This day in baseball: Shibe’s stance on lively baseballs

On June 5, 1920, in the midst of an explosion in the number of home runs being hit around the league, Philadelphia Athletics vice president Tom Shibe insisted that baseballs were not “livelier” that season and that the increase in round trippers could be attributed to the elimination of the spitball. Shibe also happened to be part owner of the Reach Baseball Company, which manufactured the league’s game balls. The only changes, Shibe would insist, consisted only of “improvements in the method of manufacture.”

Later, others would state that while Shibe may have truly believed his stance, it was those basic improvements to the baseball that likely had the unintended side effect of making it more elastic. In 1936, Jim Nasium would state, “The funny thing about it was that Tom Shibe, working only to improve the quality of the ball and make it more durable, never realized the effect that this would have on the playing of the game.”

Reach Baseball Company sign

2 thoughts on “This day in baseball: Shibe’s stance on lively baseballs

  1. I kind of like the mystery behind the alteration or no alteration of baseballs and don’t mind at all if the powers that be did/do a little lab work. From dead ball to spit ball to no spit ball to lowering the mound to??????? Who knows what’s next! But please oh please no robot umps to decide balls and strikes. Great discovery Precious, as always.

  2. Thanks, Steve! Yeah, I’m not a fan of the robot umps either. There’s just something about having the factor of the judgment call that makes the game more interesting.

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