Play Ball

There’s nothing like going to Progressive Field. I like to get there early. I love the ballpark smell, (especially the food!!!!!!!!) the action of the game and the passionate fans. Oh, and did I mention the food?  :))))))) Read on for some fascinating facts about this great game.

I love it when baseball begins.  It’s a sign that spring is “almost” here in Cleveburg, and becomes a regular destination point for me and family and friends throughout the season. I love heading to the ballpark on a nice day and taking in a game.  Everything about baseball is great – young and veteran talent on the field, big hitters, stealing bases, great pitching, defense … oh, and the food – not much I don’t like – popcorn, yep, peanuts, yep, dog and a beer, yep, nachos, yep, ice cream (in summer) yep, pizza, why not, brats, sure (stadium mustard of course) … I could go on – plus all the new-fangled ways they get me out of my seat in into the food court (chicken barbeque sandwiches – oh my!).  Walking back to my seats, I stopped and looked at the field – the “diamond” as it’s called and wondered where this all came from.  The pitcher’s mound, the batter’s box, coaches on the corners.  The field looks so big at times, and so small too, with the size, speed and athleticism of the players.  So, back at the ranch, I went online, and found a ton of cool info (could write pages on this), dating back to the early days when the game was first formed, and formalized.  Here’s some fun trivia you can take to the ballpark next time you visit.  Enjoy, and thanks to Wikipedia and for the info.

19th Century Baseball: The Beginning
Contrary to popular belief, Baseball was not invented by a single individual, but evolved from various European “bat and ball” games. Russia had a version of Baseball called Lapta, which dates back to the fourteenth century. It consisted of two teams (five to ten members) with a pitcher and batter. The ball would be thrown to the batter who would attempt to hit it with a short stick and then run to the opposite side and back before being hit by the ball. (when we were kids, we played “running bases”)

England has played Cricket and Rounders for several centuries. The first recorded cricket match took place in Sussex, England in 1697. Cricket is played in a large open circular field and has two sides of eleven players that attempt to “put out” a “batsman” who tries to prevent a ball thrown by a “bowler” from knocking over “bails” placed on “wickets,” or three upright sticks. If the batsman makes contact with the ball, he runs to the opposite side of the “pitch” and continues running back and forth until the ball is retrieved by the opposing team.

Rounders, which shares more technical similarities to Baseball, dates back to Tudor times in England. This game consisted of two teams, six to fifteen players, including a pitcher, batter, “bowling square,” “hitting square” and four posts, similar to bases used in Baseball. Each player had to bat in each “inning” and the game lasted two innings. The pitcher tossed the ball to the batter who attempted to hit it. If contact was made the batter ran to the first post. Points were awarded depending on what post was reached by the batter and the manner in which the post was reached.

Town Ball – Germany played a game called Schlagball, which was similar to Rounders. The ball was tossed by the “bowler” to the “striker,” who struck it with a club and attempted to complete the circuit of bases without being hit by the ball. Americans played a version of Rounders called “Town Ball,” which dates back to the early 1800’s. In this game, the first team to score one hundred “talleys” won the game. In 1858 the rules were formalized as the “Rules of the Massachusetts Game of Town Ball.”

“Base Ball” Occasionally, early 19th century American newspapers would mention games listed as “Bass-Ball,” “Base,” “Base Ball,” “Base-Ball,” “Goal Ball” and “Town Ball.” The first known printed record of a game that was slightly different from Rounders and resembled a game closer to Baseball, is from an 1829 book called The Boy’s Own Book  in which the game is referred to as “Round Ball,” “Base” and “Goal Ball.” A crude field diagram was included with specific locations for four stones or stakes (bases), that were arranged in a diamond. The article described how to “make an out” as well as how to get “home.” The word “party” was used to describe a team, and the team at bat was called the “in-party.” Each party pitched to themselves, bases were run in a clockwise direction and players could be put out by swinging and missing three pitched balls or by being hit with the ball while moving between bases.

The Olympic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia – Perhaps the first town ball club to adopt a constitution was the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia, founded in 1833. It was formed by combining two associations of Town Ball players. One of the Town Ball associations may have begun play in the spring of 1831, in Camden, NJ on Market Street. The original group included only four players, playing “Cat Ball,” but eventually the number of players increased and the Saturday afternoon gathering usually included between fifteen to twenty players.

The constitution was first published in 1838 and consisted of 15 Articles. Duties of the Board of Directors, Members, and Captains were described. Practice days and a fine structure were also outlined.

Birthplace – Elysian Fields is widely considered the birthplace of baseball as the first officially recorded, organized baseball game was played there on June 19, 1846. The game used Alexander Joy Cartwright’s rules and was played between the New York Base Ball Club and the Knickerbockers.

The first written mention of the dimensions of the bases was mentioned in the 1857 playing rules. It was specified that the bases were to cover one square foot, made of canvas, painted white and filled with sand or saw-dust. All bases were to be fastened to the field at each corner. Third and first base were to be turned so that a line from home would go through one of the corners and exit the other and the center of the base would be 30 yard from home base. At this time it was not written that foul lines were to be drawn on the field. Second base was to be set so that the 30 yard mark from third and first would rest in the center of the bag and the base was to be placed so that one side would be parallel with the front line of the pitcher’s line. The bases had a “belt” that wrapped around the center and then through a metal loop which was attached to a wooden spike that was driven into the ground. The metal spike was concealed underneath the base.

Beginning in 1860 a Foul Ball Post was to be placed 100 feet from both third and first base in line with home base. The post was used to help the umpire judge whether a batted ball landed in fair or foul ground. In the narrative of the Beadle’s Dime Base Ball Player Henry Chadwick suggested that the correct size of the bases should be 17 inches by 14 inches. It is not known if bases these dimensions were ever used.

When the National Association was formed in 1871, it adopted the same rules used by the National Association of Base Ball Players regarding the bases and foul lines. Added was the rule that no fence could be erected within 90 feet of home base, unless it was to mark the boundary of the ground. If a pitched ball touched that fence, without hitting the batter and passing the catcher, all base runners advanced one base.

The NL, in 1880, named the 15 foot line the “Coaches Line” and the 50 foot line the “Player’s Line.” These lines were now required to be extended to the limits of the grounds. The American Association of Base Ball Clubs, which began operation in 1882, used the same layout of the bases, Foul Ball Lines and Foul Ball Posts as the NL.

When the National League and American Association used the same rules starting in 1887, two changes took place. Third and first bases moved seven and one half inches, toward second base, so that they were entirely in fair ground. Also the 30 yard mark fell upon the back rear corner first and third base. So not only were the bases in fair ground they were now also inside the 30 yard box on the diamond. The runner’s line, outside of the first base Foul Ball Line now extended 3 feet past first base.

In 1889, a rule was instituted that stated that a batted ball hit over a fence less than 210 feet from home base entitled the Batsman to two bases.  When the National League and American Association became the National League and American Association of Base Ball Clubs in 1892, the distance for a batted ball to be ruled a double was increased to 235 feet from home base.

Super Geek Out – (if you are building one in the backyard) Here are the exact specs:
Each Baseline                                     90’
Home to Second                                 127’ 3 3/8”
Home to Front of Pitching Rubber      60’ 6”
Home plate to backstop                      60’
Home plate circle                                26’
Dugout from Foul Line                        15’
Home plate to Left/Right Field            320-350’
Home plate to Center Field                 400+
Pitching Mound Diameter                   18’
Pitching Mound Height                       10”

I love this one… The pitcher was held accountable for “unfair” pitched balls in 1863, and the umpire was instructed to call these “balls” after warning the pitcher. After warning the Pitcher and calling three “unfair” balls, the batter was entitled to first base and any runner occupying a base also advanced one base whether forced or not.

With the Start of the first professional baseball league in the United States, The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, the batter was given a large advantage for the 1871 season. He was allowed to call for a “high” or “low” ball. A “low pitch” was a ball delivered by the pitcher that was between the striker’s knees and his waist and passed over Home Base. A “high pitch” was a ball delivered by the pitcher that was between the striker’s waist and his shoulders and passed over Home Base. The striker was also allowed to step forward in the act of striking as long as he was still astride the three-foot line and was not to stand closer than one foot to Home Base.

In 1872, the second season of the National Association, Home Base was required to be made of white marble or stone and placed even with the ground.

In the National League in 1885 Home Base was to be made out of white rubber or stone. The batter’s box was moved to six inches from Home Base and its size was increased to six feet long by four feet wide. The American Association changed the composition of Home Base to only white rubber but the batter’s box remained three feet wide and six feet long, one foot from Home Base.

When the National League and American Association followed the same rules in 1887 it was stated that Home Base was to be made out of whitened rubber only. The batter was no longer allowed to call for a high or low pitch and a fair ball was one that passed over some part of Home Base and was between the batter’s knees and his shoulders.

In the National League in 1900, Home plate is converted to the present-day pentagonal shape, 17-inches wide.

Now you know – “batter up!!”



Me, too.
As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))  
Have fun!!


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