A minimum of equipment was employed in 19th century baseball, and changes in its regulation were infrequent. No batter wore a helmet during the 19th century. "Gloves" did not become common until the late 1880s and the baseball has retained the same dimensions, weight and leather pattern since 1872. Only one attempt to regulate uniforms was made by the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs in 1882. This was due to the emergence of the American Association of Base Ball Clubs, which began play in 1882 and attempted to differentiate themselves from the six-year old National League.
19th century bats looked and felt different than today's bats. They were generally heavier and considerably thicker in the handle and had more of a gradual taper from the handle to the barrel. They were made with or without knobs on the handle and on various parts of the bat would be painted "rings" that would reflect the team color.
All these innovations were developed to
aid in hitting. More recently though, the bat was redesigned to aid the hitter.
During the dead-ball era, baseball
players used to grip the bat differently, holding it further up the grip. The
knob at the end was to keep players' hands from sliding off the bat. But in the
modern game, players hold the bat with their hands as low as possible - sometimes
even covering the knob. Graphic designer Grady Phelan created the Pro-XR bat
in response to the modern grip.
The major innovation on the Pro-XR bat is
the new ergonomic knob, slanted to ensures the batter's hand doesn't rub
against it. The design reduces injury, as well as the chances that a bat will
be thrown by preventing the hand's ulnar nerve from sending a "release" signal
to the brain. Limited testing suggests that the bat will reduce pressure on the
hand by 20 percent. It has been approved by the MLB and is currently used in
play. But despite the major benefits it offers, baseball players are a stubborn
and superstitious lot, and it's unlikely that the Pro-XR will become the
league's go-to bat - unless someone starts breaking new records with it.
1860s, there were almost as many types as baseball bats as there were baseballs.
And like early pitchers, who made their own balls, early batters were known to
sometimes whittle bats to suit their own hitting style.
As you might imagine,
the results were quite diverse - there were flat bats, round bats, short bats and
fat bats. Generally, early bats tended to be much larger and much heavier than
The thinking was that the bigger the bat, the more mass behind the
swing, the bigger the hit. And without any formal rules in place to limit the
size and weight of the bat, it wasn't unusual to see bats that were up to 42
inches long (compared to today's professional standards of 32-34) with a weight
that topped out at around 50 ounces (compared to today's 30).
How many names do you recognize? It's interesting to see that triples in baseball have become a lost art. Are the stadiums smaller? Are the outfielders faster? Are their arms stronger? Or are coaches risk averse since a player can score from second on a single and the benefit of being 90 feet closer is simply to score on a sacrifice fly? We would love to hear your opinions on "where have all the triples gone?"
Active players with the most triples