“However, young gentlemen,” he announced to the squad on the field, “the Gridley idea is that all opponents look alike to us. Your city and your school will demand that you win—–not merely that you try to win!”
“We’ll win—–no other way to do!” came the hearty promise.
A DASTARD’S WORK IN THE DARK
Thanks to the methods Dick & Co. had started the year before of raising funds for High School athletics through stirring appeal to the local pride of the wealthy residents of the city, the school nine had an abundant supply of money for all needs.
Through the columns of “The Blade” Prescott warmed up local interest effectively. Tickets sold well ahead of the time for the meeting with Gardiner City High School.
“Prescott, you’ve been picked to pitch for the Gardiner game,” Coach Luce informed the sophomore. “We’re going to have almost the hardest rub of the season with this nine, on account of its being our first game. Gardiner City has played two games already, and her men have their diamond nerve with them. Keep yourself in shape, Mr. Prescott. Don’t take any even slight chance of getting out of condition.”
“You may be sure I won’t,” Dick replied, his eyes glowing. “You know, Mr. Luce, that, though I played some on second football team last fall, this is the first chance I’ve had to play on the regular team.”
“As the game is close at hand,” continued the coach, “I’d even be careful not to train too much. You’re in as fine condition, now, as you can be this season. Sometimes, just in keeping up training, a fellow has something happen to him that lays him up for a few days.”
“It won’t happen to me, sir,” Dick asserted. “I’m going to take care of myself as if I were glass, until the Gardiner game is over.”
“You won’t get too nervous, will you?”
“I may be a bit, before the game,” Dick confessed, candidly.
“But after the game starts?”
“Once the game opens, I shall forget that there’s any such fellow as Prescott, sir. I shall be just a part of Gridley, with nothing individual about me.”
“Good! I like to hear you talk that way,” laughed Mr. Luce. “I hope you’ll be able to keep up to it when you go to the diamond. Once the game opens, don’t let yourself have a single careless moment. Any single point we can get away from Gardiner will have to be done by just watching for it. You saw them play last year?”
“I did,” Prescott nodded. “Gridley won, four to three, and until the last half of the last inning we had only one run. I thought nothing could save us that day.”
“Nothing did,” replied the coach, “except the hard and fast can’t-lose tradition of Gridley.”
“We’re not going to lose this time, either,” Dick declared. “I know that I’m going to strike out a string in every inning. If I go stale, you have Darrin to fall back on, and he’s as baffling a pitcher as I can hope to be. And Ripley is a wonder.”