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Authors: Matt Christopher

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BOOK: The Spy on Third Base
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“Dad!” he cried. “Will you let me off here?”

His father slowed the car down. “Then Doctor Erickson was right? You were just worried about that article?”

T.V. nodded. “That and the phone calls.”

“From whom?”

T.V. shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess that proves I’m not psychic, huh?” he said with a smile.

Mr. Adams laughed as he pulled the car over. Then he put his arm around T.V.’s shoulders and got serious. “Don’t worry about
them. Anybody trying to scare you with phone calls hasn’t got the guts to meet you face to face. Think about that.”

T.V. looked at him. His father’s words tumbled around in his mind until they settled down and made sense.

“Thanks, Dad,” he said. “See you later!”

T.V. hopped out of the car, ran across the walk to the pool, and tapped Chuck on the shoulder.

Chuck spun around. “Oh, hi,” he greeted T.V. “I thought you were sick.”

“I was … in the head, mostly,” said T.V. “Who’s our next game with?”

Chuck thought a moment. “The Bearcats,” he said.

“They got a good team?”

“Let’s see,” said Chuck, squinching his eyebrows. “I think they’ve split so far. Won one and lost one.”

“When do we play them?”

“Next Tuesday.” Chuck looked steadily at T.V. “Think you’ll be well enough to play by then?”

T.V. grinned. “I
know
I will,” he said.

The evening before the game against the Bearcats, T.V. got a phone call.

“Adams, don’t do any spying in tomorrow’s game, or you’ll be sorry. And you know it!” a male’s voice said before hanging up.

It was the same voice as before.

T.V. laughed. “Yeah? We’ll see about that, buster!” he said and hung up, too.

9

T.V. ate a hearty breakfast the morning of the game against the Bearcats.

“Well, how about that?” exclaimed his mother. “I guess you’ve recovered from what ailed you.”

T.V. wiped his mouth with a napkin. “I feel a lot better, Mom,” he admitted.

“Well enough to play baseball?”

“Definitely!” he said.

But he didn’t say anything about spying on
the opposing batters. Right now he wasn’t sure whether he was going to or not. Maybe his father was right, and maybe he wasn’t,
maybe a guy who made threats over the phone didn’t have enough guts to meet him face to face.

T.V. thought about the man in the red sweatshirt who always sat near the dugout. He looked strong enough to rip a phone book
in two. But why would he make threatening phone calls? It didn’t make sense.

Late that afternoon, T.V. put on his uniform, got his shoes and glove, and headed for the ball park. On the way he met Mickey
Stanner, the Mudder’s scorekeeper.

“You going to spy like you did in the game against the Green Dragons?” Mickey asked.

“I don’t know,” T.V. said truthfully. He changed the subject before Mickey could say anything more about it. “Have you told
the coach that you’re moving?”

“Yeah. But he still hasn’t found another kid who wants the job.”

T.V. shrugged. “I’m sure he will soon.”

“Who cares anyway?” Mickey said. Then he stomped off, leaving a baffled T.V. behind him.

The teams took their infield practice. Then, promptly at five-thirty, the game started. The Bearcats had first bats.

T.V. watched the leadoff batter closely as he tapped the end of his bat against the plate a couple of times, then faced the
Mudders’ pitcher, Zero Ford. Sparrow was supposed to pitch, but he was home with a cold.

He’s going to drive one to left field,
T.V. predicted as he watched the batter.

And that’s just what Horace Robb, the batter, did. He powdered Zero’s third pitch to left field, directly at Barry McGee,
for the first out.

T.V. watched Jack Walker, the Cats’ second batter, closely, too, and predicted that he was going to drive a long ball to left
field also. After two straight strikes, Jack slammed two out there. Both went foul. Then Zero struck him out.

“Aren’t you spying this game, T.V.? Or are you going to keep it all to yourself?”

T.V. glanced at the bleachers and saw the same two guys he had seen at the other games — the short kid with glasses and the
man in the red sweatshirt. The man smiled and waved.

T.V. returned the wave and turned his attention back to the game.

Suddenly it broke wide open as Boots Finkle walked, Luke Bonelle doubled to left center, and Jim Jakes singled, scoring two
runs. Then Rusty Carson flied out to center for the third out.

The Mudders got a fat zero at their turn
at bat, and the Cats came back and earned three more. 5 to nothing.

 

Oh, wow!
T.V. thought.
This is turning into a disaster!

Chuck led off in the bottom of the second with a homer that dazzled the crowd. But that was all the Cats allowed the Mudders.
They came to bat in the third, leading 5 to 1.

“They’re beating the tail off you guys, T.V.,” the kid with the glasses said. “Lucky for that homer, or it could have been
a shutout.”

T.V. felt his heart pound, but he kept his tongue.

10

Jim Jakes led off in the top of the third for the Bearcats and slammed a sharp single over shortstop Bus Mercer’s head. The
hit brought a round of applause from the Cats fans and a ripple of laughter from the kid with the thick glasses.

“Keep it going, you Cats!” the kid said. “Lay it on good and heavy … like peanut butter on a slice of bread!”

Out to get my goat, T.V. thought. Well,
he’s got it. But this is as far as it goes. Dad’s right. Whoever threatened me on the phone did it just to scare me. He doesn’t
have the guts to say it to my face.

I bet it was that kid, he thought. It had to be someone who was at every game, and it couldn’t be any of the Mudders. He doubted
it was the man in the red sweatshirt — he seemed friendly.

T.V. turned to look at the kid in the stands and met his eyes squarely. Then T.V. smiled, looked away, and began to concentrate
on the next batter. He had had enough. He was going to spy again … starting now!

He watched Rusty Carson swinging his bat, and thought:
he’s going to hit it to me!

And Rusty did. T.V. caught the sharp, bouncing grounder, pegged it to second, and Chuck relayed it to first for a double play!

“Close in, José!” he shouted to the center fielder.

José moved in closer and only had to take two steps forward when Drew Zellar popped him a fly.

Zero led off the bottom of the third with a single, starting off a hot inning that netted the Mudders two runs. Both were
on a triple that T. V. had cracked out to right center field.

No one scored again until the top of the sixth, when Rusty Carson homered over the left-field fence. T.V. had warned Barry
to play deep on him, but Barry was no giraffe. He could never have caught that long, hard fly.

Bearcats 6, Mudders 3.

“Our last chance, T.V.,” Chuck said as T.V. stepped up to the plate.

T.V. took a called strike, then streaked a single through the infield.
Bring me in, Chuck!
he pleaded silently at third base.

Chuck popped out.

Then Turtleneck walked and Alfie doubled, bringing the Mudders one run closer.

“Get a hit, Rudy!” T.V. cried when he reached the dugout. “Don’t let them die there.”

Rudy struck out. “Oh, no!” T.V. moaned. It looked hopeless.

Two outs, and Zero came to bat. T.V. was sick. He could tell Zero was going to strike out. He just
knew
it.

“Watch it, you guys!” he shouted, kiddingly, to the Bearcats outfielders. “This guy’s going to belt it out of the lot!”

He might as well have a little fun, he thought.

“Oh, no, he isn’t,” a voice spoke up beside him. “And you know it!”

T.V. straightened as if someone had jabbed a rod against his back.
And you know it.
That voice! Why hadn’t he recognized it before? He had heard it not only here in the dugout,
but also on the phone.

He turned and stared into Mickey Stanner’s eyes. “You!” he cried. “You’re the one who’s been calling me!”

 

Mickey’s face turned red as a beet. “No! Not me. I…” He faltered and stared down at the scorebook in his hand. “Why not?”
he admitted finally. “I’m just a scorekeeper. Nobody pays any attention to me, except when they want to know who bats next.
Or how many hits somebody got.”

“But why did you pick on me?” T.V. asked. “I thought we were friends.”

“Some friend,” Mickey whined. “You don’t even care that I’m moving. All you care about is your dumb spying!”

Crack!

T.V. turned in time to see Zero powder the ball out to deep right field! It was going … going … and it went over the fence
for a three-run homer!

The fans went wild.

So did T.V. He couldn’t believe it.

The whole Peach Street Mudders team spilled out of the dugout and greeted Zero with high fives as he crossed the plate.

It was over. Bearcats 6, Peach Street Mudders 7.

T.V. looked for Mickey in the confusion. He finally found him, standing by himself.

“Hey, I’m sorry if I ignored you, Mickey. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.”

Mickey looked down, embarrassed. “I’m sorry about the calls, too.”

“Just promise me you won’t pull anything like that in your new town. Okay?” T.V. said.

“I promise!” Mickey cried. Then they shook on it.

T.V. saw two familiar faces approaching him, and he ran forward to greet them.

“T.V., did I hear you predict Zero’s grand-slammer?” the man in the red sweatshirt asked.

T.V. laughed. “I was just kidding. Then
he
fooled
me!

The man said, “I’m Mel Thompson. I’m the one who wrote that article about you.”

T.V.’s mouth dropped open. So this was the guy who had caused him so much trouble!

“And I’m James Boles,” the kid with the glasses said.

“Glad to meet both of you,” T.V. said. Then he turned to the boy. He felt guilty about suspecting him earlier. “James, you
come to all the games. How’d you like to be the Peach Street Mudders’ official scorekeeper?”

James Boles’ eyes bulged behind his thick lenses. “Me?”

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