Fullerton Files: Tall tales

Hugh Fullerton's first byline in the Chicago Tribune came in January of 1905, in the "Worker's Magazine" section of its Sunday edition.

The section, promoted as "For the man who works with hand or brain," contained a dozen or so satirical stories. Fullerton's debut was titled "Makes Snug Income by Doing Odd Jobs."

He subsequently wrote a series of stories that began on Sept. 10 with "How I Lost My First Seven Jobs" and concluded on Dec. 24 with "How I Lost 66th & 67th Jobs."

The Nov. 19 entry, "How I Lost My 42d, 43d and 44th Jobs" described how he was fired by a newspaper in Cincinnati and then negotiated for positions with 2 others.

One of them hired him, then fired him 2 days later after finding out he had been dickering with the third paper. So he went to work for the third one, which fired him after 3 days for having worked at the second paper.

Soon after that, Fullerton headed for Chicago.


His first Sunday baseball column was published on Nov. 19, 1905, under the headline "Baseball Stories -- Some of Which Are True."

Here are 2 stories from that column involving a pair of Colts, as the Cubs were known when the events happened in the late 19th Century.

(Paragraph breaks added for easier reading)



"The luckiest game I ever saw won," spoke up Jimmy Ryan, "was an exhibition game we played with [Cap] Anson several years ago.

"There is an institution for the insane near Baltimore, and as we had an open date in between Philadelphia and Baltimore, Anson agreed to stop over there and play an exhibition game with the team which was composed of attendants and the better class of inmates -- those that were insane only on one subject.

"It was a charity game, as we got only our expenses and the receipts went to the entertainment fund.

"Well, we felt creepy playing against those people, and they had an insane pitcher who had us stopped. Bill Thornton was pitching for us, and although he tried his best, the score was 5 to 3 in their favor when the ninth came.

"Although it didn't make any difference, we didn't want the story to get around that had been whipped by a team of crazy men, so we worked as hard as if it were a championship contest.

"That team had a third baseman that had Collins or Nash beaten. He got everything that came near him.

"In the ninth inning, with men on second and third, I came to the bat and two were out. We needed a hit to win.

"The pitcher put up a fast one inside the plate, and, just as he started to pitch, a great big Plymouth Rock rooster flew up on to the fence and crowed.

"I walloped the ball straight at the third baseman, and the game seemed over, so I threw down my bat in disgust and started to jog to first.

"I heard the crowd yelling, and, looking over to third, saw the ball going out to left and the third baseman tearing across the field as hard as he could run.

"Two runs scored and we won the game.

"We found out afterwards that the third baseman had a hallucination. He believed he was a grain of corn, and when that rooster flew up on to the fence he thought he was going to be eaten up, so he ran away."



"That is true," vouched [Malachi] Kittridge, evidently hoping Ryan would back him up in the story he intended to tell. "I remember one of the strangest games that ever was pulled off.

"We were playing an exhibition game in Kansas, at Chisholm, I believe, and it was one of those real Kansas gales that was blowing.

"Talk about tough luck! Why, in the early part of that game the wind was blowing straight from the east-- and we were batting in that direction. The pitcher didn't dare hop when he threw the ball for fear of being blown after the ball and being hit with the bat.

"I remember [Bill] Lange hit one of those fast ones on the nose and started it for center field. It looked like a home run.

"The center fielder started out -- but the wind caught the ball and the center fielder turned and chased it back towards the infield.

"Then the second baseman started for it -- then the pitcher -- the the catcher, and finally it was caught by one of the gatekeepers back of the grand stand.


"Neither side could score -- all the pitcher had to do was to toss the ball and the wind shot it across the plate so fast you couldn't see it, and the catchers were all bruised up.

"We went out in the ninth inning, and they came in. Just then the wind whirled around and began to blow harder than ever, but from the west.

"[Bill] Hutchison, who was pitching for us, saw he would have to put all his speed to pitch against that wind.

"The first batter could not make a hit. The umpire called him out because he walked ten feet down into the diamond to meet the ball, which was nearly stalled by the wind.

"The next batter pushed up a foul -- but the wind caught the ball and blew it over the center field fence and we were beaten 1 to 0."

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