“Too bad that rain had to come, and spoil our practice for today, boys!”
“Yes, and there’s only one more chance for a work-out between now and the game with Belleville on Saturday afternoon, worse luck, because here it’s Thursday.”
“We need all the practice we can get, because if that O.K. fellow, who dropped in to see us from Belleville, tells the truth, both his club and Allandale are stronger than last year. Besides, I hear they have each set their hearts on winning the championship of the Three Town High School League this season.”
“For one, I know I need more work at the bat. I’ve improved some, but I’m not satisfied with myself yet.”
“You’ve improved a whole lot, Owen!”
“That’s right, ‘Just’ Smith, he’s made such progress in bunting, and picking out drops and curves and fast ones, under the watchful eye of our field captain, Hugh Morgan here, that several other fellows on the nine are below him in batting average right now, and I regret to say I’m one of the lot.”
The boy who answered to the name of Owen turned red at hearing this honest praise on the part of his fellow students of Scranton High; but his eyes sparkled with genuine pleasure at the same time.
A bunch of well-grown and athletic-looking high-school boys had left the green campus, with its historical fence, behind them, and were on their way home. It was in the neighborhood of two o’clock, with school over for the day.
Just as one of them had said, a drizzly rain in the morning had spoiled all chance for that day of doing any practice in the way of playing ball. Mr. Leonard, second principal of the Scranton schools under Dr. Carmack (who was also county supervisor, with dominion over the Allandale and Belleville schools), had consented to act as coach to the baseball team this season. He was a Princeton grad. and had gained quite some little fame as a member of the Tiger nine that swept Yale off its feet one great year.
Besides Owen Dugdale, there were “Just” Smith, Thad Stevens, Hugh Morgan, Kenneth Kinkaid and Horatio Juggins in the bunch that started off from the school grounds in company, though they would presently break away as they neared their several homes.
“Just” Smith had another name, for he had been christened Justin; but he himself, in answering to the calls for Smith, would always call out “Just Smith, that’s all,” and in the course of time it clung to him like a leech.
Kenneth Kinkaid, too, was known far and wide as “K.K.,” which of course was only an abbreviation of his name. Some said he was a great admirer of Lord Kitchener, who had recently lost his life on the sea when the vessel on which he had started for Russia was sunk by a German mine or submarine; and that Kenneth eagerly took advantage of his initials, being similar to those of Kitchener of Khartoum fame.