THE "SPIT" BALL
Renewed Protest By Manager Fielder Jones Notwithstanding the Possession of a Great "Spit Ball" Pitcher the Chicago Manager Declares That this Delivery Injures Base Ball
Special to "Sporting Life," August 3, 1907
Chicago, Ill., July 31 - Although two "spit" ball pitchers helped him win the American League pennant and one of the two was responsible for the White Sox winning the World's championship last fall, Manager Fielder Jones, of the Champions, is in favor of doing away with the "spit" ball. "I warned Comiskey against the evils of the 'spit' ball two years ago," said Jones recently. "He laughed at me and said baseball was more prosperous than ever. That may be all true, but I would be willing to wager that the crowds would be even larger if it were not for the 'spit' ball. Comiskey was on the Rules Committee when I begged him to have a rule inserted prohibiting a pitcher from moistening the ball, but he thought that my fears were groundless."
"In my opinion the 'spit' ball is doing a great injury to the game. In the first place, it is not natural. In the second place, it is not cleanly. Lots of people do not like to go out to the park and watch a pitcher slobbering all over a ball. Thirdly, the use of the 'spit' ball lengthens the games, as pitchers who depend upon the 'spit' ball consume so much time applying the moisture. Another reason is that when a 'spit' ball pitcher has good control of his 'spitter' the opposing team can consider itself lucky if it gets a hit. I do not care what some others may say, but a hit off a 'spit' ball is nothing but luck. The fans went crazy over Wednesday's game in which all hit the ball hard and the fielders had a chance to make some fine stops and catches. That's base ball. The rooters like to see the ball hit or a fine piece of fielding."
"Then again, with a 'spit' ball man in the box, the fielders behind him are more liable to make errors in consequence of the slippery condition of the ball. Furthermore, a fielder with a nonspitter in the box knows generally where to play for the batter. With a 'spit' ball pitcher at work, it is much guesswork with him. A left field hitter may hit to right field and vice versa. It is said that 'spit' ball pitchers would not have to be feared because they would be unable to control the ball. Such talk is ridiculous, for any good 'spit' ball pitcher has as good control as any of them who do not use the delivery in question. Two years ago, when I made the first kick against the 'spit' ball, Chesbro and Howell were practically the only 'spit' ball pitchers. Now we have Walsh and Smith, Cleveland has Liebhardt, Berger and Rhoads, Philadelphia Dygert, New York Orth and Brockett, Boston Winter and Pruiett, Detroit Mullin and Willett, St. Louis Howell and Morgan."
TIME TO ACT
"By another year there may be twice as many and it would be no surprise to see all the pitchers within a few years using this delivery which injures the game. Now is the time to act. Let the league instruct its umpires to call every ball pitched in which the pitcher uses the saliva a ball and this delivery will be killed in short order. Then we will see a stop put to star pitchers being made of twirlers who have nothing but plenty of moisture with which to dampen the ball."