The tradition of avoiding pitchers during their throwing of a no-hitter started in the 1890s when a pitcher named Rube Bellweather of the Atlanta Confederates refused to shower while he was doing well. During a lengthy streak of success, Bellweather’s odor began to wear on his team. No one said anything, however, as he continued to pitch well and the team continued to win.
During one game, the odoriferous Bellweather was particularly effective, holding the opposing team without a hit through seven innings. As it was a typical Atlanta day, with the temperature well over 90 degrees and a stifling humidity caressing the air, Bellweather’s body odor was too much to bear for his teammates. When in the dugout they purposefully avoided him, staying to one side or even leaping the barriers and sitting with the fans to watch their teammates at bat.
Unfortunately for Bellweather’s teammates, they had trouble of their own at the plate as the opposing pitcher also held them hitless through eight innings. After a scoreless and hitless ninth, tenth, and then eleventh innings, and a growing gross aroma permeating from Bellweather, his team decided to take matters into their own hands. In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Bellweather’s teammates pulled a defensive mutiny on the pitcher, dropping fly balls, kicking ground balls, and throwing the ball all over the field until three runs scored.
But the bottom of the twelfth brought positive tidings for the hometown nine. After quickly getting two outs, the opposing hurler hit the next two Atlanta hitters and issued a walk to load the bases. Bellweather himself strode to the plate with an odor so raunchy neither the umpire nor the opposing catcher could look in the direction of either the pitcher on the mound or the pitcher at the plate. Fortunately, they needn’t hold their breath nor watch the action for long. Bellweather swung at the first offering and hit the ball far beyond the outfield field fence for a game winning grand slam. In honor of Bellweather’s heroics and his teammates’ poor actions, the tradition of avoiding a pitcher while he is throwing a no-hitter continued.