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Now that the nine has played its last game in the college championship series, a brief review of its work will be of interest. The nine this year, as all are aware, has not been successful in its college games and has made a place for itself near the foot of the list. It is not possible to give any one reason for this poor showing, for there are many reasons. We were handicapped at the start by not having the use of a professional pitcher to bat against in the winter. The result has been lamentably weak batting on the part of almost every man on the nine. Our pitchers were dependent entirely on their own ingenuity while the pitchers of Yale, Princeton and Amherst had the benefit of the best professional advice in the country.
In the middle of the winter, Bean, from whom much was expected as a pitcher, and who was one of our heaviest batters, was obliged to leave college. The nine, in spite of these set-backs, worked manfully all through the winter, and was just getting ready to begin the championship contest when Winslow, who had begun to show evidence of extraordinary ability as a pitcher, was taken ill and was obliged to stop play. The pitching, consequently, devolved on Nichols and Allen, who have each done remarkably well, in spite of the disadvantageous circumstances under which they undertook the task. Still it could not be expected that without previous practice or training in the position they could do as well as men who have enjoyed the advantages of training under Ward, Goldsmith and Keefe. As if these misfortunes were not enough, at the very beginning of the season most of the best players in the nine were successively maimed and prevented from playing, so that of the men who now constitute the nine all but three, Smith, Beaman and Lovering, have been obliged to lay off one or more games. This was, of course, fatal to systematic practice, but its bad effect has not been so marked as would naturally have been expected.
We dwell so long on the various setbacks we have received, not for the purpose of attempting to excuse the bad success of the nine, but to show that the causes of our poor record this year were, to a great extent, accidental. With one single exception - the rule against professional practice - all the causes have been practically unavoidable; and there is no reason to believe that they will be in operation next year. If, as is very probable, the anti-professional rule shall be made less stringent next year, there is no reason why we should not put into the field a strong and victorious nine.
All the players of this year, with possibly a single exception, will be in college next year, and there is every ground for encouragement. The play of the men individually, without exception, has been good. Allen, who has filled the positions of pitcher and catcher, did himself great credit in both positions. His catching, in particular, has been remarkable, and he is without question as fine a catcher as there is in the college base-ball arena, with the possible exception of Hubbard, who has had the benefit of three year's practice. His pitching has at times been very effective, and more experience will make him a very valuable man between the points.
Nichols, who has alternated with Allen in each position, has shown up remarkably well in both. As catcher there is little to choose between him and Allen, although Allen is a little quicker in throwing to bases. As pitcher he has shown great and excellent control of the ball. The fielding of both Allen and Nichols in pitcher's position has been all that could be wished for. At the bat both men have worked with a will, and have showed steady improvement. Much is to be hoped for from the two men next year.
Smith, at first, has played a fair game. Although at times he has appeared careless and has made errors on comparatively easy balls, some of his plays have been brilliant and his pickups are wonderful. At the bat he has made no hits since the first Yale game, when he put two hot ones to his credit. His base-running as yet is rather listless and he is too much inclined to watch where the ball goes when it leaves his bat. All these faults, however, can be remedied with careful practice by another season.
Coolidge, at second, has not played as perfect a game as last year. He has had fewer chances and has had no opportunity for last season's brilliant plays. The spraining of his ankle at the first of the year has been a hindrance, as he has constantly been obliged to favor it. This has also affected his base-running somewhat, though hardly to an appreciable extent. At the bat he has been unfortunate, knocking hard high flies to the field; but his record is nevertheless good.
Beaman has played a wonderfully accurate third base and easily leads the college third base-men. His throwing to first has been perfection and many of his stops have been brilliant. His batting is weak, as is also his base-running.
Baker has played a beautiful game at short and has made many brilliant stops and throws. He is too apt to throw wild on recovering from a difficult ball or a slight fumble and has sometimes showed a lack of care; with these exceptions he has played short for all it is worth. His batting has been strong and sure and his base-running good.
LeMoyne has played an errorless game at left field and easily heads the list of left fielders. He is evidently the right man in the right place. His batting has not been particularly strong, but shows improvement.
Crocker has been unfortunate at centre field. He has had few chances and has made several unfortunate errors. As captain he has worked hard and faithfully, and the poor success of the nine is certainly not due to any remissness on his part.
Of Lovering it is hardly necessary to speak. His play throughout has been simply wonderful. He is probably as fine an out-fielder as there is in the country, and his perfect record on second speaks well for his ability as an in-fielder. He has improved greatly at the bat and is now one of the surest batters in the nine, while his base running is sharp and quick.
Nichols played but two games at the beginning of the season, but covered himself with great credit in both. It is to be regretted that he was unable on account of sickness to continue playing.
Keep has made an excellent record in the games he has played. He has batted well and has shown up well at running bases.
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