Old time baseball

Editor's Note: This is an ongoing series which runs each Thursday morning titled the Richland Chronicles, by author Paul Lintern. It is set in the 1860s and tells the story of Richland County through the eyes of young people. The books are available from Lintern for $25 a set, tax and shipping included. Each book is about 120 pages written for intermediate readers (4th grade) with local illustrations. Volume I is Amelia Changes Her Tune. Volume II is Isaac and Wolf Paw Find Their Home. Volume III is Autumn Keeps Her Secret. Volume IV is Mr. Gamble Starts a School. Volume V is Jacob Blows his Horn. Volume VI is Cassie Fights the WarVolume VII is Emilene Adopts Her Family.

Smokey seemed to have a lift in his step as he faced the Cincinnati hurler. A smile still betrayed his attitude as he tried to intimidate the opponents. He signaled for a high throw and the hurler complied.

With a smooth, calm swing, Smokey struck the ball and placed it between the right and center fielders, who did not track it down before Smokey was standing on third. With the dance still on everybody’s hearts, the crowd let out a barrage of “Huzzah’s” and cheered as though the tying tally were 90 feet away.

Still, when Bull knocked a single and Smokey scored, and then when Ice Wagon pounded a double, with Bull charging to third, the crowd was ecstatic, with some dancing even though the fiddles weren’t playing.

This is it, Jacob. Here is your chance, David thought. Knock them in. At least, hit it past the hurler this time.

Jacob walked up, not timid this time, as he seemed to be earlier, but determined. There was no brashness, no attempt at intimidation, but a sense of gladness for another chance to strike that little round object. He called for a high throw, but it came in low so he let it go.

He called high again, and this time it was the right height but too far away from the base.

Again, a high throw was requested. The hurler shrugged a bit, and threw again, this time over the plate about chest high. Jacob swung, hard, and level and the ball jumped off the bat and headed over the shortstop’s outstretched hands.

Bull ran in, and Ice Wagon lumbered around third and didn’t stop until he was several steps past home base. Jacob pulled up to first base and was happy to be where he was. The crowd cheered wildly.

“Way to go, Jacob. Yea, Jake!” David shouted, amid the Huzzah’s.

“There it is, Kid,” Smokey shouted. “We knew you had it in you!”

Jacob tried hard to look like it was just another day at the shop, but he couldn’t do it. As he stood there trying not to look at the crowd, a big smile grew on his face.

His biggest cheering section, of course, came from the grassy knoll of Zimmermans.

“That’s my brother.”

“Taught him everything he knows.”

“What a beast.”

“Huzzah to the Zimmer Man!”

“Good hit, Son!”

Jacob watched Gopher come to the plate.

“Move me along, Gopher. Strike it strong,” he said.

Gopher looked ready for a big hit, but while his swing was strong, his strike was weak, trickling to the shortstop, who flipped it to second ahead of Jacob, and the Kid’s basepath episode was cut short.

“Maybe next time, Kid,” the Cincy second baseman said, as Jacob started trotting back to the bench.

“Good hit, though.”

Glue was next up, and when the dust settled, he was on second with Gopher on third. Spider then flied to right, but Gopher made it home after the catch, and Glue scampered to third. When Floodgate poked a shot into right to score Glue, no one seemed sad that Birdlegs popped out to the first baseman.

The Mansfield Independents had scored five times and finally looked like a legitimate base ball team, as long as one did not look at the score.

End of the Seventh Inning: Cincinnati 40, Mansfield, 8.

+ + +

Sunday morning dawned calm and cool, the sort of cool that made one want to sit outside and watch the world wake up. The birds had been conversing for a couple of hours by then and the flowers already seemed to begin raising their heads in anticipation of sunshine.

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Mama was in the kitchen when Emilene came down, still in nightgown, but smiling as she walked out to the carriage house, to feed and water her goat, Winny, before getting ready for church.

Today she and Grace were going to play their violins alongside Mr. Schroeder, the pianist, for the congregational hymns.

“Since you already learned ‘I Love to Tell the Story,’ let’s introduce it to the congregation,” he had told them.

“Do you think they will like it?” Grace had asked.

“No, Sweetie. Congregations never like anything new. But it will be good for them, and they will get used to it,” he had told them.

“Then why try anything new, if they won’t like it?” Grace had asked.

“Girlie, you better always be making changes and trying new things, because if you don’t do it first, it will be done to you later, and that’s a lot harder.

“Change is inevitable; growing from it is up to you.”

“Is that in scripture?” Grace asked.

“Not exactly, unless you read between the lines.”

Grace found herself humming the new hymn while she was helping Mama with the biscuits in the oven, and then noticed Emilene joining in as she came in from outside. She could hear Papa and David upstairs, moving around when Philip suddenly burst through the door.

“Tell Papa to get dressed. We have to get out to the Inn.”

Mama started to speak, then froze with her question because Philip was answering it.

“It’s on fire.”