Washington Times, August 19, 1914:
Russell Ford, famous spitball artist and leading pitcher of the Federal League, may be permanently lost to baseball, owing to an injury to his spine. Bonesetter Reese has been unable to help Ford, and an operation may be undertaken later.
The injury to Ford’s spine was caused by diving into shallow water at Long Beach, California, in 1912. Recent pitching by Ford has irritated the old injury to such an extent that he has been unable to work through an entire game.
I haven’t been able to find out if the injury happened before or after the 1912 season, but Ford was a legitimately great pitcher through the end of 1911. 48-17, 1.99 ERA, 156 ERA+, 55 complete games in 66 career starts.
From 1912-1915, Ford was pretty pedestrian; he led the league in losses once, earned runs allowed once, and home runs allowed three years in a row, while putting up a Federal League-inflated 111 ERA+. He was out of the big leagues for good by August 1915.
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