Robert E. Howard’s untitled story, “You,” said Shifty Griddle, pointing his finger at me . . ., is a compelling 700 words narrative set in the world of early 20th-century baseball. The story captures the struggles of a minor league baseball team and explores themes of integrity, innovation, and the impact of technology on sports. Through the experiences of Bill Donnelly and his team, the Tangertown Hornets, Howard delves into the intersection of sportsmanship and the darker influences of gambling and corruption.

The first appearance of this was in the Robert E. Howard Foundation Newsletter volume 7, number 4.


The story begins with Shifty Griddle, a notorious gambler, confronting Bill Donnelly, the manager of the Tangertown Hornets. Shifty demands that Bill throw an upcoming series of games to benefit his gambling interests, specifically against Jim Hanson’s Ironville Tigers. Bill, unimpressed and angered by Shifty’s proposition, throws him out of his office.

Despite Bill’s bravado, he is fully aware of his team’s poor performance. The Tangertown Hornets are a lackluster group, unable to perform well on the field. Bill’s attempts to boost their morale through bravado have failed, leaving the team as easy prey for opponents and attracting the attention of unscrupulous gamblers like Shifty.

As Bill watches another disappointing practice session, he is approached by Spike Reynolds, his scout and a former pitcher whose career was ended by an injury. Spike brings exciting news and presents Bill with an ordinary-looking bat and a peculiar device that resembles a small radio transmitter.

Spike insists on a demonstration to prove the efficacy of the device. He asks Bill to dismiss all players except Porky Heimer, the team’s weakest hitter. Bill pitches a fastball to Porky, who, to everyone’s amazement, hits the ball out of the park—a feat he has never achieved before.

In the locker room, Spike explains that the device is a new radio invention designed to enhance a player’s hitting ability. When used with the special bat, the device significantly improves the hitter’s performance, even turning the weakest batter into a formidable slugger. This revelation offers a glimmer of hope for the struggling Hornets, potentially transforming them into champions of the Mountain League.


  • Shifty Griddle: A gambler attempting to manipulate the outcome of baseball games for financial gain. He represents the corrupting influence of gambling on sports.
  • Bill Donnelly: The beleaguered manager of the Tangertown Hornets, struggling to improve his team’s performance and maintain his integrity amidst external pressures.
  • Jim Hanson: Manager of the Ironville Tigers, a rival team expected to win the series. He is the focus of Shifty Griddle’s betting schemes.
  • Red Kiliher: A pitcher for the Tangertown Hornets, known for his ineffectiveness in striking out batters.
  • Jim McCran: The shortstop for the Tangertown Hornets, one of the players struggling with hitting.
  • John Zimmerman: The catcher for the Tangertown Hornets, another player with poor batting skills.
  • Porky Heimer: The outfielder and the weakest hitter on the Tangertown Hornets, who surprisingly hits a home run using Spike’s special bat.
  • Spike Reynolds: A scout for the Tangertown Hornets and a former pitcher whose career was cut short by an injury. He introduces the miraculous bat and radio device to Bill, offering a potential solution to the team’s woes.

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