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The Manager Of Madden’s Hill
by [?]

Willie Howarth loved baseball. He loved it all the more because he was a cripple. The game was more beautiful and wonderful to him because he would never be able to play it. For Willie had been born with one leg shorter than the other; he could not run and at 11 years of age it was all he could do to walk with a crutch.

Nevertheless Willie knew more about baseball than any other boy on Madden’s Hill. An uncle of his had once been a ballplayer and he had taught Willie the fine points of the game. And this uncle’s ballplayer friends, who occasionally visited him, had imparted to Willie the vernacular of the game. So that Willie’s knowledge of players and play, and particularly of the strange talk, the wild and whirling words on the lips of the real baseball men, made him the envy of every boy on Madden’s Hill, and a mine of information. Willie never missed attending the games played on the lots, and he could tell why they were won or lost.

Willie suffered considerable pain, mostly at night, and this had given him a habit of lying awake in the dark hours, grieving over that crooked leg that forever shut him out of the heritage of youth. He had kept his secret well; he was accounted shy because he was quiet and had never been able to mingle with the boys in their activity. No one except his mother dreamed of the fire and hunger and pain within his breast. His school- mates called him “Daddy.” It was a name given for his bent shoulders, his labored gait and his thoughtful face, too old for his years. And no one, not even his mother, guessed how that name hurt Willie.

It was a source of growing unhappiness with Willie that the Madden’s Hill boys were always beaten by the other teams of the town. He really came to lose his sadness over his own misfortune in pondering on the wretched play of the Madden’s Hill baseball club. He had all a boy’s pride in the locality where he lived. And when the Bogg’s Farm team administered a crushing defeat to Madden’s Hill, Willie grew desperate.

Monday he met Lane Griffith, the captain of the Madden’s Hill nine.

“Hello, Daddy,” said Lane. He was a big, aggressive boy, and in a way had a fondness for Willie.

“Lane, you got an orful trimmin’ up on the Boggs. What ‘d you wanter let them country jakes beat you for?”

“Aw, Daddy, they was lucky. Umpire had hay- seed in his eyes! Robbed us! He couldn’t see straight. We’ll trim them down here Saturday.”

“No, you won’t–not without team work. Lane, you’ve got to have a manager.”

“Durn it! Where ‘re we goin’ to get one?” Lane blurted out.

“You can sign me. I can’t play, but I know the game. Let me coach the boys.”

The idea seemed to strike Capt. Griffith favorably. He prevailed upon all the boys living on Madden’s Hill to come out for practice after school. Then he presented them to the managing coach. The boys were inclined to poke fun at Daddy Howarth and ridicule him; but the idea was a novel one and they were in such a state of subjection from many beatings that they welcomed any change. Willie sat on a bench improvised from a soap box and put them through a drill of batting and fielding. The next day in his coaching he included bunting and sliding. He played his men in different positions and for three more days he drove them unmercifully.

When Saturday came, the day for the game with Bogg’s Farm, a wild protest went up from the boys. Willie experienced his first bitterness as a manager. Out of forty aspirants for the Madden’s Hill team he could choose but nine to play the game. And as a conscientious manager he could use no favorites. Willie picked the best players and assigned them to positions that, in his judgment, were the best suited to them. Bob Irvine wanted to play first base and he was down for right field. Sam Wickhart thought he was the fastest fielder, and Willie had him slated to catch. Tom Lindsay’s feelings were hurt because he was not to play in the infield. Eddie Curtis suffered a fall in pride when he discovered he was not down to play second base. Jake Thomas, Tay-Tay Mohler and Brick Grace all wanted to pitch. The manager had chosen Frank Price for that important position, and Frank’s one ambition was to be a shortstop.