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Baseball - Early Thoughts

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Many writers, when chronicling the merits of their own particular sport, seem to consider they cannot do it justice unless they prove by arguments, more or less convincing, that it dates from almost prehistoric times. Baseball, I may say at once, does not belong to Ancient History. What matters it whether the game originated in the days of Alfred the Great or simply dates its birth somewhere in the last half century? If the skill and science of the pastime appeal to the athlete, what does it matter for its antiquity? I may frankly admit then that Baseball, as Baseball, is not yet half a century old.

Similarity to Rounders-An Englishman, witnessing the game for the first time will immediately exclaim, " Why, this is nothing but Rounders ! " To a great extent. the Englishman is right. Baseball is Rounders made scientific. Using Rounders for their groundwork, our brothers on the other side of the Atlantic started to build the edifice of America's national game. Rules and regulations were made to govern thegame. Each year saw something added, some-thing amended. The rough edges were hewn off, the rough surface in time was polished. Useless rules were abolished and useful ones evolved. The result has been that Baseball can now take its stand amidst the finest forms of athletics and its followers can boast of as much skill and science in their pursuit of the game as do the devotees of Football or Cricket in the better known winter and summer sports at home.

The Theory of the Game-Eighteen players are required for a Baseball match, nine on each side. The aim of each team is the same as in Cricket-viz., to make as many runs as possible. To score a run a player must make a complete circuit of the bases, but not necessarily on one hit. For instance, with his own hit he may only get as far as first base. He may get to second base whilst the pitcher (the equivalent of the bowler in Cricket) is delivering a ball to the succeeding batsman. Third base may be reached on the hit of the batsman ; and he may reach home plate on a hit by batsman number three. So he would score a run. There are other methods, of course, of getting from base to base, but the above will suffice for an example.

The captain of the home team has choice of innings. To the cricketer such a proceeding would seem to give the visiting team the worst of the bargain. Did the game take as long to decide as Cricket, the argument might hold good; but, as a baseball match as a rule does not last more than two hours and a half at the most, it would be hard to say that either side is unduly favoured. One team takes the field, and the members of the other take their turn at the bat in regular order. When three men are put out the innings is finished, and the other team then takes its turn with the bat. The game consists of nine innings for each side, and the team having the greatest number of runs at the finish wins.

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