Wrigley Field ivy yields ancient prize

CHICAGO -- When a ball got stuck in the Wrigley Field ivy vines Friday, it got Chicago Cubs bench coach Davey Martinez thinking: Were there any baseballs that got stuck in the famed ivy and were never recovered?

Martinez went rooting around the sticks and branches clinging to the brick wall in right field Saturday morning and claimed to find an old ball void of its leather covering and rotted down to the tightly wound strings wrapped around an inner core.

Martinez showed off his discovery Saturday morning in the dugout before taking it into the Cubs clubhouse for safe keeping.

His curiosity was piqued when Dexter Fowler hit a ball Friday that bounced up against the wall and got stuck in the ivy branches. Even though the ball was visible amid the vines halfway up the wall, the San Diego Padres outfielders stopped their pursuit, holding their hands in the air.

The ground rule states that when a ball gets stuck in the ivy, visible or not, play is dead. Fowler had circled the bases, but was sent back to second base.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after the game Friday and before the game Saturday that having one rule for the ivy is the best course of action, instead of two rules for when the ivy has leaves and when it doesn’t, such as in April.

If anything came out of Friday’s play it was that Martinez ultimately walked away with a memento from the past.