Quote of the day

Cricket is a gentle pastime.  Base Ball is War!  Cricket is an Athletic Sociable, played and applauded in a conventional, decorous and English manner.  Base Ball is an Athletic Turmoil, played and applauded in an unconventional, enthusiastic and American manner.

~Albert G. Spalding


Wikimedia Commons

Cap Anson

cap anson

Cap Anson (Wikipedia)

Adrian Constantine “Cap” Anson was born on April 17, 1852 in a log cabin in Marshalltown, Iowa. He was the youngest son of Henry and Jeannette Rice Anson. Henry and Jeannette Anson had moved westward to the area from New York state with their oldest son, Sturgis, in a covered wagon, and young Adrian was the first pioneer child born in Marshalltown. Jeannette Anson died when Adrian was merely seven years old.

Henry Anson enrolled his sons in a preparatory course at the College of Notre Dame, and then later again at the state college in Iowa City (now the University of Iowa), but Adrian Anson was more interested in baseball and skating than in his studies.  As a teenager, Adrian earned a place on the town baseball team, the Marshalltown Stars. With Henry Anson playing third base, Adrian’s brother Sturgis in centerfield, and Adrian at second base, the Stars went on to win the Iowa state championship in 1868.

In 1870, the Rockford Forest City baseball club and its star pitcher, Al Spalding, came to Marshalltown for a pair of games. The Forest City team won both games, but the Anson men played so well that Rockford management sent contract offers to all three of the Ansons. Henry and Sturgis turned the offer down, but Adrian accepted and joined the Forest City team in the spring of 1871.

Adrian Anson batted .325 for Rockford while playing third base, but the team disbanded at the end of the season. He was then signed by the Philadelphia Athletics, where he batted .415 in 1872, third best in the National Association. In 1874, Cincinnati Red Stockings manager Harry Wright and pitcher Al Spalding organized a three-week trip to England. Both the Athletics and the Red Stockings sailed across the Atlantic to play both baseball and cricket in front of British crowds. Anson led both teams in hitting throughout the tour, and he and Spalding developed a friendship during this trip, as well.

Anson’s numbers declined slightly in 1874 and 1875, but he still captured the attention Chicago White Stockings president William Hulbert.  Anson signed with Chicago, and he went on to be named captain-manager of the club in 1879, moving across the diamond to play first base. His new role as captain-manager led to his nickname, “Cap,” short for “Captain Anson.” Under Anson’s leadership, the White Stockings won five pennants between 1880 and 1886. Anson introduced new tactics to the game, including the use of a third-base coach, having fielders back up one another, signaling batters, and the pitching rotation.

Anson played twenty-two seasons for Chicago, hitting at least .300 in twenty of those years. He led the league in RBIs eight times between 1880 and 1891, winning batting titles in 1881 and 1888. He retired after the 1897 season at the age of forty-five, having collected big league records for games, hits, at-bats, doubles and runs. He also finished with 3,081 hits, making him the first player ever to cross the 3,000-hit line.

After leaving Chicago, Anson managed the New York Giants for 22 games in 1898 before his big league career came to an end. He died on April 14, 1922 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

Quote of the day

Baseball has the great advantage over cricket of being sooner ended.

~George Bernard Shaw




Brännboll is a game similar to rounders, baseball, and lapta, which is played at the amateur level throughout northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany.  In some areas, it is better known as slaball or brennball.  For the most part, the game is played in parks and fields, though some schools include it as a part of their physical education curriculum.

Since there is no central governing body for brännboll, there are no codified rules, though games played generally follow the same regulations and traditions.  The game is usually played with a tennis ball, and unlike baseball and cricket, there is no pitcher or bowler.  Instead, the batter himself throws (or bounces) the ball and hits it with his bat.  “Fair territory” is usually determined according to natural features such as trees, or sometimes is little more than an imaginary border, and like baseball, these borders don’t restrict how far the ball can be hit straight away from the batter.  As a result, there is no standard size for the field of play.



Diagram of a typical brännboll field (Wikipedia)


Upon hitting the ball, the batter then makes their way around the four bases (usually counter-clockwise), while the fielding team catches and throws the ball back to the designated catcher positioned by what is known as the outing base (brännplatta).  The catcher announces the end of the batting round with “out” (bränd, “burned”) when they step on the outing base with the ball in their possession.

If the runner is caught between two bases at the end of the batting round, they move back to either the last visited base or, according to some local rules, back to first base.  When this occurs, the fielding team earns a point.  The offensive team can have as many players on the bases as they like, as there are no restrictions (i.e. you can have more than one runner to a base, as both those runners might be caught between the same two bases when the ball makes it back to the catcher).

If a fielder catches a fly ball before it hits the ground (lyra), the fielding team also earns a point.  However, if the batter makes it past fourth base before the ball gets to the catcher (varvning), the hitting team earns a point.  If the hitter gets what we’d call a home run (frivarv/helrunda), the offensive team gets 6 points.

If all players on the batting team fail to reach fourth base (and thus rejoin the queue to hit again) and no batsmen remain in the queue, the hitting team as a whole is caught out (utebrända).  This results in 5 points awarded to the catching team.  The indicator at which the two teams switch sides also remains unclear, and likely differs from location to location.  Typically, however, each team get to play on each side, usually one or two times each.

Interestingly, in spite of the lack of organization, there is a brännboll world championship known as Brännbollscupen.  It is played annually in Umeå, Sweden.  Brännbollscupen was first organized in 1974 with 44 teams taking part.  Over the years, the tournament has grown to over 1,000 participating teams.

You can watch a bit of brännboll (including a team of superheroes, it appears) being played here:

Why are they called innings?

In sports like football, soccer, or hockey, the division of the game into parts is much easier.  Four quarters.  Two halves.  Three periods.  These are divisions of the time allotted to play that particular game.

Baseball, however, is not a timed sport.  Therefore, the usual segments for dividing up the game into parts don’t really work.  Instead, the game is divided by aspects of play within the game itself: three outs per half-inning, with each team getting the opportunity to bat, therefore allotting six outs per full inning, and nine innings in a game.  But why do we call these nine segments of the game “innings”?

Not surprisingly, the term as used in baseball originally comes from cricket, in which the time a team has at bat is referred to as an “innings.”  In the original English usage of the word, “innings” was used both as the singular and the plural term.  Baseball Americanized the word to create the singular “inning.”

It is interesting to note that the word “inning” pre-dates even cricket.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “inning” comes from the Old English word “innung,” meaning “a taking in” or “a putting in.”  The first known use of “innings” in cricket occurred in 1735, referring to “a team’s turn in action in a game.”  Thus, an inning refers to that period of time in a game during which a team “puts in” its time at the plate.


This day in baseball: Spring Training in paradise

The 1913 Yankees began their spring training in Bermuda on March 4, making them the first team in Major League Baseball to train outside of the United States.  Their practice field for this spring training was a converted cricket field.  I’m sure the players didn’t mind these accommodations, given their location!

Baseball by BSmile

Baseball by BSmile

Quote of the day

Cricket is basically baseball on valium.

~Robin Williams