Have you seen the short movie about Johnny Price? The movie was on after the Lou Gehrig story on TCM and my wife yelled at me to come and see this guy. My whole family watched in absolute amazement. I guess the coolest thing to me was his ability to literally take 2 balls in one hand and throw one to catcher and one to 2nd base at the exact same time (with one hand while standing at the pitchers mound). The 3 balls to 3 catchers all with different strikezones that he hit perfectly with one throw (all 3 balls in one hand) was also amazing.
This blurb (below) cannot begin to show how amazing this guy was? Makes you wonder why Phil Dumatrait can't throw strikes with one ball in his hand.
The hitting while suspended upside down was also amazing. The video said that he worked on that feat for 8 years. The leaping over the back while both feet are in the air (parallel to the ground almost) catch was also amazing in slow-mo.
If you can ever get the chance to see this video you have got to see it. Baseball fans and even non-fans will be amazed.
Johnny Price was born in Winborn, Mississippi on 13 November 1912, and went on to become a fine baseball player, signing his first professional contract at the age of just 19.
Then after languishing in the minor leagues for almost 10 seasons he realized that his dream of major league baseball stardom might never be realized so he embarked on developing and mastering a large number of tricks with bats and baseballs, all specialized routines which would then allow him to stay involved in the game of baseball for many more years.
While playing in the Pacific Coast League in the late 1930s, he began to establish a following and started performing these many, varied tricks and routines before games as the crowds arrived.
In comparison with other well-known baseball entertainers who relied on comedic routines, he utilized his amazing baseball skills to delight and fascinate fans wherever he appeared.
One of his more famous tricks was to hang upside down from a special A-frame rig to take batting practice at home plate, where either batting left-handed or right-handed he would proceed to spray balls all over the infield and outfield, which were thrown at him by opposing pitchers.
He could also catch fungos between his legs, behind his back, through the buttons on the front of his uniform top, and even down the neck of his uniform behind his head.
One of his most popular routines was to throw three baseballs with one hand and have each of them land in a different catcher's mitt, all within the strike zone.
Another of his great feats was to throw two baseballs simultaneously from home plate that would go out to teammates standing on the pitcher's mound and to second base, together.
In 1946, Bill Veeck, the owner of the Cleveland Indians signed Jackie Price to a MLB contract, with the idea being that he would mainly be used as a pre-game entertainer. However, he actually made it into 7 games as a shortstop where he had 13 at-bats, having 3 hits, for a .231 average. The team's actual starting shortstop and manager was the later Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau who did not really appreciate having Price on the roster but put up with the idea due to influence from the owner.
During the later 1940s and on into the late 1950s he entertained baseball fans throughout the major leagues and minor leagues.
He then appeared in Diamond Demon (1947), a Pete Smith specialty. In this rather unique film he is seen with other ballplayers while performing his many standard tricks and routines, including an amazing stunt where he played in the outfield while riding in a Jeep, catching fly balls and line drives as he drove around on the outfield grass. He also can be seen suspended from a tree limb where he caught baseballs hit at him by three different batters at the same time, and one trick where he threw two baseballs in the air and then hit one forward and one backward, at the same instant, which were both caught by players spaced an equal distance apart in front of and behind where he was standing.
He travelled as far as the Caribbean nations in the 1950s in the performance of his by then famous act, before retiring in 1959.
Residing in San Francisco, he later worked as a bartender, all the while maintaining his flashy image through the wearing of colorful shirts and ties.
Unfortunately, Jackie Price died just a short time before his 55th birthday, a suicide, having suffered from depression for the last years of his life.
He was truly one of the greats in the game of baseball.