Baseball At Turn Of Century Essay, Research Paper
The Sport at the Turn of the Century
The legendary sport of baseball, what a fun pastime and great activity. But, where did it all start? Who came up with this great game? What were the people s names that shaped what we know as baseball today? To call baseball just a sport, would be an understatement. The history of this great sport is almost as good as the game itself.
Baseball has been providing spectators and participants with fun and excitement for more than one hundred and fifty years. (Ritter) On June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey the first game resembling baseball, as we know it today, was played. The New York Knickerbockers lost to the New York Nine on that day, 23-1. Alexander J. Cartwright, a surveyor and an amateur athlete, drew up the rules for the game to be played by. Abner Doubleday, did not invent baseball. It was Alexander Cartwright, not Abner Doubleday, who first laid out the present dimensions of the playing field and established the basic rules of the game. (Ritter) The first Professional baseball team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who toured the country in 1869 and didn’t lose a single game all year. Baseball began to attract so many fans that in 1876 the National league was organized-the same National league that still exists today. (Ritter, 3)
The game, although played in 1876, was distinguishable from all other sports at the time. For example, pitchers had to throw underhand, the way they do in softball. The batter had the option to choose whether the ball was to be thrown high or low; it took a whopping nine balls, instead of the usual four, to get a batter on base from balls; and the pitching distance was only 45 feet to home plate. The rules were gradually changed over the following 20 years, until by about 1900 the game was more or less the same as it is today. In 1884, the pitchers were permitted to throw overhand; in 1887, the batter was no longer allowed to request a “high” or “low” pitch; by 1889, it took only four balls to get a batter to a base on balls; the pitching distance was lengthened to sixty- feet, six inches. (Ritter)
And since that day in 1846, there have been many great ones to make up the game baseball such as Ty Cobb, who was born in a small town in Georgia in 1886. He threw right-handed, but batted left-handed. He held his hands a few inches apart on the bat and learned to bunt or slap line drive hits precisely where he wanted them. He made place hitting an art. In the summer of 1905, Cobb joined a major league baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. On August 9, Ty Cobb registered his first base hit as a member of the Tigers. In the many years to follow he added over four thousand more hits. Along with those hits, would come a national reputation. (Koppett106-114, America 61, America203) Another player, who has changed the game, is Jackie Robinson. On April 15, 1947 at two o’clock that Tuesday afternoon when nine Brooklyn Dodgers sprang out of their dugout to take the field to start the 1947 baseball season. It was a memorable event in baseball history, indeed in American history. Undoubtedly, Robinson was a great ballplayer. He was National league’s Rookie of the year in 1947 and its most valuable player (MVP) in 1949. He won the election in 1962 to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first African- American ever chosen for that honor. (Ritter, 43-47) And perhaps the greatest ballplayer of all time was George Herman (Babe Ruth). During the 1920, Ruth’s first season as a New York Yankee, he hit .376, not enough to win the American league batting championship but a figure far beyond what today is registered by major leagues leaders. He also hit safely in 26 consecutive games, clubbed 9 triples and 36 doubles, and batted in 137 runs. Despite his weight of over 215, he stole 14 bases. Most remarkably, however, Ruth slugged 54 home runs for the season. (Ritter, 26-31) Closest to him in the American League was George Sisler, with 19 homers, while the National League leader recorded a total of only 15. Almost every team in both leagues registered a total number far below the 54 of Babe Ruth alone. There have been many more talented and great ball- players in the game such as Ted Williams, Leo Durocher, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio and all these ballplayers have done their part to shape and mold the game of Baseball. (Koppett)
And today, we now have a new generation of ball- players like Mark McGwire, who in the 1998 season hit an unprecedented 76 home runs. Sammie Sosa closely followed him with 70 homers. This feat in the 1920 s and 30’s was unimaginable. Hitting 15 home runs was a large task, now players can hit 15 home runs by May 15th. Another astonishing difference is players today are earning countless millions of dollars, unlike days of yesteryear when players only made if they were lucky 125,000 dollars.
Also the equipment has changed some, for instance the glove. Players didn’t start wearing gloves until the 1880’s. In the beginning, they only wore a thin piece of leather, covering just the palm of the hand. It had five holes cut out, one for each finger. By the 1890 s, however, the gloves began to look like today’s baseball gloves. Nowadays, the glove is much larger than it used to be, and the ball is not caught in the palm of the hand but be trapped in the “pocket”, between the thumb and fore- finger. Since the mid 1950’s, the glove has become more of a net with which to snare the ball rather than just a protective covering for hand. (Ritter)
Baseball provided entertainment at the turn of the century and more. Now a national past time, it has become a sort of American icon. It is an American icon like apple pie, or Uncle Sam, or the infamous Hollywood. This game all started with Alexander Cartwright. Hopefully we will have many more years of this wonderful sport.