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This Day In Sports: Wilbert Robinson Tries To Catch A Low-Flying Grapefruit

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AP Photo

Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, and Hugh Casey Recall the Tale of the Flying Grapefruit.

March 13, 1915: Wilbert Robinson, the then 52-year-old manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, agreed to catch a baseball from a low flying airplane after none of his players would accept the challenge. The team was in Daytona Beach, Florida that year for spring training. As it turns out, female aviatrix Ruth Law was also in town dropping golf balls from her plane as a publicity gimmick for a local golf course.

The Dodgers recruited Law to help execute the ball drop, but as fate would have it, Law was never given a baseball to throw. At the suggestion of a member of her ground crew, Law substituted a grapefruit at the last minute and tossed it from her cockpit.

Robinson set himself for the catch, but the grapefruit struck him in the chest and knocked him to the ground. It exploded into a juicy mess of citrus pulp, with Robinson believing that he had been mortally wounded and covered in his own blood. Robinson called for help from his players but they merely doubled over in laughter.

Unfortunately, there is no official record of how many sprints the Dodgers ran that day under the watchful eye of their sour manager.