At the Carlton, Paladin is coming down and admires a woman. Hey Girl points out that all of his mail that week were bills, and shows him a newspaper article about a baseball game in Whiskey Slide Mines ending in four murders. After a seventh-inning massacre, Mayor Whiteside says that they need an honest umpire. Paladin finds the whole thing funny, but Hey Girl points out that his creditors aren't laughing.
Paladin soon arrives in Whiskey Slide and hears a gunshot. He takes cover and the townspeople hiding in the saloon tell him to get away unless he wants his head shoot off. The leader, McNagle, says that Paladin can get his horse. When Paladin goes after it, the catcher and his pro team across the street open fire and he takes cover. Their leader says that they just want to play fair, and their manager Marcus Goodbaby with them gets out a baseball rulebook. McNagle complains that it says everything that they do is wrong. The two sides argue and exchange shots.
In the mayor's office, Paladin finds more of the townspeople arguing with Whiteside. Their spokeswoman, Mrs. Cassell, wants Whiteside to get the game going before they lose their businesses because there's no game for the visitors. Paladin introduces himself and Sheriff Fix explains that they began betting on the game. When they reached the seventh inning, they started fighting, and now the game is hung up 73 to 68. All the money in town is tied up in betting, and Whiteside says that nobody was killed despite the newspaper reporting. Mrs. Cassell says that it won't help to hire a gunfighter, and Paladin explains that they have "umpires" in the East. He says that he's just going to umpire to get them to finish the game, and negotiates his $1,000 fee. The townspeople agree, including a reluctant Mrs. Cassell.
Paladin goes out onto the street and tells them that the only way they can play is by finding an honest umpire. He points out that he's the only stranger in town but he has experience in violence, and he was with Doubleday at Chancellerburg and witnessed the first curve ball. The two sides agree to let Paqladin try one umpire, with the pro team ahead by 5. The home team complains that the last 14 runs were run off while the two teams were fighting or taking cover. Paladin fires a warning shot and declares that they're officially tied, and tells them that they have two more innings to play.
The two sides leave cover and Goodbaby makes a speech about playing hard and fair. Once he's done, the two sides take the field aAnd Paladin notices that the pitcher is using a rock as a baseball. Paladin tosses it away and gets a baseball from Goodbaby, and the eighth inning begins. The catcher trips the batter as he runs, and the baseman punches him. The runner kicks the basement out of the way and one of the baseman's teammates throws a ball and hits his baseman by mistake. Paladin declares the runner safe and points out that the baseman dropped the ball. McNagle agrees to the call as long as Paladin is blind for both sides.
The next batter comes up and hits a long fly. An outfielder catches it but goes through a window in the process. The townspeople don't care about the damage, and the next outfielder falls into a trough. A baseman trips the runner and he's forced to lose a base. Goodbaby tells the batter to take a hit, and he stands there and lets the baseball hit him. He takes a base and the next batter hits a ball to the outfield. As he runs for home, the catcher gets the ball and all four runners jump on him. A fight breaks out and Paladin confirms that the catcher dropped the ball. He ignores both sides as they protest.
Eventually the home team goes to bar, and the catcher hits the ball down the street. He strolls around the bases while the pros form a chain to toss the ball back. Even so, the batter easily makes his home run. In the ninth, the home team catches one hit. The next batter takes a hit and goes to first base, and Paladin ignores the home team's protests. Oudry catches the next ball and tries to set up a double play, but fails and his own teammates yell at him. Oudry turns to Paladin, who points out that the ball is still in play. They run to get the ball, and the next batter hits a long fly. The catcher draws his gun and fires a shot, and the two teams attack each other. Paladin declares the nicked runner safe.
The two sides meet in Whitehead's office, and Paladin says that they're tied. He insists that they can still finish the ball game if he disarms both teams. Mrs. Cassell complains that the game only teaches brutality and time-wasting, and figures that the professionals will wait. Goodbaby has no choice but to agree, and Paladin tells them to disarm starting with McNagle.
Out on the field, McNagle tells his teammates about the armistice and they hand their guns over. Goodbaby has his team hand his guns over as well, and tells Paladin that they don’t' have the cash to pay off if they lose. They never thought the home team could defeat them. Paladin tells Whitehead that they call the game on account of civil disrest, and advises him not to make any more bets on strangers.
Paladin goes over to tell the townspeople an announcement, and fires his gun. Goodbaby and his team quickly leave off, while Paladin tells McNagle and the others that what they do if they would won would haunt their dreams. He tells them that they'll find their guns with the sheriff in Tucson, and then rides off with Goodbaby as they ride out of town.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 1, 2018