Where’s the Baseball Duffy Lewis Sent to Nashville?

The Sporting News Report

Along with an ad by J. F. Hillerich & Son proclaiming Duffy Lewis of the Red Sox “Batting Hero of World’s Series Used a Louisville Slugger Bat”, the October 21, 1915, issue of The Sporting News reported Lewis also sent a World Series (won by Boston over the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1) signed ball to J. F. Fleming in Nashville:

“A ball which was in play in the last game in Boston in which Duffy sent to center field bringing in the winning run in the ninth inning has been autographed and sent to one of his personal friends in the city, J. F. Fleming, chief operator of the Western Union Telegraph Company. Mr. Fleming prizes the souvenir very highly.”[1]

Was 1915 World Series Hero

The writer did not get it quite right: Duffy Lewis’ home run came in game 5 in the top of the eighth with one on (Del Gainer) and tied the game 4-4 (the ball bounced over the fence, counted as a home run until 1931). Played in the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, Harry Hooper’s home run in the top of the ninth won the game for the Red Sox over the Phillies and the World Series 4 games to 1.

So, Duffy did not bring in “the winning run in the ninth inning” – Hooper did – nor was the ball Fleming received in play in the last game in Boston: the last game in Boston was game 4, and neither Duffy nor Hooper hit home runs in that game.

Nonetheless, Duffy batted .444 during the Series on eight hits in 18 at-bats, driving in five of the twelve runs the Red Sox scored in their five-game triumph over the Phillies. A stellar defender in the field, he also made game-saving catches of which Boston Globe sportswriter vowed impeccable: “The all-around work of the modest Californian never has been equaled in a big Series.”

Baseball Sent to Nashville’s J. L. Fleming

It is a ball of significant importance, whether the ball sent to Nashville was the one hit by Lewis, or possibly, Hooper. Four future Hall-of-Famers played with Lewis on the 1915 Red Sox World Series team: Hooper, Herb Pennock, Tris Speaker, and Babe Ruth. Lewis’ hit came off Phillies pitcher Eppa Rixey, also in the Hall of Fame.

Mr. Fleming should not be blamed for prizing his possession of a 1915 World Series game-used ball. According to the 1915 Nashville City Directory, he was chief telegraph operator for the Western Union office, and his obituary stated he was also Associated Press operator at the old Cumberland park and at Sulphur Dell.[2] Not much else is known about him except his parents were born in Ireland. Although it is more curious whether he was a Red Sox or Duffy Lewis fan, the real question to be answered is this: What became of that old ball?






Paper of Record


Along with these sources, Duffy Lewis’ biography published in SABR’s Bio-Project was also consulted.


[1] “Nashville Talks of New Team,” The Sporting News, October 21, 1915, 5.

[2] “John F. Fleming, 74, Telegraph Operator, To Be Buried Monday,” Nashville Banner, December 13, 1936, 3.

© 2021 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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