Mice in Centre Field

Play ball! Benny the Bullet and his Mouse Baseball Team take on the Rink Rats in the World Series. Will Benny’s friend the Big M get there in time to help his team? Will the Rink Rats try to cheat as usual? Read all about it in this sequel to the popular hockey book – Mice at Centre Ice.

EXCERPT
Chapter 4

They marked out the bases on the floor of the rink. Figaro and Mizzy stretched a piece of net behind the batter’s box.
“Time for batting practice,” said Benny, pulling his cigar case helmet over his head for protection. “Play ball!”
Running to the pitcher’s mound, Benny felt good. In great shape. At the peak of his form. Maybe he and the others really could help the Mouse Baseball League win the World Series!
Peppy stepped up to bat just as a big commotion broke out on the other side of the rink. Benny’s heart almost stopped beating. Three of the Rink Rats were headed their way.
“Here comes trouble,” muttered Peppy. Big Boris grabbed the bat. “Gimme that thing,” he said. “Playing ball looks like a piece of cake.”
“That’s what you say,” Peppy cried.
“Shut up, fatty,” said Packer. “The Boss wants to learn how to play baseball. And you’re going to teach him.”
“The big bully,” Peppy muttered half under his breath.
Figaro and Mizzy watched nervously.
“Well, what are you waiting for, squirt?” cried Big Boris. His scrawny legs were bent at the knees as he hunched over the plate. “Throw me a fast one.”
Benny tried to spit on the ball, but his mouth was so dry that he couldn’t swallow. He wound up and threw a fast ball, but his heart wasn’t in it. The Rats had spoiled the game.
The ball whizzed across the plate. Big Boris took a wicked cut at it and managed to catch it on the end of his bat. The ball came straight for Benny, low and mean. He raised his glove. The ball drove his glove into his face, knocking him flat, but Benny held on to the ball.
“Out!” cried Peppy.
“What do you mean, out?” Big Boris sneered.
Figaro ran over to help Benny to his feet.
“It was a line drive,” insisted Peppy. “Benny caught it fair and square.”
“Fair and square my eye,” said Big Boris. “I knocked him down, didn’t I?”
He threw the bat down, cracking it in half.
Benny’s nose hurt, but he was so angry he could hardly contain himself.
“That’s not the way to play ball,” he screamed. “Where’d you learn baseball? In the sewer?”
“I never learned,” said Big Boris. “I’m a natural.”
The Rat shoved his cigar butt to the other side of his mouth, and grabbed another bat.
“How about a little batting practice?” he said. He bent at the knees and waited for another pitch.
“You’re out!” said Benny. “This is a scrub game. If you were playing, you’d take your place as a fielder.”
“But you’re not playing,” Peppy said with a gulp.
“I don’t want to be a fielder,” growled Big Boris. “I want to hit.”
“You know the rules,” Figaro explained patiently.
“No, he doesn’t,” said Sergeant. “What do you think we’re here for? To learn the rules.”
“I’ve changed my mind,” said Boris. He threw the bat at the net behind home plate, knocking it over. “We don’t need any rules. We’re good enough to play with the Baseball Rats against mice any day of the week.”
“No one invited you to play,” Benny reminded him “You big bullies. Why don’t you start your own baseball league?”
“I like the idea of Olympic Stadium, that’s why,” Boris said. “I hear they’ve got enough grub there to feed an army,” He licked his lips. “Hot dogs, hamburgers, peanuts…”
“Why don’t you find your own food for a change?” sputtered Peppy.
The Rink Rats were never happy unless they made life miserable for the mice, thought Benny. “You’ll never find the Big O,” he said angrily.
“Ever heard of ‘follow the leader’?” asked Big Boris, leaning dangerously close to Benny. “You lead, we follow.”
He put his head back and shouted with laughter.
“Let’s go get some shut-eye, boys,” Big Boris ordered. He jerked his thumb towards the locker room.
The Rats straggled over to the boards and disappeared through the gate. The mice stared after them.
“There’s no time to lose, said Benny. “We can’t wait until morning. If we want to give Big Boris the slip, we’ve got to leave now. Otherwise, they’ll ruin the World Series. Ruin it for everyone.”
“Big O, here we come,” shouted Peppy, turning a somersault.

Suitable for Grades 3 and up.

Published in Scarborough, Ont.: Nelson Canada, 1989

ISBN 0-17-602589-8

127 pages