Untold Stories Are the Best
This Is One That Has Never Been Told
BASEBALL WAS KING AT THE TURN OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. AMERICA was looking for an idol from the college playing fields and they found one in Arthur Brown Bradsher, the best pitcher in the country. He had pinpoint control, movie star looks and cum laude intelligence. One newspaper reported, “Every woman in the South wanted to marry him and every baseball boss in the country wanted to own him.”
The Trinity College “strikeout king” captured the hearts of the Southern fans and newspaper reporters after he pitched three shutouts in eight days in April 1902, striking out forty-three batters and allowing a total of three hits. This phenomenal performance remains unmatched in the annals of college baseball.
The legendary John Heisman, nicknamed Arthur Bradsher, King of the Southern Diamond, after he started the 1904 season hurling twenty-five consecutive no-hit innings.
In 1905, the pros offered Bradsher $10,000, the largest amount of money ever to a college ballplayer. Would it be his love Lizzie or baseball? Would he pitch for Boston and lose Lizzie? Or would he decide on a life of love and family
The narrative non-fiction, 95,000-word, sixty-picture work depicts much more than the exciting escapades on the ball field. It is a tender love story between Trinity college sweethearts Arthur Bradsher and Lizzie Muse, their deep faith in the Lord, and their family’s adventures on the 100-acre farm, Summerlea.
A section in the back of the book entitled “extra innings” and a full glossary of baseball terms compliment this work which is well-referenced.
King of the Southern Diamond came from the desire of a grandson to know his grandfather that he never met. It is based on four years of research, 300 newspaper articles, family letters, family conversations, diaries, and with special help from the Duke University library.
Love, God, baseball, family, and adventure… King of the Southern Diamond touches all the bases.
Eight Days in April
If I'd known I was gonna pitch a no-hitter. I would have got a haircut.
Bradsher’s no-hitter and nineteen strikeouts against Wake Forest caught the attention of every sports writer in the South.
His stunning performance was his first induction into the elite No-No Club. His, and Chadwick’s, preparation for the contest really paid big dividends. Bradsher started the game striking out the first five batters he faced. He struck out the side four times.
As shadows set in in the bottom of the ninth, he looked as strong as he did at the beginning of the game.
Don’t get careless and focus on every pitch, Brad thought. Let’s reel in my first no-hitter.
The North Carolina marvel struck out the side securing the seven to nothing shutout.
When the dust settled, there were nineteen students sitting in a row holding their K signs, for each of his strikeouts. The Trinity Twirler had the Wake team off-balance all day long with his movement, change of speeds, and placement of pitches. He struck out nineteen frustrated batters without walking a single hitter or allowing a single base hit.
Two days later, reporters from Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Greenville, Anderson, and Spartanburg stood next to the fence by the bullpen. Half the press had cigarettes dangling from their lips and they all wore hats. They stood a mere five feet from Bradsher. They watched him fire well-placed fastballs and three varieties of his sharp breaking curveballs and drop balls to his all-star catcher.
Chadwick barked out different pitches he wanted to be thrown by his star southpaw: “Drop ball on the outside corner at the knees, and fastball high and tight under the chin.” His catcher would re position himself on every pitch and shouted like a drill sergeant, “hit the black edge before every ball that was thrown.”
Pitch after pitch hit Chadwick’s mitt with a loud slapping sound. He hit the middle of the target every time.
“Holy crap!” said Walter Jones, of the Morning Post, “the kid doesn’t miss. He puts the pitch at the precise spot every time.”
“You aren’t kidding,” answered Fred Spatz, of the Durham Sun. “He refuses to go to the middle of the plate. If he mixes his pitches like he’s doing now, no one will hit him,” the reporter said as he took a long draw on his cigarette.
Jack Wilson, of the Charlotte Observer,chipped into the conversation, “I’ve never seen a pitcher with the command of his curveball, drop ball, and change of pace like Bradsher possesses.”
“No two pitches look alike, and balls come to the hitter at all different speeds,” his sassy receiver brags to the reporters. “This North Carolina wonder is a strikeout artist that can paint the corners of the plate with every pitch. He can put a strike on a flea’s butt and isn’t afraid to throw his curveball with a 3-2 count. It’s his knockout punch.”
His cocky catcher stood from his crouched position and reached for the water bucket a few feet away. He set it in the center of home plate and turned to walk to the bench. After he walked twenty feet with his back to his star pitcher, he yelled, “put the ball in the bucket with your 12-6.”
Bradsher started his wind-up brought his arm back, coiled his leg and let the ball fly. He released the ball straight off the top and its intense spin took the ball from six-feet high down to the height of the bucket of fourteen inches.
Chadwick never looked back, but when he heard the splash in the bucket, he lifted both hands in the air and flapped them excitingly and shouted, “yes!”
The Trinity ace smiled sheepishly as he walked past the bug-eyed reporters, a few still staring in disbelief at the bucket and the baseball bobbing up and down in it.
“Good afternoon, gentleman. I hope you enjoy the ball game today.”
Nine months before the Guilford game, Bradsher and Chadwick made a pact. Chadwick agreed to teach Bradsher how to pitch: the relationship between a catcher and his pitcher, the mechanics of pitching, the steps necessary to become the best pitcher in the game.
After three weeks of intense training sessions on the art of pitching, Chadwick abruptly held up his hands. Brad let’s stop and talk for a minute. “Tell me how good you want to be in the game of baseball?”
The hard-working lefty took in a deep breath, then raised his voice, “I don’t want to be good. I want to be great! I will work until I’m absolutely the best pitcher in the college game. As you say Walter, ‘the big cheese’ that dominates the opposition.”
“Let me give you a few morsels of advice,” Chadwick began. “Besides the daily hard work and discipline, which you’ve shown every day you’re willing to do, there’s an important mindset any great pitcher needs to have time every time he throws a baseball.
“You need to concentrate on every pitch you ever throw. You need to learn that every pitch matters. You’ll never win a game with four or five good pitches, but it’s very easy to lose a game on four or five bad ones.”
“Thank you, Walter, for everything you’re doing for me. Let’s take a run to the ball-field.”
The umpire, Mr. Williams screamed “Play Ball.” Bradsher was ready to face a very good Guilford team. The reporters from three states were chomping at the bit. After watching his amazing warm-up session, they had their pads and pens ready to record another great game thrown by the strikeout-king of the South.
Chadwick was in a crouched position ready for the start of the game when the umpire bent over the plate to brush it off. His rear end was pointed in the direction of the pitcher’s mound and he found himself looking into the backstop’s stare. The two sets of eyes were less than twenty-four inches apart; so close the catcher could smell the tobacco on the ump’s breath.
Chadwick reached towards the plate and with his index finger tapped it on the edge. “Mr. Williams, my boy, Bradsher is going to put his balls on the black edge all day long.”
“I hear you, Walter,” he said with a grin.
From the beginning of the game, it became evident that Guilford was no match for Trinity and Bradsher. The southpaw sensation struck out the first three batters he faced. The contingency of fans who had traveled from Durham became delirious early.
The boys from Greensboro couldn’t catch up with his ninety-two-mile an hour fastball. He froze the batters with his curveball and made them look silly.
After going through the Guilford starting nine for the first time, he could tell what the hitters were thinking by the way they swung at the ball the first time around. By the sixth inning, the Trinity southpaw had struck out eight batters and seemed to get almost every close call from the umpire. Chadwick was a great ambassador between his star pitcher and the ump.
Bradsher retired the first eighteen batters he’d faced. As he walked to the mound to begin the seventh inning, a couple of enthusiastic fans rolled six hard-boiled eggs out on the field in the direction of the mound. They screamed, “goose eggs, goose eggs, goose eggs,” in anticipation of another shutout from their southpaw star.
The Trinity Ace smiled at the fans' antics and thought, only nine more outs for the second no-hitter in two days. I can do this.
With two outs in the seventh inning, the catcher, Sellers, lifted a weak pop behind the first baseman, Smith. The ball was Smith’s play to make, but he hesitated on it. He was late getting to the ball, and it popped out of his mitt and fell to the ground. Holly crap, Bradsher thought. These fellows with these small mitts must learn to use both hands on every ball they go after.
“No harm was done,” Chadwick yelled out to his batterymate. Everything is okay. The no-hitter is still intact. Let’s get this last batter in the inning and regroup, he thought. “Throw him the dark ball, Brad, throw him the dark ball.” He directed his next comment to the batter, “get ready Camie, you are about to get a visit from Uncle Charles.”
The Trinity Southpaw closed out the inning by striking out the pitcher, Cameron, on a wicked breaking ball.
As the players made their way to the bench, the scorekeeper climbed his rickety ladder to put another goose egg on the board. To the astonishment of everyone, he put a one in the hits column.
The fans booed for ten minutes. A half-dozen fans threw their hot dogs, bags of popcorn, and soft drinks onto the field.
Other fans were screaming, “Home cooking, good ole home cooking. What’d you think, we weren’t looking?” They shouted the slogan over and over for five minutes.
Chadwick was livid. He walked over to the almost empty water bucket and kicked it fifteen feet.
He turned next to first basemen, Smith. With veins bulging on his neck and his fists clenched, he screamed at Smith, “You can do better than that. Your pitcher deserves more than that sorry effort you made on that ball!”
Next, the angry catcher sprinted over to the scorekeeper’s table. He slammed his fist on the table and snarled at the terrified young man that had scored the dropped pop up as a hit. “That was no hit, that was no hit,” he shouted.
The terrified scorekeeper felt his warm urine running down his leg.
The next thing Chadwick knew, he is being muscled by someone from behind who wrapped their arms around him to contain and settle him down. “Everything is okay Walter,” Bradsher said in a calm voice. “Let’s finish the game and catch the train back to Durham.”
Trinity and Bradsher did just that. The sophomore strikeout king held Guilford hitless the rest of the way. He finished the day with eleven strikeouts and a 13-0 victory.
On the train ride back to Durham, Bradsher said to Chadwick, “we’re different and sometimes I don’t understand what you say and do. Walter, you are my best friend. I know you always have my best interests in your heart. “I thank you for your caring and willingness to fight for me.”
Time Is So Precious
A man who wastes one hour of time has not
discovered the value of life
On a Summer night in 1949, Grandfather Bradsher speaks to his family.
“In life, children, time is the great equalizer in that each minute has sixty seconds, each hour of the day has sixty minutes, and each day has twenty-four hours. Time is a very valuable commodity in our life. Sometimes, life is cut short without a moment’s notice.”
He scratched his chin. “In your teenage years, you need to start recognizing what is truly important in life. On rare occasions some teenagers do this very well and use their time to accomplish great things. Many do not and waste a lot of precious time.
“One of my first priorities I put into place in my teenage years, was to strive to achieve a high level of education. Your grandmother and I were very fortunate to have mothers that believed in the value of education and set the standard of excelling in college, which we both did.
“Your grandmother was smarter than me, but I did manage to graduate with honors, cum laude, my senior year. I got my master’s degree my fifth year.” He placed a rock in the jar.
“At seventeen, playing baseball was very important to me. I wanted to be recognized. I was willing to work hard to become a great pitcher. At first, I didn’t know how difficult it would be, but I stuck with it. I felt like the hard work in learning to pitch would teach me discipline.
“It was a great opportunity to make new friends and represent Trinity College with honor.” He put another rock in the jar to represent his five years of achievements in baseball.
Arthur picked the largest rock out of the bucket. It was the size of a baseball. “What priority do you think this rock represents? As you can see by its size, it is the most important accomplishment in my life.”
“Marrying Grandmother,” they all screamed out!
“Exactly,” he continued, “it turned out to be the most important decision I ever made in my life.” Grandfather walked over to Lizzie and gave her a warm kiss. The grandchildren cheered him on.
Marien thought, their deep love is immeasurable.
“At the time, I was considering marrying your grandmother, I had to make a tough decision: whether or not to go into major league baseball. Boy, was I recruited to do so. The owners came a courting, and most said just name your price. There were offers of $10,000 to play with the pros.
“There was one problem. There was no price that could be put on having a happy marriage with Lizzie and having a large family. I felt like I would lose her if I took their offers, so I declined them.
“So instead of putting a rock in the jar for a major-league career, I’m putting five rocks in to represent the five fine children that were born to your grandmother and me, and we would have the opportunity to raise and educate. He looked over to his first born, Mary, and winked at her.
“Grandchildren, you’re probably too young to understand some of our summer talks and the importance I hope they play in your later life. I want you to feel like I told you the story of my life.
“One of the great loves of my life besides your grandmother, life on the Neuse River, and baseball, has been my and Lizzie’s involvement with the churches wherever we lived. We’ve been evenly yoked in our Christian beliefs.”
“What does evenly yoked mean?’” five-year-old Dottie asked.
“Imagine you have two oxen pulling a wagon,” he began. If the oxen are tied into their harnesses an equal distance from the cart, then they can pull the cart in a straight line without struggling. But if one of the oxen was tied into the harness eight feet from the cart and the other was four feet from the cart he would be very difficult to pull the cart without veering off the road. There would be conflict.
“Your grandmother and I are equally yoked in that we both share the same beliefs in serving God and the right way we raise our children. You might say we’re the same distance from the cart.”
The patriarch continued, “I was inspired by your grandmother’s belief in the Lord and her commitment to serve her church shortly after I met her. She told me about her summers spent at Morehead City training to supervise the Sunday School program at her church.
“I was called by my faith to lead and be to be a superintendent of a major church’s Sunday School program would be a great way to help forty other church goers make it successful..”
He walked over and gently squeezed Lizzie’s hand. “I learned a lot from your grandmother.”
“Thank you, Arthur,” she responded with a smile.
“We would serve our churches in Durham, Petersburg and in Montreal,” he continued. “My next rock I’m putting in the jar signifies the priority your grandmother and I have placed on our Christian beliefs and serving the church.”
“What should the next rock represent, children?”
Elizabeth, who was one of the most outgoing of the grandchildren, answered enthusiastically, “Family adventures on the Neuse River during the summers in our childhood.”
“You’re very smart Liz. I made a great decision to buy this hundred-acre farm six years ago. Having our children and grandchildren spend summers at Summerlea has brought us closer together as a family.
“Children, the last rock is for my forty-five-year career in the tobacco business. Most people feel it would be the first rock you’d put in the jar because your career is all about the money. It’s my last choice because my wife and family come first to me.”
He grinned. “I have tried to be aware of crossing the line with your grandmother and my career, by not putting my job above my family. It’s was a tough act to balance, and a few times I’ve failed,” he said.
“What do you see?” he asked. “Is it full?” The jar was filled to the top with eleven stones.
Sandy answered, “Yes, Grandfather, it is full.”
He went over to the corner of the porch and picked up the bucket of marble sized stones and brought them over to the table. “Every day in our lives on this earth, we are faced with decisions on what we should do each day. Sometimes, we avoid the most important things we should be focused on.
“The smaller rocks signify the other things you deeply care about, or are interested in.”
“Things less important than you described with the larger rocks,” Patti offered.
“Yes, indeed,” he responded.
He put handful after handful of the small pebbles into the pickle jar and shook it. The pebbles started to fall into the gaps between the larger rocks. He looked at them and broke out in a wide grin. “Is the jar full now?”
The kids answered, “Yes, it is full!
He brought over a bucket of bone dry river sand to the table. He started putting handful after handful into the jar. He shook the jar and the sand filtered down into finding every possible crevice. “The sand represents the small things in life like reading comic books, listening to music, and talking on the phone.
“Listen carefully, children. If you put the sand in the jar first, there will be no room for all the rocks and pebbles. The same can be applied to our lives. If you spend all your time and efforts on the small stuff, you’ll have no room for the things that are truly important.”
He smiled at his ten-year-old grandchild, Patti, and asked her, “What does this mean to you?”
“Grandfather,” she began, “I think we need to decide what are our five or six priorities and focus on them every day.”
“Elizabeth, what did you learn from this lesson?”
“Don’t get bogged down with the small stuff, and let it eat up all your time during the day. Work on being master of the big stuff.”
He stood up. “Well, it looks like you both learned a valuable lesson tonight. Gather around and let’s hold hands and pray before we turn in for bed.
“Lord, our Heavenly Father, guide us to know what the most important things in life are and move us to focus on those things that you would find pleasing. We know that our love and faith in you and our prayers to you are one of those important things in life. Lord, thanks for this wonderful family. Please keep them safe, healthy and in your sight always. In Jesus’s name, we pray.”
Each of the children squeezed the hand they were holding and joined in, “Amen.”
“Okay, children, go get ready for bed.”
AFTER HE HAD READ TO THE GRANDCHILDREN, he gave them a kiss goodnight and tucked them in. He headed down the long staircase of the river house.
Halfway down, he heard Patti’s tiny voice. “I love you, Grandfather.”
Sunrise on the River
The soul attacks what it secretly harbor
She folded back the tent flap. “Arthur, wake up, it’s Lizzie!” Her broad smile and beaming face greeted him. Her beauty is so fresh, he thought. It’s 5:30 and the morning is still dark. “Let’s build a fire, Arthur, and watch the sun rise over the Neuse River.”
He started the fire with the bucket of pine cuttings and aged hardwood logs that Dr. Wilson supplied. The sticky sap was swallowed by the wanting lips of the bursting flames. The fire ignited, crackled and shot embers towards the darkened sky.
Both entered the tent and laid on their stomachs side by side. Without speaking, both looked out into the eyes of the distant horizon, waiting for the sun to show its first smile over the Neuse.
They were embraced by silence until a beautiful birdsong was heard over the gently flowing river. Lizzie ran her hand through his thick hair, kissed on the forehead, and whispered “I love you Arthur.”
“Kiss me Lizzie,” he said in a soft voice. He felt her tremble as their lips first touched. They kissed for five minutes without saying a word.
“I love you my dearest and always will. You have deeply touched my heart,” she said exiting the tent. She blushed and smiled. “You make me dizzy Arthur.” She laughed. “Let’s go up to the house and join Dr. Wilson for breakfast. I’ll cook for you gentlemen.”
They climbed the steep staircase to the river house, hand-in-hand. Lizzie looked back at the river and exclaimed, “Oh, my goodness, look at that sunrise.” Darkness had surrendered to the first blush of the rising sun. The pinkness they saw in the early morning sky mirrored itself on the magnificent river below. She squeezed Arthur’s hand tightly and kissed him on his cheek.
The kitchen smells of fried bacon, and strongly brewed coffee greeted as they stepped through the back door to the kitchen. Dr. Wilson stood over the stove, getting a head start to breakfast. He moved the sizzling and crackling bacon around in the heavy cast-iron frying pan with a fork.
“Everything smells and looks great,” Lizzie said giving Dr. Wilson a hug. When you finish cooking the eggs and bacon, I’ll cook some pancakes,”
“Good morning. You both look happy,” he said cheerfully. “Lizzie, you’re up mighty early this morning.”
“I wanted to Arthur to get up to watch the sunrise,” she said. Her face had become a blushed pink. “We have a lot to accomplish and enjoy the next two days.”
“What are your plans for today?” he asked the young couple, who were holding hands at the breakfast table.
Arthur responded first, “As soon as I finish breakfast, I’m going down to fly fish. The strippers and trout will be in a feeding frenzy at this time in the morning.”
“Son, I’ve put the fly rod and the spinning reel on the front porch I’ve attached a couple of my favorite lures and rustled up some fresh bait.”
“Thank you, Doc.”
“How about you, young lady? What suits your fancy for this glorious day?”
“I’m going to take a quick bath and then prepare a picnic lunch for Arthur and me to enjoy down by the river. I’m going to put down a blanket and sit by the edge of the river, read some poetry and watch him fish,” she said with a sparkle in her eyes.
“I have a quilt and a basket that Mrs. Wilson and I used on our picnics that you can use. There are some luncheon meats, cheese, and strawberries in the icebox. Help yourself.”
“Thank you for your hospitality.” She flipped the last batch of pancakes.
Dr. Wilson set the large platter on the kitchen table. Arthur stared hungrily at the bacon, sausage, and scrambled eggs. Lizzie set down a plate of pancakes and a bowl of grits next to the platter. The homemade biscuits and jam were the next to make their way to the table.
As they sat down to eat, Dr. Wilson said, “Let’s bless this meal.” The three bowed their heads and held hands.
“Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for all the blessings we receive from you this morning: our good health, our hearts open to love and friendship, our minds that are capable of learning so much and passing that knowledge on to others, and the food you provide to us to feed and nourish our bodies. Lord let this be a weekend this nice couple can learn more about each other and come together in mind and spirit. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen”
“Let’s dig in and enjoy this hearty southern breakfast. Young lady, please pass me the biscuits. Try the jam. I made it from the apples from the old crabapple tree on the back part of the farm.”
“Pretty yummy,” she said, after she bit into a biscuit smeared with the thick and sticky jam.
Arthur winked at his girlfriend. “What a fine meal this is,” he said. “I’m not sure I’ve eaten better tomatoes. They’re deep-red, ripe and delicious.”
“Kids, let’s get the kitchen clean so you can get on with your day.”
Thirty minutes later, Arthur was knee deep in the Neuse River fishing for trout with his fly rod. The crisp, September air and the glistening of the calm water lifted his spirits. He looked forward to spending quality time with his love.
With his back to the river, Arthur watched her descend the stairs from the bluff. As she walked towards him, he could not take his eyes off her. Her fresh look was breathtaking. She appeared happy as she approached him carrying a picnic basket and a patchwork quilt. She spread the quilt out on the ground. He climbed out of the river and took off his waders. “Let’s talk,” he said reaching out for her hand.
“I didn’t answer your question this morning about how many children I’d like to have.” He raised his hand and extended four fingers and thumb.
“Do you think if you play professional baseball, you could have a large family and be an involved father?”
“I don’t know, Lizzie.” He kissed her on her cheek. He stood up, put on his waders, and entered the river. He moved out into the water about fifty feet.
She didn’t go back to reading her book of poetry but kept a steady eye on Arthur as he cast his fly line into the water. The river glistened from the reflection of the sun. She was attracted to his tall, muscular body and his ever-present athletic spirit.
Lizzie asked, as he made his next cast, “Do you want to play baseball in the big leagues, Arthur?”
“I do,” he answered as a large trout violently struck his lure. He fought the trout for several minutes without saying anything to her. The spirited fish leaped twice out of the water about fourteen inches. Arthur fought the raucous two-pound fish for about three minutes before he netted the trout. He finished his statement, “I just don’t know if it possible to play professional baseball, have a large family and a successful marriage.”
As he turned to walk back to the shore, he was shocked to see that Lizzie was gone. He looked up to the bluff and saw her running up the stairs. Tears were streaming down her face.
Dr. Wilson entered the kitchen and heard Lizzie sobbing. Her head was resting on her arms on the table.. He placed his hand on her shoulder to comfort her. She raised her head to reveal a tear-soaked face. Sobbing and saying. “Oh, Dr. Wilson, I’m losing Arthur to the pros, I’m losing him to the pros!”
Hearing the screen door shut, Lizzie and Dr. Wilson turned to see Arthur standing in the doorway.
He looked frightened. “What’s wrong