DAVE BRESNAHAN, a catcher for the Williamsport (Pa.) Bills of the Eastern League, may never merit even a footnote in the annals of baseball. But when the definitive history of sporting vegetables is written, he will have an entire chapter devoted to him.
It will tell of his famous pickoff throw made on Aug. 31, 1987, and how it sailed past third base, enticing the runner for the Reading Phillies into coming home -- only to be tagged out by catcher Bresnahan, who was still holding the ball.The object he had thrown wildly past third, it transpired, was not a baseball, but rather a potato.
In this chapter, titled "Up From the Root Cellar: New Horizons for Tubers," it will also be told how the umpire, improvising furiously in the absence of any guidance from either the rule book or a cookbook, declared the runner safe at home, how Mr. Bresnahan was removed from the game, fined $50 by his manager (who called the potato play "an unthinkable act for a professional") and soon thereafter given his outright release by the Bills (an action that his lowly batting average of .149 might have had something to do with).
As to what the chapter will say after that, we can only speculate, but we hope it will say that Mr. Bresnahan did all one man could to move the focus of baseball's great debate from foreign substances on the ball to domestic edibles replacing the ball, that he caused sportscasters to pause over certain hoary cliche's ("He really creamed that one!" and "That ball had eyes!" are two) and that he helped not only the Eastern League but some large part of the Eastern Seaboard to finish August in slightly better humor than usual.