Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
Our Animated Baseball Cartoon Fun
(Note: Umpire animation was not
done by Brownielocks. It was provided free by Animfactory.com.)
The Ancient History of
Of all the sports, I think
Baseball has had the most evolutionary changes through the years. And, even as I
type this, the game is having strike threats and is continuously being
challenged in other ways. But how did this American tradition begin?
It's actually an American
adaptation of two English games called Rounders and Cricket. But
Cooperstown, NY is where it is believed to have originated in the US. How?
Back in the 1830's (long
before the Civil War began) a boy named Abner Doubleday had a friend named Abner
Both Abner's lived in Cooperstown, NY and were often on the same team in a game
called Stickball. When Doubleday grew up, he joined the Union Army during
the Civil War, and fought heroically in several battles. He did not get killed
in the war. He was promoted to General and retired after the war to write
articles for magazines. He later died in 1893 and was buried in Arlington
Cemetery. Although he did a lot of things, Abner Doubleday did not
invent baseball. Many think he did.
Actually, a man named A.G.
Spaulding, a sporting goods manufacturer was not only very wealthy but very
patriotic. In 1905 he formed a committee to try to prove that baseball was
invented in America, having no influence or connection to any other country or
culture. After 2 years, Spaulding's committee failed to turn up
proof. Then one day Mr. Spaulding received a letter from an Abner Graves,
(remember the friend of Major Abner Doubleday above?). By now, Abner
Graves was old, frail and perhaps his mind wasn't always accurate? He
claimed in this letter that he and his friend Abner Doubleday invented baseball
in Cooperstown, NY.
Mr. Spaulding didn't
question it. He was delighted. He accepted the letter as fact. He didn't
stop to think it was the ramblings of an old man about his childhood. He
just considered it his proof. So, in 1939, the Baseball Hall of Fame was
established in Cooperstown, NY, the hometown of both Abner Doubleday and Abner
Graves, who although they played baseball, did not really invent it.
As I send it's really a
blend of Rounders and Cricket. Let me explain. Rounders was a
children's game in which a pitcher was called a thrower. The batter was
called the striker. (Aka Strikeball that the boys played as kids!) The
striker stood in a shallow hole dug in the ground called the "striker's
box." The ball they used was made of either solid rubber or very
tightly wound twine. A stake was the base. Usually they only had one
base, sometimes two. The number of players all depended on one
thing: who wanted to play. And the teams then were divided evenly
based on that.
"Okay, let's play
ball!" the kids screamed. The thrower wound up, pitched the ball and
the striker hit it with a stick and then went running, with the intent of
reaching the stake safely. On a good long hit, the runner ran around
the stake and then ran home to make a score. The other team, to stop the
scoring, could one of three things: (1) Catch the ball in the air or after one
bounce only. (2) Tag the runner. (3) Or, "plug" the runner, which
meant you could throw the ball at the runner and make him out. (That's not legal
Now we add the game of
Cricket to the above ..... Which was more of an adult game and more
complicated. In this game a "bowler" bounces a hard rubber ball
at a stick called the "wicket". Using a large flat bat, the batsman is
suppose to protect the wicket, hit the ball and then run to another wicket.
There's only two wickets in the game. Scores are made by safely getting
from one wicket to the other or by hitting the ball out of bounds. The
English colonists played rounders and cricket and soon the two games merged,
slowly creating the sport of baseball as we know it today.
During the 18th and 19th
centuries the game went through a lot of name changes. Just like I
mentioned with football, well baseball at one time was also called
"Townball" in Philadelphia and Boston. But in New York they
called it the "New York game" or "knickerbocker." A
few others were "One Old Cat" or "Two Old Cat" depending on
how many bases (stakes) were used. Speaking of those stakes....
Well they hurt. They weren't
exactly fun to run into if you missed rounding them properly. So flat
rocks or sandbags got used for bases, since the origin of the word in colonial
times meant something that was thick, low and stumpy. Having bases changed
the game's action and also the name. From this point on, it was called
The baseball field
originally wasn't the diamond as we know it today.
In 1842 it looked more like the Strikeball field in the diagram I made below:
The distance from the
Striker's (Batter's) mount to First Base was 48 feet. But the distance between
First and Second was 60 feet. Then between Second and Third = 72 feet. And
between Third and Home = 72 feet. The batter had to get all the way to 4th
base to score. A run was termed an "Ace". Maybe this is how you get
the term, "I aced it"? The goal was to be the first team to score 21
aces to win the game.
Notice also there were two
catchers? The reason is that the backstop hadn't been invented yet and so in
case the first one missed, you had the other one.
The players were called
"scouts" and there were 12 to a team. The extra players were called
the "infield rover" and "outfield rover" and "the
The bats have gone through a
lot of changes through the years too. At first they were flat and paddle-shaped
until a law in 1859 outlawed the huge monster bats. So the players
compensated what they couldn't do in width with length and used extra long bats.
Thus, in 1876 another law outlawed the long bats.
For many years, the
outside cover of the baseball was made of horsehide, rather than cowhide. This
is why today the ball is sometimes referred to as "horsehides." And it
remained like that until 1974. The baseball today has a small cork in the
center, surrounded by tightly wrapped layers of rubber and yarn. Then two
stripes of white cowhide are sewn together with a thick red thread to cover the
For many years, just like
with the sport of tennis, people got a lot of red, stinging and injured hands
playing their games. In 1875 baseball gloves got invented to help stop hand
injuries. At first only the catchers got the gloves. They were made
of leather and unpadded and small. But they were better than bare
hands. Pretty soon the rest of the players wanted some hand protection too
and started wearing gloves. Over time baseball gloves improved with better
padding, lacing the fingers together and putting in a "pocket" between
the thumb and index finger.
Although we now had gloves
protecting the hands, the catchers still had the problem of getting their faces
and teeth all smashed with the balls coming at them. So, in 1875 (same
year of the glove invention) a man named Fred Thayer invented the catcher's
mask, after the masks used int he sport of Fencing (sword fighting). Ten
years later, chest protectors were introduced for catcher's safety. And in
1908 the first shin guards were worn.
From the very beginning of
the game, there's always been an umpire. However, back then it was customary to
have him sit in a rocking chair. Although he still got booed at by somebody who
didn't like how he called the game. The rules that he had to enforce were
a tad different than today's rules too.
First, it was 4 strikes and
"You're Out!". Not 3 like today.
Secondly, it took 9 bad pitches (balls) before the batter was allowed to
walk to first base.
In 1845, Alexander
Cartwright laid out the baseball diamond as we know it today. By many, he
is considered "The Father of American Baseball."
He created the "batting
box" which is next to home plate. And in order to score the player had to
run around all the bases and then back home where he began. At first the
"Home Plate" was a very heavy one made of iron. This is why it's
called home plate and not home base today.
The pitcher got put back
further also. He used to stand 45 feet from the batter. He was moved back
to 60' 6" from the batter by Cartwright. Then he changed some of the
rules. The first one was to change the 9 balls to walk first base down to
4 balls. And it was then 3 strikes and you are out, not like the previous
4 strikes. And the players now had to bat in turn, in a regular
order. And a runner was out if he interferred with a fielder or touched a
ball in plat. After 3 outs the teams changed sides -- from offensive to
defensive. And it was Cartwright who created the 9 players to a team and
thus 9 innings to a game. The word "innings" he took from a medieval
English word innung which meant "to get in" to bat in
the course of a game. All of these rules worked and are with us today
except one! Which rule did Cartrwright create that was dumb? He said
that if a ball was hit out of the field, then the player could only advance one
base. With this rule, no one could make a home run. :(
One of the things baseball
as done is influence fashion. Cartwright isn't responsible for the
baseball uniforms as we know it today. Up until Cartrwright's time, the
players simply wore anything they wanted. It wasn't until after the Civil War
that uniforms came. The players took to wearing those visor caps that were
worn by the Civil War soldiers. And, it was from these caps that the
"Baseball Cap" was born! The cleated baseball shoes were modeled
after the spike shoes golfers wore. During the 1870's flannel shirts
and pants were worn, but they had a problem with two teams showing up wearing
the same colors. So in 1882 it was ruled that pro teams had to wear only
All baseball fans the sport
every year makes it's own new history, stats, facts and so on. It's
impossible for me to present the entire sport on one page. Here's a link
that provides more current data: Baseball
Some baseball trivia
Ed Delahanty hit 4 home
runs in an 1896 game. His prize was:
(a) 4 Boxes of Chewing Gum
(b) 4 Days Off
(Place your cursor over the dot)
Today, in a baseball
diamond, which base is considered "The hot corner?"
(Place your cursor over the dot)
Midi is "Take Me Out To The Ball
Author: Jack Norworth © 1908, 1927
Composer: Albert Von Tilzer
Published by: York Music Company
Take me out to
the ball game.
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack.
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team.
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out!
At the old ball game.
Check out some other Sports Fun at our Main Entry Page.
Human Heads were Footballs"
By Don L. Wulffson
Aladdin Paperbacks (Simon and Schuster) © 1998
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