After doing some research I have compiled a few odd yet amazing baseball history facts. I was in awe of some of this, and it was a fun re-reading about how the game used to be played. If you have any interesting baseball facts to share, please do! Baseball has came a long way, our number one fact is a pure example of that.
#10. The Wood Baseball Bat
In the beginning years of the game of baseball, players could use and hand craft any design of wood baseball bat they wanted to get a competitive edge. It was common for players of the time to use 2″x4″ flat surfaces for their bat of choice. I could not imagine that being very successful but it still is an interesting fact. It was not until 1859 that the first bat regulations were put in place. The wood bat could not be bigger than 2.5″ in diameter(width), wood bats could be any length and shape that the player desired. Bat regulations slowly changed throughout the years until they got to where they are today. Now no professional bat can exceed 2.75″ in diameter and no longer than 42″ in length. The bat must be one piece of solid wood.
#9. National Baseball League Begins
NBL was the older of two leagues that eventually formed the MLB, was founded on February 2, 1876. Baseball began with the pitching distance at only 45 feet away from home plate, where now it is 60 1/2 feet. It took 9 balls to be considered a base on balls, and 3-4 thrown strikes to be struck out.
#8. Shortest Player Ever To Play In MLB
Edward Carl Gaedel (June 8, 1925 – June 18, 1961) stood at 3 feet 7 inches tall. It was Sunday, August 19, 1951. Gaedel played for the St. Louis Browns and appeared at the plate in a double header against the Detroit Tigers, his number was “1/8″. Pitching that day for the Tigers was Bob Crain. Gaedel was instructed to go up to the plate and not lift the bat off his shoulders, to make sure he drew a walk. With a strike zone of only 1 and 1/2″, four pitches later he was walked. Bowing twice to the crowd as he trotted down to first base. He also received a standing ovation for his efforts. That was Gaedel’s only appearance ever as a Major League Player. Later that week MLB took Gaedel out of the record books, due to the American League President saying Veeck (Browns Owner) was making a mockery of the game. Gaedel was than re-listed in the record books one year later.
#7. Longest Thrown Baseball
The longest thrown ball was accomplished in 1957 and still stands to this day. It was Glen Edwards Gorbous, a Canadian who was in the Majors from 1955-1957. The total distance of travel before the baseball hit the ground was 445 feet 10 inches! Breaking the old record by 9 inches that was set in 1956. Gorbous had a stature like Tim Lincecum, standing 6 feet 2 inches tall and only 175 pounds. They say the ball left his hand at an estimated 120mph. It would take a lot of long toss to beat this record.
#6. Farthest Hit Baseball
The player to hit the farthest home run may be no surprise, but the distance will leave you with the Wow factor. In 1960, the New York Yankees vs. the Detroit Tigers, at Briggs Stadium in Michigan. Mickey Mantle hit a moon shot home run that was said to be from 634ft to 660ft in length. These two records have reached legendary status and have not been broken in over 50 years.
#5. The Longest Baseball Game By Time
It all started when the Milwaukee Brewers were visiting the Chicago White Sox on May 8th, 1984. The game was played for 17 innings and the score was tied 3-3 at the time of 12:59pm. MLB rules states that a game cannot be played after 1am in the morning. Both teams arrived the next day to finish the battle. The White Sox won 7-6 by Harold Baines hitting a game ending home run. The ending result was a 25 inning game making an 8 hour and 6 minute long baseball game.
#4. Home Runs Prior To 1930-31
Fly balls that bounced in the field of play then over the home run fence, or through the home run fence were considered home runs! Today this is called a “ground rule double”. After doing some research, it has been said that Babe Ruth did not have any bouncing home runs, but it was very common for many players of that era.
#3. Game Winning Home Runs Were Not Ruled As Home Runs
Prior to 1920, in the bottom of the 9th inning or and extra inning game, home runs that were hit with runners already in scoring position, were ruled by how many bases it took to score the player on base to win the game. i.e. Man on 2nd Base, Babe Ruth up to the plate. Ruth hits a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to win the ball game. His home run would be marked as a double, because it took two bases for the man on second base to score. How bizarre is that!?
#2. Jackie Mitchell
Born in 1912, she was one of the first women to play professional baseball. Pitching for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1931; during a exhibition game versus the New York Yankees, she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back to back!
#1. Meet a Catcher’s Gear Of The Past
His name was James E. Bennett. It was the year of 1904 when his spectacular yet bizarre catching apparatus was patented. Bennett’s invention was to replace the catchers glove all together. It was the wave of the future, a big wire cage went over the chest and protected the face with a fence shield. Once the pitched ball passed through the flapped doors they would close immediately, proceed to hit a padded springs against the chest, much like a bed mattress. The ball would then pass through a hole on the bottom where the catcher would grab it and continue with game play. Below Patent #771,247 drawings that show in detail of this great device.
- Matt Ingle