Right Guard GrantŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
Appel chose this play Ė Number 39 was its official title Ė with the ball on Lorimerís thirty-four-yard line well over toward the west side of the field. Cricket Menge was second in line when the backs turned as the ball was snapped and ran past the quarter. The play was nearly spoiled by Slimís inability to throw the opposing end in, but he did the next best thing and allowed him to go past on the outside. Reilly took the Lorimer right half and disposed of him neatly and Cricket piled around on his heels. Greenwood prevented a flank attack and then confusion reigned and for a moment no one could have said exactly what did happen. But when the moment Ė a brief one Ė had passed, there was Cricket running two yards ahead of the nearest pursuer and making straight for the goal. It was Appel who put the crowning touch on his work by spurting through the ruck and engaging the Lorimer quarter just in time. Menge, small and fleet, reached the goal-line an instant later almost unchallenged. And after that the Gray-and-Gold held firmly against the charge of a frantic opponent and Rus Emerson dropped the ball very neatly between the uprights and well over the bar, doing what Lorimer had failed to do on a like occasion and so winning a game that, viewing the matter without prejudice, belonged to the enemy!
A STRANGE RESEMBLANCE
The school weekly, The DoubleayĖ†more generally referred to as the ďFlubdubĒ Ė was almost epic over the Lorimer game in the following Thursdayís issue. It dwelt heavily on the dramatic aspects and very lightly on the scientific. It found, or pretended to find, much encouragement in the masterly way in which the Alton representatives had overcome the enemyís lead and soared to victory in the last minutes of play. Every one came in for a kind word Ė every one save the adversaries Ė and there was even fulsome praise for a few: Captain Emerson and Appel and Cricket Menge and Greenwood and Gordon Renneker. Even Slim, who had stuck it out for three periods, was mentioned approvingly. The Flubdub concluded with a flourish of trumpets, declaring that the Alton team had already found its stride and was headed straight for a victory over Kenly Hall.
The Flubdubís effusion is set forth here, out of chronological order, merely to show how judgments differ. There were others who viewed the Lorimer game with less enthusiasm; as, for instance, Slim and Leonard. Slim made a wry face and shrugged his shoulders. ďJust plain robbery,Ē said the left end. ďWe hadnít any more right to take that game than Ė than nothing at all! Talk about stealing the babyís rattle! Why, bless my soul, General, the only reason that Ď39í play succeeded was because it went wrong! I was supposed to box that end of theirs, Kellog, and he wouldnít box. By rights, he ought to have swung around back of me and spoiled the picture. Just by luck he didnít, and Cricket got by and squirmed loose. That wasnít good football, son, it was good luck.
We played pretty fairly punk, the lot of us, although we did do a bit better after Appel took the helm. Bee isnít the player Carpenter is, but he certainly can run the team a sight better, if you want my opinion. As for me, I donít mind owning that I was rotten. But all the others were, too, so I donít feel so badly. Even your friend Renneker did more heavy looking on than anything else, so far as I could see.Ē
ďIím afraid I canít claim him as a friend,Ē said Leonard. ďHeís never known me since we parted in the cab that day.Ē
ďWell, Iím beginning to sour on that handsome guy as a tackle. Looks to me like he was touched with frost!Ē
At about the same time that Saturday evening Rus Emerson was seated in Coach Cadeís front room in the old white house opposite the school gate on Academy street. Johnny sat at one side of a big mahogany table and Rus at the other, and each was slumped well down on his spine as if he had put in a hard dayís work. The soft light of the lamp left their faces in shadow. The coach was speaking. ďWho makes up these All-Scholastic Football Teams, Cap?Ē he inquired.
ďThe papers, I guess. That is, the sports editors.Ē
ďReckon they make mistakes now and then?Ē
ďI wouldnít wonder.Ē Rus smiled gently in the shadow.
ďHím.Ē There was silence a moment. Then: ďHe certainly looks good,Ē continued the coach almost wistfully. ďI donít know that I ever saw a chap who came nearer to looking the part of a clever, hard-fighting lineman. Why, just on appearances youíd pick him out of a crowd and shake hands with yourself.Ē
ďHe certainly does look the part,Ē agreed Rus. ďAnd maybe he will find his pace after a bit.Ē
ďMaybe.Ē But Johnnyís tone was dubious. ďHe wonít find it unless he looks for it, though, and it doesnít seem to me that heís taking the trouble to look.Ē The coach laughed softly, ruefully. ďThe funny thing is, Cap, that heís got me bluffed. I know mighty well that he needs jacking up, but every time I get ready to ask him if he wonít kindly come alive and take an interest in things he turns that calmly superior gaze on me and I havenít the courage. Why, drat his handsome hide, Cap, he looks like he invented football! Speaking harshly to him would be like Ė like knocking off the Presidentís hat with a snowball!Ē
Rus chuckled. ďHeís got me like that, too. I want to apologize every time I open my mouth to him. Do you know, Iím beginning to wonder whether it wouldnít be a good plan to switch him over to the subs for a few days. It might be good medicine.Ē
ďYe-es, it might. Weíll see how he comes on the first of the week, though. Besides, Cap, whoís going to tell him heís out of the line-up?Ē laughed Johnny. ďMe, Iíd have to write him a letter or send him a telegram!Ē
There was a knock at the door and Tod Tenney came in. ďHello, Coach! Hi, Rus! Say, is there anything special this evening? Anything to discuss, I mean? If there isnít I want to cut. Thereís a shindig down town.Ē Tod grinned.
ďĎNobody knows,íĒ hummed Rus, ďĎwhere the Old Man goes, but he takes his dancing shoes!íĒ
ďYes, thereís one thing,Ē answered the coach gravely. ďIíd like your opinion, Tod. What do you think of this fellow Renneker?Ē
Tod already had the doorknob in hand, and now he turned it, pulled the portal inward and sort of oozed through the aperture. But before the countenance quite disappeared the mouth opened and the oracle spoke.
ďHeís a false-alarm,Ē was the verdict.
Then the door closed.
Sunday afternoon Slim and Leonard went to walk again and, at Leonardís suggestion, ended up at Number 102 Melrose avenue. Johnny McGrath seemed extremely pleased to see them, but Slim had to hint broadly before the lemonade pitcher appeared. They talked of yesterdayís game, which Johnny had attended. ďI took my kid brother,Ē said Johnny. ďHe plays on his grammar school team now and then. Heís a sort of tenth substitute or something, as near as I get it. Well, he told me confidentially yesterday after we got home that his team could beat the stuffing out of ours!Ē
Slim laughed. ďI wouldnít want to say it couldnít, the way we played yesterday. How does it happen, though, that the kidís playing football when you canít, Johnny?Ē
Johnny smiled. ďMother doesnít know it, you see. Maybe I ought to tell on him, but heís crazy about it and I havenít the heart. Sure, I donít believe heís likely to get hurt, for all the playing he does.Ē
ďNor I. I just wondered. I do wish you could talk your mother around, though.Ē
ďWhy,Ē answered Johnny, ďif I was to tell her Iíd set my heart on it sheíd not forbid me, Slim. But sheíd be fearful all the time, and sheís had worry enough. And it isnít like I cared much about it. Maybe Iíd be a mighty poor football player, do you see? And, anyway, thereís basket ball, and baseball, too.Ē
ďI didnít know you played baseball,Ē said Slim.
ďIn the summer. We have a team here in town called the Crescents. I play second. Most of the fellows are older than me. Itís a good team, too.Ē
ďSure,Ē said Slim. ďIíve heard of the Crescents. Some of the fellows from the carpet mills are on it, eh?Ē
ďMost of them are mill fellows; McCarty and OíKeefe and McCluer and Carnochan Ė Ē
ďHow come you donít call yourselves the Shamrocks? Or the Sinn Feiners?Ē
ďWell,Ē laughed Johnny, ďour pitcherís name is Cartier and the shortstopís is Kratowsky. And then thereís Ė Ē
ďDonít,Ē begged Slim, ďI canít bear it! Who do you play against?Ē
ďOh, any one. We played about thirty games last summer and won more than half. We go away for a lot of them. We went as far as Bridgeport once. We played twice at New Haven and once at New London and Ė Ē Johnny stopped and pushed a slice of lemon around the bottom of his glass with the straw. ďSay, whatís the name of the big fellow whoís playing left Ė no, right guard for us?Ē
ďRenneker,Ē said Slim. ďFirst nameís Gordon. What about him?Ē
ďNothing. Gordon Renneker, eh? Does he play baseball, do you know?Ē
ďNo, I donít, Johnny. Want him for the Crescents next summer?Ē
Johnny shook his head. ďI was Ė I was just wondering. You see, there was a fellow played on this New London team Ė the Maple Leaf it was called Ė looked a whole lot like this chap.Ē
ďMaybe it was he,Ē said Slim cheerfully, setting down his glass with a regretful glance at the empty pitcher. ďMaybe baseballís his real game and he got mixed.Ē
ďThis fellowís name was Ralston, George Ralston,Ē replied Johnny, frowning. ďSure, though, he was the dead spit of Renneker.Ē
ďIíve heard of fellows changing their names before this,Ē said Leonard. ďPerhaps, for some reason, Renneker didnít want to play under his own name. Was he good, McGrath?Ē
ďHe was,Ē answered their host emphatically. ďHe played first, and he had a reach from here to the corner of the porch and could hit the cover off the ball every time. He played fine, he did. Kind of a lazy-acting fellow; looked like he wasnít much interested. And maybe he wasnít, if what they told us was so.Ē
ďWhat was that?Ē asked Slim, smothering a yawn.
ďWell, it was the newsboy on the train handed me the story. I wouldnít like to say he was giving me straight goods, for he was a mean looking little guy. You see, those Maple Leafs beat us, something like 14 to 6 it was, and some of our crowd were kind of sore. Going back on the train they were talking over the game and this newsboy was hanging around. Pretty soon he came over to where I was sitting and got to talking. Seemed he lived in New London, or else he hung over there. Anyway, he knew some of the players, and he got to telling about them. ĎThat fellow Smith,í he said Ė that wasnít the name, but he was talking about the pitcher Ė Ďgets thirty for every game.í ĎThirty what?í I asked, not getting him. ĎThirty dollars,í said he. ĎNo wonder we couldnít hit him then,í I said. ĎAnd how about the catcher?í ĎOh, he donít get paid,í said the boy. ĎThey donít any of the others get paid except that Ralston guy. They give him twenty-five. He donít play regular with them, though.í I let him talk, not more than half believing him. Of course, Iíd heard of fellows taking money for playing on teams supposed to be strictly amateur, but itís always on the quiet and you donít know if itís so. Afterwards I told Ted McCluer what Iíd heard and Ted said he guessed it was straight goods; that heíd heard that that pitcher wasnít playing for his health.Ē
Slim frowned and shook his head. ďI guess you are mistaken, Johnny,Ē he said. ďRennekerís rather a swell, as I understand it, and it isnít likely heíd be running around the country playing ball for a trifling little old twenty-five dollars. Guess youíre barking up the wrong tree, son.Ē
ďIím not barking at all,Ē replied Johnny, untroubled. ďOnly when I had a close look at this Renneker fellow yesterday he was so much like Ralston that I got to thinking.Ē
ďWell, Iíd quit,Ē advised Slim with some emphasis. ďAnd Iíd be mighty careful not to tell that yarn to any one else. You know how long Renneker would last if it got around.Ē
Johnny nodded. ďThatís a fact,Ē he agreed.
Leonard looked puzzled. ďBut if he isnít the fellow McGrath took him for, how could it matter any?Ē
ďYou arenít Julius C?sar,Ē answered Slim, ďbut you might have a hard time proving it.Ē
ďGet out! C?sarís dead!Ē
ďSo are you Ė from the neck up,Ē retorted Slim. ďCome on home before you get any worse.Ē
ďI suppose, now,Ē said Johnny thoughtfully, ďtheyíd not let Renneker play on the team if it happened that he really was this other guy.Ē
ďOf course they wouldnít,Ē answered Slim, a bit impatiently. ďWhat do you think? Accepting money for playing baseball! Iíll say they wouldnít! But I tell you youíre all wrong about it, anyway, Johnny. So donít talk about it, son. Even if a fellow is innocent, getting talked about doesnít help him any.Ē
ďSure, I know,Ē agreed Johnny. ďIt wouldnít be him, I guess.Ē
ďNot a chance,Ē said Slim heartily. ďComing, General?Ē
Half a block down the avenue Leonard broke the silence. ďSort of funny,Ē he remarked, ďthat the initials should be the same. ĎG. R.í; Gordon Renneker and George Ralston.Ē
ďToo blamed funny,Ē muttered Slim.
Leonard looked at him with surprise. ďYou donít think, do you, that Ė that thereís anything in it?Ē
Slim hesitated a moment. Then: ďDonít know what to think,Ē he answered. ďJohnnyís no fool. If you play baseball with a chap you get a pretty good view of him. Of course, now and then you find a case where two fellows look so much alike their own mothers mightnít know them apart at first, and Johnny might easily be mistaken. I dare say he didnít get a very good look at Renneker yesterday. Besides, what would a chap like Renneker be doing barnstorming around for a measly twenty-five?Ē It was evident to Leonard that Slim was working hard to convince himself. ďAnyway,Ē he went on, ďJohnnyíll keep it to himself after this.Ē
ďYes,Ē Leonard affirmed, ďbut I think he still believes heís right.Ē
ďLet him, so long as he keeps it to himself. Iím not awfully enthusiastic about this Gordon Renneker, General. So far he hasnít shown anything like what youíd expect from a fellow with his reputation. And I donít warm up to him much in other ways. He seems a pretty cold fish. But he may get better, and, even if he doesnít, I guess we wouldnít want to lose him. So itís up to us to forget all about this silly pipe-dream of Johnnyís, see?Ē
ďI see,Ē replied the other thoughtfully.
Something in his tone caused Slim to dart a questioning glance at him, but Leonardís countenance added nothing to his voice and they went on in silence.
LEONARD MAKES A TACKLE
Monday was a day of rest for those who had taken part for any length of time in the Lorimer game, and so the two teams that finally faced each other for a short scrimmage contained much doubtful talent. Leonard again went in at left tackle and, since he didnít have Billy Wells and Captain Emerson to oppose him, he managed to do a great deal better. Cruikshank, who acted as quarterback and captain of the patched-up eleven on which Leonard found himself, twice thumped the latter on his back and uttered hoarse words of approval. The two teams were very nearly matched, and the ten minute period was nearly over before either secured a chance to score. Then A Team got Dakin off tackle for a gallop of sixteen yards, and the pigskin lay close to the opponentís twenty. Goodwin slashed through center for four and Dakin got two. Then Goodwin tried the middle of the line again and found no hole, and there was a yard loss. Goodwin, who had been playing full-back until recently, had not yet fully mastered his new job. With five to go on third down, Cruikshank took the ball himself and managed to squeeze through the enemyís right wing and squirm along for the rest of the distance. The ball was then close to the ten-yard line. Kerrison dropped back from end position to the eighteen and held out his arms. But no one was fooled by that gesture, and Dakin, plunging past Leonard, made less than a yard. Then it was ďKerrison back!Ē once more, and this time Leonard got the jump on the opposing guard and Dakin found a hole to his liking and plunged through to the four yards. With less than three to go, Kerrison went back to end position and on the next play the whole backfield concentrated behind Goodwin, and once more Leonard put his man out and felt the runner rasping by him. The opposition melted, and Goodwin went through and staggered well past the goal-line before he was downed. The coach wouldnít let them try the goal, and so they had to be satisfied with the six points. They trotted back to the gymnasium fairly contented, however.
Leonard secretly hoped that his performance, even though against a none too strong adversary, had been noted by Johnny. If it had the fact was known only to the coach and no immediate results materialized. On Tuesday, with the first-string men back in place, Leonard wasnít called on; although he had plenty of work with C Squad. There was a second cut that afternoon and the number of candidates left was barely sufficient for three elevens. Of that number, however, was Leonard, even though, as he assured himself, better players had been banished!
Wednesday found him again at tackle, but now on the right of the line, with Stimson at one elbow and Gurley dodging back and forth at his other side. He found Butler less trying as a vis ? vis than Billy Wells, but he somehow wished Johnny hadnít changed him over. Billy, even at his deadliest, was an honorable foe, and even a partial success gained against Billy was something to be proud of. Not, however, that Leonard found Butler an easy adversary. Far from it. Butler made Leonard look pretty poor more than half the time, while, when Leonard was obliged to give his attention to Left Guard Smedley, the substitute tackle made an even sorrier showing. On the whole, Leonard wasnít a bit proud of his work, either on offense or defense, during the first period, and returned to the bench convinced that his goose was cooked. When Johnny, criticizing and correcting along the line of panting players, reached Leonard he stopped again.
ďNot so good to-day,Ē he said. ďWhat was wrong, Grant?Ē
Leonard hadnít the least idea what was wrong, beyond a general inability to play the position as it should be played, and, besides, he was horribly surprised and embarrassed by the unexpected attention. Nevertheless, after a moment of open-mouthed dumbness, he had a flash of inspiration.
ďI donít think I can play so well at left tackle, sir,Ē he replied, meeting the coachís eyes with magnificent assurance. Mr. Cade smiled very slightly and moved past. But he turned his face again toward Leonard an instant later.
ďIíll take you up on that, Grant,Ē he said sharply.
Leonard felt uncomfortable. He wasnít quite certain what Johnny had meant. Besides, there had been something Ė well, not exactly unfriendly, but sort of Ė sort of rasping in his tone; as if Johnny had thought to himself, ďGet sassy with me, will you. Iíll show you!Ē Leonard wished now he had kept his mouth shut. Some of the fellows who had taken part in the first period of scrimmaging were making their way back to the showers, but as no one dismissed him Leonard sat still and got his breath back and wondered what awaited him. Then Tod Tenney called ďTime up, Coach!Ē and Johnny Cade swung around and pulled out his little book and sent them back on the field again.
ďB Team,Ē he called. ďGurley and Kerrison, ends; Wilde and Grant, tackles; Squibbs and Ė Ē
But Leonard didnít hear any more. He was shedding his blanket and telling himself fiercely that he just had to make good now. The fierceness remained throughout the subsequent twenty-one minutes required to play ten minutes of football. At the first line-up Billy Wells smiled joyfully at Leonard. ďSee whoís here,Ē he called gayly, swinging his big arms formidably. ďWho let you in, sonny? Some one sure left the gate open! Which way are you coming?Ē
ďInside,Ē answered Leonard grimly.
ďWelcome to our midst, sweet youth!Ē
Of course Leonard didnít go inside. In the first place, the play was around the right end, and in the next place Billy wouldnít have stood for it. Leonard busied himself with Renneker, got slammed back where he belonged and then plunged through the melting lines and chased after the play. Rus Emerson slapped him on the back as they passed on their way to the next line-up.
ďGlad to see you, Grant,Ē declared the captain.
On the next play Leonard and Billy mixed it up thoroughly, but truth compels the admission that of the two Leonard was the most mixed! You just couldnít get under Billy. If you played low, Billy played lower. If you feinted to your right, Billy moved to his right, too. If you tried to double-cross him and charged the way you feinted he outguessed you and was waiting. He knew more ways of using his shoulder than there were letters in the alphabet, and his locked hands coming up under your chin were most effective. No cat was half as quick as Billy and no bull-dog half as stubborn and tenacious. Yet Leonard did have his infrequent triumphs. Once, when Reilly wanted three yards to make the distance, Leonard put Billy Wells out completely and Red slid by for a yard more than needed. Leonard had got the jump that time by a fraction of a second, and he was so proud of his feat that doubtless it showed on his face, for Billy viewed him sarcastically for a moment and then announced: ďJust bull-luck, you poor half portion of prunes!ĒŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
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