

T.V. left the doctor’s office feeling like a million bucks. He was normal!

In the car going back home, Mr. Adams said, “Look, T.V., if baseball is bothering you this much, maybe you ought to give it
up and try something else. Like horseshoes, maybe.”

T.V. grinned. “I’ll think about it,” he said.

He liked pitching horseshoes. But he wouldn’t trade baseball for anything. He still loved it, no matter what.

They were driving by the public swimming
pool when T.V. spotted his friend Chuck Philips.

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