by Frank Hyde
January 15, 1952
part 3 of 4
Bedient Received 19 Pro Offers After Fanning 42
Batters in 1908 Strikeout Saga Against Corry Nine
Oldtimers still talk of his Bunyanite feats as a high school pitcher at Falconer, and his most astounding performance of all - 42 strikeouts in a single game.
Hugh was a fuzzy-cheeked youngster when he whiffed nearly a half a hundred Corry batters in 23 innings to set a world's record that still stands.
Answering a query from the writer at the time he was compling material for the Golden Jubilee observance of minor league baseball last spring, George Trautman, czar of the minors, wrote: "Thank you for calling my attention to the 42 strikeouts of Hugh Bedient in 1908. As far as all available records show, this is a world's record for any type of baseball."
And what a record it was - a record that has withstood time and the efforts of legions.
Two misconceptions have been handed down through the years.
1. That it was a high school game in which Hugh turned in his time-defying feat.
2. That he lost the 23-inning struggle to Charlie Bickford.
The facts are, it was a semi-pro game and Hugh didn't lose. He won when a bad infield throw allowed two runs to cross in the top of the 23rd inning. The final score was 3 to 1.
Bickford, who went the route for the Corry nine, died recently.
The feat made the wire services and offers poured in - 19 of them from professional clubs from Maine to California.
Goes to Fall River
Eventually Hugh accepted an offer from Fall River, Mass. of the New England League and reported in 1910. The following year he was called by the Boston Red Sox under the old "free draft" laws and reported to Florida for spring training in 1911. The bulky 55-man roster was hard to crack, however, and Hugh was soon on his way to Providence of the International League without a chance to show his stuff to the major league moguls in Florida.
Providence fielded one of the worst teams to ever play under the IL banner, losing 105 games. Three times during the 1911 campaign the club lost 13 straight games, but Hugh closed with a 8-11 record, imposing in view of the lack of support.
Up to Red Sox
The Red Sox head office had its eye on the rubber-armed Falconer rookie, however, and he was ordered up the next spring. He won 20 and lost 10 and went into the dramatic 1912 World Series, still a youngster, but a smart cookie with a slow ball he had developed during the summer and the heart to face unawed the peerless Christy Matthewson.
The Giants repeated as National League champions in 1913 with the great Jim Thorpe, who had returned from his ill-fated Olympic foray the year before, in the lineup. But the Red Sox fell to sixth place, Bedient winning 15 and losing 14. The club finished sixth again in 1914, Hugh packing an 8-12 record.
One day in 1914, Hugh was warming up in a pre-game practice when a barrel-shouldered youngster strode out of the dugout, picked up a glove and started to throw.
"Who is that," Bedient asked a teammate.
"A new pitcher," the player answered. "Kid's name is Babe Ruth. Don't look bad, either. Might be quite a ball player someday."
As baseball history now records, Hugh's teammate had just emitted a mouthful.
Ruth won two and lost one as a pitcher that year and the following season was shifted to the outfield.
Federal League offers had been flowing in and when the 1914 season closed Hugh decided to take a fling with the new circuit.
It was the last season for the Federal and a despondent Bedient returned to Falconer that fall.
No drastic action was planned against the early day jumpers as was instigated by Happy Chandler in the more recent Mexican League case. The American and National Leagues were happy to get rid of the Federal, so Hugh was not surprised when Roger Bresnahan, the great catcher of New York Giant and Chicago Cub fame, who was managing at Toledo, wired him an offer to report to the Mudhens.
Bresnahan had managed the Cubs the previous year - 1915 - ad he was anxious to make good at Toledo, hoping for a return to the big time. He was looking for a workhorse to stabilize a shaky mound staff.
Hugh to Toledo
Hugh proved to be the answer. He appeared in 53 games in 1916 and was the top fireman in the American Association. During the winter he developed an aching arm and when Toledo went into spring training in 1917 his flipper ached worse with each passing day.
"I believe you can work it out if you keep throwing," Bresnahan told him. "I want to pitch you in the opener against Indianapolis."
Hugh toiled away in the hot sun at Dawson Springs, KY, Toledo's spring training base, but realized in an exhibition game with the Red Sox at Toledo that he did not have his stuff. He opened against Indianapolis, nevertheless, and went eight innings before being hoisted for a pinch hitter. Dazzy Vance finished.
Next: Bedient Roomed With Ruel