Baseball Writers: Hugh Fullerton
By Patrick Mondout
Hugh Fullerton III was one of the most well known sportswriters
during the first half of the 20 Century. He helped found the Baseball
Writers Association of American (BWAA) and they later rewarded him
with the Spink Award.
|HUGH S. FULLERTON
have the correct answer one
must know Fullerton."
Well known is his time, he is perhaps best known by modern readers for
his role in forcing Organized Baseball to investigate the Black Sox
scandal. Fellow Chicagoan and broadcaster Studs Terkel played him in the
has a number of baseball articles written by Hugh S. Fullerton:
On the Bench
1909: Deciding Moments of Great Games
Seeking the .300 Hitter
How to Win Games
Physics of Baseball
1912: The Baseball
Why Babe Ruth is Greatest Home Run Hitter
His protégés included fellow Spink winners Ring Lardner and Grantland
Rice. The latter wrote a biographical puff piece on Fullerton, which we
are including below:
The greatest baseball reporter in the world, described by
ANY man who has seen 3561 games of baseball, who has scored 178,569 put
outs, 98,562 assists, 14,442 stolen bases and 3987 double plays, must be
fairly well posted upon the lore and workings of America's national game.
Hugh S. Fullerton—Chicago "Chooey"— has not only seen
3561 games while scoring 178,569 put outs, 98,562 assists and the rest of
it, but in each play of each game he has taken the time to figure out the
whys and the wherefores—the causes and effects—as he went along, with
time enough and energy enough and enthusiasm enough left to look about him
and reflect upon whatever else life had to show along the trail that was
interesting or complex or both.
Fullerton is a vital part of baseball. The game has produced but one
Wagner, one Anson, one Mathewson, one Lajoie, one Cobb—and one Hugh S.
There are others who have seen as many games—who have watched these
games as closely. But there have been few others with all of this who have
had as keen an insight into the spirit of both play and player and who
have achieved deductions with so much skill and keenness—who have
excavated as deeply beneath the surface for all of importance that might
lie below the obvious and who have applied the result of these excavations
to the general trend of the contest.
To have the correct answer one must know Fullerton. If Hughey were
breaking in as a young pitcher he would be listed by the war scribes as a
" tall and rangy guy." He is well over six feet and his frame is
as lank as his eyes are keen and as his drawl is magnetic, and there isn't
much around him that his eyes miss seeing or that his ears miss hearing.
On a training trip with some ball club, no one will watch the work of the
players with any more intentness. But in addition Hughey is reflecting
upon the different shades of climate encountered, the varieties of food
and cooking along the way, the character and actions of the natives met
with in each hamlet and the modes and customs of the trail he is taking in
general detail. It may be the manner in which french fried potatoes are
handled one day and the condition of the putting greens upon some local
course the next, but in either instance it is a certainty that Hughey has
studied both carefully and overlooked no point of interest in his summing
The only wonder is that he can go to all of it with so much enthusiasm.
His specialty is whatever happens to be at hand—whether it be baseball,
cooking, golf, climate, people or local industries. For Fullerton is
almost as much of an expert at cookery and climate as he is an expert upon
diamond affairs. Whether it be at broiling a steak, boiling an egg,
compiling meringue, frying a sausage or baking a pie—or the general
average of cross currents in South Carolina or dry days in Oregon, the
author of "Touching Second," "The Inside Game" etc.,
is primed and poised for the test.
After graduating from Ohio State University and working through a
spring training on a country weekly, Fullerton broke into baseball as a
scribe under Comiskey's regime in Chicago. And like the Old Roman, one of
the chief causes of his success has been the faculty of making friends and
interesting them with a magnetism that isn't to be denied.
This faculty has kept him in close touch with the players and he is one
of the few baseball writers who can "pan" a ball player in
picturesque detail and still hold his friendship; for the player knows
that Fullerton is fair and will be quick enough to change when there is
cause for praise.
One would think that after scoring 178,569 put outs, the average scorer
would be about ready to close his book and turn to something else. But the
most rabid fanatic in the land is not more interested in the present
pennant campaigns than the man who has in detail 18 flag races in the
One of the chief causes of Fullerton's success as a baseball historian,
beyond his own insight and powers of deduction, is the great esteem in
which he is held by most players and the faith they have in his judgment.
Here's an example. One morning he was out completing some base running
tests with Tyrus Cobb, the Detroit star. Cobb faced a hard contest that
afternoon and yet continued to make play after play from home plate to the
different bases while Hughey held the stop watch. Finally Fullerton
noticed that Cobb's time was lagging considerably. He looked at his watch
and saw that the speed tests had extended beyond two hours and yet the
fleet outfielder had made no complaint of overwork. The answer was
Fullerton—a mixture of likeable drawl, friendly manner, keen pleasant
eyes and attractive personality that made even the Georgia Ghost forget
that his $10,000 underpinnings were getting to be a bit fagged and weary.
biographical sketch of Fullerton by Grantland Rice appeared in the August,
1912 edition of The American Magazine.