In 1916, The Newspaper Enterprise Association ran a series of brief articles called “One Minute Talks with Ballplayers.”
Pat Ragan talked about his Boston Braves teammate, Tom Hughes.
Hughes won just 19 games over parts of five seasons in the major leagues from 1906-1914, then, in 1915 and 1916, he won 32, including a 16-3 mark in 1916. His success was attributed to doctoring the ball.
“(Hughes) is accused of scratching the surface of the ball with his fingernails, but that’s all bunk.”
While Ragan conceded that “No pitcher likes to hurl a pure white ball, “he said that wasn’t Hughes’ secret:
“There is no kick about the way Tom pitches. He simply has mastered something new and I doubt if there are other fellows who can do with knuckle clutch pitch what he can. He pitches it as a knuckleball partly overhand and partly side arm.
“The great wiggle it takes or the quick break is due to the way he delivers it and the number of fingers he uses when he throws the ball.”
After his two seasons as a 16-game winner, Hughes was hampered by arm injuries and won just five more games in 1917 and 1918.