Did a Cubs Player Really Fall Into a Manhole While Trying to Make a Catch?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: A Cubs outfielder misplayed a ball in the outfield due to falling into an exposed manhole!

In the 1970s, former Cubs pitcher Warren Hacker recalled a game the Cubs played against the Dodgers in the mid-50s (Hacker’s recollection was collected in a few places after first appearing in Chicago Today)…

We lost a lot of close games in those days because the Cubs weren’t scoring a lot of runs. But this one took the prize. I’m pitching one day against Brooklyn in the old Ebbets Field and we’re ahead, 2-0, in the bottom of the ninth.

They got the bases loaded, two out. Then somebody hits this fly to right-center, and over goes [Eddie] Miksis, who was our centerfielder. But he falls into a hole. Really, there was a manhole out there and the groundskeeper forgot to put the top on it. Miksis falls right through, three runs score, and we lose, 3-2.

I looked out there and thought a midget was playing centerfield.

At 3.8 runs a game, the Cubs WERE well under the league average of 4.25 runs per game in 1956, but otherwise, was that story correct?

Basically, nope.

The event Hacker was remember happened in the bottom of the THIRD INNING in a scoreless game between the Cubs and the Dodgers on June 27, 1956.

With one out, the ball was hit to Eddie Miksis is deep center field. The game had been delayed twice by rain, so there was an open drain by the wall. Miksis slowed down to avoid the drain, and instead he banged into a drain cover leaning against the wall. The ball ended up being a double.

A single plated the run and that was it for the scoring in that inning.

So rather than being a game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth, it was a one-out hit that led to the first run scoring in the bottom of the THIRD inning.

The legend is…


Thanks to Arthur R. Ahrens’ great research for clearing this one up.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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