In view of this, I thought it remarkable that the Owls managed to win four out of their first six games and thus came into the season's home stretch tied for first place. On the morning of the day we were to play the Ravens for the Cap League pennant, I woke up feeling as excited as my son Jeff. My excitement was short-lived. Soon after breakfast Mr. McEwen called me up. He was in bed with a temperature of 102, he said, and he wanted me to take his place as manager of the Owls for that night's game.
I could not, of course, refuse. Neither, however, could I pretend, at least to myself, that I was not scared stiff. I felt a good deal like a man who, after making a couple of dozen Atlantic crossings as a passenger in various vessels, is one day ordered without warning to take command of a ship. Like most of the other parent spectators I had spent the season watching nobody but my son Jeff.
It was only because he was watching me now that I managed to show up at the ball field, equipped with a list of Owls sent over to my house by Mr. McEwen, wearing what I hoped was a smile of confidence. And it was only because of Jeff that, when I saw the frail figure of Mrs. Walter Noonan bearing down on me as soon as I stepped out of my car, I did not turn and run away into the fading sunlight.
"I understand Mr. McEwen is sick," she said. "Is that right?"
"It is," I said, trying not to meet her shy but surprisingly piercing glance. "And Mr. McEwen appointed me!"
My voice stopped. Mrs. Noonan was not listening to me.
"This is an important game, isn't it?" she asked.
MRS. NOONAN OF TARSUS
I nodded at Mrs. Noonan in troubled surprise. She had obviously reached some sort of decision. My astonishment increased. Mrs. Noonan seemed to have grown inches taller.
"This is what I think we'd better do," she said crisply, in the sort of voice Saul of Tarsus might have used to announce the revelation that had struck him on the road to Damascus. "We'll put Bobby Wheeler on the mound and Sonny Herman behind the plate and we'll keep them there, no matter what, because they're the best battery we have. On first, we'll put the Jarvis boy, and if anybody else wants to play that position, I'm sorry, they just can't, because the Jarvis boy is the best first baseman we've got, and as long as I'm managing this team, he stays in until—"