Baseball’s rules have been relatively constant throughout the years; hence, the game is passed down easily from generation to generation without ever wandering too drastically from its core.
But where did it all begin?
How did we come to have a game where nine batsmen for each team play nine innings of ball? When was it decided that a pitcher would toss it from 60-feet, 6-inches – overhand, no less.
Thanks to Cut4 – where Chris Landers runs down the stories behind the history of baseball’s rules – we have some answers to baseball’s longest-standing questions.
I hope you’re up for a trip down memory lane:
- Back in the 1860s, pitchers would pitch underhand and immediately get out of the way. Eventually, however, that evolved into more of a side-arm and three-quarter action, and finally – in 1884 – Harry wright ruled that a delivery in any form was legal.
- Heck, in 1888, the pitching distance was 50 feet. And in the 1870s, the distance was a comfortable 45 feet. Imagine facing Hall of Fame flamethrowers such as Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson from that distance? Eventually, the National League set the standard at 60-feet, 6-inches … batters everywhere thanked them.
- Did you know that before there were “runs” the goal of the game was to score 21 aces, which led to 60-100 combined runs? That’s what I call a run-scoring environment! I think I’m willing to sit through that at least once just to say I experienced it. Bonus points if the game is played at Coors Field.
- What about the 162-game schedule? Well, it made a little more sense when it was a 154-game slate played by 22 teams. But expansion has thrown that for a loop.
There are a handful of other nuggets about the history of baseball’s rules that will raise a few eyebrows, so I encourage you to visit the Cut4 piece for more details.