DEADLY "SPIT" BALL A Doctor's Protest Against the Filthy and Dangerous Practice
Cleveland, O., May 14 - Dyed in the wool fan though he is, Dr. Martin Friedrich, health officer, puts the ban on the spit ball. He says that the greatest national game is no longer the cleanest of sports. "The spit ball is unsanitary," he declared in disgust after witnessing Harry Howell's spit ball working in all its slimy effectiveness. "It's a dirty habit, that spit ball business," he declared after the game. "Base ball has the reputation of being the cleanest game in the list of sports. Since the game today, I challenge that assertion. Why, that pitcher is making the strongest kind of a bid for a dyspeptic old age. Consider for a moment, the possibilities of the practice. Suppose he was a victim of tuberculosis - and base ball players are not immune, by any means - what would a man's feelings be with a batted ball covered with microbes coming at him like a shot out of a gun? His contract compels him to face the chance; there is no escape. Today we were powerless; we should have lost. That ball was a cross between a flea and an eel in its elusiveness. Ah, that spit ball! It brings me such disgust. There is no law to prevent it. There is only one consolation; we won."
Sporting Life, May 18, 1907