In the 1992 movie A League of Their Own, fictional manager Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks) tells one of his players that baseball is "supposed to be hard. If it wasn't, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." This is an insightful statement considering that most folks will play ball in one form or another during their lives while only a chosen few will actually play professionally. How far would you go to get a cup of coffee in the majors? A fan named Lou Proctor was willing to alter history.
Proctor, a telegraph operator from Cleveland, became a major leaguer without appearing in a single professional contest. While working for the Western Union Company in 1912, he inserted his name into a Red Sox box score, crediting himself with a walk in a pinch-hit assignment for the Browns. The statistic was subsequently published by The Sporting News and The Baseball Encyclopedia. Proctor’s illusory career was discovered and erased during the 1980's, when the plate appearance was rightfully added to the lifetime totals of Pete Compton—an outfielder who played for five major league teams between 1911 and 1918. More than two dozen “phantom players” have been removed from popular baseball resources to date.