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The Lighter Side (Apr 2018)

April 26, 2018

Take me out to the ballgame

  1. They used to throw the ball at base runners.  That’s right.  You used to be able to plunk someone on the other team in order to get an out.  The practice was called “soaking” or “patching” and if you were a base runner unfortunate enough to be caught between bases, your opponent could nail you with the ball.  Fortunately that rule was changed in the mid-1800s.
  2. The life of a baseball is very, very short.  The average lifespan of a baseball is only six pitches.  Around 60-70 of them are used each game.
  3. Some guy was traded for a 25-lb turkey.  That unfortunate player was Chattanooga shortstop Johnny Jones, and he was traded for poultry in 1931.  Johnny shouldn’t feel too bad though.  Jack Fenton, a player in the Pacific Coast League in 1933, was traded for a bag of prunes.
  4. A fan got hit by foul balls on consecutive pitches.  If you’re ever thought you had a bad time at a ball game, consider the plight of Nancy Roth.  On a sunny afternoon in 1957, she was hit in the face by a foul ball off the bat of the Phillies’ Richie Ashburn.  Medics immediately came to her aid after the first incident, put her on a stretcher, and began to carry her out of the stands.  Then the next pitch was delivered and Ashburn hit her again.
  5. The history of baseball uniforms is filled with questionable choices, but at least they usually wore a standard baseball cap.  Not so for the 1849 Knickerbockers.  The Knickerbockers were the first team to wear uniforms and yes, they included straw hats.
  6. There are about 18 minutes of action in a Major League baseball game.  That’s right. Once you subtract the commercials, the meetings, the down time between pitches, etc., there are about 18 minutes of action in each MLB game.  The average game, in real time, takes just under three hours.
  7. The deepest center-field wall was almost 500 feet from home plate.  New York’s Polo Grounds was notorious for its bizarre dimensions.  The “bathtub shaped” stadium was originally built (as its name implied) for polo.  The resulting ballpark had a center field wall that was 483 feet deep.  Only four people ever hit a home run over that wall.
  8. A World War II grenade was designed after a baseball.  What sounds strange on the surface might just make perfect sense when you think about it.  The U.S. military did indeed base a grenade’s design on the baseball because it felt “any young American should be able to properly throw it.”
  9. For eight years between 1885 and 1893, the MLB allowed one side of the bat to be flat. Giving the batter what is essentially a cricket bat seems like an unfair advantage.   No surprises then that the rule didn’t last long.
  10. Every single ball used in MLB is pre-rubbed with mud from a secret location in New Jersey that only one man knows about before being allowed to be used in a game.  This apparently improves the quality of the ball.
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