But then the bottom of the sixth came. What happened 23 years ago would be called an instant replay if it happened in these days of television. It was a ball hit almost identically to the one with which Bud had begun his career in April. A lazy, pop foul, drifting slowly over the stands, Bud again off at the crack of the bat. The ball chasers had gained a few steps in those five months. Bud didn't have them by more than a couple of yards when he took it on the first bounce. They were closing on him fast, and he couldn't go for the fence or they would have him dead. The ticket gate lay 20 yards away and dead ahead of him, but it wasn't the empty gate of April. From the stands I could see the ticket taker, feet spread in blocking position. Even from a distance he looked at least 10 feet tall.
It had been a long season and a good season, and Bud wasn't going to be denied. He sprinted until he was within five yards of the man at the ticket gate and, in one movement threw the baseball up over the fence, over the ticket booth, and halfway down C Street. In the instant that the man at the gate turned to follow the path of the ball. Bud was past him. Bud kept running, but the others, the chasers and ticketman, stopped dead. Even before Bud reached the ball, which was lying over in the gutter a half a block down the street, the others knew that they had been beaten. No. 24 was where it belonged, and Bud was in the record books.
Or, at any rate, he should be.