Pearce Chiles, an infielder/third base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, was born in 1867 in Deepwater, Missouri. I think it’s fair to say he was an all-around no-goodnik – although thieving miscreant is probably more accurate. Phillies’ backup catcher Morgan Murphy, fellow no-goodnik, devised a system where Murphy, using binoculars, would stand beyond centerfield and steal the signs from the other team’s catcher. Murphy would forward the signs via a telegraph wire buried under the field and connected to a buzzer in the third base coaching box where Chiles stood. The buzzer would vibrate under Chiles’ foot, and he would signal to the batter what pitch was coming. It was 1900.
Chiles never spoke publically about the scheme … but if he had …
Those idiots think the DTs ‘smaking my leg twitch.
It ain’t booze.
I hold my likker better ‘n any of ‘em.
I can stand out here all day in this goddam third base box. And, see, we paid a guy to lay down a wire and it’s buried right here where my right foot stands. I have to stand just so. But, if I do, Murph’ out there just beyond that centerfield point, puts his spyglasses on the other guys’ catcher, and from out there he pushes a button and presto – I get a jolt of pure electricity right through the wire, right to my damn foot.
Curve ball? Fast ball? Murph’s a catcher, he knows all the signs. I know from the buzz he sends me exactly what that pitcher’s gonna throw next.
One buzz, fastball. Two buzzes, something else.
Can you beat that? Continue reading