The Toilet Paper Tigers


From the book:

At our next practice the professor didn't even show up! When I got there, the only other person around was this girl. She was about my age, with blonde hair, and wore Day-Glo orange sunglasses, a New York City T-shirt, army fatigues, and pink high-tops.
She flipped up her sunglasses and barked, "Name!"
"Uh -- Corey Johnson," I said, mystified. "Where's Professor Pendergast?"
"Oh, P.P.'s going to be late. He's showing some Korean scientists around the particle accelerator. I'm handling things until he gets here."
"Who are you?"
She grinned broadly, and held out her hand. "Kristy Pendergast. 'Tsup?"
"'Tsup?"' I repeated, shaking her hand weakly. It took me half the season to figure out that 'tsup was Kristy's way of saying what's up? which, I think, meant hello.
"Yeah! How you doin'? Que pasa? What's shakin'? How's it goin'? 'Tsup?"
I jumped on the only thing that made sense. "Pendergast?" Then I remembered why our coach volunteered for his job in the first place. "You're the professor's granddaughter!" I said, snapping my fingers
"Word," she approved.
I stared at her. "Word?"
"You know, check, , affirmative! Yes," she added when she saw my mouth drop open in total confusion. "I'm visiting for a few months. I'm from New York, dude! The parental units are doing the Europe thing this summer, so I'm chilling out down here with my main man P.P. Now -- Johnson -- Johnson --" She checked her clipboard. "Okay, you're starting in left field."
"What?" I blurted. "I'm a pitcher!"
Kristy shrugged sympathetically. "So's this kid Kevin Featherstone. Sorry, bro."
"But shouldn't we hold a tryout to see who's better?" I demanded.
"Earth to Johnson; Earth to Johnson," Kristy chanted. "Featherstone's the sponsor. He puts up the bucks -- his kid plays where he likes."
I couldn't believe it. "Mr. Featherstone said that?" Kristy was shaking her head and clucking sadly. "You just don't get it, do you? You rural dudes expect life to be fair. You should spend a few days in New York. Reality sandwich, man. Left field."
At that moment, Kevin showed up. "You're the pitcher," I told him, choking on my reality sandwich.
"Yo, Featherstone," Kristy greeted him. "'Tsup? Kristy Pendergast. I'm in charge here."
Notice how she promoted herself from "handling things" to "in charge"? Well, by the time the Tigers were all there, she was "assistant manager," "batting coach," "trainer," and "public relations chief."
I have to admit she was fair. She was just as annoying to everyone else as she was to me. Ernie Macintosh's glove was too small; Luis Bono was the catcher and should have been wearing cleats; Casper Howard's socks were drooping; this wasn't right; that wasn't right; they do it better in New York; blah, blah, blah. I sat there, burning inside. Who died and left her king? I was just about ready to start a dugout revolt when the professor walked in.
"Grandpa! You got here just in time! That's terrific!"
The professor's face lit up at just the sight of her. "How's my little princess? Have you been getting along with my team?"
"Oh, yes, Grandpa!" she smiled sweetly. "We're all great friends!"
Wait a minute. What happened to yo, and 'tsup, and P.P. my main man? It looked like, when the professor was around, the reality sandwich turned into a snow-job casserole.
The first order of business was our uniforms, which were ready at last. They were white, with FEATHER-SOFT TIGERS printed in blue. Between the words was a roll of toilet paper. On each sheet was a picture of a tiger holding a baseball bat.
We all packed into the washroom hut to get changed.
"Can you believe that girl?" I complained. "Bad enough that our coach is a zero, now we have to put up with Kristy!"
"Why does she talk like that?" asked Ernie Macintosh.
"Oh, she's much cooler than us!" I said sarcastically."She's from New York. All New Yorkers talk that way."
"No wonder New York has so many problems," Ernie decided. "No one can figure out what anybody else is saying."
Tim pulled off his sweat pants."Hey, you don't think that, since the professor can't really do it, Kristy might try to coach us herself?"
"No!" I exclaimed in horror. "Absolutely not! Under no circumstances is that girl --"
Suddenly, there was a click and a brilliant flash blinded us. When the dots cleared away from my eyes I saw it. A camera was stuck in through the open door. And we were all standing around the bathroom in our jockstraps!
I cried out, "Hey --" but the hand disappeared. The door shut behind it.
We suited up in seconds and rushed outside to find Kristy patting her camera.
"What'd you do that for?" bawled Ernie.
She was totally calm. "Yo, man, haven't you ever heard of team pictures?" She snickered. "I hope I got everybody's good side."
"Give me that camera!" I snarled through clenched teeth.
She frowned. "I heard you in there dissing my main man P.P."
"Dissing?" I repeated.
"Disrespecting!" she translated. "Somebody has to keep you jerks in line."
"You think you can push us around because you've got a picture of -- of that?"
"Not at all." She replaced the lens cap on her camera. "Of course, you guys wouldn't want a picture like this to fall into the wrong hands --"
"Not our mothers!" blurted Tuba Dave in agony.
I lunged for the camera but Kristy deftly held it just outside my grasp. "No more cracks about my main man P.P." she said firmly.
"Well, he isn't exactly a baseball expert!" I said feelingly.
"You know, you dudes are all starting junior high this September." Kristy mused. "Wouldn't it be unfortunate if a copy of this picture just so happened to get pasted on every locker in the school?"
My breath caught in my throat. A gasp of horror rose from my fellow Tigers. We'd all heard rumors about how tough it was to be a seventh grader at Spooner Junior High. If Kristy's picture got around, we'd be laughingstocks!
I looked her straight in the eye. "You don't have the nerve."
She laughed in my face. "Get real, bro. I'm from New York."

Copyright © 1993 Gordon Korman, used by permission

The Toilet Paper Tigers were the dregs of the Little League, a team selected by being the only players left when the coach finally remembered to show up the day they were drafting players. Professor Pendergast was a wonderful guy, but he didn't know beans about baseball.

Enter Kristy, the Professor's pushy granddaughter. She's New York Hip, cooler than a slab of beef in a meat locker, and determined to bring her grandfather's team to victory. If that means running roughshod over the players and prying in their personal lives or even blackmailing them, so be it.

But surely the Toilet Paper Tigers don't have a chance … their catcher is afraid of the ball, their pitcher can't throw, and their power hitter may send the ball deep into the outfield, but he's never once made it to first base. No chance at all … until Kristy starts to work. And with some dedication and a magical lepton particle, who knows what this annoying girl might accomplish.