Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Soft Ball Trick

"Frank" Bancroft recently told a story explanatory of the occasional successes in the pitcher's box of George Washington Bradley. According to an exchange it was "Mike" McGeary who taught Bradley the soft ball trick.

The balls were always taken out of the paper boxes by McGeary and pounded until they became quite soft. Mac would have his men play a short field from the start and one or two runs were generally enough to win the games at St. Louis.

Bradley could make a soft ball talk, and with Clapp to coach him it was 3 to 1 they could win any game they played at home.

Bradley got a big reputation out his work that season and was secured by the Chicago Club for 1877 to take Al Spalding's place.

The ball was made livelier the next year, as the public demanded more batting, and without the help of McGeary and Clapp, Bradley made a bad failure and was released that fall.

The next season, while Bradley was with New Bedford, the Chicagos went there for a game, and Bradley proceeded to work his celebrated trick. He took the box containing the ball into the kitchen of the hotel and steamed it so that the label would come off.

Then he carried it to a carpenter's shop wrapped in the heel of a stocking, put it in a vise and pressed it until it was as mellow as a ripe pear. Then he put it back in the box, sealed it up and took it out to the game.

The ball was thrown to the umpire, who broke open the box and tossed the ball to Bradley. The latter grinned in his own original, fiendish style, and took his place in the box. "Brad" could make the soft ball do everything but talk. He sent it in with all kinds of shoots and curves.

In consequence New Bedford knocked the Windy City team out by a score of 5 to 1. Bradley was the hero of the hour. He could have had anything in New Bedford from the City Hall to a crank's best girl. These tactics were kept up and they won the championship of the New England League.

Bradley was again in consequence and signed with Troy next season at a good salary.
-The North American, December 27, 1895

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