“A Baseball with a Mystery Attached to it”

13 Jun

The Chicago Tribune’s Hugh Fullerton claimed that somewhere at Chicago’s West Side Grounds, home of the Cubs, “if it has not decayed, there is a baseball with a mystery attached to it.”

Hugh Fullerton

Hugh Fullerton

The incident took place on May 11, 1899 “in the middle of a hot game between Louisville (Colonels) and Chicago…this ball disappeared—and as far as anyone knows never yet has been found.”

Fullerton said:

“The score was 4 to 4 in the seventh inning, with Chicago at bat, when Arthur Nichols, the little catcher, came up with one man out. He whanged into the ball and drove it safe to right.  Charlie Dexter threw to second and Nichols slid safe just as the ball arrived.  Tommy Leach was covering second base, and as Nichols slid he lost sight of the ball.  He said it struck his forearm and fell to the ground, and when he started to pick it up it wasn’t there.  He thought it was under Nichols and waited until the runner arose. The ball was not there.

“Nichols waited and held the base, fearing the ball was hidden and he would be tagged out. (Claude) Ritchey and Leach were busy hunting for it.  Everybody joined in.  Still Nichols feared a trick and stuck to the bag.  After five minutes umpire (William) Smith, who was working on the bases, called the Louisville players down, and after accusing them of hiding the ball threw a new one into play.  Chicago kicked and Nichols was ordered to run home.  He ran, but Smith sent him back to second and ordered play begun with a new ball.”

Art Nichols

Art Nichols

Pitcher Jack Taylor singled to right, and Nichols was thrown out at home plate by Dexter.  Louisville went on to win the game 5-4 in ten innings.

Fullerton said:

“Leach, Nichols and Ritchey, the only men near the ball, vowed they never saw it.  What really became of it no one seems to know.”

The Box Score

The Box Score

3 Responses to ““A Baseball with a Mystery Attached to it””


  1. “The fans make us the ‘goat’ for Everything” | Baseball History Daily - November 21, 2013

    […] January Hugh Fullerton said in The Chicago Tribune that Loftus “probably will give him a chance.”  But in early […]

  2. Em Gross | Baseball History Daily - February 5, 2014

    […] the 19th Century during five major league seasons between 1879 and 1884.  The Chicago Tribune’s Hugh Fullerton, no stranger to hyperbole, called Gross “perhaps the heaviest hitting catcher that ever donned a […]

  3. Things I Learned on the Way to Looking up Other Things #25 | Baseball History Daily - August 15, 2018

    […] “Jack Taylor and Nig Cuppy had fair speed and a fine curve ball, with the added advantage of a slow ball, and good control.  The latter, I contend is the most important asset a pitcher can possess.  My six greatest pitchers are: […]

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