It’s a different game

Well, Major League Baseball is underway but it certainly is different. Every team is trying its best to keep players healthy but despite their best efforts, some players have tested positive for COVID-19. The stadiums are empty except for essential personnel.

Even the commentators are off-site looking at a bank of television monitors in order to call the plays of the game.

Some teams are using cardboard cutouts of spectators. To me they are just distracting, but oh well, if they like it so be it. To me the cardboard cutout look silly. It has to be difficult to play without an audience. The audience provides the emotion necessary in the game. Cheering helps the players do their best.

We have been watching some of the games. I think we see better than the ones calling the game. The players not involved in the game are going to have to be careful because the referees can hear everything. They can everything that comes out of the dugout as well as what comes from the stands from the players not involved in the game.

Many new things are coming out of the shortened season. With only 60 games to be played every game is important. For the first time yesterday, we saw the new rule about extra innings play out. A batter starts out on second base. That is supposed to move the game along. It took two extra innings in the game we were watching for a victor to emerge.

It really is different to watch. We also watched a hockey game one night. That was different as well. Spectators really add a lot to the game. We never gave that much thought in the past.

While I was thinking of baseball, I went on-line to check on the origin of the game. We have been taught that baseball is an American game — you know like baseball and apple pie. Well, it turns out there is quite a dispute about the origin of baseball. As close as I can figure it has roots in the United Kingdom. I read several articles and they all had differing opinions.

One article said that by the end of the 18th century a game similar to American baseball appeared in England. Base ball was one of the names given to the game. The Colonists brought the game to the United States.

Early folk games were played by the working class. There were no standard documented rules, but the rules came from being handed down through the generations. The first publication of rules appeared in “The Boy’s Own Book.” This base-running game was played on a diamond.

Americans consider baseball to be an American sport not descended from a British game. Who is right? We probably will never know.

What we do know is that by the late 1700s a version of the game was being played in Massachusetts. There was even a law stating that all games with balls involved had to be outside of 80 yards of the town hall to prevent damage to the windows.

The first official recorded game of baseball was played in New York between the New York Baseball Club and the Knickerbocker Ball Club. Many uniquely American elements were present.

From the History Channel — Alexander Joy Cartwright is credited with a new set of rules that would form the basis for modern baseball calling for a diamond-shaped infield, foul lines, and the three-strike rule. It is said he abolished the dangerous practice of throwing the ball at a runner to put them out.

I did find out that baseball is related to the games of Cricket and Rounders. Terminology such as “outs”, “inning”, “runs”, and “umpires” comes from Cricket. From Rounders we get the idea of hitting a pitched ball and then running the bases counter-clockwise. That is also where the team consisting of nine players comes from.

One thing I know for sure is that baseball has a direct link to Akeley, Pa. There is a bat mill that makes billets that eventually become bats for the Louisville Sluggers located there. Years ago, I had a tour of the facility and did a feature piece on what was going on. At that time the factory was know as Larimer and Norton. Both of the original owners lived in this area. The yard is always filled with logs that will become the billets.

On my first trip to this area I spotted the thing that looked like a silo. I rode up past it to get a better look. It was not a silo, per se, but it did have smoke coming from it. It was not a silo on a farm that was for sure. I was looking for the farm owned by my future husband’s family. In the end I had to wait until he picked me up some time later to take me to the farm.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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