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Baseball in 1883

Baseball is a traditionalist’s game, having undergone relatively few changes since its origins.

The size and weight of the baseball have remained the same, although some will argue that the balls have become livelier or deader during the Steroid or  Dead Ball Era.  Bases are still 90 feet apart and a batter still gets 3 strikes before he’s out.  There are still 3 outs per inning.  Nine players on a side; nine innings for a complete game.

Program: 1883 Philadelphia Athletics

Program: 1883 Philadelphia Athletics

There are, however, some differences since 1883.

  • A batter was not awarded first base if hit by a pitch.
  • Batters were permitted to request a high or low pitch from the pitcher.
  • There was no pitcher’s mound.
  • The rubber was only 50 feet from home plate.  (Can you imagine Stephen Strasburg throwing from 50?)
  • Pitching was underhand (no problem, said Jennie Finch)
  • 7 balls were  a walk.
  • You could bounce a strike across home plate.
  • Spitballs were legal.
  • The same ball had to be used for a complete inning.
  • Gloves did not cover the fingers.
  • Player salaries could not exceed $2000 annually.
  • Players paid $30 for uniforms.
  • Fans were permitted to stand in the outfield.
  • No Sunday games were allowed.
  • Fantasy baseball was not yet invented.

Actually fans are still permitted to stand in the outfield.  At least in Philly and New York.

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