Finding the Hidden Ball Trick

The Colorful History of Baseball's Oldest Ruse

By (author) Bill Deane

Paperback - £43.00

Publication date:

18 February 2015

Length of book:

276 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442244337

The dying art of the hidden-ball trick dates back to the early days of pro baseball, with seven successful executions documented in 1876 alone. This ruse occurs when a baseman conceals the ball instead of returning it to the pitcher. When the runner steps off the base, he is summarily tagged out with the hidden ball. The trick has been used some 264 times with success, a rarity roughly in the class of the no-hitter. The hidden-ball trick has produced many hilarious stories throughout the years, and even enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in 2013 when it was employed twice late in the season.

Finding the Hidden-Ball Trick: The Colorful History of Baseball’s Oldest Ruse, every known execution of the hidden-ball trick in the major leagues is documented, compiled from decades of research. This book recounts how the hidden-ball trick has completed triple plays, ended games, resulted in two arrests, cost a Hall of Famer a managing job, and even occurred in a World Series. Stories include how Fred Merkle gained revenge on Johnny Evers, how Gary Carter was caught to end a game—on his birthday—and how Lou Boudreau was nabbed the day after saying the play was obsolete.

In addition to a complete chronological listing of every documented ruse,
Finding the Hidden-Ball Trick also includes descriptions of tricks that went awry and a list of unsubstantiated accounts. This unique compilation of baseball stories will be of interest to baseball scholars and fans alike.
I met Bill Deane at the Baseball Hall of Fame library in 1991, when he was the Senior Researcher there, and I've been marveling at his research expertise ever since. He's in the handful of top researchers (by that I mean dogged, tireless, and ingenious). . . .This treasure-trove of baseball tales makes for a fast, entertaining read. . . .I recommend Deane's book for many reasons: the sheer wealth of lore he excavated; the shrewd way he organized it; his compelling quest for documentation, and the sometimes glowing, sometimes grumbling accounts by generations of reporters.