Manager: "Rha-a-h-t, men. Now let's go get 'em, Big Mean Green Machine."
The Big Mean Green Machine bats first. Two walks precede a high infield pop-up, which is very dangerous in under-15 baseball. The opposing shortstop circles valiantly under the fly, which eventually drops in front of him. The manager, who is also the first-base coach, waves his arms wildly and screams at his base runners. The torrent of commands seems to petrify the boys and before the excitement is over they have been coached into a gaudy double play, very nearly a triple play.
As the fortunes of the game shift back and forth, Joplin men who have come with the team as league officials or coaching consultants storm around the edges of the field, shouting praise and cursing bonehead, lack-of-desire plays. After an inning or so an umpire shoos away the raucous rooters. They retreat up an adjacent bank where they continue to encourage and vilify their team and tap a case of beer which is in the trunk of one of their cars.
A spectator notes that the men seem more excited than the kids.
"That would be about right," says one. "All three of us are intense. We give most of our free time to this program. You got to stay on 13-year-olds. If you don't, they start looking for a pool table, thinking about what they are going to eat after the game or going swimming in the motel pool. You gotta keep their minds on ball. We work to get them these trips so they can play ball, not mess around. You gotta keep their minds on the game. Rha-a-h-t, ol' buddy?"
MOUTH OF THE LAMINE, MO.
A rule of the transcontinental road is never eat seafood west of the Appalachians or east of the Sierra. It may not be poisonous but despite freezer technology and airline schedules it usually tastes old and dull. If you feel fishy, order locally caught trout, bass, perch, bluegills, frogs or even crawdads. And especially between Indiana and Kansas order catfish. These creatures can be very good but they are getting harder to find, having been driven from menus by quick-order, frozen-and-breaded indelicacies from the sea. As the demand has decreased, so have the number of commercial inland fishermen.
Robert Quint is known as the last of the full-time, professional cat fishermen along the central Missouri. Quint is frail-looking and sandy haired; he lives alone in a cabin at the mouth of the Lamine River close to its confluence with the Missouri. For a loner, he is an agreeable and hospitable man but politely evasive in a country way.