Baseball Essay, Research Paper
I chose the topic baseball, because it’s a game I have loved since I was a little kid. I have played baseball since I was five, and followed professional baseball since I was about nine. That is when I started collecting baseball cards and watching the games. Although I had never really cared about baseball’s origin and history, lately I have been trying to find out as much as I can about it.
Baseball’s origin is unknown. People believe many theories. One is that baseball originated from the British game of cricket. Another theory people believe is that baseball started when a young boy was being chased by a group of older kids and they were throwing rocks at him. All the boy had with him was his school books and a walking stick. When one of the kids threw a rock at him he hit it right back at him. When the kids saw this they were amazed. That gave the kids an idea. They got out their walking sticks and started to throw rocks at each other. The winner was the one who hit it the farthest.
Another theory is that in 1831 a boy named Abner Doubleday had his mom make him a ball out of scrap leather and pieces of old yarn and thread. Abner and his brother Tim would go in the yard and play “catch.” Abner got tired of just throwing the ball, so he thought of hitting the ball too. He would have a “pitcher “”lob” the ball to the batter who had a “hittin’ stick.” The batter would hit the ball as far as he could. Most people believe this story to be true.
Around the 1850s amateur baseball teams began to spring up all over in the United States. During the early 1840s the first baseball game was recorded.
According to the New England rules, if a batter was hit by a ball thrown at him he was called out. Today a batter needs to be either tagged by the player with the ball, or have the first, second, or third baseman step on the base if they had the ball in their hand. Although baseball has changed a lot, many things have stayed the same.
Baseball used to be considered a gentlemen’s game. Only the upper class played baseball. Since Baseball was a gentlemen’s game, “cussin’ ” wasn’t allowed. If you were caught “cussin’ ” you would have to pay a six cent fine. By the late 1860s everyone was playing baseball – from grocery baggers to business owners.
The amateurs formed a league called the National League Association. If a team wanted to become a part of the NLA, and was good enough, it would be accepted. The league would organize games, and make sure the teams had a place to play.
In 1881 the first professional baseball team was formed. The NLA would not allow them in because they wouldn’t allow teams to pay its players. Because of this, the Red Stockings set up their own league. They called it the American League Association. The National Association eventually had to allow professional teams in the league because the American Association had so many more teams in their league.
Because baseball’s popularity had grown so much, the presidents of the ALA, and the NLA started to charge admission to games. Soon gamblers got involved. The NLA allowed gambling but the ALA banned it because the players thought baseball was for entertainment purposes only.
In the NLA gambling got out of hand. The players got involved with the gambling, and would purposely throw a game. That happened more than once. When the NLA tried to ban gambling in 1892 the league became very unstable. Managers were trying to quit, and the players wanted to play in a fair game, not a game that was lost on purpose.
In the early days of baseball Charles Comiskey pioneered many fundamentals of the game. He had the players back-up each other’s throws, and catch the ball with two hands. In the early years, first basemen played in foul territory. Comiskey changed that. He had the first baseman play on the left side of the foul line so that if the ball was hit his way he could get to the ball, and make the play.
Charles was a “playing manager” for the Washington Blue Caps. He played pitcher, and developed the pitching style called, “The Stretch.” A pitch where the pitcher does not wind up, he just steps and throws the ball.
Another pioneering player was Denton True Young. Most people know him as Cy Young. The Cy is short for cyclone. He got that nickname because of his unique pitching style. Because of Cy’s great ability to pitch there is a pitching award named after him. The award is called the “Cy Young Award.” The award is given to the pitcher who leads the league in strike outs and earned run average.
In 1900 the National Association finally became stable. The gambling had for the most part stopped, and teams were willing to play again.
In 1908 catcher’s face masks and shin guards were invented. A person could buy a face mask for six dollars, and shin guards for seven dollars.
During a game in 1909, an outfielder bruised his palms on a fly ball he caught. He left the game but returned two innings later with a pair of soft leather gloves. He played the rest of his career with those gloves. Everyone thought he was a wimp, but soon everyone had a pair of the gloves.
Although baseball has changed a lot, many things have stayed the same, such as simple fundamentals. I think most professional baseball players don’t know much about baseball’s past. If they took the time to read about it they’d probably really enjoy it.
I learned a lot about baseball’s history while researching this report. I thought baseball had always been around, and that all the rules had been the same. I thought the same teams had been around since the beginning, but they have not. Things have changed, from the uniform style, to the type of wood the bat is made of, to the type of yarn used in the balls.
I chose to write about baseball’s beginnings because baseball is my favorite sport. I learned a lot about who did what, and when they did it. I am glad I chose baseball, because I learned a lot about baseball’s history in America.
Shapiro, Milton J., The Day They Made The Record Book, New York: Julian Messner,1968.
Dunham, Montrew, Abner Doubleday, New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965.
Rosenburg, John M., The Story of Baseball, New York: Random House, 1973.
Schenck, Earl M., Baseball, New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1969.