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The Natural

Bernard Malamud

Batter Up! Part III

Batter Up! Part II

Batter Up! Part III, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Bump Baily, after being treated in a maternity ward (a money-saving measure on the Judge's part), dies. Memo mourns for Bump, banging her fists on the wall and screaming his name. After a few weeks of mourning, she comes out of her hotel, dressed in black with her red hair showing on top; Roy wonders what she would look like if her dress were red and her hair black. Roy is still taken with Memo, even more so now that she is in mourning. He tries to forget her, but he has a "long memory for what he wants," so he simply accepts his desire for her. He believes her dislike for him begins to fade to a "neutrality" that he can eventually beat.

At Bump's funeral, Pop tells Roy not to blame himself for Bump's death. Roy responds that he never thought such a thing, but he is a bit uneasy when Pop tells him that Memo thinks otherwise; she believes Roy willed Bump into smashing himself on the wall. Roy does not believe it, but he does take Bump's place on the team.

The fans make little distinction between Roy and Bump, even going so far as to refer to Roy as Bump. Even Otto P. Zipp applauds Roy, though a bit half- heartedly. Newspapers, however, constantly compare Roy and Bump, revealing how absolutely similar they are in shape and ability. Over time, though, Roy begins to distinguish himself through his amazingly consistent hitting. He soon leads the league in hits, though he refuses to bunt, claiming bunting would do nothing for his record. Roy also refuses to use any bat aside from Wonderboy.

Roy alone wins many games for the Knights, but Pop is suspicious, believing it to be mere luck. The rest of the players wonder whether Roy, like Bump, plays solely for himself—wanting only to set records and gain fame—or for the team. The Knights begin to rise in the standings, reaching sixth place. New fans start coming in droves, snowing under the previous fans that had "come to watch [the Knights] suffer," but Zipp stops attending the games. Pop's hands heal, as does his heart, and he becomes a better manager and coach. The fans finally begin to forget Bump.

Despite his talent and contributions, Roy is still making no more than the $3,000 for which he was signed. He climbs the crooked tower overlooking the field to meet the Judge to ask for more money, but the incredibly stingy Judge refuses to give Roy another dime. The Judge tells Roy a story about a farmer, with the moral that "the love of money is the root of all evil." The Judge then presents Roy with a bill for a uniform that Bump destroyed. Roy angrily tears up the bill and throws it over the Judge's head. Roy has not won more money, but he has succeeded in making the Judge angry.

Outside, Max Mercy hounds Roy and tries to find out something about his past. Roy mentions only that the Judge has given him no money. Max takes Roy out to a club called the Pot of Fire, owned by Gus Sands, the "Supreme Bookie." There, Roy discovers that Memo is with Gus. Gus, who has a glass eye, claims he has an amazing ability to win bets. He quickly demonstrates this talent to Roy, winning $600 from Roy in the process. Gus tries to waive the debt, telling Roy that he will call in a favor someday, but Roy is not keen on that idea. Roy disappears and returns suddenly with a towel on his arm. Soon he is pulling tricks, drawing silver dollars from Gus's nose and a dead herring from Max's mouth. Gus and Max are humbled, while Memo laughs.

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