As part of my research for the article published just below on the London Twilight Baseball League, I have been enjoying a long email correspondence with Jeff Archer, the league’s central figure. There are many great stories that Jeff has shared with me that unfortunately did not fit into the article, but one of them definitely deserves an airing regardless, not least because Jeff went to the trouble of taking some reconstructive photos for what he describes as “one of the funniest things [he] ever saw on a baseball field.”
In Strike Four, Archer does not pull any punches when describing the main figures in British baseball at the time of his involvement, but the administrator Robert Garrod (along with a few others including the late Benny Benson) emerges as a real hero in the world of British baseball viewed through the eyes of a newcomer.
“Rapid” Robert Garrod (the nickname was ironic) is the player that caused Jeff such amusement. I hand over to Jeff now:
Rapid Robert Garrod devoted much time to baseball in all capacities. However, I gave him the moniker “the worldâ€™s worst fielder.” He was an okay hitter, but he was uncoordinated and was a travesty in the field. I used to say he was the only player in baseball history whose batting average was higher than his fielding average.
One day, he was catching. It was pretty brutal to say the least. On one pitch, the runner was stealing second. Rapid stood up, erect with arm straight over his head. He took a quarter step forward and tripped on home plate. When he fell, he did not bend his knees or waist and fall like one normally would, his body was in a straight line, with his arm still stretched upward.
I realize that words may not be able to adequately describe what he looked like, so I had my retired wrestler friend, Bryan Walsh, pose for a couple of shots. The one called “before” is what Garrod looked like just before he tripped on the plate. The one titled “after” is exactly what he looked like on the ground.
The correspondence that I have been enjoying was started off by Jeff, when he got in touch with BaseballGB after he picked up on a review I did of Strike Four. I reviewed the book after being tipped off about it by Josh Chetwynd, who has given me many interesting historical leads in the past year or so.