The story behind Rule 3.03

In the Official Baseball Rules, the first sentence of Rule 3.03 states, “A player, or players, may be substituted during a game at any time the ball is dead.”  It seems obvious to us today that substitutions cannot be made while the ball is in play, but this sentence was not included in the rule book for no reason.

The rule was created after a play by Michael Joseph “King” Kelly, a popular catcher-outfielder in the late-nineteenth century.  As Kelly sat on the bench one day in 1891, an opposing batter hit a high foul ball.  Kelly quickly recognized that the pop up would be out of the reach of all of his teammates.  As a player-manager, Kelly jumped up and went after it, crying out, “Kelly now catching!”

This clever bit of quick thinking allowed Kelly to make the catch, but the umpire refused to call the batter out.  Kelly insisted that the play was not against the rules, which at that time stated that substitutions could be made at any time.  The rules were changed the following winter to prevent this type of play from ever happening again.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Quote of the day

Now obviously, in peacetime a one-legged catcher, like a one-armed outfielder (such as the Mundys had roaming right), would have been at the most a curiosity somewhere down in the dingiest town in the minors – precisely where Hot had played during the many years that the nations of the world lived in harmony. But it is one of life’s grisly ironies that what is catastrophe for most of mankind, invariably works to the advantage of a few who live on the fringes of the human community. On the other hand, it is a grisly irony to live on the fringes of the human community.

~Philip Roth, The Great American Novel

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

This day in baseball: And the winner is…

On March 25, 1910, Hugh Chalmers, president of Chalmers Motor Car Company in Detroit, announced that one of the company’s Model 30 automobiles would be awarded to the ballplayer with the highest batting average for the season.  On the last day of the season, however, Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie put down seven bunts, going 8-for-9 in a double header against a Browns infield that was intentionally playing deep.  The performance raised Lajoie’s average to .384, and Ty Cobb, who was also in the running for the batting title, complained about the circumstances to American League President Ban Johnson.  In the end, Chalmers awarded cars to both Lajoie and Cobb, and the true winner of the 1910 AL batting title remains disputed.

Nap Lajoie (Library of Congress)
Nap Lajoie (Library of Congress)

New text for the “About” page

It seemed a simple, rectangular box, wrapped in festive paper, waiting for my small hands to tear into it. A shoebox, actually, though even after I managed to strip all the paper off, I could sense that it concealed something other than a mundane pair of shoes. But even the creative juices of my nine-year-old brain did not predict the breathtaking gift that awaited me within that cardboard container.

My dad gave me my first baseball glove for Christmas in 1993. Military duty had called him across the Pacific to Okinawa, and my first mitt traveled that distance halfway around the world to position itself under our tree in Camp Pendleton, California. I inspected that glove dozens upon dozens of times until I outgrew it. The brown leather, the professional red-and-white stitching of the Rawlings “R” just below the web, a replica of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s signature printed in the palm. I frequently tugged at the small leather knots sprinkled over the mitt, ensuring that they were good and tight.

My younger brother received an identical glove that year, and to ensure the avoidance of quarreling ahead of time, Dad had inscribed each of our names along the thumbs of our respective gloves. When I close my eyes, I can still see “Precious” carefully printed along the edge of my glove with a thin sharpie in his small but neat handwriting.

Though I had never owned a glove before, I was no stranger to the great game of baseball. Our older brother was (and still is) a San Diego Padres fanatic, and had we lived in California much longer than we did, I have no doubt that I’d be rooting for the Padres today as well. I grew up to the names Tony Gwynn, Fred McGriff, and Gary Sheffield. We spun jokes about Mike Piazza delivering home runs like pizza. Our backyard baseball games had been played using tennis balls and the handle of a plastic toy vacuum, which we broke off. Finally, though, I found myself the proud owner of a “real” piece of baseball equipment. It was the glove I used to play Little League.

When I created The Baseball Attic in March 2013, I did so as a means of continuing to engage in my love for the American pastime. My fellowship with baseball has lasted (disturbingly?) longer than most relationships I’ve had with flesh-and-bone human beings. People come and go, romances flourish and fail, but through all that, this great game has remained a constant in my life. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs; even the best of relationships don’t come without a little strife. But when you find yourselves repeatedly drawn back together during the most tumultuous of times, then you know it’s meant to be.


The above text has been posted as an update to the About page. It was overdue for a fresh look.

This day in baseball: Pete Rose investigated

On March 20, 1989, Peter Ueberroth, the commissioner of baseball, and commissioner-elect A. Bartlett Giamatti released a statement that Major League Baseball was investigating the allegations surrounding Reds’ manager Pete Rose and gambling.  According to the statement, the commissioner’s office “has for several months been conducting a full inquiry into serious allegations involving Mr. Pete Rose.”  While the commissioner’s office declined further comment, rumors of a possible suspension surrounded the investigation.

Huffington Post
Huffington Post