Earp Called Bat Masterson Out

Exciting tale of the time two Old West legends squared off at a Faro table.


The Washington Post 1905

7/16/20222 min read

Earp Called Bat Masterson Out.

“While I'm loosening up on this subject of Wyatt Earp”, went on the man from Arizona. “I may as well slip in the fact which I don't remember ever to have seen in type that Virgil was the only man who ever succeeded in sticking Bat Masterson up at the point of a gun”.

“That happened when Bat was the night Marshall of Dodge. Virgil was running a Monte and Faro game in Dodge then Bat Masterson, like all of the night Marshalls of those days, had a way of dipping into the cash drawers of the boys who ran the games when he needed change. It wasn't exactly protection money, for the games would have gone on, Marshalls or no Marshalls, but it was just one of those little perks of the Marshalls of those days to pick out the drawers the spending dough that they needed. It was called “tolling out”. When a Marshall needed coin, he would step into a place where one of the games was going, and “toll out” of the drawer the dough that he felt he needed, and it was alright”.

“But Bat Masterson was hitting up there alfalfa juice one night when he bucked a Faro game across the way from where Virgil Earp was running his plant, and he, therefore, got a little reckless with Virgil's money drawer. He entered Virgil's place the first time when Virgil was out for a bite to eat, and reached in and took what he wanted. The Lookout for the game didn't say anything. It was the custom, and moreover if it hadn't been, Lookouts weren't saying things to Bat Masterson in those days. Bat went over the way to the other Faro bank, where he was slogging of his checks, and dropped the “toll out” in one deal. Then he returned to Virgil's outfit. Virgil was seated at his table, Masterson reached down into the drawer leaning over the table to do it, and picked up a few pieces of yellow bullion. Virgil knew that that was Masterson second swoop on the drawer that evening, but he didn't say anything. But, when, an hour later Bat, pretty well sauced up with the Mesquite fluid this time, sailed in and started to reach for Virgil's dust heap the third time, he did what nobody in Dodge or anywhere else had ever had the nerve to do to Masterson. He snapped up the gun that was hanging from the nail right alongside the money drawer, and he had it on the night Marshall so suddenly that Masterson was paralyzed with astonishment”.

“Stick em up, Bat,” quietly ordered Earp and Masterson’s and hands went up. “I ain't no hog, Bat,” said Earp, “then and that being the case I had a going stand for you being one. This is the third time you've hiked along this away tonight for “tolling out”. That's crowding the mourners a whole heap and it don't go. You can back out, keeping him up”. And Masterson, for the first time in his life, had to back 30 paces out of Virgil Earp’s bank, with his hands pointed to the zenith.