The BASEBALL RELIQUARY Inc.
In October of 2000, the Baseball Reliquary acquired for its permanent collections what is believed to be the actual potato thrown by former minor league catcher Dave Bresnahan in one of the classic stunts in baseball history. In August of 1987, Bresnahan, then a 25-year-old second-string catcher with the Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Bills of the Class-AA Eastern League, decided to liven up a meaningless late-season home game. Before the game, Bresnahan peeled and sculpted a potato in the shape of a baseball. Behind the plate in the fifth inning, with the potato concealed in his mitt and a runner on third base, he threw the potato wildly past his third baseman, hoping the runner would think he made an errant pick-off throw. The play worked to perfection. The runner at third trotted home, and Bresnahan tagged him out with the baseball. An umpire retrieved the potato and awarded the runner home for Bresnahan’s deception. The following day, Bresnahan was fined by his manager and then released by the Bills’ parent club, the Cleveland Indians, for what they perceived as an affront to the integrity of the game.
his four-year professional baseball career was over,
Bresnahan, much like Rupert Pupkin in Martin
Scorcese’s film, The King of Comedy, became an
overnight celebrity. He received numerous interview
requests from around the world, and Bob Verdi of the Chicago
Tribune named him the “1987 Sports Person of the
Year.” In 1988, the Williamsport club held a “Dave
Bresnahan Day” and retired his uniform number 59.
Bresnahan told the more than 4,000 fans in attendance,
“Lou Gehrig had to play in 2,130 consecutive games and
hit .340 for his number to be retired, and all I had to
do was bat .140 and throw a potato.” Today, Bresnahan
is a successful stockbroker living in Tempe, Arizona.