In the latest blow to the credibility of our most hallowed institutions, the Elias Sports Bureau has admitted to fabricating a story over the weekend.
When two major leaguers -- Arizona's Stephen Drew and Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre -- each hit for the cycle on Monday, Elias announced that the rare feat had last been accomplished twice on the same day on Sept. 17, 1920, by Bobby Veach of the Tigers and the New York Giants' George Burns. Alas, that claim was no more accurate than a pitch by the Mets' bullpen.
"We at Elias learned this morning that the information we distributed on Monday night was in error," said Tom Statsny, Elias's president. "A bored employee simply made it up. For heaven's sake, George Burns didn't even play baseball. I'm not sure whether you'd call him more of an actor or a comedian, but I know he was really old."
The ruse has been traced to Joe Quigley, a college intern who was the only person working at Elias over the Labor Day Weekend. As soon as Beltre completed his cycle on Monday night to match Drew's earlier effort, Elias was inundated by requests from sportswriters on deadline asking when the last time such a statistical oddity had occurred.
"I don't want to make excuses," said Quigley, "but I was pretty upset that I was the only guy in the office. I had to skip a Labor Day barbeque, and my buddy told me there were a lot of drunk sorority girls there. Talk about missed opportunities. So I thought I'd have a little fun."
Quigley, a Detroit fan from Grosse Pointe, Mich., decided to honor overlooked Tigers outfielder Veach with part of his fake note. Veach was Detroit's starting leftfielder from 1913-23 and hit .311 for his career, but is all but forgotten because he was overshadowed by outfield mates Ty Cobb and Sam "Wahoo" Crawford.
"I never thought it was right that Veach didn't get more pub," said Quigley. "Just because he wasn't an ornery S.O.B. like Cobb and didn't have a cool nickname like Wahoo doesn't mean he should be forgotten. Even guys with boring nickname like 'JQ' don't deserve to have a cup of beer poured on them from a third-floor dorm window by some dumb football player. Not saying that happened to anybody I know."
As for coming up with Burns, Quigley concedes he pulled that name out of the air because he was watching Oh God! You Devil on Starz. Still, the intern insists he only meant his fabricated release to be a harmless prank. He didn't expect media members to believe it and run with the information.
"I thought I made it obvious I was kidding when I wrote than George Burns played for the New York Giants," said Quigley. "Come on, that's a football team, not a baseball team. Didn't anyone see the Super Bowl?"
Now Elias must work to repair its tattered image as the unimpeachable source of obscure baseball trivia.
"I don't know if I can trust Elias again," said a sportswriter who requested anonymity, but is really Tom Smiley of the New York Daily News. "Let's be honest, nobody remembers anything that happened in baseball before 1950. Elias could make up anything it wanted, and who would know the difference? Do you know the last time a lefthander with an overly prominent birthmark carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning on the summer solstice? Well, neither do I, but Elias always did. Or at least they claimed to. As far as I'm concerned for Elias, it's say goodnight, Gracie. Wait, don't use that. I want to save that line for my column."
(Editor's Note: This story is satire.)