On November 6, 1974, the contents of a letter written by the late Sam Rice to the Hall of Fame are revealed in Cooperstown, New York. In the letter, Rice, who had instructed the letter be opened after his death, says that he did successfully make a disputed catch in the 1925 World Series.
From his SABR Biography – Game 3 1925 World Series –
Game 3 of the 1925 series was played in Washington amidst cold and windy conditions before a crowd of 36,495 that included U.S. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife, many other national dignitaries, and Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The demand for seats was so large that temporary stands were erected in right field, separated from the field of play by a four-foot tall wooden fence. The Nationals had taken the lead at 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning of a hard fought battle between the two clubs. Starting the eighth, Ed McNeely, who had entered the game as a pinch runner the inning before, took over defensively in center field, which moved Rice, who had begun the game in center, to right. Firpo Marberry replaced starter Alex Ferguson on the mound and opened the inning by striking out the first two Pirates he faced. The next batter, catcher Earl Smith, drove Marberry’s two-ball, two-strike offering hard towards the temporary seats in right center. Rice sprinted toward the ball, leaped short of the fence and made a backhand grab, tumbling head over heels into the stands immediately after the catch. He did not emerge until a few seconds later, clutching the ball overhead in his gloved hand. Umpire Charlie (Cy) Rigler, who had raced to the fence from his position at second base, signaled Smith out. An intense rhubarb followed. Pittsburgh Manager Bill McKechnie, owner Barney Dreyfuss (who leaped onto the field from his seat in the stands), and a host of Pirate players raced across the field to claim that Rice had not held on to the ball after falling into the stands. The four umpires conferred, satisfied themselves that Rice had made a legal catch, and confirmed Rigler’s ruling that Smith was out. The Nationals held their lead in the ninth and took a 2-1 game lead in the series.
The letter which originally thought it either didn’t exist or was lost was eventually found, it was dated Monday, July 26, 1965 and it read:
It was a cold and windy day; the right field bleachers were crowded with people in overcoats and wrapped in blankets, the ball was a line drive headed for the bleachers towards right center, I turned slightly to my right and had the ball in view all the way. Going at top speed and about 15 feet from [the] bleachers jumped as high as I could and back handed and the ball hit the center of pocket in glove (I had a death grip on it). I hit the ground above five feet from a barrier about four feet high in front of the bleachers with all my breaks on but couldn’t stop so I tried to jump it to land in the crowd but my feet hit the barrier about a foot from top and I toppled over on my stomach into first row of bleachers, I hit my Adams apple on something which sort of knocked me out for a few seconds but [Earl] McNeely arrived about that time and grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me out. I remember trotting back toward the infield still carrying the ball for about halfway and then tossed it towards the pitcher’s mound. (How I have wished many times I had kept it). At no time did I lose possession of the ball. Sam Rice.
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