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The Wild Man

by Octavus Ron Cohen.

I CAN'T say just where the grudge between Pat Nelligan and Bill Davis started. Sandy MacPherson claims to have known them both when they were in the Pacific Coast League, and he says that there's a girl mixed up in it somewhere, but I can't swear to that. All I know is that they were drafted into our circuit at the same time, and that both of them made names for themselves before the season was a month under way.

We got Nelligan when the draft maze was unraveled. He reported at our Texas training camp—short, stocky, silent, and confident; a little too short for a backstop, perhaps, but he assayed one hundred per cent when it came to ability.

He was one of the finds of the season.

Nothing got by him and he had a way of pegging down to second that was a revelation: a crouch and a snap, and presto! the ball was sizzling across the diamond like a bullet. And it always came just a little to the left of second, and low, where the man covering the base merely had to hold it and let the runner slide to his own destruction.

I wasn't surprised to see the bucko share catching honors with Thomson, our first string receiver, right from the start of the season. You see, Nelligan wasn't absolutely green: he'd had one season in the Kitty and one in the Pacific Coast, and he seemed to know the ins and outs of the game by instinct.

Out on the coast, Davis had accumulated something of a rep as a star base-runner. And, of course, he was drafted by Scrappy Connor, of the Reds. Scrappy was always on the lookout for men who would get into a game and fight for it with all their might—and take chances, and all that—but I think he was a little taken aback with the way Davis buckled down to the job.

He put Davis in center the opening day of the season—they were stacked up against St. Louis— and what did the youngster do but spike two of the Cardinal basemen right off the reel. And before the series ended he had spiked two more.

I kept on thinking it was accidental until we met the Reds in the first series together.

Then I saw he was a deliberate base pirate— one of that class of runners which scares the basemen off the bags and then takes all kinds of chances. There was never an attempt on his part to slide around a baseman. Just a dash, a leap—and spikes straight for the baseman's shin.

I didn't suspect that anything was wrong between Nelligan and Davis during that first series, because our youngster was on the bench with a split finger.

Of course, when I saw Sandy Macpherson talking interestedly to Nelligan I asked him what was up, and he told me that he had been looking for fireworks between Nelligan and Davis. And when I cornered him he just shrugged and told me to wait until the first series together when Nelligan worked behind the bat.

Of all the men I've ever known I think I'd least rather have Nelligan as an enemy. Clean as a hound's tooth he is, and honest, but Lordy! That square jaw of his and the level, gray ey...

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