NY Yankees Murders Row Mark Koenig vintage original photo COAST LEAGUE 1932 For Sale

NY Yankees Murders Row Mark Koenig vintage original photo COAST LEAGUE 1932
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NY Yankees Murders Row Mark Koenig vintage original photo COAST LEAGUE 1932:

MARK KOENIG1932 Murders Row Mark Koenig original photo MEASURING APPROXIMATELY 7 1/4 X 2 3/4 INCHES
MARK KOENIG SECURED BY MISSION REDS ROM DETROIT IS HEADED WEST TODAY AN IS TO RECEIVE COAST LEAGUE \'TOPS\' IN SALARU.KOENIG WILL ADD PUNCH TO HE MISSION LEAGUEDuring the fourth game of the 1927 World Series, Pittsburgh hurler Johnny Miljus threw a wild pitch in the ninth inning that scored Earle Combs from third base, completing a sweep by the New York Yankees.
Perhaps the happiest player that day was New York shortstop Mark Koenig. His .500 batting average in the Series eased his pain of being the “goat” a year earlier in the Yankees’ loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. It also erased some doubts from his critics who claimed Yankees manager, Miller Huggins, had erred by selecting Koenig as his shortstop in the first place. Baseball can be a forgiving game.
Mark Anthony Koenig was born July 19, 1904, in San Francisco to Charles and Stella Koenig of German and Swiss descent respectively. Mark had no siblings. His father was an engraver with Boyce Klinker Tool and Die in San Francisco. His mother ran a curtain laundry business out of the home on Seventh Avenue. Mrs. Koenig made thirty-five cents per pair and worked 6:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. She paid Mark ten cents per week to deliver them. The youngster got around on his coaster with his dog, Buster, by his side.1
As a young lad, Mark developed a lifelong interest in books. “I was an avid reader,” he told the author. “I read such works as The Illiad. Later on, I read until two or three in the morning.” Mark also took up the piano. Although he didn’t practice as much as he should have, he was still somewhat proficient. “I wanted to do something in a crowd instead of sitting around like a wallflower.”2
Baseball came into his life before he turned twelve. Anson Orr, a local window dresser, sponsored two teams in the Sunset District, playing at “The Big Rec” at Seventh Avenue and Lincoln Way. Mark joined the Sunset Midgets, wearing his first uniform. The older kids played on the Sunset Federals. “Anson ran the whole thing every Sunday. You had to be pretty good to break in with them.”3 Other major leaguers who came from Orr’s teams included Willie Kamm, Lew Fonseca, and Sammy Bohne.4
Mark bore the nickname “Booby,” which did not follow him to his professional career.5
Mark entered Lowell High School in San Francisco. He made the baseball team, but was not the regular shortstop. Artie Berger started at short while Mark played sparingly at other infield positions. As a junior, Koenig’s playing time increased and he caught the attention of scout Marty Kearns, who recommended him to Nick Williams of the Moose Jaw Millers of the Western Canadian League.6
Mark left school to play for the Millers for the 1921 season. His parents did not object. The Millers trained in Pendleton, Oregon, and he arrived there by train, another first in his life. From there he drove to Canada. “We had breakfast in Oregon, lunch in Washington, and dinner in Idaho.”7
Koenig best remembers Elmer O’Shaughnessy, Willie Rose, and Ray Bliss from the Millers.8 Unfortunately, the league folded before the season ended. Mark wound up with a .202 batting average in 84 games.9 Two things happened at Moose Jaw which benefitted Mark: He decided to also hit left-handed, making him a switch hitter, and he drew the attention of Yankees scout Bob Connery, which eventually led to his being acquired by the Yankees. He spent the last part of the 1921 season with the St. Paul Saints, getting in only four games.10
At 18 Koenig filled out to six feet tall and 180 pounds. With the Jamestown Jimkotans of the Dakota League in 1922, he played third and hit .253.11 The following season he improved to .288 with the Des Moines Boosters in the Western League. But he made 37 errors at third base. After the season, the St. Paul Saints (AA) recalled him.12
The 1924 season found Koenig riding the bench most of the year. Chuck Dressen was the starting third baseman while Danny Boone patrolled shortstop. Koenig finished at .267 in 68 games. The Saints made it to the Little World Series and squared off against the International League Baltimore Orioles led by 26-game-winner Lefty Grove. When Boone injured his ankle during batting practice, the Saints were forced to start Koenig and he made the most of it, batting .429 with two home runs, one off Grove. The Saints won the series five games to four with one tie.13 “They were so confident in beating us that they never unpacked their trunks,” Koenig recalled.14
The 1925 season was a pivotal one for Koenig. As the Saints’ shortstop, he hit .308 and was sold to the New York Yankees for $50,000 and three players: Fred Hoffman, Oscar Roettger, and Ernie Johnson.15 The Yankees were not the only teams interested in Koenig. The Athletics, Browns, Senators, White Sox, and Phillies also pursued him. He was now in the major leagues at the age of 21.
The Yankees were headed for a seventh-place finish, their worst in ten years. Babe Ruth played in only 98 games, and only one starting pitcher was .500 or better (Urban Shocker, 12-12). Rookie Pee Wee Wanninger was the starting shortstop, whose .236 average didn’t make him secure to play every day in the future. Koenig made his major league debut on September 8 in Boston when he came in for defensive purposes. In the second game of the day, Koenig started at shortstop and got his first major league hit off Buster Ross during the double-header sweep. By the end of the season, Koenig had accumulated a .209 batting average in 28 games. Manager Miller Huggins had big plans in store for him in 1926.
The 1926 Yankees’ biggest change was the decision to start Koenig at shortstop and put rookie and fellow native San Franciscan Tony Lazzeri at second base. Lazzeri was coming off a 66-home run season at Salt Lake City. Koenig said, “We weren’t expected to go anywhere in 1926. We had power and good pitching, but a young infield. Gehrig was starting his first full season. Lazzeri and I were 21-year-old rookies. We were an unknown quantity. Dugan at third was the only veteran.” 16 Koenig was in there mainly for his offense. His error totals on defense were generally high. “I had such small hands, and the gloves weren’t the same as they are today. They got butterfly nets now.”17
On April 23 Koenig hit his first major league home run off Red Sox pitcher Red Ruffing at Yankee Stadium.18 The Yankees had Koenig leading off with Earle Combs batting second until mid-June when Huggins flip-flopped the two. Koenig hit a career-high five home runs with a .271 average. The home run Koenig remembers best is the one he belted off Lil Stoner on August 7 in Detroit. As he told writer Dave Newhouse, “Stoner had a beautiful curve and he got two strikes off me right away. For some reason, I turned and winked at Gehrig who was on deck. Sure enough, Stoner’s next pitch was a fastball and I hit it in the right field stands. As I’m running around the bases, I see Cobb holding his nose and waving his arms up and down at Stoner. Cobb was a miserable man.”19
The Yankees won 91 games in 1926 and finished three games in front of the Cleveland Indians. They squared off against the St. Louis Cardinals led by Rogers Hornsby in the World Series. What most fans remember is Grover Cleveland Alexander striking out Lazzeri in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs in Game Seven. What stood out for Koenig was the four errors he made at shortstop and striking out six times. In the fourth inning of the last game, Koenig booted a probable double play ball hit by Les Bell that would have ended the inning. Moments later, left fielder Bob Meusel dropped a fly ball. Three Cardinal runs scored that inning and that’s all they needed for a 3-2 victory. It was a bitter and disappointing end for Koenig and his teammates.20
After the Series, Koenig, along with Guy Bush, Bob Shawkey, Eddie Collins, Sam Jones, and Benny Bengough, took off for a two-week hunting trip to New Brunswick, Canada. Each was assigned an Indian guide. Like the World Series, Koenig came up empty in his efforts to bag a moose.21
Before the 1927 season began, the writers again got on Huggins for starting Koenig. “Huggins told me, ‘You’re playing ball for me, not the sporting writers.’ That gave me a little confidence you know. We didn’t have a curfew with the Yankees. Huggins was a nervous little guy. He’d often say, ‘This guy can’t hit. He’s got two already.’ But you don’t have to be much of a manager with a team like that. If you have the horses you’ll win.”22
The 1927 Yankees are often called \"Murderers’ Row,\" \"Five O’Clock Lightning,\" or \"The Greatest of All.\" The club won 110 games, lost 44. They won the pennant by 19 games over the Athletics, with Babe Ruth hitting 60 home runs and Lou Gehrig driving in 175. Baseball history was made on September 30. In the bottom of the eighth against the Washington Senators, Koenig smacked a triple off Tom Zachary. Ruth, the next hitter, hit a curveball into the right field bleachers for home run number 60. The Yankees won 4-2.
Not one American League team was able to break even against the Yankees. Cleveland played the Yankees tough by winning 10 of 22 games. One player who stood out in Koenig’s mind on the Indians was infielder Freddy Spurgeon. “Spurgeon used to get the poopiest hits. Always drove us crazy.”23
Batting second ahead of Ruth and Gehrig, Koenig hit .285 and scored 99 runs. He was a proficient bunter and struck out only 21 times. Koenig made 47 errors, despite missing 31 games. “Red Faber hit me in the leg with a fast ball. Doc Woods (Yankees trainer) put a rolling pin to it that cut off the circulation. That’s what put me in the hospital.”24 Lazzeri played shortstop in Koenig’s absence while Ray Morehart took over at second base.
Late in the season, Koenig and Ruth were involved in an altercation in Baltimore during an exhibition game. While Ruth was playing first base, Koenig was unable to snag a throw several feet above his head. Ruth yelled obscenities at Koenig. When they returned to the dugout, Koenig informed Ruth to never talk to him like that again. Moments later, the two wrestled on the ground. It was broken up and Huggins decided to move the two apart since their lockers were next to each other in the clubhouse. They didn’t speak to one another until the last day of the season.25
During the year, Koenig shared an apartment with Benny Bengough on 181st and Broadway. And when the Yankees were at home, he would often go to the home of Lou Gehrig and his parents for dinner.26
The Pittsburgh Pirates represented the National League in the World Series. Koenig felt the Pirates was every bit as good as the previous year’s champion St. Louis Cardinals. “That was a good club. The Waner brothers. And the pitching. Oh boy. Vic Aldridge and Carmen Hill.”27 Still, the Yankees were heavy favorites, and swept the Series. The last game went into the ninth with the score 3-3. Pirates reliever Johnny Miljus walked the leadoff man, Combs. Koenig laid down a bunt and managed to beat it out for an infield single. Ruth walked after a wild pitch by Miljus. Gehrig and Meusel struck out and Pittsburgh had a glimmer of hope. On an 0-1 count to Lazzeri, Miljus uncorked another wild pitch that catcher Johnny Gooch was unable to retrieve. The Series was over. Koenig managed 9 hits in 18 at bats, no errors, and only two strikeouts.
Koenig had a high regard for his Yankee teammates:
Babe Ruth: “I don’t think Ruth knew anybody’s name outside of Meusel. He called everybody ‘kid.’ I don’t recall Ruth ever throwing to the wrong base. And for a person his size, he could run.”Lou Gehrig: “He was a nice person and didn’t say much. On the field, he threw a hard ball. Boy that hurt.”Bob Meusel: “I went out with Meusel a lot. Nice guy. The wife and I would visit him during the winter in Redondo Beach (CA). He didn’t say much but when he did he meant it.”Ben Pascal: “Pascal could hit left-handed pitching. He could run like a deer. He wasn’t a very good outfielder.”28Mark was grateful to have landed on the Yankees. “If I had joined another club during that time, I wouldn’t have lasted a year. I was lucky to be on that club.” Still he downplayed his contribution. “They could have played a midget at shortstop.”29
The 1928 Yankees had a slightly different look when pitcher Urban Shocker didn’t join the club until May and only stayed a short while. By September, he was dead as a result of pneumonia and heart disease. But they started fast and at one point were 66-23. From then on, they were 35-30 to barely squeak by the Athletics, who finished 2½ games back. This was Koenig’s high water mark as a batter. He made his usual 49 errors but managed a .319 average and struck out 19 times.30 On September 11, Ty Cobb of the Athletics pinch hit and popped out to Koenig. It was his last major league at bat.31 Koenig quipped, “I’m the ballplayer who retired Ty Cobb.”32
The World Series was played against the St. Louis Cardinals, led by manager Bill McKechnie. In Game One, Koenig singled in the eighth and later scored. His defense came through as well with a great play off the bat of Frank Frisch to lead off the seventh inning, a key play since Jim Bottomley followed with a home run. New York won, 4-1. The rest of the Series belonged to the Yankees, who outscored their opponents, 27-10. Koenig hit an anemic .158 and committed two errors. It didn’t matter since Ruth and Gehrig hit .625 and .545 respectively. This was the first time in World Series history that one team swept its opponents two years in a row.33
After the ’28 season, Mark married Katherine Tremaine of Red Bluff, California. They had one child, Gail, in 1930.
In 1929 the Yankees’ run of three pennants in a row gave way to Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics who had slowly built to a championship level. Koenig hit .292 but was not the regular shortstop, replaced by light-hitting Leo Durocher. Third baseman Joe Dugan was gone and Koenig played some at the hot corner. Still, he managed to appear in 116 games. The Indians and Yankees started a trend that year when they added numbers to the back of their uniforms. Koenig wore number two since that was his position in the batting order. Ruth wore number three, Gehrig four, and so on.
The ’29 season ended on a tragic note days before the season was over. Miller Huggins passed away on September 29 from erysipelas (blood poisoning).
Ex-pitcher Bob Shawkey took the reins in 1930 and eventually inserted Lyn Lary as the everyday shortstop. Through May 30, Koenig appeared in only 21 games, hitting a paltry .230. He fell out of favor with the new manager along with outspoken pitcher Waite Hoyt, who complained, “The trouble with this club is that there are too many guys on it who aren’t Yankees.” Hoyt and Koenig were dealt to the Detroit Tigers on May 30 for Ownie Carroll, Yats Wuestling, and Harry Rice, a trade that benefitted neither team.34
The Tigers felt Koenig was suffering from eye problems and needed to wear glasses. He was fitted with a pair of spectacles. It didn’t help. “It was all in my head.”35
The Tigers decided that Koenig could be a big league pitcher. On September 27, he made his only major league start, against the White Sox. He gave up six runs in the first inning but settled down and pitched scoreless ball for five innings. The roof caved in again during the seventh inning when he gave up four runs.36 The one bright spot of playing with Detroit is that he didn’t have to face pitcher George Uhle, “the toughest pitcher I ever faced. He even made Ruth and Gehrig look silly.”37 Uhle was 9-3 versus the Yankees during the combined 1927-28 seasons while with Cleveland.
Koenig labored on with the Tigers during the 1931 season. Detroit was getting their future lineup set for pennants that would follow in 1934 and 1935. Billy Rogell was the shortstop. As a reserve infielder and pinch-hitter, Koenig managed to get in 106 games with a .253 average. He had played his last American League game.
The beginning of 1932 found Koenig playing for the San Francisco Missions in the Pacific Coast League. While playing short and third, he accumulated a .335 batting average. Fate stepped in during early August. Cubs shortstop Billy Jurges was shot in the hand by Chicago showgirl Violet Popovich Valli. The Cubs were in dire need of a shortstop until Jurges returned and noticed Koenig doing well for the Missions. Cubs president Bill Veeck Sr. said, “Grab him.” So, Koenig became a member of the Chicago Cubs.38 Koenig recalled, “I didn’t want to go but Dutch Ruether talked me into it so I went.”39 He settled in nicely with a .353 average in 33 games. The Cubs won the pennant by four games. One game that stood out was a tenth-inning home run off Giants reliever Sam Gibson on August 31 that led to a 10-9 win after New York had scored four in the top of the inning. Still, Koenig was not overjoyed about playing for the Cubs. “I never fit in with the Cubs players. They only voted me a half-share of the World Series.40 I had six tickets for the games and they were all behind posts. Guy Bush must have had one hundred tickets. I knew damned well we couldn’t beat them.” 41
The American League champion New York Yankees were all over the Cubs for their treatment of Koenig in voting him a partial share. Babe Ruth hollered across the field, “Hey Mark, who are those cheapskates you’re with?”
In Game One, Koenig hit a triple off Red Ruffing, scoring Gabby Hartnett. He hurt his wrist sliding into third and was essentially out for the Series except for a brief pinch-hitting stint that saw him replaced by another pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Game Three. The Yankees won the first two games, 12-6 and 5-2.
Game Three is where the controversy occurred that is still debated. During the fifth inning, Babe Ruth hit a solo home run with two strikes off Charlie Root. The controversy is, “Did Babe Ruth call his shot?” Reporters claimed that Ruth was pointing to the bleachers right before he homered. In Koenig’s opinion; “He made a gesture when there were two strikes. Someone would have to be foolish to point to the stands with two strikes on him. Still, I give him the benefit of the doubt.”
The Cubs lost in four games. The loser’s share was $4244.60. Koenig, one may say, was cheated out of $2122.30.
Koenig stayed with the Cubs the following year and hit .284 in 80 games. On November 21 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies with Ted Kleinhans, Harvey Hendrick, and $65,000 for triple crown winner Chuck Klein. One month later, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Otto Bluege and Irv Jeffries.
In 1934, Koenig played in 151 games at third and short, the most in his career. His error total was still high, 48, but he struck out only 24 times and hit .272. “I liked Cincinnati. They had manager Charlie Dressen there. It was a lousy ball club [52-99]. Pitcher Larry Benton was the best friend I had on the club. ‘Stinky feet’ (Fred) Piet was my roommate. He’d wash his socks in the bath tub.”42 That year the Reds became the first major league team to fly, traveling from Cincinnati to Chicago on June 8.43 Koenig and Jim Bottomley refused to board an airplane and continued to travel by train.44
On December 14, Koenig was traded to the New York Giants with Allyn Stout for Billy Myers. Koenig managed to get in 107 games for the third-place Giants and hit .283.
In his last big league season, 1936, Koenig made it back to the World Series, this time against the Yankees. During the regular season, he hit .276 in only 58 at bats. He was 1-for-3 in the six-game Series won by the Yankees.
Mark Koenig did not appreciate Giants manager Bill Terry’s style. “Terry was a lousy manager. If you had a bad day he wouldn’t talk to you. And he had a strict curfew.” This was a far cry from the Yankees’ looser atmosphere in which, Koenig recalled, “I’d come in at three in the morning and the elevator guy would say, ‘I just took a load of you guys up.’ ”45
The Giants released Koenig in December 1936. His lifetime major-league batting average in twelve seasons was .279, with 1190 hits and only 190 strikeouts. He returned to the Mission Reds in 1937, playing for his old San Franciscan friend and ex-major-leaguer, Willie Kamm. He hit .289 but was gone before the season ended.
Koenig stayed in San Francisco where he owned and operated two gas stations. He divorced Katherine and married Doris Bailey. He appeared in two biopics of Yankee teammates Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, “The Babe Ruth Story” and “Pride of the Yankees.”
Koenig invested well in the stock market, particularly Pacific Gas & Electric. Still, it was upsetting to him that players of his era were not entitled to a pension. “I don’t need it, but I know a lot of ex-players who can use it.”46
After he sold his gas stations, Koenig and his wife moved to Glen Ellen, California. He spent his time with a few of the locals, played dominoes, kept up with the news, and worked the crossword puzzles in the San Francisco Chronicle.
When Doris passed away in 1979, Helen Palmer, a widow from Rockford, Illinois, who, had read about Mark, contacted him. Soon she moved in and was his companion for nearly six years.
The last honor bestowed on Mark Koenig was the 1987 presentation of his high school diploma by Lowell High School principal Alan Fibish.
The passing of his teammates from the old Yankee teams saddened him as the years progressed. When Ray Morehart passed away in 1989, Mark became the last survivor from what many consider the greatest team ever. Interviews did not stop and his mind was as sharp as ever. He could still remember the strengths and weaknesses of many of the ballplayers he played with and against. He could recite limericks that he learned in grade school with great accuracy.
When health issues became a concern, Koenig moved to Orland, California, where he lived on his daughter’s property. On April 22, 1993, Mark Koenig passed away from cancer in Willows, California, at the age of 88. He was survived by his daughter, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Koenig’s Yankee number 2 will one day be retired by another Yankee shortstop of a different generation, Derek Jeter. Still, Mark Koenig’s accomplishments will forever be a part of the Yankees’ rich and great tradition.Mark Anthony Koenig (July 19, 1904 – April 22, 1993) was an American baseball shortstop who played twelve seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played for the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants from 1925 to 1936. A switch hitter who threw right-handed, he was listed at 6 feet 0 inches (1.83 m) and 180 pounds (82 kg). Although he primarily played as a shortstop, Koenig was utilized at second base and third base as well.
Koenig played minor league baseball for four different teams until May 1925, when he signed for the New York Yankees. After making his debut in September 1925 and spending five seasons with the Yankees, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers, where he spent the next two seasons. He subsequently joined the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds via trades in 1932 and 1934, respectively, and was finally traded to the New York Giants, with whom he played his last game on September 27, 1936. Koenig is most famous for being the last surviving member of the Murderers\' Row.Contents1 Early life2 Professional career2.1 Minor leagues2.2 New York Yankees (1925–1930)2.3 Career statistics3 Personal life4 References5 External linksEarly lifeKoenig was born on July 19, 1904 in San Francisco.[1] His father, Charles Koenig, and paternal grandfather William were both bricklayers, with the latter having immigrated from Germany to the United States.[2] His mother Stella[2] was of Swiss descent.[3] Koenig had two brothers and a sister, and, during his childhood, he first met and played baseball with fellow San Franciscan and future teammate Tony Lazzeri.[2] He attended Lowell High School in his hometown, but dropped out at the age of 16 in order to pursue a career in baseball. His high school eventually bestowed upon him his diploma in 1988. Koenig, who was 83 at the time, described the honor as a complete surprise.[4]
Professional careerMinor leaguesKoenig first started playing organized baseball on the Moose Jaw Millers team in the Western Canada League.[5] It was here that he was first spotted by Bob Connery, a scout who worked for the New York Yankees organization. After the league collapsed in the middle of the season, he proceeded to play for the St. Paul Saints, a minor league baseball team that competed in the American Association. He spent nearly the next four seasons with the team; during this time, he had brief sojourns in Jamestown and the Des Moines Boosters in order to garner more playing experience.[2][5]
Koenig returned to St. Paul in 1924 and though he spent the entire season with the team, he played just 68 games for them.[5] At the end of the season, the Saints advanced to the Little World Series, where they faced the International League\'s Baltimore Orioles. Having had limited playing time, it was in Game 5 where he finally got the chance to prove himself.[2] Danny Boone, St. Paul\'s starting shortstop, injured his ankle during batting practice.[3][6] Although the rules at the time stipulated that the Saints could temporarily utilize a player from another American Association team to replace Boone, the Orioles objected[2] and the National Association president ruled that Koenig constituted an ample substitute for Boone. He proved to be exactly that when he scored the Saints\' only run via a home run. He finished the Little World Series with a .429 batting average and 2 home runs, including one hit off Lefty Grove.[7][6] His stellar performance in the series resulted in at least seven MLB teams seeking to acquire him in the offseason.[3] However, he stayed with the Saints for the first part of the 1925 season before he was traded on May 29 to the New York Yankees in exchange for Fred Hofmann, Oscar Roettger, $50,000 ($728,937 in current dollar terms) and a player to be named later (Ernie Johnson).[1][8]
New York Yankees (1925–1930)Koenig made his major league debut for the Yankees on September 8, 1925, at the age of 21,[1] entering the game as a defensive substitute for shortstop Pee-Wee Wanninger in a 5–4 win against the Boston Red Sox.[9] During his rookie season the following year, he posted a batting average of .271 and struck out just 37 times in 617 at bats,[1] a statistic which his manager Miller Huggins looked highly upon.[2] Defensively, he committed the most errors among all fielders in the American League and most errors by a shortstop with 52. Nonetheless, he had the AL\'s third highest range factor at shortstop of 4.99 and made a league-leading 470 putouts.[1] In the postseason, the Yankees advanced to the 1926 World Series, where they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.[10] In the crucial Game 7, Koenig made an error when attempting to field a double play opportunity in the fourth inning. This eventually led to the Cardinals scoring—what turned out to be—the winning run in a 3–2 victory. Koenig was subsequently criticized by fans for being responsible for Yankees losing the game and, ultimately, the series.[2]
Koenig was penciled into the two-hole spot in the Yankees\' 1927 Opening Day lineup, with Earle Combs batting in front of him at leadoff and Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri batting behind him.[11] This lineup, which was utilized in that order throughout the majority of the season, was given the nickname \"Murderers\' Row\". Many sports analysts, baseball writers and fans consider the 1927 team the greatest baseball team of all time.[12][13][14] Although he was dismissive of the role he played,[15] Koenig contributed to the team\'s success as he batted .285 and amassed 150 hits, 11 triples, 99 runs scored and 62 runs batted in. However, he once again led the league in errors with 47, but compensated for this by recording the highest range factor at shortstop (5.61) and third most assists at shortstop (423).[1] He was also part of history when, after hitting a triple, he was the only Yankee player on base when Babe Ruth hit his milestone 60th home run, setting a new single-season record.[15] The Yankees advanced to the World Series that year, where they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates. Koenig performed impressively throughout the series, batting a team-leading .500 and committed no errors in 24 total chances.[16]
Career statisticsIn 1162 games over 12 seasons, Koenig posted a .279 batting average (1190-for-4271) with 572 runs, 195 doubles, 49 triples, 28 home runs, 446 RBI, 31 stolen bases, 222 bases on balls, .316 on-base percentage and .367 slugging percentage. He finished his career with a .933 fielding percentage playing primarily at shortstop, third and second base. In 20 World Series games, he batted .237 (18-for-76) with 9 runs, 3 doubles, 1 triple and 5 RBI.[1]
Personal lifeIn June 1928, Koenig got engaged to Katherine Tremaine, whom he married at the end of that year\'s baseball season.[17] Together, they had one daughter, Gail, who was born in 1930.[7] He later remarried Doris Bailey,[18] who died in 1979.[19] He appeared as himself in The Pride of the Yankees, an Academy Award-winning movie released in 1942 that pays tribute to his fellow Yankees teammate Lou Gehrig.[20] After his baseball career ended, he settled back in his hometown and took up several jobs, namely owning gas stations and working as a brewer.[16]
Beginning in 1982, Koenig\'s health began to deteriorate. In addition to the lung cancer that had developed,[19] he also suffered from gout, poor eyesight and back pain that necessitated the use of a cane. Because of these ailments, he moved to Orland, California in 1986 in order to live with his daughter and her family.[21][22] He died of cancer[22] on April 22, 1993 in Willows, California at the age of 88 and was cremated.[1] He had outlived his two wives[21] and was survived by his daughter, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. At the time of his death, he was the last surviving member of the 1927 New York Yankees starting lineup, nicknamed \"Murderers\' Row\".[22]
OK, so we’re a little late. The 80th anniversary of the 1927 Yankees (best known as Murderers’ Row) sweeping Pittsburgh in the World Series to finish one of the most dominant seasons in baseball history passed a few weeks ago. Bet you didn’t know the Babe Ruth- and Lou Gehrig-led Yanks had a little-known Twin Cities connection.
Thanks to Roger Godin, the Minnesota Wild’s curator and a diligent baseball researcher, for pointing this out. Godin has submitted a paper to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) about Mark Koenig, the shortstop on that great Yankee team who previously played for the old St. Paul Saints.
Those Saints didn’t have pigs carrying baseballs or nuns giving massages, but they had national-caliber talent. Koenig’s big break came in 1924, when he came off the bench to spark the Saints to a dramatic Junior World Series championship over the legendary minor-league Baltimore Orioles. (The team was so revered that the major-league St. Louis Browns adopted their name in homage when it moved there in 1954.)
“I’ve been intrigued by it, and have been for a long time,” Godin said of the Koenig connection. “I knew Koenig had played here and played for, without too much argument, the greatest team ever assembled. But no one here knew that, or knew that his teammate, Chuck Dressen, went on to manage the Dodgers. To me, it was lost to history.”
Some background: In Koenig’s time, minor-league teams were independent entities without major-league affiliations. Many scouted and signed their own players and sold off the best ones to major-league teams.
Baseball historians considered those Orioles one of the greatest minor-league outfits of that era. The Junior World Series, begun in 1920, matched the winners of the International League and the American Association, the best leagues of their time. The Orioles won seven straight IL pennants from 1920 to 1926 and beat St. Paul in the JWS twice, in 1920 and ’22. But the Saints bested the Orioles in the best-of-nine 1924 series, coming back from a four-games-to-two hole thanks in large part to Koenig.A 20-year-old utility infielder from California, Koenig started Game 5 in place of shortstop Danny Boone, who took a wayward throw in the head during batting practice. Koenig homered for the only run in a 10-1 loss that gave the Orioles a three-games-to-one lead in the series. (One game was a tie.)
Here’s the intriguing part of this tale. According to newspaper accounts Godin found, rules of the time allowed the Saints to replace Boone on the roster with a comparable player from any other team in the American Association. (Imagine the modern-day Red Sox replacing David Ortiz with Jim Thome for the World Series.) The Saints apparently had so little faith in Koenig that as the series shifted to St. Paul’s Lexington Park, they contacted at least three other shortstops to come play for them. None did, so they were stuck with Koenig.
But it worked out. In Game 6, the switch-hitting Koenig homered off future Hall of Famer Lefty Grove, who had already won twice in the series, and added a sacrifice fly in a 5-2 St. Paul victory. Baltimore took Game 7 and needed one more victory to finish off the Saints, but St. Paul won three consecutive elimination games to take the series. Koenig had three key hits in Game 8, and batted .429 with two homers for the series.
All that earned Koenig the shortstop job for 1925, but before the year ended, the Saints dealt Koenig to the Yankees for three players. By 1926, he was the Yankees’ regular shortstop. In ’27, he hit .285 and scored 99 runs for a team that won 110 games. Koenig was on third with a triple when Ruth, his roommate, hit his then-record 60th home run.
Koenig went on to hit .500 in the ’27 World Series (9-for-18). He would play for five teams in a 12-year major-league career that ended in 1936.
Gail Terry, Koenig’s daughter, cared for her father the last eight years of his life before he died in 1993 at age 88, the last surviving member of that Yankee team. In a telephone interview from her northern California home, Terry, 77, said she vaguely remembers hearing her father talking about that Junior World Series while playing cards with some buddies.
Her father, she said, never told her any baseball stories directly, even though she was a tomboy and loved sports herself. “My father talked about baseball all the time,” she said. “I was an only child, and a girl, and he wanted a boy.”
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each, taking turns batting and fielding. The game is in play when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball that a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objective of the offensive team (batting team) is to hit the ball into the field of play, away from the other team\'s players, allowing its players to run the bases, having them advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called \"runs\". The objective of the defensive team (referred to as the fielding team) is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners\' advance around the bases.[2] A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate (the place where the player started as a batter).
The principal objective of the batting team is to have a player reach first base safely; this generally occurs either when the batter hits the ball and reaches first base before an opponent retrieves the ball and touches the base, or when the pitcher persists in throwing the ball out of the batter\'s reach. Players on the batting team who reach first base without being called \"out\" can attempt to advance to subsequent bases as a runner, either immediately or during teammates\' turns batting. The fielding team tries to prevent runs by getting batters or runners \"out\", which forces them out of the field of play. The pitcher can get the batter out by throwing three pitches which result in strikes, while fielders can get the batter out by catching a batted ball before it touches the ground, and can get a runner out by tagging them with the ball while the runner is not touching a base. The opposing teams switch back and forth between batting and fielding; the batting team\'s turn to bat is over once the fielding team records three outs. One turn batting for each team constitutes an inning. A game is usually composed of nine innings, and the team with the greater number of runs at the end of the game wins. If scores are tied at the end of nine innings, extra innings are usually played. Baseball has no game clock, although most games end in the ninth inning.
Baseball evolved from older bat-and-ball games already being played in England by the mid-18th century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The MLB champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. The top level of play is similarly split in Japan between the Central and Pacific Leagues and in Cuba between the West League and East League. The World Baseball Classic, organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, is the major international competition of the sport and attracts the top national teams from around the world.Contents1 Rules and gameplay2 Personnel2.1 Players2.2 Managers and coaches2.3 Umpires3 Strategy4 Tactics4.1 Pitching and fielding4.2 Batting and baserunning5 History5.1 In the United States5.1.1 Establishment of professional leagues5.1.2 Rise of Ruth and racial integration5.1.3 Attendance records and the age of steroids5.2 Around the world6 Distinctive elements6.1 No clock to kill6.2 Individual focus6.3 Uniqueness of parks7 Statistics7.1 Sabermetrics8 Popularity and cultural impact8.1 In the United States8.2 Caribbean8.3 Asia8.4 Among children8.5 In popular culture8.6 Derivative games8.6.1 British baseball8.6.2 Finnish baseball9 See also9.1 Related sports10 Citations11 General and cited sources12 Further reading13 External linksRules and gameplayFurther information: Baseball rules and Outline of baseball
Diagram of a baseball field Diamond may refer to the square area defined by the four bases or to the entire playing field. The dimensions given are for professional and professional-style games. Children often play on smaller fields.A baseball game is played between two teams, each usually composed of nine players, that take turns playing offense (batting and baserunning) and defense (pitching and fielding). A pair of turns, one at bat and one in the field, by each team constitutes an inning. A game consists of nine innings (seven innings at the high school level and in doubleheaders in college, Minor League Baseball and, since the 2020 season, Major League Baseball; and six innings at the Little League level).[3] One team—customarily the visiting team—bats in the top, or first half, of every inning. The other team—customarily the home team—bats in the bottom, or second half, of every inning. The goal of the game is to score more points (runs) than the other team. The players on the team at bat attempt to score runs by touching all four bases, in order, set at the corners of the square-shaped baseball diamond. A player bats at home plate and must attempt to safely reach a base before proceeding, counterclockwise, from first base, to second base, third base, and back home to score a run. The team in the field attempts to prevent runs from scoring by recording outs, which remove opposing players from offensive action, until their next turn at bat comes up again. When three outs are recorded, the teams switch roles for the next half-inning. If the score of the game is tied after nine innings, extra innings are played to resolve the contest. Many amateur games, particularly unorganized ones, involve different numbers of players and innings.[4]
The game is played on a field whose primary boundaries, the foul lines, extend forward from home plate at 45-degree angles. The 90-degree area within the foul lines is referred to as fair territory; the 270-degree area outside them is foul territory. The part of the field enclosed by the bases and several yards beyond them is the infield; the area farther beyond the infield is the outfield. In the middle of the infield is a raised pitcher\'s mound, with a rectangular rubber plate (the rubber) at its center. The outer boundary of the outfield is typically demarcated by a raised fence, which may be of any material and height. The fair territory between home plate and the outfield boundary is baseball\'s field of play, though significant events can take place in foul territory, as well.[5]
There are three basic tools of baseball: the ball, the bat, and the glove or mitt:
The baseball is about the size of an adult\'s fist, around 9 inches (23 centimeters) in circumference. It has a rubber or cork center, wound in yarn and covered in white cowhide, with red stitching.[6]The bat is a hitting tool, traditionally made of a single, solid piece of wood. Other materials are now commonly used for nonprofessional games. It is a hard round stick, about 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) in diameter at the hitting end, tapering to a narrower handle and culminating in a knob. Bats used by adults are typically around 34 inches (86 centimeters) long, and not longer than 42 inches (106 centimeters).[7]The glove or mitt is a fielding tool, made of padded leather with webbing between the fingers. As an aid in catching and holding onto the ball, it takes various shapes to meet the specific needs of different fielding positions.[8]Protective helmets are also standard equipment for all batters.[9]
At the beginning of each half-inning, the nine players of the fielding team arrange themselves around the field. One of them, the pitcher, stands on the pitcher\'s mound. The pitcher begins the pitching delivery with one foot on the rubber, pushing off it to gain velocity when throwing toward home plate. Another fielding team player, the catcher, squats on the far side of home plate, facing the pitcher. The rest of the fielding team faces home plate, typically arranged as four infielders—who set up along or within a few yards outside the imaginary lines (basepaths) between first, second, and third base—and three outfielders. In the standard arrangement, there is a first baseman positioned several steps to the left of first base, a second baseman to the right of second base, a shortstop to the left of second base, and a third baseman to the right of third base. The basic outfield positions are left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder. With the exception of the catcher, all fielders are required to be in fair territory when the pitch is delivered. A neutral umpire sets up behind the catcher.[10] Other umpires will be distributed around the field as well.[11]David Ortiz, the batter, awaiting a pitch, with the catcher and umpirePlay starts with a member of the batting team, the batter, standing in either of the two batter\'s boxes next to home plate, holding a bat.[12] The batter waits for the pitcher to throw a pitch (the ball) toward home plate, and attempts to hit the ball[13] with the bat.[12] The catcher catches pitches that the batter does not hit—as a result of either electing not to swing or failing to connect—and returns them to the pitcher. A batter who hits the ball into the field of play must drop the bat and begin running toward first base, at which point the player is referred to as a runner (or, until the play is over, a batter-runner). A batter-runner who reaches first base without being put out is said to be safe and is on base. A batter-runner may choose to remain at first base or attempt to advance to second base or even beyond—however far the player believes can be reached safely. A player who reaches base despite proper play by the fielders has recorded a hit. A player who reaches first base safely on a hit is credited with a single. If a player makes it to second base safely as a direct result of a hit, it is a double; third base, a triple. If the ball is hit in the air within the foul lines over the entire outfield (and outfield fence, if there is one), or otherwise safely circles all the bases, it is a home run: the batter and any runners on base may all freely circle the bases, each scoring a run. This is the most desirable result for the batter. The ultimate and most desirable result possible for a batter would be to hit a home run while all three bases are occupied or \"loaded\", thus scoring four runs on a single hit. This is called a grand slam. A player who reaches base due to a fielding mistake is not credited with a hit—instead, the responsible fielder is charged with an error.[12]
Any runners already on base may attempt to advance on batted balls that land, or contact the ground, in fair territory, before or after the ball lands. A runner on first base must attempt to advance if a ball lands in play, as only one runner may occupy a base at any given time. If a ball hit into play rolls foul before passing through the infield, it becomes dead and any runners must return to the base they occupied when the play began. If the ball is hit in the air and caught before it lands, the batter has flied out and any runners on base may attempt to advance only if they tag up (contact the base they occupied when the play began, as or after the ball is caught). Runners may also attempt to advance to the next base while the pitcher is in the process of delivering the ball to home plate; a successful effort is a stolen base.[14]
A pitch that is not hit into the field of play is called either a strike or a ball. A batter against whom three strikes are recorded strikes out. A batter against whom four balls are recorded is awarded a base on balls or walk, a free advance to first base. (A batter may also freely advance to first base if the batter\'s body or uniform is struck by a pitch outside the strike zone, provided the batter does not swing and attempts to avoid being hit.)[15] Crucial to determining balls and strikes is the umpire\'s judgment as to whether a pitch has passed through the strike zone, a conceptual area above home plate extending from the midpoint between the batter\'s shoulders and belt down to the hollow of the knee.[16]A shortstop tries to tag out a runner who is sliding head first, attempting to reach second base.While the team at bat is trying to score runs, the team in the field is attempting to record outs. In addition to the strikeout and flyout, common ways a member of the batting team may be put out include the ground out, force out, and tag out. These occur either when a runner is forced to advance to a base, and a fielder with possession of the ball reaches that base before the runner does, or the runner is touched by the ball, held in a fielder\'s hand, while not on a base. It is possible to record two outs in the course of the same play. This is called a double play. Three outs in one play, a triple play, is possible, though rare. Players put out or retired must leave the field, returning to their team\'s dugout or bench. A runner may be stranded on base when a third out is recorded against another player on the team. Stranded runners do not benefit the team in its next turn at bat as every half-inning begins with the bases empty.[17]
An individual player\'s turn batting or plate appearance is complete when the player reaches base, hits a home run, makes an out, or hits a ball that results in the team\'s third out, even if it is recorded against a teammate. On rare occasions, a batter may be at the plate when, without the batter\'s hitting the ball, a third out is recorded against a teammate—for instance, a runner getting caught stealing (tagged out attempting to steal a base). A batter with this sort of incomplete plate appearance starts off the team\'s next turn batting; any balls or strikes recorded against the batter the previous inning are erased. A runner may circle the bases only once per plate appearance and thus can score at most a single run per batting turn. Once a player has completed a plate appearance, that player may not bat again until the eight other members of the player\'s team have all taken their turn at bat in the batting order. The batting order is set before the game begins, and may not be altered except for substitutions. Once a player has been removed for a substitute, that player may not reenter the game. Children\'s games often have more lenient rules, such as Little League rules, which allow players to be substituted back into the same game.[18][3]
If the designated hitter (DH) rule is in effect, each team has a tenth player whose sole responsibility is to bat (and run). The DH takes the place of another player—almost invariably the pitcher—in the batting order, but does not field. Thus, even with the DH, each team still has a batting order of nine players and a fielding arrangement of nine players.[19]
PersonnelSee also: Baseball positionsPlayers
Defensive positions on a baseball field, with abbreviations and scorekeeper\'s position numbers (not uniform numbers)See also the categories Baseball players and Lists of baseball playersThe number of players on a baseball roster, or squad, varies by league and by the level of organized play. A Major League Baseball (MLB) team has a roster of 25 players with specific roles. A typical roster features the following players:[20]
Eight position players: the catcher, four infielders, and three outfielders—all of whom play on a regular basisFive starting pitchers who constitute the team\'s pitching rotation or starting rotationSix relief pitchers, including one closer, who constitute the team\'s bullpen (named for the off-field area where pitchers warm up)One backup, or substitute, catcherTwo backup infieldersTwo backup outfieldersOne pinch hitter, or a utility player, or a seventh relieverMost baseball leagues worldwide have the DH rule, including the MLB, Japan\'s Pacific League, and Caribbean professional leagues, along with major American amateur organizations.[21] The Central League in Japan does not have the rule and high-level minor league clubs connected to National League teams are not required to field a DH.[22] In leagues that apply the designated hitter rule, a typical team has nine offensive regulars (including the DH), five starting pitchers,[23] seven or eight relievers, a backup catcher, and two or three other reserve players.[24][25]
Managers and coachesThe manager, or head coach, oversees the team\'s major strategic decisions, such as establishing the starting rotation, setting the lineup, or batting order, before each game, and making substitutions during games—in particular, bringing in relief pitchers. Managers are typically assisted by two or more coaches; they may have specialized responsibilities, such as working with players on hitting, fielding, pitching, or strength and conditioning. At most levels of organized play, two coaches are stationed on the field when the team is at bat: the first base coach and third base coach, who occupy designated coaches\' boxes, just outside the foul lines. These coaches assist in the direction of baserunners, when the ball is in play, and relay tactical signals from the manager to batters and runners, during pauses in play.[26] In contrast to many other team sports, baseball managers and coaches generally wear their team\'s uniforms; coaches must be in uniform to be allowed on the field to confer with players during a game.[27]
UmpiresAny baseball game involves one or more umpires, who make rulings on the outcome of each play. At a minimum, one umpire will stand behind the catcher, to have a good view of the strike zone, and call balls and strikes. Additional umpires may be stationed near the other bases, thus making it easier to judge plays such as attempted force outs and tag outs. In MLB, four umpires are used for each game, one near each base. In the playoffs, six umpires are used: one at each base and two in the outfield along the foul lines.[28]
StrategySee also: Baseball positioningMany of the pre-game and in-game strategic decisions in baseball revolve around a fundamental fact: in general, right-handed batters tend to be more successful against left-handed pitchers and, to an even greater degree, left-handed batters tend to be more successful against right-handed pitchers.[29] A manager with several left-handed batters in the regular lineup, who knows the team will be facing a left-handed starting pitcher, may respond by starting one or more of the right-handed backups on the team\'s roster. During the late innings of a game, as relief pitchers and pinch hitters are brought in, the opposing managers will often go back and forth trying to create favorable matchups with their substitutions. The manager of the fielding team trying to arrange same-handed pitcher-batter matchups and the manager of the batting team trying to arrange opposite-handed matchups. With a team that has the lead in the late innings, a manager may remove a starting position player—especially one whose turn at bat is not likely to come up again—for a more skillful fielder (known as a defensive substitution).[30]
TacticsPitching and fielding
A first baseman receives a pickoff throw, as the runner dives back to first base.See also: Pitch (baseball)The tactical decision that precedes almost every play in a baseball game involves pitch selection.[31] By gripping and then releasing the baseball in a certain manner, and by throwing it at a certain speed, pitchers can cause the baseball to break to either side, or downward, as it approaches the batter, thus creating differing pitches that can be selected.[32] Among the resulting wide variety of pitches that may be thrown, the four basic types are the fastball, the changeup (or off-speed pitch), and two breaking balls—the curveball and the slider.[33] Pitchers have different repertoires of pitches they are skillful at throwing. Conventionally, before each pitch, the catcher signals the pitcher what type of pitch to throw, as well as its general vertical and/or horizontal location.[34] If there is disagreement on the selection, the pitcher may shake off the sign and the catcher will call for a different pitch.
With a runner on base and taking a lead, the pitcher may attempt a pickoff, a quick throw to a fielder covering the base to keep the runner\'s lead in check or, optimally, effect a tag out.[35] Pickoff attempts, however, are subject to rules that severely restrict the pitcher\'s movements before and during the pickoff attempt. Violation of any one of these rules could result in the umpire calling a balk against the pitcher, which permits any runners on base to advance one base with impunity.[36] If an attempted stolen base is anticipated, the catcher may call for a pitchout, a ball thrown deliberately off the plate, allowing the catcher to catch it while standing and throw quickly to a base.[37] Facing a batter with a strong tendency to hit to one side of the field, the fielding team may employ a shift, with most or all of the fielders moving to the left or right of their usual positions. With a runner on third base, the infielders may play in, moving closer to home plate to improve the odds of throwing out the runner on a ground ball, though a sharply hit grounder is more likely to carry through a drawn-in infield.[38]
Batting and baserunningSeveral basic offensive tactics come into play with a runner on first base, including the fundamental choice of whether to attempt a steal of second base. The hit and run is sometimes employed, with a skillful contact hitter, the runner takes off with the pitch, drawing the shortstop or second baseman over to second base, creating a gap in the infield for the batter to poke the ball through.[39] The sacrifice bunt, calls for the batter to focus on making soft contact with the ball, so that it rolls a short distance into the infield, allowing the runner to advance into scoring position as the batter is thrown out at first. A batter, particularly one who is a fast runner, may also attempt to bunt for a hit. A sacrifice bunt employed with a runner on third base, aimed at bringing that runner home, is known as a squeeze play.[40] With a runner on third and fewer than two outs, a batter may instead concentrate on hitting a fly ball that, even if it is caught, will be deep enough to allow the runner to tag up and score—a successful batter, in this case, gets credit for a sacrifice fly.[38] In order to increase the chance of advancing a batter to first base via a walk, the manager will sometimes signal a batter who is ahead in the count (i.e., has more balls than strikes) to take, or not swing at, the next pitch. The batter\'s potential reward of reaching base (via a walk) exceeds the disadvantage if the next pitch is a strike.[41]
HistoryMain article: History of baseballFurther information: Origins of baseballPart of a series on theHistory of baseballOriginsEarly yearsKnickerbocker RulesThe Massachusetts GameTown ballAlexander CartwrightDoc AdamsDoubleday mythFirst leagueFirst pro teamFirst pro leagueAll-American Girls Professional Baseball LeagueTeam nicknamesBy countryNicaraguaUnited StatesOtherInternational competitionsWorld Baseball Softball ConfederationWorld Baseball ClassicWomen\'s Baseball World CupAfrica Cup Baseball ChampionshipAsian Baseball ChampionshipWomen\'s Baseball Asian CupSouth American Baseball ChampionshipOceania Baseball ChampionshipBaseball at the Pan American GamesSummer Olympics (1992–2008, 2020–)Asian GamesEuropean Baseball ChampionshipEuropean Baseball Championship WomenEuropean Cup (baseball)WBSC Premier12Caribbean SeriesOther topicsMajor League BaseballMinor League BaseballNegro league baseballCuban LeagueNippon Professional BaseballWomen in baseballBaseball color lineBaseball (TV documentary series)Baseball Hall of FameSociety for American Baseball ResearchBaseball by yearMajor League Baseball seasonsRelated gamesSoftball ComparisonBaseball5British baseballRoundersVintage base ballWiffle BallStickballVitillaStoolballOld catCricket VariationsComparisonDanish longballSchlagballBat and portalvteThe evolution of baseball from older bat-and-ball games is difficult to trace with precision. Consensus once held that today\'s baseball is a North American development from the older game rounders, popular among children in Great Britain and Ireland.[42][43][44] American baseball historian David Block suggests that the game originated in England; recently uncovered historical evidence supports this position. Block argues that rounders and early baseball were actually regional variants of each other, and that the game\'s most direct antecedents are the English games of stoolball and \"tut-ball\".[42] The earliest known reference to baseball is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery.[45] Block discovered that the first recorded game of \"Bass-Ball\" took place in 1749 in Surrey, and featured the Prince of Wales as a player.[46] This early form of the game was apparently brought to Canada by English immigrants.[47]
By the early 1830s, there were reports of a variety of uncodified bat-and-ball games recognizable as early forms of baseball being played around North America.[48] The first officially recorded baseball game in North America was played in Beachville, Ontario, Canada, on June 4, 1838.[49] In 1845, Alexander Cartwright, a member of New York City\'s Knickerbocker Club, led the codification of the so-called Knickerbocker Rules,[50] which in turn were based on rules developed in 1837 by William R. Wheaton of the Gotham Club.[51] While there are reports that the New York Knickerbockers played games in 1845, the contest long recognized as the first officially recorded baseball game in U.S. history took place on June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey: the \"New York Nine\" defeated the Knickerbockers, 23–1, in four innings.[52] With the Knickerbocker code as the basis, the rules of modern baseball continued to evolve over the next half-century.[53]
In the United StatesFurther information: Baseball in the United States and History of baseball in the United StatesEstablishment of professional leaguesIn the mid-1850s, a baseball craze hit the New York metropolitan area,[54] and by 1856, local journals were referring to baseball as the \"national pastime\" or \"national game\".[55] A year later, the sport\'s first governing body, the National Association of Base Ball Players, was formed. In 1867, it barred participation by African Americans.[56] The more formally structured National League was founded in 1876.[57] Professional Negro leagues formed, but quickly folded.[58] In 1887, softball, under the name of indoor baseball or indoor-outdoor, was invented as a winter version of the parent game.[59] The National League\'s first successful counterpart, the American League, which evolved from the minor Western League, was established in 1893, and virtually all of the modern baseball rules were in place by then.[60][61]
The National Agreement of 1903 formalized relations both between the two major leagues and between them and the National Association of Professional Base Ball Leagues, representing most of the country\'s minor professional leagues.[62] The World Series, pitting the two major league champions against each other, was inaugurated that fall.[63] The Black Sox Scandal of the 1919 World Series led to the formation of the office of the Commissioner of Baseball.[64] The first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was elected in 1920. That year also saw the founding of the Negro National League; the first significant Negro league, it would operate until 1931. For part of the 1920s, it was joined by the Eastern Colored League.[65]
Rise of Ruth and racial integrationCompared with the present, professional baseball in the early 20th century was lower-scoring, and pitchers were more dominant.[66] The so-called dead-ball era ended in the early 1920s with several changes in rule and circumstance that were advantageous to hitters. Strict new regulations governed the ball\'s size, shape and composition, along with a new rule officially banning the spitball and other pitches that depended on the ball being treated or roughed-up with foreign substances, resulted in a ball that traveled farther when hit.[67] The rise of the legendary player Babe Ruth, the first great power hitter of the new era, helped permanently alter the nature of the game.[68] In the late 1920s and early 1930s, St. Louis Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey invested in several minor league clubs and developed the first modern farm system.[69] A new Negro National League was organized in 1933; four years later, it was joined by the Negro American League. The first elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame took place in 1936. In 1939, Little League Baseball was founded in Pennsylvania.[70]
Robinson posing in the uniform cap of the Kansas City Royals, a California Winter League barnstorming team, November 1945 (photo by Maurice Terrell)Jackie Robinson in 1945, with the era\'s Kansas City Royals, a barnstorming squad associated with the Negro American League\'s Kansas City MonarchsA large number of minor league teams disbanded when World War II led to a player shortage. Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley led the formation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to help keep the game in the public eye.[71] The first crack in the unwritten agreement barring blacks from white-controlled professional ball occurred in 1945: Jackie Robinson was signed by the National League\'s Brooklyn Dodgers and began playing for their minor league team in Montreal.[72] In 1947, Robinson broke the major leagues\' color barrier when he debuted with the Dodgers.[73] Latin American players, largely overlooked before, also started entering the majors in greater numbers. In 1951, two Chicago White Sox, Venezuelan-born Chico Carrasquel and black Cuban-born Minnie Miñoso, became the first Hispanic All-Stars.[74][75] Integration proceeded slowly: by 1953, only six of the 16 major league teams had a black player on the roster.[74]
Attendance records and the age of steroidsIn 1975, the union\'s power—and players\' salaries—began to increase greatly when the reserve clause was effectively struck down, leading to the free agency system.[76] Significant work stoppages occurred in 1981 and 1994, the latter forcing the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.[77] Attendance had been growing steadily since the mid-1970s and in 1994, before the stoppage, the majors were setting their all-time record for per-game attendance.[78][79] After play resumed in 1995, non-division-winning wild card teams became a permanent fixture of the post-season. Regular-season interleague play was introduced in 1997 and the second-highest attendance mark for a full season was set.[80] In 2000, the National and American Leagues were dissolved as legal entities. While their identities were maintained for scheduling purposes (and the designated hitter distinction), the regulations and other functions—such as player discipline and umpire supervision—they had administered separately were consolidated under the rubric of MLB.[81]
In 2001, Barry Bonds established the current record of 73 home runs in a single season. There had long been suspicions that the dramatic increase in power hitting was fueled in large part by the abuse of illegal steroids (as well as by the dilution of pitching talent due to expansion), but the issue only began attracting significant media attention in 2002 and there was no penalty for the use of performance-enhancing drugs before 2004.[82] In 2007, Bonds became MLB\'s all-time home run leader, surpassing Hank Aaron, as total major league and minor league attendance both reached all-time highs.[83][84]
Around the worldWith the historic popular moniker as \"America\'s national pastime\", baseball is well established in several other countries as well. As early as 1877, a professional league, the International Association, featured teams from both Canada and the US.[85] While baseball is widely played in Canada and many minor league teams have been based in the country,[86][87] the American major leagues did not include a Canadian club until 1969, when the Montreal Expos joined the National League as an expansion team. In 1977, the expansion Toronto Blue Jays joined the American League.[88]Sadaharu Oh managing the Japan national team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Playing for the Central League\'s Yomiuri Giants (1959–80), Oh set the professional world record for home runs.In 1847, American soldiers played what may have been the first baseball game in Mexico at Parque Los Berros in Xalapa, Veracruz.[89] The first formal baseball league outside of the United States and Canada was founded in 1878 in Cuba, which maintains a rich baseball tradition. The Dominican Republic held its first islandwide championship tournament in 1912.[90] Professional baseball tournaments and leagues began to form in other countries between the world wars, including the Netherlands (formed in 1922), Australia (1934), Japan (1936), Mexico (1937), and Puerto Rico (1938).[91] The Japanese major leagues have long been considered the highest quality professional circuits outside of the United States.[92]Pesäpallo, a Finnish variation of baseball, was invented by Lauri \"Tahko\" Pihkala in the 1920s,[93] and after that, it has changed with the times and grown in popularity. Picture of Pesäpallo match in 1958 in Jyväskylä, Finland.After World War II, professional leagues were founded in many Latin American countries, most prominently Venezuela (1946) and the Dominican Republic (1955).[94] Since the early 1970s, the annual Caribbean Series has matched the championship clubs from the four leading Latin American winter leagues: the Dominican Professional Baseball League, Mexican Pacific League, Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League, and Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. In Asia, South Korea (1982), Taiwan (1990) and China (2003) all have professional leagues.[95]
The English football club, Aston Villa, were the first British baseball champions winning the 1890 National League of Baseball of Great Britain.[96][97] The 2020 National Champions were the London Mets. Other European countries have seen professional leagues; the most successful, other than the Dutch league, is the Italian league, founded in 1948.[98] In 2004, Australia won a surprise silver medal at the Olympic Games.[99] The Confédération Européene de Baseball (European Baseball Confederation), founded in 1953, organizes a number of competitions between clubs from different countries. Other competitions between national teams, such as the Baseball World Cup and the Olympic baseball tournament, were administered by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) from its formation in 1938 until its 2013 merger with the International Softball Federation to create the current joint governing body for both sports, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).[100] Women\'s baseball is played on an organized amateur basis in numerous countries.[101]
After being admitted to the Olympics as a medal sport beginning with the 1992 Games, baseball was dropped from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games at the 2005 International Olympic Committee meeting. It remained part of the 2008 Games.[102] While the sport\'s lack of a following in much of the world was a factor,[103] more important was MLB\'s reluctance to allow its players to participate during the major league season.[104] MLB initiated the World Baseball Classic, scheduled to precede its season, partly as a replacement, high-profile international tournament. The inaugural Classic, held in March 2006, was the first tournament involving national teams to feature a significant number of MLB participants.[105][106] The Baseball World Cup was discontinued after its 2011 edition in favor of an expanded World Baseball Classic.[107]
Distinctive elementsBaseball has certain attributes that set it apart from the other popular team sports in the countries where it has a following. All of these sports use a clock,[108] play is less individual,[109] and the variation between playing fields is not as substantial or important.[110] The comparison between cricket and baseball demonstrates that many of baseball\'s distinctive elements are shared in various ways with its cousin sports.[111]
No clock to kill
A well-worn baseballIn clock-limited sports, games often end with a team that holds the lead killing the clock rather than competing aggressively against the opposing team. In contrast, baseball has no clock, thus a team cannot win without getting the last batter out and rallies are not constrained by time. At almost any turn in any baseball game, the most advantageous strategy is some form of aggressive strategy.[112] Whereas, in the case of multi-day Test and first-class cricket, the possibility of a draw (which occurs because of the restrictions on time, which like in baseball, originally did not exist[113]) often encourages a team that is batting last and well behind, to bat defensively and run out the clock, giving up any faint chance at a win, to avoid an overall loss.[114]
While nine innings has been the standard since the beginning of professional baseball, the duration of the average major league game has increased steadily through the years. At the turn of the 20th century, games typically took an hour and a half to play. In the 1920s, they averaged just less than two hours, which eventually ballooned to 2:38 in 1960.[115] By 1997, the average American League game lasted 2:57 (National League games were about 10 minutes shorter—pitchers at the plate making for quicker outs than designated hitters).[116] In 2004, Major League Baseball declared that its goal was an average game of 2:45.[115] By 2014, though, the average MLB game took over three hours to complete.[117] The lengthening of games is attributed to longer breaks between half-innings for television commercials, increased offense, more pitching changes, and a slower pace of play with pitchers taking more time between each delivery, and batters stepping out of the box more frequently.[115][116] Other leagues have experienced similar issues. In 2008, Nippon Professional Baseball took steps aimed at shortening games by 12 minutes from the preceding decade\'s average of 3:18.[118]
In 2016, the average nine-inning playoff game in Major League baseball was 3 hours and 35 minutes. This was up 10 minutes from 2015 and 21 minutes from 2014.[119]
Individual focus
Babe Ruth in 1920, the year he joined the New York YankeesAlthough baseball is a team sport, individual players are often placed under scrutiny and pressure. While rewarding, it has sometimes been described as \"ruthless\" due to the pressure on the individual player.[120] In 1915, a baseball instructional manual pointed out that every single pitch, of which there are often more than two hundred in a game, involves an individual, one-on-one contest: \"the pitcher and the batter in a battle of wits\".[121] Pitcher, batter, and fielder all act essentially independent of each other. While coaching staffs can signal pitcher or batter to pursue certain tactics, the execution of the play itself is a series of solitary acts. If the batter hits a line drive, the outfielder is solely responsible for deciding to try to catch it or play it on the bounce and for succeeding or failing. The statistical precision of baseball is both facilitated by this isolation and reinforces it.
Cricket is more similar to baseball than many other team sports in this regard: while the individual focus in cricket is mitigated by the importance of the batting partnership and the practicalities of tandem running, it is enhanced by the fact that a batsman may occupy the wicket for an hour or much more.[122] There is no statistical equivalent in cricket for the fielding error and thus less emphasis on personal responsibility in this area of play.[123]
Uniqueness of parksFurther information: Baseball park
Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. The Green Monster is visible beyond the playing field on the left.Unlike those of most sports, baseball playing fields can vary significantly in size and shape. While the dimensions of the infield are specifically regulated, the only constraint on outfield size and shape for professional teams, following the rules of MLB and Minor League Baseball, is that fields built or remodeled since June 1, 1958, must have a minimum distance of 325 feet (99 m) from home plate to the fences in left and right field and 400 feet (122 m) to center.[124] Major league teams often skirt even this rule. For example, at Minute Maid Park, which became the home of the Houston Astros in 2000, the Crawford Boxes in left field are only 315 feet (96 m) from home plate.[125] There are no rules at all that address the height of fences or other structures at the edge of the outfield. The most famously idiosyncratic outfield boundary is the left-field wall at Boston\'s Fenway Park, in use since 1912: the Green Monster is 310 feet (94 m) from home plate down the line and 37 feet (11 m) tall.[126]
Similarly, there are no regulations at all concerning the dimensions of foul territory. Thus a foul fly ball may be entirely out of play in a park with little space between the foul lines and the stands, but a foulout in a park with more expansive foul ground.[127] A fence in foul territory that is close to the outfield line will tend to direct balls that strike it back toward the fielders, while one that is farther away may actually prompt more collisions, as outfielders run full speed to field balls deep in the corner. These variations can make the difference between a double and a triple or inside-the-park home run.[128] The surface of the field is also unregulated. While the adjacent image shows a traditional field surfacing arrangement (and the one used by virtually all MLB teams with naturally surfaced fields), teams are free to decide what areas will be grassed or bare.[129] Some fields—including several in MLB—use an artificial surface, such as AstroTurf. Surface variations can have a significant effect on how ground balls behave and are fielded as well as on baserunning. Similarly, the presence of a roof (seven major league teams play in stadiums with permanent or retractable roofs) can greatly affect how fly balls are played.[130] While football and soccer players deal with similar variations of field surface and stadium covering, the size and shape of their fields are much more standardized. The area out-of-bounds on a football or soccer field does not affect play the way foul territory in baseball does, so variations in that regard are largely insignificant.[131]A New York Yankees batter and a Boston Red Sox catcher at Fenway ParkThese physical variations create a distinctive set of playing conditions at each ballpark. Other local factors, such as altitude and climate, can also significantly affect play. A given stadium may acquire a reputation as a pitcher\'s park or a hitter\'s park, if one or the other discipline notably benefits from its unique mix of elements. The most exceptional park in this regard is Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. Its high altitude—5,282 feet (1,610 m) above sea level—is partly responsible for giving it the strongest hitter\'s park effect in the major leagues due to the low air pressure.[132] Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is known for its fickle disposition: a hitter\'s park when the strong winds off Lake Michigan are blowing out, it becomes more of a pitcher\'s park when they are blowing in.[133] The absence of a standardized field affects not only how particular games play out, but the nature of team rosters and players\' statistical records. For example, hitting a fly ball 330 feet (100 m) into right field might result in an easy catch on the warning track at one park, and a home run at another. A team that plays in a park with a relatively short right field, such as the New York Yankees, will tend to stock its roster with left-handed pull hitters, who can best exploit it. On the individual level, a player who spends most of his career with a team that plays in a hitter\'s park will gain an advantage in batting statistics over time—even more so if his talents are especially suited to the park.[134]
StatisticsFurther information: Baseball statisticsOrganized baseball lends itself to statistics to a greater degree than many other sports. Each play is discrete and has a relatively small number of possible outcomes. In the late 19th century, a former cricket player, English-born Henry Chadwick of Brooklyn, was responsible for the \"development of the box score, tabular standings, the annual baseball guide, the batting average, and most of the common statistics and tables used to describe baseball.\"[135] The statistical record is so central to the game\'s \"historical essence\" that Chadwick came to be known as Father Baseball.[135] In the 1920s, American newspapers began devoting more and more attention to baseball statistics, initiating what journalist and historian Alan Schwarz describes as a \"tectonic shift in sports, as intrigue that once focused mostly on teams began to go to individual players and their statistics lines.\"[136]
The Official Baseball Rules administered by MLB require the official scorer to categorize each baseball play unambiguously. The rules provide detailed criteria to promote consistency. The score report is the official basis for both the box score of the game and the relevant statistical records.[137] General managers, managers, and baseball scouts use statistics to evaluate players and make strategic decisions.Rickey Henderson—the major leagues\' all-time leader in runs and stolen bases—stealing third base in a 1988 gameCertain traditional statistics are familiar to most baseball fans. The basic batting statistics include:[138]
At bats: plate appearances, excluding walks and hit by pitches—where the batter\'s ability is not fully tested—and sacrifices and sacrifice flies—where the batter intentionally makes an out in order to advance one or more baserunnersHits: times a base is reached safely, because of a batted, fair ball without a fielding error or fielder\'s choiceRuns: times circling the bases and reaching home safelyRuns batted in (RBIs): number of runners who scored due to a batter\'s action (including the batter, in the case of a home run), except when batter grounded into double play or reached on an errorHome runs: hits on which the batter successfully touched all four bases, without the contribution of a fielding errorBatting average: hits divided by at bats—the traditional measure of batting abilityThe basic baserunning statistics include:[139]
Stolen bases: times advancing to the next base entirely due to the runner\'s own efforts, generally while the pitcher is preparing to deliver or delivering the ballCaught stealing: times tagged out while attempting to steal a base
Cy Young—the holder of many major league career marks, including wins and innings pitched, as well as losses—in 1908. MLB\'s annual awards for the best pitcher in each league are named for Young.The basic pitching statistics include:[140]
Wins: credited to pitcher on winning team who last pitched before the team took a lead that it never relinquished (a starting pitcher must pitch at least five innings to qualify for a win)Losses: charged to pitcher on losing team who was pitching when the opposing team took a lead that it never relinquishedSaves: games where the pitcher enters a game led by the pitcher\'s team, finishes the game without surrendering the lead, is not the winning pitcher, and either (a) the lead was three runs or less when the pitcher entered the game; (b) the potential tying run was on base, at bat, or on deck; or (c) the pitcher pitched three or more inningsInnings pitched: outs recorded while pitching divided by three (partial innings are conventionally recorded as, e.g., \"5.2\" or \"7.1\", the last digit actually representing thirds, not tenths, of an inning)Strikeouts: times pitching three strikes to a batterWinning percentage: wins divided by decisions (wins plus losses)Earned run average (ERA): runs allowed, excluding those resulting from fielding errors, per nine innings pitchedThe basic fielding statistics include:[141]
Putouts: times the fielder catches a fly ball, tags or forces out a runner, or otherwise directly effects an outAssists: times a putout by another fielder was recorded following the fielder touching the ballErrors: times the fielder fails to make a play that should have been made with common effort, and the batting team benefits as a resultTotal chances: putouts plus assists plus errorsFielding average: successful chances (putouts plus assists) divided by total chancesAmong the many other statistics that are kept are those collectively known as situational statistics. For example, statistics can indicate which specific pitchers a certain batter performs best against. If a given situation statistically favors a certain batter, the manager of the fielding team may be more likely to change pitchers or have the pitcher intentionally walk the batter in order to face one who is less likely to refers to the field of baseball statistical study and the development of new statistics and analytical tools. The term is also used to refer directly to new statistics themselves. The term was coined around 1980 by one of the field\'s leading proponents, Bill James, and derives from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).[143]
The growing popularity of sabermetrics since the early 1980s has brought more attention to two batting statistics that sabermetricians argue are much better gauges of a batter\'s skill than batting average:[144]
On-base percentage (OBP) measures a batter\'s ability to get on base. It is calculated by taking the sum of the batter\'s successes in getting on base (hits plus walks plus hit by pitches) and dividing that by the batter\'s total plate appearances (at bats plus walks plus hit by pitches plus sacrifice flies), except for sacrifice bunts.[145]Slugging percentage (SLG) measures a batter\'s ability to hit for power. It is calculated by taking the batter\'s total bases (one per each single, two per double, three per triple, and four per home run) and dividing that by the batter\'s at bats.[146]Some of the new statistics devised by sabermetricians have gained wide use:
On-base plus slugging (OPS) measures a batter\'s overall ability. It is calculated by adding the batter\'s on-base percentage and slugging percentage.[147]Walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) measures a pitcher\'s ability at preventing hitters from reaching base. It is calculated by adding the number of walks and hits a pitcher surrendered, then dividing by the number of innings pitched.[148]Wins Above Replacement (WAR) measures number of additional wins his team has achieved above the number of expected team wins if that player were substituted with a replacement-level player.[149]Popularity and cultural impact
Two players on the baseball team of Tokyo, Japan\'s Waseda University in 1921Writing in 1919, philosopher Morris Raphael Cohen described baseball as the national religion of the US.[150] In the words of sports columnist Jayson Stark, baseball has long been \"a unique paragon of American culture\"—a status he sees as devastated by the steroid abuse scandal.[151] Baseball has an important place in other national cultures as well: Scholar Peter Bjarkman describes \"how deeply the sport is ingrained in the history and culture of a nation such as Cuba, [and] how thoroughly it was radically reshaped and nativized in Japan.\"[152]
In the United StatesThe major league game in the United States was originally targeted toward a middle-class, white-collar audience: relative to other spectator pastimes, the National League\'s set ticket price of 50 cents in 1876 was high, while the location of playing fields outside the inner city and the workweek daytime scheduling of games were also obstacles to a blue-collar audience.[153] A century later, the situation was very different. With the rise in popularity of other team sports with much higher average ticket prices—football, basketball, and hockey—professional baseball had become among the most blue-collar-oriented of leading American spectator sports.[154]The Tampere Tigers celebrating the 2017 title in Turku, FinlandOverall, baseball has a large following in the United States; a 2006 poll found that nearly half of Americans are fans.[155] In the late 1900s and early 2000s, baseball\'s position compared to football in the United States moved in contradictory directions. In 2008, MLB set a revenue record of $6.5 billion, matching the NFL\'s revenue for the first time in decades.[156] A new MLB revenue record of more than $10 billion was set in 2017.[157] On the other hand, the percentage of American sports fans polled who named baseball as their favorite sport was 9%, compared to pro football at 37%.[158] In 1985, the respective figures were pro football 24%, baseball 23%.[159] Because there are so many more major league games played, there is no comparison in overall attendance.[160] In 2008, total attendance at major league games was the second-highest in history: 78.6 million, 0.7% off the record set the previous year.[83] The following year, amid the U.S. recession, attendance fell by 6.6% to 73.4 million.[161] Eight years later, it dropped under 73 million.[162] Attendance at games held under the Minor League Baseball umbrella set a record in 2008, with 43.3 million.[163] While MLB games have not drawn the same national TV viewership as football games, MLB games are dominant in teams\' local markets and regularly lead all programs in primetime in their markets during the summer.[164]
CaribbeanSince the early 1980s, the Dominican Republic, in particular the city of San Pedro de Macorís, has been the major leagues\' primary source of foreign talent.[165] In 2017, 83 of the 868 players on MLB Opening Day rosters (and disabled lists) were from the country. Among other Caribbean countries and territories, a combined 97 MLB players were born in Venezuela, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.[166] Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente remains one of the greatest national heroes in Puerto Rico\'s history.[167] While baseball has long been the island\'s primary athletic pastime, its once well-attended professional winter league has declined in popularity since 1990, when young Puerto Rican players began to be included in the major leagues\' annual first-year player draft.[168] In Cuba, where baseball is by every reckoning the national sport,[169] the national team overshadows the city and provincial teams that play in the top-level domestic leagues.[170]
An Afghan girl playing baseball in August 2002In Asia, baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan and South Korea.[171] In Japan, where baseball is inarguably the leading spectator team sport, combined revenue for the twelve teams in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the body that oversees both the Central and Pacific Leagues, was estimated at $1 billion in 2007. Total NPB attendance for the year was approximately 20 million. While in the preceding two decades, MLB attendance grew by 50 percent and revenue nearly tripled, the comparable NPB figures were stagnant. There are concerns that MLB\'s growing interest in acquiring star Japanese players will hurt the game in their home country.[172] Revenue figures are not released for the country\'s amateur system. Similarly, according to one official pronouncement, the sport\'s governing authority \"has never taken into account attendance ... because its greatest interest has always been the development of athletes\".[173] In Taiwan, baseball is one of the most widely spectated sports, with the origins dating back to Japanese rule.[174]
Among childrenAs of 2018, Little League Baseball oversees leagues with close to 2.4 million participants in over 80 countries.[175] The number of players has fallen since the 1990s, when 3 million children took part in Little League Baseball annually.[176] Babe Ruth League teams have over 1 million participants.[177] According to the president of the International Baseball Federation, between 300,000 and 500,000 women and girls play baseball around the world, including Little League and the introductory game of Tee Ball.[178]
A varsity baseball team is an established part of physical education departments at most high schools and colleges in the United States.[179] In 2015, nearly half a million high schoolers and over 34,000 collegians played on their schools\' baseball teams.[180] By early in the 20th century, intercollegiate baseball was Japan\'s leading sport. Today, high school baseball in particular is immensely popular there.[181] The final rounds of the two annual tournaments—the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament in the spring, and the even more important National High School Baseball Championship in the summer—are broadcast around the country. The tournaments are known, respectively, as Spring Koshien and Summer Koshien after the 55,000-capacity stadium where they are played.[182] In Cuba, baseball is a mandatory part of the state system of physical education, which begins at age six. Talented children as young as seven are sent to special district schools for more intensive training—the first step on a ladder whose acme is the national baseball team.[170]
In popular culture
The American Tobacco Company\'s line of baseball cards featured shortstop Honus Wagner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909 to 1911. In 2007, the card shown here sold for $2.8 million.[183]Baseball has had a broad impact on popular culture, both in the United States and elsewhere. Dozens of English-language idioms have been derived from baseball; in particular, the game is the source of a number of widely used sexual euphemisms.[184] The first networked radio broadcasts in North America were of the 1922 World Series: famed sportswriter Grantland Rice announced play-by-play from New York City\'s Polo Grounds on WJZ–Newark, New Jersey, which was connected by wire to WGY–Schenectady, New York, and WBZ–Springfield, Massachusetts.[185] The baseball cap has become a ubiquitous fashion item not only in the United States and Japan, but also in countries where the sport itself is not particularly popular, such as the United Kingdom.[186]
Baseball has inspired many works of art and entertainment. One of the first major examples, Ernest Thayer\'s poem \"Casey at the Bat\", appeared in 1888. A wry description of the failure of a star player in what would now be called a \"clutch situation\", the poem became the source of vaudeville and other staged performances, audio recordings, film adaptations, and an opera, as well as a host of sequels and parodies in various media. There have been many baseball movies, including the Academy Award–winning The Pride of the Yankees (1942) and the Oscar nominees The Natural (1984) and Field of Dreams (1989). The American Film Institute\'s selection of the ten best sports movies includes The Pride of the Yankees at number 3 and Bull Durham (1988) at number 5.[187] Baseball has provided thematic material for hits on both stage—the Adler–Ross musical Damn Yankees—and record—George J. Gaskin\'s \"Slide, Kelly, Slide\", Simon and Garfunkel\'s \"Mrs. Robinson\", and John Fogerty\'s \"Centerfield\".[188] The baseball-inspired comedic sketch \"Who\'s on First?\", popularized by Abbott and Costello in 1938, quickly became famous. Six decades later, Time named it the best comedy routine of the 20th century.[189]
Literary works connected to the game include the short fiction of Ring Lardner and novels such as Bernard Malamud\'s The Natural (the source for the movie), Robert Coover\'s The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., and W. P. Kinsella\'s Shoeless Joe (the source for Field of Dreams). Baseball\'s literary canon also includes the beat reportage of Damon Runyon; the columns of Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Dick Young, and Peter Gammons; and the essays of Roger Angell. Among the celebrated nonfiction books in the field are Lawrence S. Ritter\'s The Glory of Their Times, Roger Kahn\'s The Boys of Summer, and Michael Lewis\'s Moneyball. The 1970 publication of major league pitcher Jim Bouton\'s tell-all chronicle Ball Four is considered a turning point in the reporting of professional sports.[190]
Baseball has also inspired the creation of new cultural forms. Baseball cards were introduced in the late 19th century as trade cards. A typical example featured an image of a baseball player on one side and advertising for a business on the other. In the early 1900s they were produced widely as promotional items by tobacco and confectionery companies. The 1930s saw the popularization of the modern style of baseball card, with a player photograph accompanied on the rear by statistics and biographical data. Baseball cards—many of which are now prized collectibles—are the source of the much broader trading card industry, involving similar products for different sports and non-sports-related fields.[191]
Modern fantasy sports began in 1980 with the invention of Rotisserie League Baseball by New York writer Daniel Okrent and several friends. Participants in a Rotisserie league draft notional teams from the list of active MLB players and play out an entire imaginary season with game outcomes based on the players\' latest real-world statistics. Rotisserie-style play quickly became a phenomenon. Now known more generically as fantasy baseball, it has inspired similar games based on an array of different sports.[192] The field boomed with increasing Internet access and new fantasy sports-related websites. By 2008, 29.9 million people in the United States and Canada were playing fantasy sports, spending $800 million on the hobby.[193] The burgeoning popularity of fantasy baseball is also credited with the increasing attention paid to sabermetrics—first among fans, only later among baseball professionals.[194]
Derivative gamesMain article: Variations of baseballInformal variations of baseball have popped up over time, with games like corkball reflecting local traditions and allowing the game to be played in diverse environments.[195] Two variations of baseball, softball and Baseball5, are internationally governed alongside baseball by the World Baseball Softball Confederation.[196]
British baseballMain article: British baseballAmerican professional baseball teams toured Britain in 1874 and 1889, and had a great effect on similar sports in Britain. In Wales and Merseyside, a strong community game had already developed with skills and plays more in keeping with the American game and the Welsh began to informally adopt the name \"baseball\" (Pêl Fas), to reflect the American style. By the 1890s, calls were made to follow the success of other working class sports (like Rugby in Wales and Soccer in Merseyside) and adopt a distinct set of rules and bureaucracy.[197] During the 1892 season rules for the game of \"baseball\" were agreed and the game was officially codified.[198]
Finnish baseballMain article: PesäpalloFinnish baseball, known as pesäpallo, is a combination of traditional ball-batting team games and North American baseball, invented by Lauri \"Tahko\" Pihkala in the 1920s.[199] The basic idea of pesäpallo is similar to that of baseball: the offense tries to score by hitting the ball successfully and running through the bases, while the defense tries to put the batter and runners out. One of the most important differences between pesäpallo and baseball is that the ball is pitched vertically, which makes hitting the ball, as well as controlling the power and direction of the hit, much easier. This gives the offensive game more variety, speed, and tactical aspects compared to baseball.[199]
See alsoicon Baseball portalBaseball awardsBaseball clothing and equipmentList of organized baseball leaguesWomen in baseballRelated sportsBaseball5, the official ball-only version of baseballBrännboll (Scandinavian bat-and-ball game)CricketComparison of baseball and cricketLapta (game) (Russian bat-and-ball game)Oină (Romanian bat-and-ball game)Pesäpallo, also known as Finnish baseball (a demonstration sport at the 1952 Summer Olympics)RoundersStickball
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