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I had been into 1886 for no more than an hour, and lo!
"I've just found the first time the hidden-ball trick was played! In history!" I cried.
Mac Mac Farlane's eyes—as they were not reluctant to do, for all their venerability—twinkled. "Good going, Kid," he said.
Here it was on page 1 of the Sept. 13 issue of The Sporting News :
FOUTZ'S SHARP TRICK.
"It happened in a game between St. Louis and Louisville," I went on. "On September 8, 1886. 'In the presence of 6,000 persons, Foutz played the sharpest trick ever seen on the ball field.' Pete Browning was on first for Louisville, and took a big lead because Charley Comiskey was playing way off the' base in rightfield. 'Pete had his back turned toward second base, and was keeping an eye on the movements of Comiskey, while he eagerly pranced back and forth to show the crowd that he was not afraid to steal off a bag. Foutz pretended not to watch Browning, but suddenly....'
"Wait a minute," I said, my heart sinking. "What position did this guy Foutz play?"
Mac Farlane did not know, but moved to look it up in one of many volumes. This time, I was quicker. I advanced the microfilm to the box scores. They were old. They were faint. But there was the game in question, and there was Foutz.
"His name was Dave," said Mac Farlane. "He was..."
"He was pitching," I said. I had not found the first hidden-ball trick after all.