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City in 1948, a catcher signaled the pitcher for a pitchout, but the maneu- ver didn’t go quite as he had planned. A pitchout is a type of pitch in which the pitcher deliberately throws the ball outside the strike zone so that the batter cannot swing at it, giving the catcher a better chance of snatch- ing the ball and throwing out any runner who tries to steal a base. In this case, there was a runner on first base, and the pitch was high and wide, just like the catcher wanted it. Unfortunately, the catcher didn’t catch the pitch very well. The ball skidded off his mitt and shot into the home plate umpire’s facemask. The catcher grabbed at the ball, but it wouldn’t come free. He pulled off the umpire’s mask and slammed it to the ground, trying to dislodge the ball. That didn’t work. By the time he was able to free the ball, the runner was standing on second, trying to suppress his laughter.

Balls have also been put out of play temporarily during the course of a game by being lost in the ivy at Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs) and in the tall outfield grass at

errant bat, and the crowd roared its approval. After the game, Stuart was asked whether that was the biggest cheer he had ever received. “Heck, no,” he replied. “One night the fans gave me a standing ovation—I caught a hot dog wrapper that was flying around first base.”

Trading Oddities While teams still trade players, free

agency has made it a lot easier for them to get the player they want without giving up a player they want to keep. Thus, it’s unlikely we’ll ever again see an out-of-the ordinary trade like the one made between the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets in 1962. In April of that year, the Indians sent catcher Harry Chiti to the Mets, for “a player to be named later,” meaning that the two teams

l Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs gets behind a ball at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Behind Soriano is Wrigley Field’s famous ivy- covered outfield wall.

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other parks. At Gilmore Field, home of the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League in the 1950s, a ball even rolled into a paper cup, one of many that littered the outfield near the stands, and was lost. By the time the fielder found the cup containing the ball, the batter was rounding third and heading for home.

“Old Stonefingers”

Some players have been praised for being good hitters and criticized for

Dick Stuart, who played first base for the Pittsburgh

Pirates during the late 1950s

nickname “Old Stone- fingers” because of his shortcomings in the field.

Pirates during the late 1950s and early 1960s, earned the nickname “Old Stone-

their shortcomings in the field. One such player was Dick Stuart, first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As a result of his less-than-perfect fielding, other players took to calling him “Old Stonefingers.” But even “Old Stone- fingers” could surprise spectators now and then. During one game, a batter swung mightily at a pitch and lost his grip, sending the bat sailing out of his hands and careening toward Stuart at first base. Stuart cleanly fielded the



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