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قراءة كتاب A Ball Player's Career Being the Personal Experiences and Reminiscensces of Adrian C. Anson

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‏اللغة: English
A Ball Player's Career
Being the Personal Experiences and Reminiscensces of Adrian C. Anson

A Ball Player's Career Being the Personal Experiences and Reminiscensces of Adrian C. Anson

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

stocked, and cookies and doughnuts were as good a currency as gold and silver among boys of my acquaintance. This being the case it dawned upon my mind that I could sublet the contract, a plan than I was not long in putting into practice.

Many hands make quick work, and it was not long before I had a little army of boys at work demolishing that wood pile. The chunks that were too big and hard to split we placed on the bottom, then placed the split wood over them. The task was accomplished long before the old gentleman's return, and when on the night of his arrival I took him out and showed him that such was the case he looked a bit astonished. He handed over the watch, though, and for some days afterwards as I strutted about town with it in my pocket I fancied it was as big as the town clock and wondered that everybody that I met in my travels did not stop to ask me the time of day.

It was some time afterwards that my father discovered that the job had been shirked by me, and paid for with the cakes and cookies taken from his own larder, but it was then too late to say anything and I guess, if the truth were known, he chuckled to himself over the manner in which lie had been outwitted.

The old gentleman seldom became very angry with me, no matter what sort of a scrape I might have gotten into, and the only time that he really gave me a good dressing down that I remember was when I had traded during his absence from home his prize gun for a Llewellyn setter. When he returned and found what I had done he was as mad as a hornet, but quieted down after I had told him that he had better go hunting with her before making so much fuss. This he did and was so pleased with the dog's behavior that he forgave me for the trick that I had played him. That the dog was worth more than the gun, the sequel proved.

A man by the name of Dwight who lived down in the bottoms had given his boy instructions to kill a black-and-tan dog if he found it in the vicinity of his sheep. The lad, who did not know one dog from another, killed the setter and then the old gentleman boiled over again. He demanded pay for the dog, which was refused. Then he sued, and a jury awarded him damages to the amount of two hundred dollars, all of which goes to prove that I was even then a pretty good judge of dogs, although I had not been blessed with a bench show experience.

I may state right here that my father and I were more like a couple of chums at school together than like father and son. We fished together, shot together, played ball together, poker together and I regret to say that we fought together. In the early days I got rather the worst of these arguments, but later on I managed to hold my own and sometimes to get even a shade the better of it.

The old gentleman was an athlete of no mean ability. He was a crack shot, a good ball player and a man that could play a game of billiards that in those days was regarded as something wonderful for an amateur. My love of sport, therefore, came to me naturally. I inherited it, and if I have excelled in any particular branch it is because of my father's teachings. He was a square sport, and one that had no use for anything that savored of crookedness. There was nothing whatever of the Puritan in his makeup, and from my early youth he allowed me to participate in any sort of game that took my fancy. He had no idea at that time of my ever becoming a professional. Neither had I. There were but few professional sports outside of the gamblers, and even these few led a most precarious existence.

I was quite an expert at billiards long before I was ever heard of as a ball player. There was a billiard table in the old Anson House and it was upon that that I practiced when I was scarcely large enough to handle a cue. It was rather a primitive piece of furniture, but it answered the purpose for which it had been designed. It was one of the old six pocket affairs, with a bass-wood bed instead of slate, and the balls sometimes went wabbling over it very much the same fashion as eggs would roll if pushed about on a kitchen table with a broomstick. In spite of having to use such poor tools I soon became quite proficient at the game and many a poor drummer was taken into camp by the long, gawky country lad at Marshalltown, whose backers were always looking about for a chance to make some easy money.

Next to base-ball, billiards was at that time my favorite sport and there was not an hour in the day that I was not willing to leave anything that I might be engaged upon to take a hand in either one of these games.

When it came to weeding a garden or hoeing a field of corn I was not to be relied upon, but at laying out a ball, ground I was a whole team. The public square at Marshalltown, the land for which had been donated, by my father, struck me as being an ideal place to play ball in. There were too many trees growing there, however, to make it available for the purpose. I had made up my mind to turn it into a ball ground in spite of this, and shouldering an ax one fine morning I started in.

How long it took me to accomplish the purpose I had in view I have forgotten, but I know that I succeeded finely in getting the timber all out of the way. It was hard work, but you see the base-ball fever was on me and that treeless park for many a long day after was a spot hat I took great pride in.

At the present time it is shaded by stately elms, while, almost in the center of its velvet lawn, flanked by cannon, stands a handsome stone courthouse that is the pride of Marshall County.

Then it was ankle deep in meadow grass and surrounded by a low picket fence over which the ball was often batted, both by members of the home team and by their visitors from abroad.

Many a broken window in Main Street the Anson family were responsible for in those days, but as all the owners of stores on that thoroughfare in the immediate vicinity of the grounds were base-ball enthusiasts, broken windows counted for but little so long as Marshalltown carried off the honors.


Just at what particular time the base-ball fever became epidemic in Marshalltown it is difficult to say, for the reason that, unfortunately, all of the records of the game there, together with the trophies accumulated, were destroyed by a fire that swept the place in 1897, and that also destroyed all of the files of the newspapers then published there.

The fever had been raging in the East many years previous to that time, however, and had gradually worked its way over the mountains and across the broad prairies until the sport had obtained a foothold in every little village and hamlet in the land. Before entering further on my experience it may be well to give here and now a brief history of the game and its origin.

When and where the game first made its appearance is a matter of great uncertainty, but the general opinion of the historians seems to be that by some mysterious process of evolution it developed from the boys' game of more than a century ago, then known as "one old cat," in which there was a pitcher, a catcher, and a batter. John M. Ward, a famous base-ball player in his day, and now a prosperous lawyer in the city of Brooklyn, and the late Professor Proctor, carried on a controversy through the columns of the New York newspapers in 1888, the latter claiming that base-ball was taken from the old English game of "rounders," while Ward argued that base-ball was evolved from the boys' game, as above stated, and was distinctly an American game, he plainly proving that it had no connection whatever with "rounders."

The game of base-ball probably owed its name to the fact that bases were used in making its runs, and were one of its prominent features.