Goldman: Chick Stahl, the bridge that collapses, the bat that breaks

From SABR member Steven Goldman at The Hardball Times on July 31, 2019:

On March 28, 1907, Chick Stahl, one of the best center fielders the game had seen to that point, donned his uniform and prepared to play a spring training exhibition despite his extremely depressed state. He possessed a bottle of medicine that could serve equally well as a poison should he choose to misuse it. For a brief moment he weighed his life in the balance and made his decision. A few minutes later, dying in the arms of his best friend, the chemical he had consumed devouring him from the inside, he cried out, “It drove me to it.”

Ever since, baseball historians have speculated as to why a popular, recently married 33-year-old would, in the interstitial minutes between dressing for that day’s game and the umpire shouting, “Play ball,” take his own life. They have relentlessly theorized as to just who or what Stahl meant to indicate with the pronoun “it.” But “it” doesn’t matter. All that does matter is that “it” gave Stahl a chance to value himself versus whatever “it” was, and his life finished in second place.

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Originally published: August 2, 2019. Last Updated: August 2, 2019.