July 11, 2012
A Correction from Down Under
Recently, I received an email from a former professional ballplayer named Barry Stace who wished to set the record straight about a piece that I had written back in 2009, extolling the wonders of Baseball-Reference's addition of minor league statistics. Stace, who hails from Australia, was one of several players whom a man using the name of Richard Perone helped obtain a professional contract back in the early 1970s, often — but apparently not always — under false pretenses, as part of a larger and more intricate yarn:
In his email, a rather upset Mr. Stace wrote, "Richard Perone signed me to attend spring training in 1973. I wish to note that at no time was I 38 years of age posing as a 21 year old. I was in fact 21 years of age and he at no stage helped me assume a younger identity. My year of birth is in fact 1951 and if the claims are to be believed I should be well and truly retired at the grand age of 80+ rather than managing a flooring company in Perth Western Australia. I would ask that this false accusation is removed immediately."
Retracing my steps to see how I arrived at my erroneous characterization, I came up with the following:
• The San Francisco Examiner clipping from 1983 referred to Pohle as having "Passed off a real Australian, he claims, as a 21-year-old reliever, although, Pohle said, he was actually 38. The Kansas City Royals signed him to a minor league contract."
• The Portland Press-Herald clipping from 2002 referred to Pohle arranging a tryout for "Barry Stance" [sic]) with the Royals.
Based upon that, it's not hard to see how I made the leap to connect those sources with Stace's B-Ref page identifying him as an Australian-born pitcher in the Royals system in accordance with the basic timeline of Pohle's account. My error was based upon a yellowed 26-year-old newspaper clipping detailing the apparently unverified exploits of a man who was not given to telling the truth 100 percent of the time. My deepest apologies to Mr. Stace, as no harm was intended; hopefully, i have set the record straight on that score.
Alas, I was also incorrect about Stace' status as the first Australian to play baseball in the US, a distinction that belongs to Joe Quinn, who played in four different leagues (the Union Association and the Players League as well as the AL and NL) from 1884-1901. I did unearth a 1973 newspaper clipping from the Ocala Star-Banner that reported, "Stace believes he is the first Australian ever to sign with an American League team," a claim I haven't been able to verify.
As for Pohle/Perone, who strove to see his story realized on the silver screen, he got his wish when a director named Steve Sturla put together a short film that debuted at the LA Short Film Festival in 2010. The film included a cameo — and an inspirational message — from the man himself. It's up on YouTube, and I present it here.