June 19, 1846
It was the day when the first officially recorded baseball game with codified rules was played in the history; a contest between the New York Nine and Knickerbockers, which was played in Hoboken, New Jersey.
While that game turned out to be a one-sided contest with the Nines defeating the Knickerbockers 23-1 in four innings, it did lay the foundation of a glorious future of baseball. Such was the craze in the United States, that baseball was declared the 'national pastime' of the nation; albeit unofficially. One cannot deny the fact that baseball is one of the most renowned sports, not just in the United States, but in many parts of the world. But then, one also has to admit that it shares a special bond with millions of Americans who follow it religiously.
Some Interesting Baseball Facts
We all know that the distance between the bases is exactly 90 feet in the Major League Baseball (MLB), distance from the pitcher's mound to the home plate is 60 feet and 8 inches, a baseball is used only once in a Major League Baseball game, and other such general facts about the sport. And so, we decided to compile some interesting facts about it for you.
► It's a herculean task to narrow down to the exact date of the origin of baseball, but it is widely believed that the game originated somewhere between the mid-1700s and early 1800s in the United States.
► In what is now considered one of the most popular basketball myths of all time, Abner Doubleday was credited as the inventor of baseball. The myth, which is known as the Doubleday myth, was debunked in 1939, and 14 years later, Alexander Cartwright was officially declared the inventor of modern baseball on June 3, 1953.
► The first professional baseball league came into being in 1871. Such was the popularity of the sport that most of the big cities in the eastern parts of United States had a professional team representing them by the beginning of 20th century.
► The rules of baseball have been changed literally every year, right from 1877 when the first rule book was issued for the National League. Interestingly, the National League happens to be the older of the two leagues that together form the Major League Baseball, and hence, is also called the Senior Circuit at times.
► On June 12, 1880, John Lee Richmond became the first pitcher to pitch a 'perfect game' in the history of baseball. Since then, the feat has been pulled off 23 times in the Major League history.
► On May 30, 1894, Bobby Lowe became the first to hit four home runs in a single game. Since then, as many as 16 players have accomplished this feat.
► Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner" was adopted as the national anthem on March 3, 1931. While most of the people would be aware of that, very few people know that 13 years earlier, it was played during the 1918 World Series game between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois.
► In 1935, the Chicago Cubs made a record of the longest winning streak in MLB history (without a tie) by winning 21 games in a row. If ties are considered, the record is held by the New York Giants who won 26 games―with one tie in between―in 1916.
► On May 24, 1935, the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in a Major League game played at the Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio. Interestingly, this was the first night game in the history of Major League Baseball, and came almost nine decades after the first professional game ever played.
► On May 17, 1939, the Princeton University Tigers defeated the Columbia University Lions at the latter's home field, Baker Field. The game went down the history as the first ever to be televised. Three months later, the Brooklyn Dodgers took on the Cincinnati Reds at the Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, which became the first ever Major League Baseball game to be televised.
► Before 1859, the umpires used to sit in padded chairs behind the home plate.
► Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, which was opened in 1912, is considered the oldest Major League Baseball stadium in use. The first baseball stadium built in the United States though, was the Forbes Field built in Pittsburgh in 1909.
► According to the Rule 3.01(c) of the Major League Baseball, the umpires have to rub down 6 dozen balls with the Baseball Rubbing Mud and remove their slick shine before the commencement of a game. As for each baseball, it has an average life of 8 days.
► In 1997, the teams from the American League were allowed to play in the National League, thus bringing to an end one of the oldest traditions of the game. The first interleague game was played on June 12, 1997.
► Only the hits that cleared the outfield were considered home runs initially. Today, however, the hits have to clear the ballpark and that too, without leaning towards the foul areas in order to be considered home runs.
► A day before the MLB All-Star Game and a day after are the only two days of the year when no professional games are played in the United States.
► The World Series, wherein the two major league champions take on each other, was started back in 1903. That year, the Boston Americans took on the Pittsburgh Pirates and defeated them 5-3 in the nine-game series.
► Talking of superstitions in baseball, legendary player, Babe Ruth used to wear a cabbage leaf under his cap while playing, which he changed after every two innings.
► Nolan Ryan, hailing from Texas, became the first player in Major League Baseball to sign as a free agent for a salary of $1 million when he signed for Houston Astros in 1979. Interestingly, he is the only player in MLB to have his jersey number retired by three different teams (Astros, California Angels, and Texas Rangers).
► Cal Ripken, Jr., a shortstop and third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, holds the record for longest consecutive games played. Ripken played 2,632 consecutive games over a period of 16 years. He surpassed Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record of 2,130 consecutive games on September 6, 1995.
► At 6 feet 11 inches, Jon Rauch, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, is the tallest player to play in the Major League Baseball. On the other hand, Eddie Gaedel―standing at 3 feet 7 inches―who put up his lone appearance for the St. Louis Browns doubleheader on August 19, 1951, is considered the shortest player in the Major League history.
► Talking of individual records and accomplishments, Cal Hubbard is the only person who features in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1963) and the Baseball Hall of Fame (1976).
► The longest game in the history of Major League Baseball was played between the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Robins on May 1, 1920. The 26-inning game, which was called off as a draw at the leveled scores of 1-1, actually went on for 8 hours, 22 minutes. In contrast, the longest game in professional baseball history was a 33-inning game played between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, which lasted for 8 hours, 25 minutes.
► The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum based at Cooperstown, New York, was opened on June 12, 1939. Seven decades down the lane, the museum has more than 38,000 three-dimensional artifacts alongside thousands of photographs, documents, and books to its credit.
While all the feats we spoke of above were quite interesting in themselves, here's one which is a lot more interesting. On June 23, 1963, Jimmy Piersall celebrated his 100th home run by running the bases backwards. This was not the first time Piersall had pulled off an amusing feat of this sort though. He dared to walk up to bat wearing a Beatles wig, and was once seen talking to the monument of Babe Ruth at the Yankee Stadium before the 100th home run of his career.