On this day in history: Catcher creates new variant on the hidden ball trick

The hidden ball trick is one of the favorite trick plays of most baseball players, and when it is done right, it is a useful tool for the defense.

In 1987, Dave Bresnahan created a new variant on the hidden ball trick involving a potato that he shaved and even painted stitches on. He hatched the idea throughout the season, while he served as the backup catcher for the Williamsport Bills (AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) and spent the majority of his time on the bench serving as the bullpen catcher. It was here that he started talking to the pitchers, and slowly hatched his idea. With the help of his teammates, they decided to try his idea on September 1st, 1987 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Reading Phillies.

In the fifth inning, there were two outs, and a runner on third. Bresnahan called time and told the umpire that his glove had broken webbing, and asked if he could go to the dugout and get a new glove. The umpire agreed, and Bresnahan got a new glove, that had a potato hidden in it that had been shaved and painted so that it looked like a baseball.

He then got back in his crouch, and called the pitch. When the pitch came, he jumped up and threw the potato to third base, but he intentionally threw it into left field. The potato exploded in the grass, but the runner did not see it because he was busy running home. When the runner arrved, he was tagged by Bresnahan, who was holding the real baseball.

Initially, everybody was confused, even Bresnahan’s own teammates. The third base umpire went into left field to retrieve the potato, and after some deliberation, home plate umpire Scott Potter ruled that the runner was safe at home, and charged Bresnahan with an error. While he was not ejected, manager Orlando Gomez was ejected, after he argued the call. Gomez was then fined $50 for his ejection.

Bresnahan was released from the Indians organization the next day, and his number was retired in a promotion where anybody could attend the game for just $1 and a potato.

After he was released, his playing career was over, although he did conduct numerous inteviews. Today, he lives in Tempe, Arizona, and works as a stock broker according to Baseball Reliquary, which has a piece of potato they claim is a piece of the actual potato. The story goes that the umpire who retrieved the potato simply tossed it in a trash can in the bleachers. A high school student immediately ran to the trash can and dug out the potato, which he took home and put in a jar that he filled with Denature alcohol that he got from his high school biology classroom. After offering it to the Baseball Hall Of Fame, he instead gave it to the Baseball Reliquary.



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