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´╗┐Title: Base-Ball - How to Become a Player
Author: Ward, John M.
Language: English
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Base-Ball: How to Become a Player

With the Origin, History and Explanation of the Game

By John Montgomery Ward of the New York Base-Ball Club


The author ventures to present this book to the public, because he
believes there are many points in the game of base-ball which can be
told only by a player. He has given some space to a consideration of the
origin and early history of the game, because they are subjects
deserving of more attention than is generally accorded them.

His principal aim, however, has been to produce a hand-book of the game,
a picture of the play as seen by a player. In many of its branches,
base-ball is still in its infancy; even in the actual play there are yet
many unsettled points, and the opinions of experts differ upon important
questions. The author has been as accurate as the nature of the subject
would permit, and, though claiming no especial consideration for his own
opinions, he thinks they will coincide in substance with those of the
more experienced and intelligent players.

To Messrs. A. H. Wright, Henry Chadwick, Harry Wright, and James Whyte
Davis, for materials of reference, and to Goodwin & Co., the Scientific
American, and A. J. Reach, for engravings and cuts, acknowledgments are
gratefully made.



















It may or it may not be a serious reflection upon the accuracy of
history that the circumstances of the invention of the first ball are
enveloped in some doubt. Herodotus attributes it to the Lydians, but
several other writers unite in conceding to a certain beautiful lady of
Corcyra, Anagalla by name, the credit of first having made a ball for
the purpose of pastime. Several passages in Homer rather sustain this
latter view, and, therefore, with the weight of evidence, and to the
glory of woman, we, too, shall adopt this theory. Anagalla did not apply
for letters patent, but, whether from goodness of heart or inability to
keep a secret, she lost no time in making known her invention and
explaining its uses. Homer, then, relates how:

"O'er the green mead the sporting virgins play, Their shining veils
unbound; along the skies, Tost and retost, the ball incessant flies."

And this is the first ball game on record, though it is perhaps
unnecessary to say that it was not yet base-ball.

No other single accident has ever been so productive of games as that
invention. From the day when the Phaeacian maidens started the ball
rolling down to the present time, it has been continuously in motion,
and as long as children love play and adults feel the need of exercise
and recreation, it will continue to roll. It has been known in all
lands, and at one time or another been popular with all peoples. The
Greeks and the Romans were great devotees of ball-play; China was noted
for her players; in the courts of Italy and France, we are told, it was
in especial favor, and Fitz-Stephen, writing in the 13th century, speaks
of the London schoolboys playing at "the celebrated game of ball."

For many centuries no bat was known, but in those games requiring the
ball to be struck, the hand alone was used. In France there was early
played a species of hand-ball. To protect the hands thongs were
sometimes bound about them, and this eventually furnished the idea of
the racquet. Strutt thinks a bat was first used in golf, cambuc, or
bandy ball. This was similar to the boys' game of "shinny," or, as it is
now more elegantly known, "polo," and the bat used was bent at the end,
just as now. The first straight bats were used in the old English game
called club ball. This was simply "fungo hitting," in which one player
tossed the ball in the air and hit it, as it fell, to others who caught
it, or sometimes it was pitched to him by another player.

Concerning the origin of the American game of base-ball there exists
considerable uncertainty. A correspondent of Porter's Spirit of the
Times, as far back as 1856, begins a series of letters on the game by
acknowledging his utter inability to arrive at any satisfactory
conclusion upon this point; and a writer of recent date introduces a
research into the history of the game with the frank avowal that he has
only succeeded in finding "a remarkable lack of literature on the

In view of its extraordinary growth and popularity as "Our National
Game," the author deems it important that its true origin should, if
possible, be ascertained, and he has, therefore, devoted to this inquiry
more space than might at first seem necessary.

In 1856, within a dozen years from the time of the systematization of
the game, the number of clubs in the metropolitan district and the
enthusiasm attending their matches began to attract particular
attention. The fact became apparent that it was surely superseding the
English game of cricket, and the adherents of the latter game looked
with ill-concealed jealousy on the rising upstart. There were then, as
now, persons who believed that everything good and beautiful in the
world must be of English origin, and these at once felt the need of a
pedigree for the new game. Some one of them discovered that in certain
features it resembled an English game called "rounders," and immediately
it was announced to the American public that base-ball was only the
English game transposed. This theory was not admitted by the followers
of the new game, hut, unfortunately, they were not in a position to
emphasize the denial. One of the strongest advocates of the rounder
theory, an Englishman-born himself, was the writer for out-door sports
on the principal metropolitan publications. In this capacity and as the
author of a number of independent works of his own, and the writer of
the "base-ball" articles in several encyclopedias and books of sport, he
has lost no opportunity to advance his pet theory. Subsequent writers
have, blindly, it would seem, followed this lead, until now we find it
asserted on every hand as a fact established by some indisputable
evidence; and yet there has never been adduced a particle of proof to
support this conclusion.

While the author of this work entertains the greatest respect for that
gentleman, both as a journalist and man, and believes that base-ball
owes to him a monument of gratitude for the brave fight he has always
made against the enemies and abuses of the game, he yet considers this
point as to the game's origin worthy of further investigation, and he
still regards it as an open question.

When was base-ball first played in America?

The first contribution which in any way refers to the antiquity of the
game is the first official report of the "National Association" in 1858.
This declares "The game of base-ball has long been a favorite and
popular recreation in this country, but it is only within the last
fifteen years that any attempt has been made to systematize and regulate
the game." The italics are inserted to call attention to the fact that
in the memory of the men of that day base-ball had been played a long
time prior to 1845, so long that the fifteen years of systematized play
was referred to by an "only."

Colonel Jas. Lee, elected an honorary member of the Knickerbocker Club
in 1846, said that he had often played the same game when a boy, and at
that time he was a man of sixty or more years. Mr. Wm. F. Ladd, my
informant, one of the original members of the Knickerbockers, says that
he never in any way doubted Colonel Lee's declaration, because he was a
gentleman eminently worthy of belief.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, several years since, said to the reporter of
a Boston paper that base-ball was one of the sports of his college days
at Harvard, and Dr. Holmes graduated in 1829.

Mr. Charles De Bost, the catcher and captain of the old Knickerbockers,
played base-ball on Long Island fifty years ago, and it was the same
game which the Knickerbockers afterward played.

In the absence of any recorded proof as to the antiquity of the game,
testimony such as the foregoing becomes important, and it might be
multiplied to an unlimited extent.

Another noticeable point is the belief in the minds of the game's first
organizers that they were dealing with a purely American production, and
the firmness of this conviction is evidenced by everything they said and
did. An examination of the speeches and proceedings of the conventions,
of articles in the daily and other periodical publications, of the
poetry which the game at that early day inspired, taken in connection
with the declarations of members of the first clubs still living, will
show this vein of belief running all the way through. The idea that
base-ball owed its origin to any foreign game was not only not
entertained, but indignantly repudiated by the men of that time; and in
pursuing his investigations the writer has discovered that this feeling
still exists in a most emphatic form.

In view of the foregoing we may safely say that base-ball was played in
America as early, at least, as the beginning of this century.

It may be instructive now to inquire as to the antiquity of the "old
English game" from which baseball is said to have sprung. Deferring for
the present the consideration of its resemblance to base-ball, what
proof have we of its venerable existence? Looking, primarily, to the
first editions of old English authorities on out-door sports, I have
been unable to find any record that such a game as "rounders" was known.
I may have been unfortunate in my searches, for, though I have exhausted
every available source of information, I have not discovered any mention
of it.

The first standard English writer to speak of rounders is "Stonehenge"
in his Manual of Sports, London, 1856. Since then almost every English
work on out-door sports describes the "old [with an emphasis] English
game of rounders," and in the same connection declares it to be the germ
of the American base-ball; and yet, curiously enough, not one of them
gives us any authority even for dubbing it "old," much less for calling
it the origin of our game. But in 1856 base-ball had been played here
for many years; it had already attracted attention as the popular sport,
and by 1860 was known in slightly differing forms all over the country.
To all these later English writers, therefore, its existence and general
principles must have been familiar, and it is consequently remarkable
that, in view of their claim, they have given us no more particulars of
the game of rounders. Are we to accept this assertion without reserve,
when an investigation would seem to indicate that baseball is really the
older game? If this English game was then a common school-boy sport, as
now claimed, it seems almost incredible that it should have escaped the
notice of all the writers of the first half of the century; and yet no
sooner does base-ball become famous as the American game than English
writers discover that there is an old and popular English game from
which it is descended. Many of the games which the earlier writers
describe are extremely simple as compared with rounders, and yet the
latter game is entirely overlooked!

But upon what ground have these later writers based their assumption?
Many, doubtless, have simply followed the writings from this side of the
Atlantic; others have been misled by their ignorance of the actual age
of our game, for there are even many Americans who think base-ball was
introduced by the Knickerbocker and following clubs; a few, with the
proverbial insular idea, have concluded that base-ball must be of
English origin, if for no other reason, because it ought to be.

It is not my intention to declare the old game of rounders a myth. There
is ample living testimony to its existence as early perhaps as 1830, but
that it was a popular English game before base-ball was played here I am
not yet ready to believe. Before we accept the statement that base-hall
is "only a species of glorified rounders," we should demand some proof
that the latter is really the older game. In this connection it will be
important to remember that there were two English games called
"rounders," but entirely distinct the one from the other. Johnson's
Dictionary, edition of 1876, describes the first, and presumably the
older, as similar to "fives" or hand-ball, while the second is the game
supposed to be allied to base-ball. "Fives" is one of the oldest of
games, and if it or a similar game was called "rounders," it will
require something more than the mere occurrence of the name in some old
writing to prove that the game referred to is the "rounders" as now
played. And if this cannot be shown, why might we not claim, with as
much reason as the other theory has been maintained, that the "old
English game of rounders" is only a poor imitation of the older American
game of base-ball?

Up to this point we have waived the question of resemblance between the
two games, but let us now inquire what are the points of similarity.

Are these, after all, so striking as to warrant the assumption that one
game was derived from the other, no matter which may be shown to be the
older? In each there are "sides;" the ball is tossed to the striker, who
hits it with a bat; he is out if the ball so hit is caught; he runs to
different bases in succession and may be put out if hit by the ball when
between the bases. But with this the resemblance ceases. In base-ball
nine men constitute a side, while in rounders there may be any number
over three. In base-ball there are four bases (including the home), and
the field is a diamond. In rounders the bases are five in number and the
field a pentagon in shape. There is a fair and foul hit in base-ball,
while in rounders no such thing is known. In rounders if a ball is
struck at and missed, or if hit so that it falls back of the striker, he
is out, while in base-ball the ball must be missed three times and the
third one caught in order to retire the striker; and a foul, unless
caught like any other ball, has no effect and is simply declared "dead."
In rounders the score is reckoned by counting one for each base made,
and some of the authorities say the run is completed when the runner has
reached the base next on the left of the one started from. In base-ball
one point is scored only when the runner has made every base in
succession and returned to the one from which he started. In rounders
every player on the side must be put out before the other side can come
in, while in base-ball from time immemorial the rule has been "three
out, all out." The distinctive feature of rounders, and the one which
gives it its name, is that when all of a side except two have been
retired, one of the two remaining may call for "the rounder;" that is,
he is allowed three hits at the ball, and if in any one of these he can
make the entire round of the bases, all the players of his side are
reinstated as batters. No such feature as this was ever heard of in
base-ball, yet, as said, it is the characteristic which gives to
rounders its name, and any derivation of that game must certainly have
preserved it.

If the points of resemblance were confined solely to these two games it
would prove nothing except that boys' ideas as well as men's often run
in the same channels. The very ancient game of bandy ball has its double
in an older Persian sport, and the records of literary and mechanical
invention present some curious coincidences. But, as a matter of fact,
every point common to these two, games was known and used long before in
other popular sports. That the ball was tossed to the bat to be hit was
true of a number of other games, among which were club ball, tip cat,
and cricket; in both of the latter and also in stool ball bases were
run, and in tip cat, a game of much greater antiquity than either base-
ball or rounders, the runner was out if hit by the ball when between
bases. In all of these games the striker was out if the ball when hit
was caught. Indeed, a comparison will show that there are as many
features of base-ball common to cricket or tip cat as there are to

In view, then, of these facts, that the points of similarity are not
distinctive, and that the points of difference are decidedly so, I can
see no reason in analogy to say that one game is descended from the
other, no matter which may be shown to be the older.

There was a game known in some parts of this country fifty or more years
ago called town-ball. In 1831 a club was regularly organized in
Philadelphia to play the game, and it is recorded that the first day for
practice enough members were not present to make up town-ball, and so a
game of "two-old-cat" was played. This town-ball was so nearly like
rounders that one must have been the prototype of the other, but town-
ball and base-ball were two very different games. When this same town-
ball club decided in 1860 to adopt base-ball instead, many of its
principal members resigned, so great was the enmity to the latter game.
Never, until recently, was the assertion made that base-ball was a
development of town-ball, and it could not have been done had the
writers looked up at all the historical facts.

The latest attempt to fasten an English tab on the American game is
noteworthy. Not content to stand by the theory that our game is sprung
from the English rounders, it is now intimated that baseball itself, the
same game and under the same name, is of English origin. To complete the
chain, it is now only necessary for some English writer to tell us that
"in 1845 a number of English gentlemen sojourning in New York organized
a club called the Knickbockers, and introduced to Americans the old
English game of base-ball." This new departure has not yet gained much
headway, but it must be noticed on account of the circumstances of its

The edition of Chambers' Encyclopedia just out, in its article on "base-
ball" says that the game was mentioned in Miss Austen's Northanger
Abbey, written about 1798, and leaves us to infer that it was the same
game that we now know by that name. It was not necessary to go into the
realm of fiction to find this ancient use of the name. A writer to the
London Times in 1874 pointed out that in 1748 the family of Frederick,
Prince of Wales, were represented as engaged in a game of base-ball.
Miss Austen refers to base-ball as played by the daughters of "Mrs.
Morland," the eldest of whom was fourteen. In Elaine's Rural Sports,
London, 1852, in an introduction to ball games in general, occurs this
passage: "There are few of us of either sex but have engaged in base-
ball since our majority." Whether in all these cases the same game was
meant matters not, and it is not established by the mere identity of
names. "Base," as meaning a place of safety, dates its origin from the
game of "prisoners' base" long before anything in the shape of base-ball
or rounders; so that any game of ball in which bases were a feature
would likely be known by that name. The fact that in the three instances
in which we find the name mentioned it is always a game for girls or
women, would justify the suspicion that it was not always the same game,
and that it in any way resembled our game is not to be imagined. Base-
ball in its mildest form is essentially a robust game, and it would
require an elastic imagination to conceive of little girls possessed of
physical powers such as its play demands.

Besides, if the English base-ball of 1748, 1798, and 1852 were the same
as our base-ball we would have been informed of that fact long ago, and
it would never have been necessary to attribute the origin of our game
to rounders. And when, in 1874, the American players were introducing
base-ball to Englishmen, the patriotic Britain would not have said, as
he then did, that our game was "only rounders with the rounder left
out," but he would at once have told us that base-ball itself was an old
English game.

But this latest theory is altogether untenable and only entitled to
consideration on account of the authority under which it is put forth.

In a little book called Jolly Games for Happy Homes, London, 1875,
dedicated to "wee little babies and grown-up ladies," there is described
a game called "base-ball." It is very similar in its essence to our game
and is probably a reflection of it. It is played by a number of girls in
a garden or field. Having chosen sides, the "leader" of the "out" side
tosses the ball to one of the "ins," who strikes it with her hand and
then scampers for the trees, posts, or other objects previously
designated as bases. Having recovered the ball, the "scouts," or those
on the "outs," give chase and try to hit the fleeing one at a time when
she is between bases. There must be some other means, not stated, for
putting out the side; the ability to throw a ball with accuracy is
vouchsafed to few girls, and if the change of innings depended upon
this, the game, like a Chinese play, would probably never end. It is
described, however, as a charming pastime, and, notwithstanding its
simplicity, is doubtless a modern English conception of our National

To recapitulate briefly, the assertion that base-ball is descended from
rounders is a pure assumption, unsupported even by proof that the latter
game antedates the former and unjustified by any line of reasoning based
upon the likeness of the games. The other attempt to declare base-ball
itself an out-and-out English game is scarcely worthy of serious

But if base-ball is neither sprung from rounders nor taken bodily from
another English game, what is its origin? I believe it to be a fruit of
the inventive genius of the American boy. Like our system of government,
it is an American evolution, and while, like that, it has doubtless been
affected by foreign associations, it is none the less distinctively our
own. Place in the hands of youth a ball and bat, and they will invent
games of ball, and that these will be affected by other familiar games
and in many respects resemble them, goes without saving.

The tradition among the earliest players of the game now living, is that
the root from which came our present base-ball was the old-time American
game of "cat-ball." This was the original American ball game, and the
time when it was not played here is beyond the memory of living man.
There were two varieties of the game, the first called "one-old-cat," or
one-cornered-cat, and the other "two-old-cat."

In one-old-cat there were a batter, pitcher, catcher, and fielders.
There were no "sides," and generally no bases to run, but in every other
respect the game was like base-ball. The batter was out if he missed
three times and the third strike was caught, or if the ball when hit was
caught on the fly or first bound. When the striker was "put out" the
catcher went in to bat, the pitcher to catch, and the first fielder to
pitch, and so on again when the next striker was retired. The order of
succession had been established when the players went on the field by
each calling out a number, as "one," "two," "three," etc., one being the
batter, two the catcher, three the pitcher, four the first fielder, etc.
Thus, each in order secured his turn "at bat," the coveted position.
Sometimes, when the party was larger, more than one striker was allowed,
and in that case, not only to give the idle striker something to do, but
to offer extra chances for putting him out, one or more bases were laid
out, and having hit the ball he was forced to run to these. If he could
be hit with the ball at any time when he was between bases he was out,
and he was forced to be back to the striker's position in time to take
his turn at bat. This made him take chances in running. No count was
kept of runs. Two-old-cat differed from one-old-cat in having two
batters at opposite stations, as in the old English stool-ball and the
more modern cricket, while the fielders divided so that half faced one
batter and half the other.

From one-old-cat to base-ball is a short step. It was only necessary to
choose sides, and then the count of runs made by each would form the
natural test of superiority. That base-ball actually did develop in this
way was the generally accepted theory for many years.

In 1869 an article in The Nation, from A. H. Sedgwick, commenting upon
the features of baseball arid cricket as exemplifying national
characteristics, said: "To those other objectors who would contend that
our explanation supposes a gradual modification of the English into the
American game, while it is a matter of common learning that the latter
is of no foreign origin but the lineal descendant of that favorite of
boyhood, 'two-old-cat,' we would say that, fully agreeing with them as
to the historical fact, we have always believed it to be so clear as not
to need further evidence, and that for the purposes of this article the
history of the matter is out of place."

Without going further into a consideration that might be greatly
prolonged, I reassert my belief that our national game is a home
production. In the field of out-door sports the American boy is easily
capable of devising his own amusements, and until some proof is adduced
that base-ball is not his invention I protest against this systematic
effort to rob him of his dues.

The recorded history of the game may be briefly sketched; it is not the
object here to give a succinct history:

In 1845 a number of gentlemen who had been in the habit, for several
years, of playing base-ball for recreation, determined to form
themselves into a permanent organization under the name of "The
Knickerbocker Club." They drew up a Constitution and By-laws, and
scattered through the latter are to be found the first written rules of
the game. They little thought that that beginning would develop into the
present vast system of organized base-ball. They were guilty of no
crafty changes of any foreign game; there was no incentive for that.
They recorded the rules of the game as they remembered them from boyhood
and as they found them in vogue at that time. For six years the club
played regularly at the Elysian Field, the two nines being made up from
all the members present. From 1851 other clubs began to be organized,
and we find the Washington, Gotham (into which the Washington was
merged), Eagle, Empire, Putnam, Baltic, Union, Mutual, Excelsior,
Atlantic, Eckford, and many other clubs following in the space of a few

In Philadelphia town-ball was the favorite pastime and kept out base-
ball for some time, while in Boston the local "New England game," as
played by the Olympic, Elm Tree, and Green Mountain Clubs, deferred the
introduction of base-ball, or, as it was called, "the New York game,"
until 1857.

Base-ball grew rapidly in favor; the field was ripe. America needed a
live out-door sport, and this game exactly suited the national
temperament. It required all the manly qualities of activity, endurance,
pluck, and skill peculiar to cricket, and was immeasurably superior to
that game in exciting features. There were dash, spirit, and variety,
and it required only a couple of hours to play a game. Developed by
American brains, it was flaw to us, and we took to it with all the
enthusiasm peculiar to our nature.

In 1857 a convention of delegates from sixteen clubs located in and
around New York and Brooklyn was held, and a uniform set of rules drawn
up to govern the play of all the clubs.

In 1858 a second general convention was held, at which twenty-five clubs
were represented. A committee was appointed to formulate a Constitution
and By-laws for a permanent organization, and in accordance with this
"The National Association of Baseball Players" was duly organized. The
game now made rapid strides. It was no boys' sport, for no one under
twenty-one years of age could be a delegate. Each year a committee of
men having a practical knowledge of the game revised the playing rules,
so that these were always kept abreast of the time.

During 1858 a series of three games between picked nines from New York
and Brooklyn was played on the Fashion Course, Long Island. The public
interest in these games was very great and the local feeling ran high.
The series, which terminated in favor of New York, two to one,
attracted general attention to the game.

In 1861 a similar game was played called "the silver ball match," on
account of the trophy, a silver ball, offered by the New York Clipper.
This time Brooklyn won easily, and it is said some 15,000 people were

At the second annual meeting of the "National Association" in 1860,
seventy clubs had delegates present, representing New York, Brooklyn,
Boston, Detroit, New Haven, Newark, Troy, Albany, Buffalo, and other
cities. During this year the first extended trip was taken by the
Excelsior Club, of Brooklyn, going to Albany, Troy, Buffalo, Rochester,
and Newburgh. All the expenses of the trip were paid from the treasury
of the traveling club, for there were no inclosed grounds in those days
and no questions as to percentage or guarantee were yet agitating the
clubs and public. The Excelsiors won every game, and their skillful
display and gentlemanly appearance did much to popularize the game in
the cities visited.

Already in 1860 the game was coming to be recognized as our national
pastime, and there were clubs in all the principal cities. Philadelphia
had forsaken her town-ball, and Boston's "New England" game, after a
hard fight, gave way to the "New York" game. Washington, Baltimore,
Troy, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, all had their champion
teams. From Detroit to New Orleans, and from Portland, Maine, to far-off
San Francisco, the grand game was the reigning out-door sport.

With the outbreak of the Civil War came a very general suspension of
play in the different cities, though the records of occasional games in
camp show that "the boys" did not entirely forget the old love. In 1865
the friendly contests were resumed, though the call of the rolls showed
many "absent" who had never been known to miss a game. More than one of
those who went out in '61 had proven his courage on the crimson field.

During the seasons of '65, '66, and '67 amateur base-ball, so-called,
was in the height of its glory. At the annual Convention of the National
Association in '66 a total of two hundred and two clubs from seventeen
States and the District of Columbia were represented; besides, there
were present delegates from the Northwestern and Pennsylvania
Associations, representing in addition over two hundred clubs.

In 1867 the trip of the "Nationals" of Washington was the first visit of
an Eastern club to the West, and helped greatly to spread the reputation
of the game.

For a number of years, however, certain baneful influences had crept
into the game and now began to work out their legitimate effect.

The greatest of these evils was in the amount of gambling on the results
of games. With so much money at stake, the public knew that players
would be tampered with, and when finally its suspicions were confirmed,
it refused further to patronize the game.

The construction of inclosed grounds and the charge of admission proved
another danger. No regular salaries were paid, so that the players who
were depending on a share of the "gate" arranged to win and lose a game
in order that the deciding contest might draw well.

Doubtless there were more of these things existing in the public
imagination than in actual fact, but distrust once aroused, there was no
faith left for anything or anybody.

Very early in the history of the Association the practice prevailed
among certain clubs of offering inducements to crack players in order to
secure them as members. The clubs which could afford this grew
disproportionately strong, and in the face of continual defeat the
weaker clubs were losing interest. In 1859 a rule was made forbidding
the participation in any matches of paid players, but it was so easily
evaded that it was a dead letter. In 1866 the rule was reworded, but
with no improved effect, and in 1868 the National Association decided,
as the only way out of the dilemma, to recognize the professional class
of players. By making this distinction it would no longer be considered
a disgrace for an amateur to be beaten by a professional nine.

For the professionals the change was most beneficial. It legitimized
their occupation and left them at liberty to pursue openly and honorably
what they had before been forced to follow under false colors. The proud
record of the Cincinnati "Reds" in '69 proved that professional base-
ball could be honestly and profitably conducted, and from that time
forth it was an established institution.

But with the introduction of professionalism there began a great
competition for players, and this brought in a new evil in the form of
"revolvers," or, as they were sometimes called, "shooting stars."
Players under contract with one club yielded to the temptations of
larger offers and repudiated the first agreements. It became evident
that a closer organization was necessary to deal with these affairs.

In 1871 the professional and amateur organizations concluded to dissolve
partnership. Two distinct associations were formed, and the first
regular championship contests were engaged in by the Professional
Association. After a few years the Amateur National Association passed
out of existence.

In 1876 eight clubs of the "Professional National Association" formed an
independent body, calling themselves "The National League," and this is
the present senior base-ball organization.

In 1881 a new body of professional clubs, The American Association,
entered the field, and is now, with the National League, one of the
controlling factors of the game.

There have been a number of other base-ball associations formed from
time to time, but, unable to compete with the larger Leagues, and
despoiled of their best players, they have been forced to withdraw.
Under a new regime there are at present quite a number of these minor
organizations, and some of them are in a most flourishing condition.

In 1882 the National League, American Association, and Northwestern
League entered into what was called the "Triparti Agreement," which the
following year was developed into the "National Agreement." The parties
to this document, which is become the lex suprema in base-ball affairs,
are now, primarily, the National League and the American Association. It
regulates the term of players' contracts and the period for
negotiations; it provides a fine of five hundred dollars upon the club
violating, and disqualifies the player for the ensuing season; it
prescribes the formula necessary to make a "legal" contract; the clubs
of each Association are to respect the reservations, expulsions,
blacklistments, and suspensions of the clubs of the other; it declares
that no club shall pay any salary in excess of two thousand dollars;
finally, it provides for a Board of Arbitration, consisting of three
duly accredited representatives from each Association, to convene
annually, and, "in addition to all matters that may be specially
referred to them," to have "sole, exclusive, and final jurisdiction of
all disputes and complaints arising under, and all interpretations of,
this Agreement." It shall also decide all disputes between the
Associations or between club members of one Association and club members
of the other.

To this main agreement are tacked "Articles of Qualified Admission," by
which the minor base-ball associations, for a consideration and upon
certain conditions, are conceded certain privileges and protection.
These articles are an agreement between the League and American
Association, party of the first part, and the minor leagues as party of
the second part.

The most important feature of the National Agreement unquestionably is
the provision according to the club members the privilege of reserving a
stated number of players. No other club of any Association under the
Agreement dares engage any player so reserved. To this rule, more than
any other thing, does base-ball as a business owe its present
substantial standing. By preserving intact the strength of a team from
year to year; it places the business of baseball on a permanent basis
and thus offers security to the investment of capital. The greatest evil
with which the business has of recent years had to contend is the
unscrupulous methods of some of its "managers." Knowing no such thing as
professional honor, these men are ever ready to benefit themselves,
regardless of the cost to an associate club. The reserve rule itself is
a usurpation of the players' rights, but it is, perhaps, made necessary
by the peculiar nature of the base-ball business, and the player is
indirectly compensated by the improved standing of the game. I quote in
this connection Mr. A. G. Mills, ex-President of the League, and the
originator of the National Agreement: "It has been popular in days gone
by to ascribe the decay and disrepute into which the game had fallen to
degeneracy on the part of the players, and to blame them primarily for
revolving and other misconduct. Nothing could be more unjust. I have
been identified with the game more than twenty-five years--for several
seasons as a player--and I know that, with rare exceptions, those faults
were directly traceable to those who controlled the clubs. Professional
players have never sought the club manager; the club manager has
invariably sought--and often tempted--the player. The reserve rule takes
the club manager by the throat and compels him to keep his hands off his
neighbor's enterprise."

It was not to be expected that club managers of the stamp above referred
to would exhibit much consideration for the rights of players. As long
as a player continued valuable he had little difficulty, but when, for
any reason, his period of usefulness to a club had passed, he was likely
to find, by sad experience, that base-ball laws were not construed for
his protection; he discovered that in base-ball, as in other affairs,
might often makes right, and it is not to be wondered at that he turned
to combination as a means of protection.

In the fall of 1885 the members of the New York team met and appointed a
committee to draft a Constitution and By-laws for an organization of
players, and during the season of 1886 the different "Chapters" of the
"National Brotherhood of Ball-Players" were instituted by the mother New
York Chapter. The objects of this Brotherhood as set forth by the
Constitution are:

"To protect and benefit its members collectively and individually;

"To promote a high standard of professional conduct;

"To foster and encourage the interests of 'The National Game.'"

There was no spirit of antagonism to the capitalists of the game, except
in so far as the latter might at ally time attempt to disregard the
rights of any member.

In November, 1887, a committee of the Brotherhood met a committee of the
League, and a new form of players' contract was agreed upon. Concessions
were made on both sides, and the result is a more equitable form of
agreement between the club and players.

The time has not yet come to write of the effect of this new factor in
base-ball affairs. It is organized on a conservative plan, and the
spirit it has already shown has given nothing to fear to those who have
the broad interests of the game at heart. That it has within it the
capacity for great good, the writer has no manner of doubt.

And thus the erstwhile schoolboy game and the amateur pastime of later
years is being rounded out into a full-grown business. The professional
clubs of the country begin to rival in number those of the halcyon
amateur days; and yet the latter class has lost none of its love for the
sport. The only thing now lacking to forever establish base-ball as our
national sport is a more liberal encouragement of the amateur element.
Professional base-ball may have its ups and downs according as its
directors may be wise or the contrary, but the foundation upon which it
all is built, its hold upon the future, is in the amateur enthusiasm for
the game. The professional game must always be confined to the larger
towns, but every hamlet may have its amateur team, and let us see to it
that their games are encouraged.


On account of the associations by which a professional game of base-ball
was supposed to be surrounded, it was for a long time thought not a
proper sport for the patronage of ladies. Gradually, however, this
illusion has been dispelled, until now at every principal contest they
are found present in large numbers. One game is generally enough to
interest the novice; she had expected to find it so difficult to
understand and she soon discovers that she knows all about it; she is
able to criticize plays and even find fault with the umpire; she is
surprised and flattered by the wonderful grasp of her own understanding,
and she begins to like the game. As with everything else that she likes
at all, she likes it with all her might, and it is only a question of a
few more games till she becomes an enthusiast. It is a fact that the
sport has no more ardent admirers than are to be found among its lady
attendants throughout the country.

Whoever has not experienced the pleasure of taking a young lady to her
first game of ball should seize the first opportunity to do so. Her
remarks about plays, her opinions of different players and the umpire,
and the questions she will ask concerning the game, are all too funny to
be missed. She is a violent partisan and at once takes strong sides, and
if her favorite team fails to bat well she characterizes the opposing
pitcher as a "horrid creature;" or when the teams have finished
practicing she wants to know, with charming ingenuousness, "which won."
But as she gets deeper into the principles of the game her remarks
become less frequent and her questions more to the point, until her
well-timed attempts to applaud good plays and the anxious look at
critical points of the game indicate that she has at last caught the

Unfortunately, some men are not able to intelligibly explain the theory
of base-ball, while others are so engrossed with the game that they do
not care to be disturbed. For the benefit of those ladies whose escorts
either cannot, or will not, answer their questions, I will attempt to
set forth as clearly as possible the fundamental principles of the game.

There are always two opposing teams of nine players each, and they play
on a field laid out in the shape of a diamond, as seen in time diagram
on the following page.

At each corner of the diamond is a base, and these are known
respectively as home base, first base, second base, and third base. One
of the teams takes "the field," that is, each of its nine players
occupies one of the nine fielding positions shown in the diagram, and
known as pitcher, catcher, first base, second base, third base, short
stop, left field, centre field, and right field; the other team goes to
"the bat" and tries to make "runs." A run is scored in this way: One of
the nine batting players takes his position at the home base and
endeavors to hit the ball, thrown to him by the opposing pitcher, to
some part of the field where it can neither be caught before touching
the ground, nor thrown to first base before the batter himself can run
there; if he can hit it far enough to allow him to reach not only first
base, but second or third or even home, so much the better, for when he
has made the complete circuit of the bases his side is credited with one
run. If he cannot make home on his own hit he may be helped around by
the good hits of succeeding batsmen, for each one of the nine takes his
regular turn at the bat. This batting and running goes on until three of
the batting side have been "put out," whereupon the batting side take
the field and the other team comes in to take its turn at bat and make
as many runs as possible. When three of a batting side have been "put
out," that side is said to have had its "inning," and each side is
entitled to nine innings.

A player is "put out" in various ways, principal among which are the
following: If he strikes three times at the ball and misses it and on
the third strike the ball is caught by the catcher; a ball which passes
over the plate between the height of the knee and shoulder and not
struck at, is called a strike just as though it had been struck at and
missed. The batsman is also "out" if the ball which he hits is caught by
some fielder before touching the ground; or if, having touched the
ground, it is thrown to time first-baseman before the batter himself can
reach that base. He is out if, at any time after having hit the ball, he
is touched with it in the hands of a fielder, when no part of his person
is touching a base.

There are lines drawn from the home base through the first and third-
base corners and continued indefinitely into the field. These are called
"foul lines," and any hit ball falling outside of them counts as nothing
at all, unless, of course, it be caught before touching the ground; in
which case it puts the striker "out."

Outside of the nine players on each side there is another important
personage, known as "The Umpire." He is not placed there as a target for
the maledictions of disappointed spectators. He is of flesh and blood,
and has feelings just the same as any other human being. He is not
chosen because of his dishonesty or ignorance of the rules of the game,
neither is he an ex-horse thief nor an escaped felon; on the contrary,
he has been carefully selected by the President of the League from among
a great number of applicants on account of his supposed integrity of
character and peculiar fitness for the position; indeed, in private life
he may even pass as a gentleman.

His duties are arduous; he must decide all points of play, though taking
place on widely separated portions of the field; he determines whether a
ball has been fairly pitched over the home-base, whether a hit is "fair"
or "foul," or whether a player has been put out in accordance with the
rules. In brief, he is expected to see all parts of the field at once
and enforce all the principal and incidental rules of the game. It would
not be strange, therefore, if he made an occasional mistake or failed to
decide in a way to suit all.

I have given thus concisely, and with the use of as few technical terms
as possible, the first principles of the game. Many things are purposely
left for the novice to learn, because any attempt to go into detail
would prove confusing. For the instruction of those who wish to master
the technical terms generally used, I subjoin some definitions. They are
intended for beginners, and though not in all cases covering the entire
ground, will yet convey the idea.


A batsman, batter, or striker is the player who is taking his turn at

A base-runner is what the batter becomes instantly after having hit a
fair ball, though for convenience of distinction he is often still
called a batter until he has reached first base.

A fielder is any one of the nine fielding players.

A coacher is one of the batting players who takes his position within
certain prescribed limits near first or third base to direct base-
runners and to urge them along.

A fair hit is, generally speaking, a ball hit by a batsman which falls
within the foul lines.

A foul hit is one which falls without the foul lines. A base hit is a
fair hit by a batsman which can neither be caught before touching the
ground nor fielded to first base in time to put out the striker. It may
be either a two-base hit, a three-base hit, or a home run, according as
two or three or four bases have been made on the hit without an
intervening error.

An error is made when a fielder fails to make a play that he should
fairly have been expected to make.

A fly is a hit caught before touching the ground.

A muff is made when a "fly" or thrown ball, striking fairly in the hands
of a fielder, is not caught.

A grounder is a hit along the ground.

A steal is made when a base-runner gets from one base to another without
the assistance of a base hit or an error.

A wild pitch is a ball thrown by the pitcher out of the fair reach of
the catcher, and on which a base-runner gains a base.

A passed ball is a throw by the pitcher which the catcher should stop
but fails, and by his failure a base-runner gains a base.

For the purpose of distinction, the nine fielders are subdivided into
The Battery, The In-field, and The Out-field. The Battery means the
Pitcher and Catcher, the In-field includes the First, Second, and Third
Basemen, and the Short-stop; and the Outfield is composed of the Left,
Centre, and Right Fielders.

As for the theory of the game, remember that there are opposing sides,
each of which has nine turns at the bat, i.e., nine innings, and the
object each inning is to score as many runs as possible. A run is scored
every time a player gets entirely around the bases, either by his own
hit alone or by the help of succeeding batters, or by the errors of the
opposing fielders, and the team making the most runs in nine innings is
declared the winner. An inning is ended when three of the batting side
have been "put out," and a player may be put out in various ways, as
before enumerated. The umpire is not trying to be unfair, he is doing
the best he can, and instead of abuse he is often deserving of sympathy.


Some one has truthfully said, that ball players, like poets and cooks,
are born, not made, though once born, their development, like that of
their fellow-artists, may be greatly aided by judicious coaching. Of
what this training shall consist becomes then a question of much

The only way to learn base-ball is to play it, and it is a trite saying
that the best practice for a ball player is base-ball itself. Still,
there are points outside of the game, such as the preliminary training,
diet, and exercise, an observance of which will be of great advantage
when the regular work is begun. The method and style of play and the
points of each position are given in the subsequent chapters, so that I
shall here speak only of those points which come up off the field and
are not included in the game proper.

But first of all, let me say, that no one will ever become an expert
ball player who is not passionately fond of the sport. Base-ball cannot
be learned as a trade. It begins with the sport of the schoolboy, and
though it may end in the professional, I am sure there is not a single
one of these who learned the game with the expectation of making it a
business. There have been years in the life of each during which he must
have ate and drank and dreamed baseball. It is not a calculation but an

There are many excellent books devoted exclusively to the general
subject of training, and a careful reading of one such may be of much
service in teaching the beginner the ordinary principles of self-care.
It will show him how to keep the system in good working order, what are
proper articles of diet, how to reduce weight, or what exercises are
best calculated to develop certain muscles; but for the specific
purposes of a ball player such a book is entirely wanting, for the
reason that the "condition" in which he should keep himself, and
therefore the training needful, differ from those for any other athlete.
To perform some particular feat which is to occupy but a comparatively
brief space of time, as to run, row, wrestle, or the like, a man will do
better to be thoroughly "fit." But if the period of exertion is to
extend over some length of time, as is the case with the ball player,
working for six months at a stretch, his system will not stand the
strain of too much training. Working solely on bone and muscle day after
day, his nervous system will give way. He will grow weak, or as it is
technically known, "go stale." This over-training is a mistake oftenest
made by the young and highly ambitious player, though doubtless many of
the instances of "loss of speed" by pitchers and "off streaks" by older
players are really attributable to this cause.

The "condition" in which a ball player should keep himself is such that
his stomach and liver are in good order, his daily habits regular, his
muscles free and firm, and his "wind" strong enough to allow him to run
the circuit of the bases without inconvenience. He must not attempt to
keep in what is known as "fine" condition. He should observe good hours,
and take at least eight hours sleep nightly; and he may eat generously
of wholesome food, except at noon, when he should take only a light
lunch. There are many players who eat so heartily just before the game
that they are sleepy and dull the entire afternoon. The traveling
professional player needs to pay particular attention to the kind and
quality of his food. The sudden changes of climate, water, and cooking
are very trying, and unless he takes great care he will not get through
a season without some trouble. Especially should he avoid under or over
ripe fruit, for it is likely that many of the prevalent cases of cholera
morbus are due to indiscretions in this particular.

If he finds it necessary to take some light stimulant, let it be done
with the evening meal. Never take any liquor at any other time: I do not
favor the indiscriminate use of any drink, but, on the contrary, oppose
it as a most harmful practice; I do believe, however, that a glass of
ale, beer, or claret with one's meal is in some cases beneficial. A
thin, nervous person, worn out with the excitement and fatigue of the
day, will find it a genuine tonic; it will soothe and quiet his nerves
and send him earlier to bed and asleep. The "beefy" individual, with
plenty of reserve force, needs no stimulant, and should never touch
liquor at any time. If taken at all, it should be solely as a tonic and
never as a social beverage.

The force of the above applies with special emphasis to the young
professional player. Knowing so well the numberless temptations by which
he is surrounded, I caution him particularly against indiscriminate
drinking. In no profession in life are good habits more essential to
success than in baseball. It is the first thing concerning which the
wise manager inquires, and if the player's record in this respect is
found good it is the most hopeful indication of his future success. Keep
away from saloons.

The amount of work necessary to keep a player in the proper form must be
determined in each particular case by the individual himself. If he is
inclined to be thin a very little will be enough, and he should not
begin too early in the spring; while if prone to stoutness he may
require a great deal, and should begin earlier. It is scarcely necessary
to say that all exercise should be begun by easy stages. Commencing with
walks in the open air and the use of light pulley weights or clubs or
bells, the quantity of exercise may be gradually increased. Never,
however, indulge in heavy work or feats of strength. Such exercise is
not good for any one, but especially is it dangerous for ball players.
They do not want strength, but agility and suppleness; besides, the
straining of some small muscle or tendon may incapacitate one for the
entire season, or even permanently. Right here is the objection to
turning loose a party of ball players in a gymnasium, for spring
practice. The temptation to try feats of strength is always present, and
more than likely some one will be injured.

The best preliminary practice for a ball player, outside of actual
practice at the game, is to be had in a hand-ball court. The game itself
is interesting, and one will work up a perspiration without noticing the
exertion; it loosens the muscles, quickens the eye, hardens the hands,
and teaches the body to act quickly with the mind; it affords every
movement of the ball field except batting, there is little danger from
accident, and the amount of exercise can be easily regulated. Two weeks
in a hand-ball court will put a team in better condition to begin a
season than any Southern trip, and in the end be less expensive to the

But whatever preliminary work is found advisable or necessary to adopt,
the player should be particular in the following: Having determined the
amount of exercise best suited to his temperament, he should observe
regular habits, keep the stomach, liver, and skin healthy, attend
carefully to the quality of food taken, and if he takes any stimulant at
all let it be with the evening meal.


Of all the players on a base-ball nine, the pitcher is the one to whom
attaches the greatest importance. He is the attacking force of the nine,
the positive pole of the battery, the central figure, around which the
others are grouped. From the formation of the first written code of
rules in 1845 down to the present time, this pre-eminence has been
maintained, and though the amendments of succeeding years have caused it
to vary from time to time, its relative importance is more marked to-day
than at any preceding period. In a normal development of the game the
improvement in batting would unquestionably have outstripped the
pitching, and finally overcome this superiority; but the removal of
certain restrictions upon the pitcher's motions, the legalization of the
underhand throw instead of the old straight-arm pitch, the introduction
of "curve" pitching, and, finally, the unrestricted overhand delivery,
have kept the pitching always in the lead. At several different times,
notably in the rules of 1887, an effort has been made to secure a more
even adjustment, but recent changes have undone the work, and the season
of 1888 will see the inequality greater, if anything, than ever.

The qualities of mind and body necessary to constitute a good modern
pitcher are rarely combined in a single individual. First-class pitchers
are almost as rare as prima donnas, and out of the many thousand
professional and amateur ball players of the country not more than a
dozen in all are capable of doing the position entire justice.

Speaking first of the physical requirements, I will not discuss the
question of size. There are good pitchers of all sizes, from Madden and
Kilroy to Whitney and McCormick, though naturally a man of average
proportions would have some advantages.

The first thing necessary before one can become a star pitcher is the
ability to throw a ball with speed. The rules, which at present govern
the pitching, place a premium on brute strength, and unless one has a
fair share of this he will never become a leading pitcher. There are a
few so-called good professional players whose sole conception of the
position is to drive the ball through with all possible speed, while
others whose skill and strategy have been proven by long service, are
forced out of the position because they have not sufficient speed for
the modern game.

Next, one must be possessed of more than an ordinary amount of
endurance. It is by no means a simple task to pitch an entire game
through and still be as effective in the ninth inning as in the first;
and when, as sometimes happens, the contest is prolonged by an extra
number of innings, the test is severe. This being true of a single game,
how much more tiresome it becomes when continued regularly for an entire
season, during the chilly days of the spring and fall, and under a
broiling July sun, can be appreciated only by one who has gone through
it. And what with all day and all night rides from city to city, broken
rest and hasty meals, bad cooking and changes of water and climate, the
man is extremely fortunate who finds himself in condition to play every
day when wanted. Only a good constitution, a vigorous digestion, the
most careful habits, and lots of grit, will ever do it.

Besides force and stamina, there are certain mental characteristics
necessary. A pitcher must be possessed of courage and of self-control.
He must face the strongest batter with the same confidence that he would
feel against the weakest, for it is only so that he can do himself
entire justice; and he must be able to pitch in the most critical
situations with the same coolness as at any other stage. He must control
his own feelings so as not to be disconcerted by anything that may
happen, whether through his own fault, that of a fellow-player, or
through no fault at all. He should remember that all are working for a
common end, and that the chances of victory will be only injured if he
allows his attention to be diverted by unavoidable accidents. And then,
too, it is more manly to play one's own game as best one can, no matter
what occurs, than to continually display an ugly temper at the little
mishaps sure to occur in every game.

The next point is to acquire a correct position in the "box," and an
easy, yet deceptive, style of delivery. The position is, to a great
extent, prescribed by the rules, and so much of it as is not can be
learned by observing the different pitchers. The position which seems
most natural should be chosen. The ball should be held in exactly the
same way, no matter what kind of curve is to be pitched. Being obliged
by rule to keep the ball before the body, in sight of the umpire, any
difference in the manlier of holding it will be quickly noticed by a
clever batter, and if for a particular curve it is always held in a
certain way, he will be forewarned of the kind of ball to expect.

Some batters pay no attention to these little indications; but the
majority are looking for them all the time, and once they detect any
peculiarities, they will be able to face the pitcher with much greater
confidence. The correct manner of holding the ball for every kind of
delivery is between the thumb and the first and middle fingers, as shown
in the accompanying cut of Clarkson.

It is true there are some curves which may be better acquired by holding
the ball differently in the hand, but this fact is outweighed by the
other considerations of which I have just spoken. Pitcher Shaw might
still be a "wizard" had he not neglected this precaution; by noticing
his manner of holding the ball the batter always knew just what was
coming; and there are other pitchers yet in the field who would find
their effectiveness greatly increased by a closer observance of this

As for the style of delivery, it should be remembered that the easiest
movement is the best. A long, free sweep of the arm, aided by a swing of
the body, will give more speed, be more deceiving to the batter, and
allow of more work than any possible snap or jerky motion. Facing the
striker before pitching, the arm should be swung well back and the body
around so as almost to face second base in the act of delivery; this has
an intimidating effect on weak-nerved batters; besides, not knowing from
what point the ball will start, it seems somehow to get mixed up with
the pitcher's arm and body so that it is not possible to get a fair view
of it. It will be understood what motion is meant if there is an
opportunity to observe Whitney, Clarkson or Keefe at work.

Next comes the knowledge of how to throw the different curves. I have
yet to see an article written on this subject which is of the least
value in instructing a complete novice. In the chapter on "Curve
Pitching" will be found the theory of the curve, but as for describing
intelligibly the snap of the wrist and arm by which the various twists
are imparted to the ball, I am convinced it cannot be done, and will
waste no effort in the attempt. To curve a ball is not a difficult feat,
and a few practical lessons, which any schoolboy can give, will teach
the movement. But, while not attempting myself to tell how this is done,
to one already possessed of the knowledge, I may offer some valuable

Not only must the ball always be held in the same way before pitching,
but in the act of delivery the swing of the arm must be identical or so
nearly so that the eye of the batter can detect no difference. All this
means that the pitcher must not give the striker the slightest inkling
of the kind of ball to expect, so that he will have the shortest
possible time in which to prepare to hit. I advise against the use of
too many different curves. The accomplished twirler can pitch any kind
of curve, but there are some which he seldom employs. It is impossible
to be accurate when too many deliveries are attempted, and accuracy is
of far greater importance than eccentric curves. Almost all professional
pitchers now use the overhand delivery and pitch only a fast, straight
ball and a curve. The fast ball, on account of its being thrown overhand
and the twist thereby given, "jumps" in the air, that is, it rises
slightly, while the curve, pitched with the same motion, goes outward
and downward. The curve will necessarily be slower than the straight
ball, and this will give all the variation in speed needed to unsettle
the batter's "eye" and confuse him in "timing" the ball. Some pitchers
are able, keeping the same motions, to vary the speed even of the curve
and straight balls, but, as before said, this is apt to be at the
expense of accuracy, and should not be attempted by the young player.
Occasionally, say once an inning, a pitcher may make a round arm or
underhand motion simply to mislead the batsman, and if the game is
safely won he may use an underhand delivery if he finds it rests his
arm, but these are exceptional instances.

I have already spoken of the importance of accuracy, but it cannot be
too strongly emphasized. The more marked the control of the ball the
greater will be the success, for no matter how many wonderful curves he
may be able to get, unless he has perfect command he will never be a
winning pitcher; seasoned batsmen will only laugh at his curves and go
to first on balls. To acquire thorough control requires long and patient
practice. A pitcher should always pitch over something laid down to
represent a plate, and if possible get a batter to stand and hit against
him. Let him practice with some method, pitching nothing but a straight
ball, and trying to put it directly over the plate every time. He should
not be annoyed if the batter hits him, as he is only practicing. When a
pitcher is able to cut the centre of the plate eight times out of ten he
may begin with his curve and work it in the same way. Finally, when he
can also control the curve, he should try to alternate it with a
straight ball. He will find that he cannot do this at first and retain
command of each, but he should keep at it, an hour or more regularly
every day, till he can.

Up to this point he has been learning only the mechanical part of
pitching, and if he has learned it well he is now ready to try his skill
and mettle on the field of actual contest. And here comes in an element
not before mentioned, which is called strategy, or "head-work." It means
the attempt to deceive the batter, to outwit him so that he cannot hit
safely. This may be accomplished in many ways, though the particular way
best suited to each case can only be determined at the time by the
pitcher himself. It depends, therefore, upon his own cleverness and
wits, and it is not possible for any one else to supply these for him.
An intelligent catcher may help him greatly, but there will still remain
many points which he himself must decide. I may be able, however, to
furnish some hints which will indicate the process of reasoning by which
the pitcher may arrive at certain conclusions; I can point out some
things he should notice, and describe what these generally mean.


But first as to the question of "signs." Every battery, by which is
meant a pitcher and catcher, must have a perfectly understood private
code of signals, so that they may make known their intentions and wishes
to one another without at the same time apprising the opposing players.
The first and, of course, most important of these is the signal by which
the catcher is to know what kind of ball to expect.

There is no necessity of more than one "sign" for this, because all that
any experienced catcher asks is to know when to expect a fast, straight
ball; not having received the signal for this, he will understand that a
curve is to be pitched, and the difference in curve or speed will not
bother him after a few moments' practice. Until within a few years this
sign was always given by the pitcher, but now it is almost the universal
practice for the catcher to give it to the pitcher, and if the latter
doesn't want to pitch the ball asked for he changes the sign by a shake
of the head. I think the old method was the better, because it is
certainly the business of the pitcher not only to do the pitching, but
to use his own judgment in deceiving the batsman. He should not act as a
mere automaton to throw the ball; moreover, the catcher has enough of
his own to attend to without assuming any of the duties of the pitcher.
Of course, if the pitcher is young and inexperienced, while the catcher
is seasoned and better acquainted with the weak points of batters, the
latter will be the better one to signal. It may be thought that the
right of the pitcher to reverse the sign by a shake of the head
practically gives him the same control as though he himself gave the
signs, but this is not strictly true; it is impossible for the pitcher
not to be more or less influenced by the catcher's sign, and he will
often pitch against his own judgment. At least I found this to be true
in my own experience, and therefore always preferred myself to do the
"signing." If the pitcher gives this sign he must be careful to choose
one that will not be discovered by the other side, for there are certain
players always watching for such points. Some years ago the Chicago Club
gave me the roughest kind of handling in several games, and Kelly told
me this winter that they knew every ball I intended to pitch, and he
even still remembered the sign and told me what it was. Chicago finished
first that year and we were a close second. That point which they gained
upon me may have cost Providence the championship, for they beat us
badly in the individual series. When I suspected a club of knowing my
sign I used a "combination," that is, I gave two signs; either one of
them given separately was not to be understood as a signal at all, but
both had to be given together. I found this to work admirably, and it
was never discovered by any club, so far as I know. If it be agreed that
the catcher is to give this sign, it is still not necessary that the
pitcher be entirely influenced by him. The pitcher should rely upon his
own discretion, and not hesitate to change the sign whenever his
judgment differs from that of the catcher.

There are certain signs which the catcher gives to basemen when there
are runners on the bases, and with these, too, the pitcher must be
perfectly familiar, so that he may be able to pitch the ball in
accordance with what is about to be done. For instance, if the catcher
has signaled to the first baseman that he will throw there, he will
probably ask the pitcher for an out curve. In order, then, to help him
out with the play and give him plenty of room, the pitcher will not only
pitch the out curve asked, but he will keep it well out and wide of the
plate, so that it can't possibly be hit, and he will pitch it at the
height where it may be best handled by the catcher. So, too, if there is
a runner on first who is likely to attempt to steal second, he will
"pitch for the catcher," and he should shorten his pitching motion so as
to give the catcher as much time as possible to throw. When runners
"steal" on a catcher it is oftener not so much his fault as the
pitcher's. It is almost impossible to make a clean steal of second, even
with a very ordinary thrower behind the bat, if the pitcher will not
give the runner too much "start."

The pitcher should also receive a signal from the catcher notifying him
when to throw to second base to catch a runner leading off too far. This
point will, however, be noticed more appropriately under the duties of
"The Catcher."

As for the other bases, first and third, the pitcher should look after
them himself without any signal from the catcher. I could always stand
in the pitcher's position facing the batter and still see out of "the
corner of my eye" how much ground the runner on first base was taking.
As the baseman is already on the base, there is no necessity of
notifying him of an intention to throw, so, watching the opportunity, I
would throw across my body without first having changed the position of
my feet or body at all. The throw is, of course, not so swift as by
first wheeling toward the base and then throwing, but it will catch a
runner oftener. "Smiling Mickey" Welch plays the point to perfection,
and last season caught many men "napping" in this way. Its advantage is
that it is entirely legitimate. Some pitchers, in order to catch a
runner at first, make a slight forward movement, visible to the runner
but not to the umpire, as if about to pitch. This, of course, starts the
runner, and before he can recover, the pitcher has turned and thrown to
first. Notwithstanding the strictest prohibition last season of any
motion even "calculated" to deceive the runner, there were umpires weak-
kneed enough to allow these balks.

The easiest men to catch are the best base-runners, because they are
always anxious to "get away," and they take the most chances. An
ambitious runner will keep moving up and down the line trying to get his
start. The pitcher should not appear to notice him, pretending to be
interested only in the batter, but watching the runner closely all the
time. Suddenly, and without the least warning, he should snap the ball
to the baseman. If the pitcher will choose a time when the runner is on
the move away from the base the batter will be off his balance and may
be caught before he can recover.

For the third base it may be advisable to have a signal with the baseman
to notify him of a throw. It is very seldom possible to catch a runner
off third by a throw from the pitcher, though it may sometimes be done.
Clarkson and Galvin both accomplish it at times, though they always do
it by the aid of a "balk." Clarkson's method is this: With a runner on
first and one on third, the man on first will usually try to steal
second, and if the ball is thrown there to catch him, the runner on
third tries to score. In this situation Clarkson makes a slight forward
movement of the body as though about to pitch, and the runner on third,
being anxious to get all possible ground, moves forward. With the same
motion, and before the runner can recover, Clarkson, by a prior
understanding with the third baseman, throws to the base, the baseman
meets the ball there, and before the runner has quite realized what has
happened, he is "out." I have reason to know the working of this little
scheme, because I was caught by it in Chicago last season in a very
close game. The "balk" was palpable, and I made a strenuous "kick," but
the umpire refused to see it that way.

A pitcher should not be misled by what I have said into too much
throwing to bases. He should throw only when there is a fair chance of
making the put-out; for all other purposes, as to hold the runner close
to the base, a feint will answer just as well and does not entail the
possibility of an error.


A strategic pitcher is one who depends for success not simply on speed
and curves, but who outwits the batsman by skill, who deceives his eye,
and plays upon his weaknesses. What will be the best method for a
particular case must be decided in each instance by the pitcher himself,
and his success will depend upon his judgment and cleverness. But while
no general rule can be laid down, I may still be able to offer some
useful suggestions.

Assuming that a pitcher has never seen the batters whom he is about to
face, there are certain points to be noted as each of them takes his
place at the bat. First, his position and manner of holding his bat
should be observed. If he carries it over his shoulder and in an almost
perpendicular position, the chances are that he is naturally a high ball
hitter and is looking for that kind of a pitch, because that is the
position of the bat from which a high ball is most easily hit. If, on
the contrary, he carries his bat in a more nearly horizontal position,
he is ready either to "chop" over at a high ball, or "cut" under at a
low one, the chances being that he prefers the latter. Of still more
importance is his movement in hitting, and this the pitcher must try to
discover before the batter has hit the ball at all. An out-curve should
be pitched just out of his reach; being so near where he wants it, it
will draw him out and he will make every movement, except the swing of
the bat, as in hitting. This movement should be carefully noted. If, in
stepping forward to hit, he also steps away from the plate toward the
third base, it is at once a point in the pitcher's favor. The batsman is
timid and afraid of being hit. If, however, he steps confidently
forward, almost directly toward the pitcher, he is a dangerous man and
all the pitcher's skill will be needed to outwit him. Again, if in
stepping forward he makes a very long stride, it is another point for
the pitcher, because it shows that he is not only anxious to hit but
means to hit hard, and such a man is easily deceived. But if he makes a
short stride, keeping easily his balance and standing well upright, he
is more than likely a good hitter, even though he steps away from the
plate, and if in addition to stepping short he also steps toward the
pitcher, the pitcher should look out for him.

Without going into too much detail I will try to illustrate: If my
batter is one who steps away from the plate I will pitch a fast,
straight ball in over his shoulder too high and too far in to be hit.
The next time he will step still further away, but this time I should
put a fast, straight one over the outside corner of the plate. From his
position he will probably not be able to reach it at all, or if he does
he will hit with no force. I might pitch the next ball in the same
place, and then I should consider it time to drive him away from the
plate again and I would send the next one in over his shoulder as
before. He may hit at one of these high "in" balls, but if he does he
will probably not touch it; at any rate, another fast, straight one over
the outside corner ought to dispose of him. It will be observed I have
not thrown a single curve, nor would I to such a batter except
occasionally, say two or three during the game, and then only to keep
him "guessing."

Taking another kind of hitter, suppose that he steps up in the best
form, making a short stride toward the pitcher, keeping his balance well
and his form erect. As already said, he is a dangerous batter and likely
to hit in spite of my best efforts, but I must do the best I can with
him. I therefore observe his manner of holding the bat and note whether
he prefers a high or low ball, and we will say that it is a low one. I
send a couple of low drop curves just out of his reach. It is just what
he wants if he could only get at them, and the next time he steps well
in toward the plate. This time, however, I send a fast, straight, high
ball over the plate, and if he hits it at all, it will be in the air.
Another fast, straight, high one might not escape so easily, but I have
two balls called and can't take the chances of giving him his base. I
therefore try it again. If he has missed that I now have two strikes,
and only two balls, and can afford to throw away a ball or two, which I
do as before by pitching a couple of low drop curves out of his reach,
until his mind is again fixed upon that point. Then I would probably
again try a fast, high ball on the inside corner of the plate. These two
cases, are given merely to illustrate the line of reasoning, and in
practice each would be governed by its own particular circumstances. To
avoid confusing details, I will add only a few observations: A batter
who steps away from the plate, should be worked on the outside corner;
one who steps in, on the inside corner; one who makes a long, vicious
swing at the ball, will be easily deceived by a slow ball, much more
readily than one who "snaps" or hits with a short, quick stroke; one who
strides long must necessarily stoop or crouch, and is in bad form to hit
a high ball; if he swings his bat always in a horizontal plane, he will
not be able to hit a shoulder or knee ball as well as one who swings in
a perpendicular plane, i.e., who "cuts" under at a low ball and "chops"
over-hand at a high ball; there are some batters who prefer to hit only
at a fast, straight ball, while others wait for a curve, and in such a
case the pitcher may get a strike or two by pitching what he will not
care to hit at; some are never ready to hit at the first ball pitched,
so that by sending this in over the plate a strike may be secured; some
are known as great "waiters," who will only hit when forced, and these
should be forced to hit at once; others are anxious and cannot wait, and
may be safely "worked" wide of the plate. Then occasionally there will
be found a batter who betrays by his manner when he has made up his mind
to hit, and in that case he will let go at anything within reach;
therefore a ball should be pitched where he will be least likely to hit
it. If the pitcher finds a batter facing for a hit to right field, he
should not give him the ball out from him, but crowd him with it,
keeping it on the inside corner, and it will be almost impossible for
him to succeed.

It does not do to work the same batter always in the same way, or he
will discover a pitcher's method. Sometimes the pitcher must "cross" him
and at times it is even advisable to give him a ball just where he would
like to have it, but where, for that very reason, he least expects it.

Finally, a pitcher should not be in a hurry to deliver the ball. As soon
as the catcher returns the ball the pitcher should assume a position as
though about to pitch and stand there; he should take all the time the
umpire will give him. This will allow him to give and receive any
necessary signal from the catcher, it will rest him and thus enable him
to hold his speed, and, finally, it will work upon the nerves and
eyesight of the batter. The batter will grow impatient and anxious, and
unless his eyes are very strong the long strain in a bright light will
blear his sight.


Some pitchers seem to harbor the impression that nothing else is
expected of them but to pitch the ball, and the effect of this opinion
is to diminish their worth to a very great extent: A pitcher is just as
much a fielder as any of the other players, and may render his side
efficient service by his ability to properly care for this part of his

I have already spoken of throwing to bases to catch runners, and it is
unnecessary to say anything further except to again caution against too
much of it. A pitcher should throw only when there is a chance of making
the put-out.

In fielding ground-hits he must exert considerable activity on account
of the very short time allowed him. He should have the courage to face a
hard hit, because on account of the position of the second baseman and
short-stop such a hit will generally be safe if he does not stop it, or
at least turn its course. It is his place to get all "bunted" hits. It
is a mistake to break up the in-field by bringing a third baseman in
close to get hits which a live pitcher should be able to field. When a
batter who is likely to bunt the ball comes to the bat, the pitcher must
be ready at every ball pitched to move in the direction of the third
base line, where such hits are always made. There are some pitchers,
such as Galvin and Van Haltren, against whom it is not safe to try a
bunt, but, as I have said, many others seem to think they are expected
only to pitch.

On a hit to the first baseman the pitcher should cover the base, and if
the hit is slow or if the baseman fumbles it he may still have time to
toss the ball to the pitcher. The pitcher should not wait until he sees
the fumble before starting, but the instant the hit is made go for the
base; he will then be there and ready to receive the ball and not be
forced to take it on the run. So, too, the occasion may arise when he
should cover second or third, where some combination of play has taken
the baseman away and left the base uncovered. In all cases where a
runner is caught between bases the pitcher must take part in the play.
If the runner is between first and second, the pitcher will back up the
first baseman, leaving the short-stop to back the second baseman; if
between second and third, he will back up the third baseman; and if
between third and home, he will back the catcher.

The pitcher must back up the catcher, the first and third basemen, on
all throws from the out field. He must not wait until the throw is made
before getting in line, but the moment the probability of such a throw
arises, he should get there, and then he can see the entire play, and
will be sure to get in a line with the throw. In backing up he must not
get too close to the fielder he is backing, otherwise what is a wild
throw to him will be likewise to the pitcher. He should keep from fifty
to seventy-five feet away.

With runners on bases he should be sure that he understands the
situation perfectly before pitching, and he must keep it in mind; then,
if the ball is hit to him, he need lose no time in deciding upon the
proper place to throw it. If his play is to try for a double by way of
second base, he should not wait until the baseman gets there and then
drive the ball at him with all his might; but he should toss it to the
baseman as he runs for the base, timing the speed of the throw so that
the baseman and the ball will reach the base together. Thus no time will
be lost, and the throw being easy, may be much more quickly and safely

In short, a pitcher should make himself useful wherever he can, and use
his wits in fielding as well as in pitching. He should not be
disheartened by poor support or unavoidable accidents, but should keep
up his courage, and the entire team will be infused with his spirit.
There are some pitchers who are not hit hard and yet seldom win because
they display such a lazy disposition in the box that they put all the
other players to sleep; and, again, there are others not so successful
in the matter of base hits, who yet win more games, on account of the
aggressive spirit they impart to their fellow-players. Let the pitcher
be alive, then, and if he has any "heart" let him show it; let him keep
up his spirits, have a reason for every ball pitched, and use his brain
as well as his muscle, for it is only in this way that he, can ever take
a place in the front rank.


Next after the pitcher, in regular order, comes the catcher. Though the
negative pole of "the battery," his support of the pitcher will largely
influence the latter's efficiency, and he therefore becomes an important
factor in the attacking force. Were it not for the extreme liability to
injury, the position of catcher would be the most desirable on the
field; he has plenty of work of the prettiest kind to do, is given many
opportunities for the employment of judgment and skill, and, what is
clearer than all to the heart of every true ball player, he is always in
the thickest of the fight. Moreover, his work, unlike that of the
pitcher, always shows for itself, and is therefore always appreciated. A
pitcher's success depends upon many circumstances, some of which are
beyond his own control, so that, no matter how faithfully or
intelligently he may work, he must still suffer the annoyance and
mortification of defeat. But the catcher has almost complete control of
his own play, he is dependent upon no one but himself, and, in spite of
everything and everybody, the nature of his work remains the same.

There are some cases in which a steady, intelligent catcher is of more
worth to a team than even the pitcher, because such a man will make
pitchers out of almost any kind of material. Bennett, the grandest of
every-day catchers, has demonstrated this fact in many instances, and I
have no doubt that much of the success of the St. Louis pitchers has
been due to the steady support and judicious coaching of Bushong.

There are certain qualifications necessary to produce a good catcher,
and if a person has any ambition to play the position, he should first
examine himself to see whether he is the possessor of these. Here again
the size of the candidate seems not to be of vital importance, for there
are good catchers, from the little, sawed-off bantam, Hofford, of Jersey
City, to the tall, angular Mack, of Washington, and Ganzell, of Detroit.
Still, other things being equal, a tall, active man should have an
advantage because of his longer "reach" for widely pitched balls, and on
account of the confidence a big mark to pitch at inspires in the
pitcher. Besides, a heavier man is better able to stand against the
shocks of reckless runners to the home plate.

More important than size are pluck and stamina, especially if one
contemplates becoming a professional catcher. In every well-regulated
team nowadays the pitchers and catchers are paired, and the same pair
always work together. Perfect team work involves a perfect understanding
by each man of all the points of play of the others, and it is believed
that a battery will do better team-work where its two ends are always
the same. But to be able to work regularly with one pitcher through an
entire season, catching every day when he pitches, a catcher will more
than once find his powers of endurance strongly taxed; and if, for real
or fancied injuries, he is often obliged to lay off, then, no matter how
brilliant his work when he does catch, he will lose much of his value to
the team. Certain injuries are inevitable and necessitate a rest, but
there are others of minor importance to which some men will not give
way. I do not laud this as pure bravado, but because it sets an example
and infuses a spirit into a team that is worth many games in a long
race. I have the greatest respect and admiration for the Bennetts and
the Bushongs of base-ball.

But there are other features necessary before a person can hope to
become a first-class catcher. As before said, he has many chances
offered for the employment of judgment and skill; and to make the best
use of these he must be possessed of some brains. The ideal catcher not
only stops the ball and throws it well, but he is a man of quick wit, he
loses no time in deciding upon a play, he is never "rattled" in any
emergency, he gives and receives signals, and, in short, plays all the
points of his position, and accomplishes much that a player of less
ready perception would lose entirely. Two of the best catchers in the
country are neither of them remarkable back-stops nor particularly
strong and accurate throwers, and yet both, by their great generalship
and cleverness, are "winning" catchers. I refer to Kelly, of Boston, and
Snyder, of Cleveland. Ewing, of New York, combines with wonderful skill
and judgment the ability to stop a ball well and throw it quicker,
harder, and truer than any one else, and I therefore consider him the
"King" of all catchers--when he catches.

In learning to catch, the first thing, of course, is to acquire a
correct style, that is, an approved position of body, hands, and feet,
the best manner of catching a ball, the proper place to stand, how to
throw quickly, and the best motion for throwing. After this comes the
study of the different points of play. There are as many different
styles in detail as there are individual catchers, and yet, through all,
there run certain resemblances which may be generalized.

As to the position of the body, all assume a stooping posture, bending
forward from the hips, in order better to get a low as well as a high
pitch. Some, like Daily, of Indianapolis, crouch almost to the ground,
but such a position must be not only more fatiguing, but destroy
somewhat the gauging of a high pitch. A catcher should not stand with
his feet too widely apart. It is a mistake some players make, but a
little reflection will convince a catcher that a man in such an attitude
cannot change his position and handle himself as readily as if he stood
with the feet nearer together. Besides, on a low pitched ball striking
the ground in front of him, it is necessary to get the feet entirely
together to assist the hands in stopping it, and this he cannot do if he
is too much spread out. These things may appear to be of minor
importance, but it is their observance which often makes the difference
between a first-class and an ordinary catcher.

A catcher should not stand directly back of the plate, but rather in
line with its outside corner; and when he gets (or gives) his sign for
the kind of ball to be pitched, he should not, by any movement out or
in, indicate to the batter what is coming; there are some batters who
glance down at the plate to see, from the corner of the eye, where the
catcher is standing. He will have ample time to move after the pitcher
has begun his delivery and when the batter's attention is wholly
occupied with that. If an out-curve is coming, he should be ready to
move out, or if an in-curve, or fast, straight ball, he should be ready
to step in. He should not anchor himself and try to do all his catching
with his hands, but in every instance, if possible, receive the ball
squarely in front of him. Then if it breaks through his hands it will
still be stopped by his body.

In catching a high ball the hands should be held in the position shown
in the following cut of Bushong, the fingers all pointing upward.

Some players catch with the fingers pointing toward the ball, but such
men are continually being hurt. A slight foul-tip diverts the course of
the ball just enough to carry it against the ends of the fingers, and on
account of their position the necessary result is a break or
dislocation. But with the hands held as in this cut there is a "give" to
the fingers and the chances of injury are much reduced. For a low ball
the hands should be held so that the fingers point downward, and for a
waist ball, by crouching slightly it may be taken in the same manner as
a high ball.

Some catchers throw more quickly than others because, having seen the
runner start, they get into position while the ball is coming. Instead
of standing square with the plate, they advance the left foot a half
step, and then, managing to get the ball a little on the right side,
they have only to step the left foot forward the other half step and let
the ball go. To throw without stepping at all is not advisable, because,
on account of the long distance, there would not be sufficient speed; to
take more than one step occupies too much time, more than is gained by
the extra speed obtained; so that the best plan and the one used by the
most successful catchers is the one just described. It is not however
the speed of the throw alone that catches a base-runner, but the losing
of no time in getting the ball on the way. Some very ordinary throwers
are hard men to steal on, while others, who give much greater speed to
the ball, are not so dangerous.

A ball may be thrown under-hand, round-arm, or over-hand. Experience has
proven to me that a ball may be thrown a short distance, as from home to
second, most accurately by a swing of the arm, half way between a round-
arm and over-hand delivery. My natural style was over-hand, but I have
cultivated the other until it now comes without difficulty. I was
influenced to make the change by noting the styles of other players,
particularly of Ewing and O'Rourke. I found that they both got great
speed and accuracy, and I also noticed that they seldom complained of
"lame arm." By being a more continuous swing, it is a more natural
motion, less trying on the muscles, and gives greater accuracy on
account of the twist such a swing imparts to the ball, much on the same
principle as does the twist to a bullet from a rifled gun. I therefore
recommend it for trial at least. When practicing with the pitcher the
catcher should be just as careful about his style as he would be in a
game, for it is while practicing that his habits are being formed. In
returning the ball to the pitcher each time, he should learn to catch it
and bring the arm back, with one continuous motion of the hands, without
making any stops or angles.

A word about high foul flies, since many of the catcher's put-outs are
from these hits. A ball thrown directly up into the air by the hand will
descend in a direct line, and may be easily "judged," but a pitched ball
hit directly up is given a tremendous twist by its contact with the bat,
and, in descending, this twist carries the ball forward sometimes as
much as ten, or even twenty feet. Consequently we see catchers
misjudging these hits time after time because they either do not know
this, or fail to take it into consideration. It is also necessary to
know the direction and force of the wind, and this should be noted from
time to time during the game by a glance at the flags, or in some
equally sure way.

There is one more point in fielding the catcher's position upon which a
few words will not be amiss, that is, as to touching a runner coming
home. There is a difference of opinion as to the best place for the
catcher to stand when waiting for the throw to cut off such a runner.
The general practice is to stand a couple of feet from the plate toward
third base and in front of the line. But this necessitates the catcher's
turning half-way round after catching the ball before he can touch the
runner, and many an artful dodger scores his run by making a slide in
which he takes, at least, the full three feet allowed him out of the
line. Many a run is scored when the catcher seemed to have had the ball
in waiting.

I believe the best place to stand is a couple of feet toward third and
just back of the line. The pitcher saves the time of turning around and
has the additional advantage of having the play in front of him, where
he can better see every movement of the runner. When the game is
depending upon that one put-out the best place of all to stand is a few
feet toward third and directly on the line. From there the catcher can
reach the runner whether he runs in front of or behind him, and if he
slides he will come against the catcher and may therefore not be able
to reach the plate, or, at least, the catcher may delay him long enough
to make the put-out. It is an extremely dangerous play for the catcher,
however, and one that he will feel justified in attempting only when the
game depends upon the put-out. Brown saved the New Yorks a game in New
Orleans last winter by this play, though Powell, the base-runner, came
against him with such force as to throw him head-over-heels ten feet
away. The object in standing a few feet toward third is to avoid close
plays, for then if the put-out is made at all there can be no possible
chance for the umpire to decide otherwise.


Under the heading of "The Pitcher" I have spoken of the necessity of a
private code of signals between pitcher and catcher, and I also said it
was the general practice now for the catcher to signify the kind of ball
to be pitched, though it is my own opinion that the pitcher should do
this, unless there are special reasons why it should be otherwise. In
giving this sign the catcher, standing with his hands resting on his
knees, makes some movement with the right hand, or a finger of that
hand, or with the right foot, to indicate an "out" ball, and some
similar movement with his left hand or foot for an "in" ball. Of course,
this may generally be plainly seen by every one on the field except the
batter, whose back is turned, and this fact has been taken advantage of
by some teams. The coacher, standing at first or third, makes some
remark with no apparent reference to the batter, but really previously
agreed upon, to notify him what kind of ball is going to be pitched.
This known, the batter has nothing to do but pick out his ball and lay
on to it with all his weight. Some of the New York players had great
sport the past winter in this way at the expense of the California
pitchers. It is therefore advisable that some sign be used that is not
easily detected.

There are other signals which a catcher must give to basemen to apprise
them of his intention to throw. When there are runners on any of the
bases, he should not give the sign to the pitcher to pitch until he has
glanced quietly around and seen whether any of the runners are leading
too far off the bases, and if so, by a prearranged signal notify the
baseman that he will throw. This signal should be known also to the
pitcher and by every other fielder who may be interested in the play.
The pitcher will now send the catcher the ball wide of the plate and at
a height where the catcher can handle it easily. The moment he moves to
pitch the baseman starts for his base and the proper fielders get in
line to back up the throw, if by accident it should be wild. It is very
necessary that the pitcher keep the ball out of the batter's reach,
otherwise it may be hit to a part of the field left unguarded by the
fielders who have gone to back up the throw; and the fielders must
understand the signal or they will not be able to get in line to back
up. The complete success of all these plays lies, therefore, in every
one knowing and doing his part, and in all working together. A mistake
by one, as if the pitcher allows the ball to be hit and it goes safely
to a field that would have otherwise been guarded, demoralizes the
entire team, and several such mistakes destroy the confidence of the men
in team work. In some cases the basemen themselves signal to the catcher
for a throw, but in order that every one interested may see the signal
and be prepared for the play, it is manifestly better that the catcher
alone should give it.

A tricky runner on second will sometimes lead well off for the express
purpose of having the catcher throw down, whereupon, instead of
returning to second he goes on to third. Whenever a catcher has reason
to suspect a runner of this intention he should make a feint to throw to
second, and if the runner starts for third the catcher then has him
between the bases. The feint must be well made and no time lost
afterward in getting the ball either to second or third, according to
circumstances. The importance of a play such as this rests not only in
the single put-out made, but in the respect for the catcher with which
it inspires subsequent runners. They will be exceedingly careful what
liberties they attempt to take. A very quick-witted runner, seeing
himself caught in this way between the bases, will, of course, try by
every means to extricate himself. He may, in turn, make a feint as if to
return to second, and when the catcher throws there he will still go on
to third; or, he may feint to go to third and manage to return to
second. To catch such a man it is necessary to make a second feint to
throw to the base nearest him, and this will almost invariably force him
to go in the opposite direction. Besides, with each feint the catcher
has stepped quickly forward and by the time he has finished the second
feint he is almost down to the pitcher's position. The runner is then
completely at the catcher's mercy and only an error of some kind will
allow him to escape. There are not more than a half dozen catchers in
the profession who know how to make this play properly, but there are
some, as I have learned by sad experience.

When there are runners on first and third with second unoccupied, and
the runner on first tries to steal second, there are several possible
plays. The catcher may throw to second to catch the runner going down;
or he may feint to throw there and throw to third to catch that runner
leading off; or he may actually throw toward second, but short of the
base, so that the baseman will have a less distance to return the ball
home, in case the runner on third starts in. Which one of these plays is
to be made the catcher must decide beforehand and notify the basemen by
signal, and he will be governed in his decision by the circumstances of
the case. If the situation of the game is such that it will make little
difference whether the runner on third scores or not, the catcher will,
of course, throw to second to make that put-out. But if one run is vital
there are other things to be considered. If the runner at third is very
slow or one not likely to attempt to run home, he may still throw to
second to catch the man from first. But if the runner at third is one
who will attempt to score, the catcher must either throw short to second
or else feint and throw to third. Whatever he is going to do must be
understood thoroughly by all the fielders interested, and to this end he
will give the proper signal. As the second baseman and shortstop may
also take an important part in this play, it will be spoken of later.

In conclusion let me say, that in order to accomplish anything by these
private signals the catcher must have them in such thorough working
order that no mistake can possibly occur. This may come only after long
and patient practice; some fielders find it almost impossible to work
with signs, but they must be kept at it every day until the code becomes
perfectly familiar to them.


From the fact that the first baseman has more "chances" to his credit
than any other player, it might seem to the casual observer that his is
the most difficult position to play; but as a matter of fact most of his
chances are of a very simple nature, involving merely the catching of a
thrown ball, and an examination of the official averages will show him
leading in the percentages year after year. The possibilities of the
position, however, have been developing. For many years, and, indeed,
until he retired from the diamond, "Old Reliable" Joe Start was the king
of first basemen; but, unquestionably, the play of such basemen as
Connor, Commisky, and Morrill is a steady improvement, along with the
rest of the game. Especially has there been an advance in the direction
of fielding ground hits, and it is now not an unusual sight to see a
first baseman getting a hit in short right field, and assisting in the
put-out at first or second base.

The position demands a tall man. Such a one, by his longer reach, will
not only save many wide throws, but, because he is a good mark to throw
at, will inspire confidence in the throwers. He must be able to catch a
thrown ball, whether high, low, or on either side. As to the surest way
of catching, opinions differ; but as to the best way, everything
considered, I hold the same conditions to be true here as in the case of
the catcher; that is, for a high thrown ball the fingers should point
not toward the ball, but upward, and for a low thrown ball, just the
reverse. If the throw is off to either side, the baseman must shift his
position so as to be able to reach it, and if it is so far wide that he
must leave the base, he should not hesitate to do so; he should not
imagine that he is tied to the bag. Start was the first man I ever saw
who knew how to leave the base for a wide throw. He never took the
chance of a long reach for the ball, unless, of course, the game
depended on that one put-out and there was no time to leave the base and
return. He believed, and with reason, that it was better to first make
sure of the ball and then touch the base, than, by trying to do both at
once, see the ball sailing over into the side seats.

It is a difficult play when the throw is to the baseman's left, in
toward the runner, because of the danger of a collision with the latter.
To the average spectator who may never have had much experience on the
field, these collisions between players may seem trifling affairs, but
they are not so regarded by the players themselves. In the history of
the sport many men have been seriously injured in this way, and a few
killed outright. For two weeks once I was obliged to sleep nights in a
sitting posture as the result of a shock of this kind, and it was months
before I recovered entirely from its effects. To avoid a collision when
the ball is thrown in this way many good basemen stand back of the line
with the right foot touching the base, and allow the runner to pass in
front of them. There was one first baseman who used simply to reach in
his left hand and pick the ball from in front of the runner with as much
ease and safety as though it were thrown directly to him. I mean
McKinnon, poor Al McKinnon! What a flood of affectionate recollections
his name brings back. Kind-hearted, full of fun, manly, honest, and
straightforward to the last degree, he was one whose memory will always
be green in the hearts of those who knew him well.

In picking up low thrown balls which strike the ground in front of the
baseman, some become much more expert than others. One of the best, I
think, is Phillips, who played last season with Brooklyn, and is now
with the Kansas City Club. When the bound is what is called a "short
bound," that is, where it strikes but a few inches in front of the
hands, the play is really not a difficult one if the ground is at all
even; but where it strikes from one to three feet beyond the hands, it
requires considerable skill to get it, especially if the ground cannot
be depended upon for a regular bound. In this latter case the bound is
too long for a "pick-up" and too short for a long bound catch; so that
the only thing to do is to calculate as nearly as possible where the
ball should bound and then try to get the hands in front of it. It will
be found easier to reach the hands as far forward as possible and then
"give" with the ball, that is, draw the hands back toward the body in
the direction the ball should take on its rebound. A player should never
turn his face away, even at the risk of being hit, for by watching the
ball all the time, he may be able to change the position of the hands
enough to meet some slight miscalculation as to the direction of the

In fielding ground-hits, the same rule applies to the first baseman as
to every other fielder; that he should get every hit he possibly can,
with the single qualification that he shall avoid interference with
other fielders. But as between a possible interference and a failure to
go after a ball that should have been stopped, the interference is much
to be preferred. There are some basemen who seem to think there is a
line beyond which it is forbidden them to go; they act as though they
were tied to the base-post by a twenty-foot lariat. Having fielded a
ground-hit, the baseman will usually himself run to the base; but
sometimes the hit is so slow or so far toward second or he fumbles it so
long that there is no time left for him to do this. In such case he will
toss the ball to the pitcher, who has covered the base. In making this
play a baseman should not wait until the pitcher reaches the base before
throwing, as it loses too much time, and he should not throw the ball at
all, because it makes a difficult catch; but he should pitch the ball
easily in front of the pitcher so that he and the ball will both meet at
the base. A little practice will make this play plain and simple, and
the advantage of doing it in this way will easily be seen.

There are times when, with runners on the bases, the play will not be to
first, but to second, third, or home. With a runner on first, many
batters try to hit into right field, because with the second baseman
forced to cover second for a throw from the catcher, the space between
first and second is left almost unguarded. But if the first baseman will
be on the alert for such a hit, and throw the runner out at second, he
not only balks the play but frightens following batters from attempting
the same hit. With a runner on third and not more than one man out, all
the in-fielders will play closer to the bat, so as to throw the runner
out at home on an in-field hit; in such case if the batter should strike
out, and the third strike be dropped, the first baseman should not go to
his base to receive the throw from the catcher, but meet it on the line
as near as possible to the plate. He is then able to touch the runner on
his way to first and to throw home if the man on third attempts to score
on the throw to first. It may be possible to make a double play by first
touching the runner to first and then throwing home; but if the runner
to first holds back and there is danger of the man from third scoring,
it is obviously best to throw home and cut him off, ignoring entirely
the runner to first.

Another point in which many basemen are remiss is in backing up. On all
throws from left or left-centre field to second base he should get in
line with the throw, and on all throws from the same fields to the plate
he should also assist in backing up, unless there is some special
necessity for guarding his own base.

There is a prevalent belief that it matters little whether a first
baseman can throw well or not, but a moment's consideration will show
the fallacy of this. There are some plays in which he needs to be a hard
and accurate thrower; with a runner on second and a ball hit to the in-
field the runner will sometimes wait until it is thrown to first, and
then start for third. In such case only the best kind of a return by the
first baseman will head him off. So also in long hits to extreme right
field he may have to assist the fielder by a throw to third or home.

It will thus be seen that there are points of play at first base which,
in the hands of an ambitious fielder, may be developed into very
considerable importance.


Second base is the prettiest position to play of the entire in-field. In
the number of chances offered it is next to first base, and in the
character of the work to be done and the opportunities for brilliant
play and the exercise of judgment, it is unsurpassed. It is true the
second baseman has more territory to look after than any other in-
fielder, but on account of the long distance he plays from the batter he
has more time in which to cover it. The last moment allowed a fielder to
get in the way of a ball is worth the first two, because one will be
consumed in getting under headway. Then, too, the distance of his throw
to first is generally short, and this allows him to fumble a hit and
still get the ball there in time. So that while much of his work is of a
difficult kind, he is more than compensated by certain other advantages,
and, so far as the percentage of chances accepted is concerned, he
generally leads every one except the first baseman.

The position should have a man of at least average physical proportions.
There are in every game a number of throws to second from all points of
the field, and with a small man there many of them would be "wild," on
account of his lack of height and reach; moreover, a larger man offers a
better mark to throw at, and the liability to throw wildly is decreased
because of the increased confidence on the part of the throwers. Then,
too, a small man is not able to stand the continual collisions with
base-runners, and as a number of his plays are attempts to retire
runners from first, he grows timid after awhile and allows many clever
sliders to get away from him.

On the other hand, the position requires a very active player, and for
this reason, too large a man would not be desirable on account of the
large field he has to cover, he must possess the ability to run fast and
to start and stop quickly; he must be able to stoop and recover himself
while still running, and be able to throw a ball from any position. Not
all his throws are of the short order; sometimes he is expected to cut
off a runner at third or return the ball to the catcher for the same
purpose, and in these cases speed and accuracy are of the utmost

Because of the number and variety of plays that fall to his lot, he must
be a man of some intelligence. With runners on the bases, the situations
of a game change like the pictures in a kaleidoscope, so that there is
not always time to consider what is the best play to make; there are
times when he must decide with a wit so quick that it amounts almost to
instinct, for the loss of a fraction of a second may be the loss of the
opportunity, and that one play mean ultimate defeat.

The exact spot to play, in order best to cover the position, will be
determined by the direction in which the batter is likely to hit, by his
fleetness, and by the situation of the game. If there are no runners on
the bases the consideration of the batter will alone determine; if he is
a right-field hitter the second baseman will play more toward the first
baseman, the entire in-field moving around correspondingly; and if he is
a left-field hitter he will play toward second and back of the base, in
either case playing back of the base line from fifteen to fifty feet,
depending upon whether the batter is a very fleet or slow runner. If
there are runners on the bases this fact will have to be taken into
consideration; for example, with a runner on second the baseman must
play near enough to "hold" the runner on the base and not give him so
much ground that he can steal third; or if there is a runner on first
and the baseman is himself going to cover the base in case of a steal,
he must be near enough to get there in time to receive the catcher's
throw. On the other hand, he must not play too close or he leaves too
much open space between himself and the first baseman; and, though
playing far enough away, he should not start for the base until he sees
that the batter has not hit. It is not necessary that he be at the base
waiting for the throw, but only that he make sure to meet it there.
Pfeffer, of Chicago, plays this point better than any one, I think, and
in all respects in handling a thrown ball, he is unexcelled.

To catch a runner attempting to steal from first, most second basemen
prefer to receive the ball a few feet to the side of the base nearest
first and in front of the line. The first is all right because it allows
the runner to be touched before getting too close to the base and avoids
close decisions; but I question the policy of the baseman being in front
of the line in every instance. From this position it is extremely
difficult to touch a runner who throws himself entirely out and back of
the line, reaching for the base only with his hand. With a runner who is
known to slide that way, I believe the baseman should stand back of the
line; it demoralizes the runner when he looks up and finds the baseman
in the path where he had expected to slide, and it forces him to go into
the base in a way different from what he had intended and from that to
which he is accustomed. The veteran Bob Ferguson always stood back of
the line, and more than once made shipwreck of my hopes when I might
have evaded him if he had given me a chance to slide. The time taken in
turning around and reaching for the runner is often just enough to lose
the play, whereas, standing back of the line, this time is saved, and,
in addition, the baseman has the play and the runner's movements in
front of him.

With a runner on third and not more than one out, the batter may try to
hit a ground ball to the in-field, sacrificing himself but allowing the
runner from third to score. To prevent this the in-fielders will
generally play nearer the bat, so as to return the ball to the catcher
in time to cut off the runner, and how close they must play will depend,
of course, upon the fleetness of the runner. Even then the ball may be
hit so slowly or fielded in such a way as to make the play at the plate
impossible, in which case the fielder will try to retire the batter at

With runners on first and third the one on first will often try to steal
second, and if the catcher throws down to catch him, the one on third
goes for home. To meet this play on the part of the runners is by no
means easy, but it can nevertheless be done. If the one run will not
affect the general result of the game, it may be well to pay no
attention to the runner from third and try only to put out the one from
first, thus clearing the bases. But if it is necessary to prevent the
run scoring, the second baseman must be prepared to return the ball to
the catcher in case the runner starts for home. In order to gain as much
time as possible, he should take as position to receive the catcher's
throw ten feet inside of the base-line; keeping one eye on the ball and
the other on the runner at third, if he sees the runner start for home,
he must meet the throw as quickly as possible and return the ball to the
catcher; if the runner does not start, the baseman should step quickly
backward so that by the time the ball reaches him he will be near enough
to the base-line to touch the runner from first. The play is a difficult
one and requires more than the ordinary amount of skill and practice.
There is another and, I think, better way of making this play, which
will be spoken of under "The Short-stop," because that player is
principally interested.

Before the enactment of the rule confining the coachers to a limited
space the coacher at third base sometimes played a sharp trick on the
second baseman. When the catcher threw the ball, the coacher started
down the base-line toward home, and the sec-mid baseman, seeing only
imperfectly, mistook him for the runner and returned the ball quickly to
the catcher. The result was that the runner from first trotted safely to
second, the runner at third remained there, and everybody laughed except
the second baseman.

In fielding ground-hits the second baseman, because of his being so far
removed from the bat, has a better chance to "judge" a hit. He is able
either to advance or recede a step or more to meet the ball on a high
bound; and on account of the short throw to first he may take more
liberties with such a hit; it is not absolutely necessary that he field
every ball cleanly, because he may fumble a hit and still make his play.
In general, however, he should meet a hit as quickly as possible, so
that if fumbled he may have the greatest amount of time to recover and
throw. He should also, if possible, get squarely in front of every hit,
thus making his feet, legs, and body assist in stopping the ball in case
it eludes his hands. When not possible to get directly in front of the
ball he must still try to stop it with both hands or with one, for he
may then recover it in time to make the play.

Having secured the ball, he should wait only long enough to steady
himself before throwing. He should not hold the ball a moment longer
than is necessary. In some cases he has not time to straighten up before
throwing, but must snap the ball underhand; and where he gets the hit
near enough to the base he should not throw at all, but pitch the ball
to the baseman; this makes the play much safer. When there is a runner
on first and the ball is hit to the second baseman, he tries for a
double play, and there are four ways in which it may be made. First, if
he gets the ball before the runner from first reaches him he may touch
the runner and then throw to first base before the batter gets there.
Second, if the runner from first stops so that he can't be touched, the
baseman drives him back toward first as far as possible and throws there
in time to put out the batter; the other runner, being then caught
between the bases, is run down, completing the double. Third, if the hit
is near enough to the base he may touch second and then throw to first
to head off the batter. And, fourth, he may first pass the ball to the
short-stop, who has covered second, and the latter throws to first in
time to put out the batter. In nine cases out of ten the last is the
safest play; it makes sure of the runner to second and is more likely to
catch the batter, because the short-stop is in better shape to throw to
first than the baseman would be if he attempted to make the play

The second baseman should take not only all fly hits in his own
territory, but also all falling back of the first baseman, and back of
the short-stop toward centre field. In all these cases he gets a better
view of the ball than either of the other players named, because,
instead of running backward, as they would be obliged to do, he runs to
the side, and the catch is thus easier for him. If the hit is one which
can be reached by an out-fielder, and the latter calls that he will take
it, the second baseman will, of course, give way, because the fielder
has the ball in front of him, in a better position even than the

With a runner on second he must be on the lookout for the catcher's
signal to the pitcher to throw to second, and on seeing this he must
start at once for the base to receive the pitcher's throw. He must also
watch for the catcher's sign to the second baseman notifying him of an
intention to throw, and while the ball is passing from the pitcher to
the catcher, get to the base to receive the throw.

He should "back up" throws to the first baseman whenever possible,
leaving his own base to be covered by the short-stop. He should assist
the right and centre fielders in the return of long hits, running well
out into the field to receive the out-fielder's throw. When plays arise
other than those here mentioned his judgment must tell him what to do,
and, without neglecting his own position, he must not hesitate to take
any part to advance his team's interests.


In the early days of the game, when the pitching was slower and "fair-
foul" hits were allowed, the third base position was the busiest and
most difficult to play of the in-field. But the changes in the rules,
which did away with "fair-foul" hitting, and those which introduced the
present pace in pitching, have taken away much of the third baseman's
importance. Most of the in-field hitting now is toward short-stop and
second base, and the best of third basemen are not able to average over
three or four chances to a game. But, though the amount of his work has
been diminished, it still retains its difficult nature. The length of
the throw to first, and the short time given him in which to make it,
occasion many wild throws, and if he fumbles the ball at all, the
opportunity is lost. Fleet runners who hit left-handed, and others who
merely "bunt" the ball, can be caught only by the quickest and cleanest
work; so that, everything considered, it is not surprising to find the
third baseman generally at the foot of the in-field averages.

A third baseman, like a second baseman, should be a man of at least
average size, and Denny, who is by long odds the best in the profession,
is a large man. He will have a longer reach for both thrown and batted
balls, he will be a better mark to throw at, and, by reason of his
superior weight, he will have more confidence in the face of reckless
base-running. But not every player of proper size who can stop a ball
and throw it accurately to first is capable of becoming a good third
baseman. The New York team of 1887 demonstrated the odd fact that a man
who seemed entirely unable to play second base, could yet play third in
good style, while another who was but an average third baseman could
take care of second equal to any one. The explanation probably lies in
the fact that the positions require men of different temperaments. At
second base a player of nervous tendency grows anxious waiting for the
ball to come, and by the time it reaches him is unable to get it in his
hands, while at third base, where the action is much quicker, such a man
is perfectly at home, because he is not given time to become nervous.
The same curious fact is seen when an infielder is changed to an out-
field position; he finds it impossible, at first, to stop ground-hits,
because they seem never to be going to reach him, and he is completely
"rattled" by the long wait. For the same reason the most difficult hits
which an infielder has to handle are the slow, easy, bounding balls that
under ordinary circumstances a child could stop.

The proper place for a third baseman to play must be governed by the
nature of the case. For an ordinary right-hand batter, likely to hit in
any direction, and no one on the bases, he should play from fifteen to
twenty feet toward second and several feet back of the base line. For a
very fast runner he should move nearer the batter, and, if there is
danger of a "bunt," he may even have to play well inside the diamond,
though, as before said, all such hits should be attended to by the
pitcher. For a batter who hits along the foul-line, he will play nearer
his base, and for one who invariably hits toward right-field, he will
move around toward second base, going, in some instances, even as far as
the short-stop's regular position. For left-hand hitters he will
generally have to play nearer the bat, because these players always get
to first quicker than right-hand batters. They are five or six feet
nearer first base, and by the swing of the bat they get a much quicker
start. If there is a runner on third and not more than one out, he will
have to play near the base before the ball is pitched, the object being
to give the runner as little start as possible, so that he cannot score
on a sacrifice hit. When the ball is pitched the baseman runs off to his
proper position, unless, of course, he has received a signal from the
catcher to expect a throw.

The third baseman should go after not only all hits coming within his
position proper, but also all slow hits toward short-stop, for the
latter is sometimes unable to field such hits in time to make the
putout, on account of the longer distance he plays from the home base.
The baseman should, however, avoid useless interference with the short-
stop, and he should not put down one hand or otherwise balk that player
on a hit plainly within the latter's reach.

Having stopped a batted ball, he should throw it as quickly as possible
after having regained his balance, so that if the aim be slightly
inaccurate the first baseman may have time to leave the base and return.
If there is a runner on first, the baseman's throw will be to second;
this will, at least, cut off the runner from first, and possibly a
double play may be made, if the ball can be sent to first ahead of the
striker. If there are runners on both first and second at the time of
the hit, he may either throw to second for the double play as before,
taking the chance of catching two men, or he may make sure of one man by
simply touching the third base, forcing out the runner from second.
Finally, there may be a runner on third and not more than one out, in
which case, if the runner on third starts home, he will usually try to
cut him off by a throw to the catcher, though possibly he may still deem
it best to throw to some other base. In any case, what is the best play
he must determine for himself, and he will expedite his decision by
having a thorough understanding of the situation before the play arises.

The third baseman should receive a signal from the catcher when the
latter intends throwing to him to catch a runner "napping." The runner
always takes considerable ground in order to score on a slow hit to the
in-field, or on a short passed ball. By a signal, received before the
pitcher delivers the ball, the baseman knows that the catcher will
throw, and during the delivery he gets to the base to receive it. And
here, again, the best base runners are oftenest caught because they take
the most ground. If the batter hits at the ball the runner takes an
extra start, and a quick throw to the base will very often catch him
before he can get back. It should, therefore, be understood that, in
every case when the batter strikes at the ball and misses it, the
catcher will throw to third, whether or not he has previously given the
signal. In touching a runner the baseman must not run away from him; he
must expect to get spiked occasionally, for, if he is thinking more of
his own safety than of making the put-out, he will lose many plays by
allowing runners to slide under or around him.


Originally, it is said, the short-stop's chief function was as tender to
the pitcher, though this soon became an unimportant feature of his work.
The possibilities of the position as a factor in field play were early
developed; such fielders as George Wright and Dick Pearce soon showed
that it could be made one of the most important of the in-field. But the
same legislation which almost crowded the third baseman out of the game,
affected materially the short-stop's work, and it is only within the
past couple of years that he has regained his former prominent place.

During 1887 there was more hitting to short than to any other in-field
position; though the second baseman averaged more "total chances," on
account of a greater number of "put-outs," the "assists" were in favor
of the short-stop.

The conception of the position has also undergone some changes, and
when, therefore, I say that the position is now played more effectively
than ever, it is not to assert that the players of the present are
better than those of the past, but simply that these changes have been
in the line of improvement, that the short-stop now makes plays never
thought of in former years--in short, that the development of the
position has kept pace with the rest of the game.

In the early days short-stop was played on the base line from second to
third, or even several feet inside the diamond; now it is played from
ten to twenty and sometimes thirty feet back of the line. The result is
a vast increase in the amount of territory covered; hits are now fielded
on either side which once were easily safe; short flies to the outfield,
which formerly fell between the in and outfielders, are now, many of
them, caught; the shortstop backs up the second and third bases, helps
"hold" a runner on second, and, on a throw from pitcher or catcher, the
second base is covered by him almost as often as by the baseman himself.
Playing so much further from the batter, he will make inure errors; he
can seldom fumble a hit and still make the play; his throw to first is
longer, and must therefore be swifter and more accurate; but for these
disadvantages to himself he is repaid many fold by an increased
usefulness to his team. All these features together make the position
very different from what it was some years ago, and in point of
effectiveness it has undoubtedly been improved.

A short-stop should be a player of more than ordinary suppleness and
activity. He has a large amount of ground to cover; he has to field
sharply hit balls on either side, and must therefore be able to start
and stop quickly; he is often obliged to stoop, recover himself, and
throw while running, and so has no time to get his feet tangled.
Moreover, his presence is often required at widely separated portions of
the field, with very brief intervals allowed him for making the changes.
He may have to field a hit to first from near second base, and at once,
in continuation of the same play, back up third on the return of the
ball from first base. Or, from a close in-field position one moment, he
may be called the next to far left-field to assist in the return of a
long hit. So that he needs to be awake all the time and able to transfer
himself without delay to that part of the field in which his services
are required. On account of the length of his throw to first base, and
because he is often expected to assist in the return of a long hit to
the out-field, he should be a good, hard thrower. He should also be able
to throw from any posture, because there are occasions when he has no
time to straighten up and pull himself together before throwing.

In chances for skillful plays and the employment of judgment, short-stop
is second to no other position on the in-field. He is tied to no base,
but is at liberty to go anywhere he may be most needed, and he is thus
able to make himself very useful at times, in plays altogether out of
his position proper. But to make the best use of these advantages he
must be possessed of some intelligence and a wit quick enough to see the
point and act before the opportunity has passed. Brains are as much a
necessity in base-ball as in any other profession. The best ball players
are the most intelligent, though, of course, natural intelligence is
here meant and not necessarily that which is derived from books.

The proper place for the short-stop to play will be governed always by
the particular circumstances, as explained in the preceding chapters
with reference to other in-fielders. If there are no runners on the
bases, regard for the batter alone will determine, but if there are
runners, this fact, and the situation of the game, must be taken into
consideration. A glance at the diagram of the field given in Chapter I
will show the usual position of all the fielders, but from these points
they may greatly vary. If the batter generally hits along the left foul-
line, the short-stop will play nearer the third baseman, and if, on the
other hand, the batter hits toward right-field, the short-stop will move
toward second, even going so far as to be directly back of the pitcher,
the entire in-field, of course, moving around correspondingly.

If the batter is a heavy runner, the short-stop may play a deep field,
because he will still have sufficient time to get the ball to first; and
so, also, if there is a runner on first, he may play well back, because
his throw then, on a hit, is only to second base. If he is covering
second base either to catch a runner from first or to hold a runner on
second who has already reached there, he must play near enough to the
base to be able to receive the throw. Or, if the attempt is to be made
to cut off at the plate a runner trying to score on a sacrifice hit, he
will play on the base-line or a few feet inside the diamond.

All in-fielders, as well as out-fielders, should be willingly guided as
to the position to play by a signal from the pitcher. The latter,
knowing what kind of ball he is going to give the batsman to hit, is
best able to judge beforehand of the direction of the hit.

The short-stop should cover second base in all cases where there is a
runner on first and the batter is one likely to hit to right-field. This
allows the second baseman to guard the territory between second and
first, which he would not otherwise be able to do, and if the ball is
hit to him, he throws to the short-stop at second, forcing out the
runner from first.

He should also guard second when there is a runner on that base and the
baseman is obliged to play well off for a hit toward right-field. Of
course, he does not play on the base, but near enough to be able to
reach it if the pitcher or catcher wishes to throw there.

Another instance in which he may take the base is when there are runners
on first and third and the runner on first starts for second. One way of
making this play was described in speaking of "The Second Baseman," but
it is believed that it may be much better done with the assistance of
the short-stop. With runners on first and third, the catcher signals
whether he will make a long or short throw toward second. When the
runner on first starts down, the second baseman runs inside the diamond
to a point in line with the base, and the short-stop goes to the base.
If the throw is long, the short-stop receives the ball and touches the
runner, or returns it quickly to the plate if the runner on third starts
in. If the throw is short, the second baseman receives the ball and
returns it to the catcher; or, if the runner on third does not start
home, the baseman may still have time to turn and toss the ball to the
short-stop to catch the runner from first. In deciding to give the
signal for a short or long throw, the catcher is guided by the
circumstances of the case and the situation of the game. If one run is
going to materially affect the result of the game, the throw will be
short, so that the ball may be surely returned to the catcher before the
runner from third scores. If the run is not vital, the throw may still
be short if the runner at third is speedy; but if he is slow and not
likely to chance the run home, the throw will be all the way to the
shortstop to put out the runner from first. The success of the play lies
in the fact that the runner on third can never tell, until too late,
whether the throw is to be short or long. The play was first made in
this way by Gerhardt and myself in 1886, and during the past two seasons
it has been tried in the New York team many tunes with the best results.
Each player must, however, understand his part and all work together. In
a recent game against Philadelphia, on the Polo Grounds, Crane, who had
never taken part in the play before, gave Fogarty a ball within reach
and he hit it through the short-stop position, left unguarded by my
having gone to cover second base.

On all hits to left and left centre-fields, the shortstop should take
second, allowing the baseman to back up the throw, and on all hits to
right and right centre the baseman will take the base and the shortstop
attend to the backing up.

In fielding ground hits the short-stop should observe the general
principles for such plays. He should, if possible, get directly and
squarely in front of every hit, making his feet, legs, and body assist
in stopping the ball, in case it gets through his hands.

If the ball comes on a "short bound," he should not push the hands
forward to meet it, hut, having reached forward, "give" with the ball by
drawing back the hands in the direction the ball should bound. In this
way if the ball does not strike the hands fairly, its force will at
least be deadened so that it will fall to the ground within reach of the
player; whereas, if he pushes his hands forward and the ball does not
strike fairly, it will be driven too far away.

He should meet every hit as quickly as possible, so that if fumbled he
may still have time to recover the ball and make the play. In running in
to meet the ball, he must not forget the importance of steadiness, and
to this end should get himself in proper form just before the ball
reaches him. What is meant by "good form" may be seen by the above cut.
The feet, legs, hands, arms, and body are all made to assist in
presenting an impassable front to the ball.

If base-ball diamonds were perfectly true the bound of the ball might be
calculated with mathematical precision, but unfortunately they are not,
and these precautions become necessary.

There should be an understanding between the short-stop and third
baseman that the latter is to take all slow hits toward short, and as
many hard hits as he can fairly and safely field. The effect of the
baseman's covering ground in this way is to allow the short-stop to play
a deeper field and farther toward second base. Some players do not like
the idea of another fielder taking hits which seem more properly to
belong to themselves, but this is the correct way for a short-stop and
third baseman to work, and between two men, playing only for the team's
success, there will never be any dispute.

It is always best, when possible, to use both hands to stop or catch a
ball; but sometimes a hit is so far to either side, or so high, that it
can only be reached with one hand. Therefore, a short-stop should
practice one-hand play so that he may be able to use it when the
emergency requires. He should never attempt it at any other time.

Having secured a batted ball, he should throw it at once, waiting only
long enough to regain his balance and make sure of his aim. The practice
of holding the ball for a moment and looking at the runner, whether done
to demonstrate the fielder's perfect sang froid, or to make a swift and
pretty throw for the benefit of the grand stand, is altogether wrong.
Generally, the throw will be to first, though sometimes there will be an
opportunity to put out another runner, in which case it will be to some
other base. In throwing to second or third, if he is near the base, he
should pass the ball to the baseman by an easy, underhand toss. It is a
difficult play to catch a thrown ball when the thrower is quite near;
besides, in making double plays by way of second base, any time lost in
tossing the ball will be more than regained by the quicker handling, and
there is the additional inducement of safety.

In making double plays to second it is almost always better to pass the
ball to the baseman and allow him to throw to first, than for the short-
stop to attempt to make the play alone. In 1882, a couple of weeks
before the season closed, the Providence Club reached Chicago with the
pennant all but won; one game from Chicago would have made it sure. In
about the sixth inning of the last game, with the score four to two in
our favor, the first two Chicago batters reached their bases. Kelly then
hit to George Wright at short, who passed the ball to Farrell, retiring
the runner from first, but Jack threw a little high to Start and missed
the double. With runners on first and third, the next man, Anson, hit
hard to Wright, so that he had plenty of time again for a double. But,
this time, instead of passing the ball to Farrell, as before, George
attempted to make the play alone. He touched second, but, by the time he
was ready to throw Kelly came against him, and the result was a wild
throw, and, to complete the disaster, the ball rolled through a small
opening under a gate and both runners scored. We were beaten finally six
to five, and lost the championship. It should be added that the game
would have been won again in the eighth inning but for the unpardonable
stupidity of one of the Providence base-runners.

By far the most difficult catch on a ball field is that of a ball hit
high to the in-field, because of the great "twist" to the ball. The
slightest failure to get the ball fairly in the hands will result in a
miss, and yet this is always greeted by derisive howls from certain
among the spectators. There are various styles of catching these hits,
but the position of the hands shown in the accompanying cut is believed
to be the best.

The hands should be reached well up to meet the ball and then brought
down easily in the line of its course. If the hands and arms are held
stiff, the ball will rebound from them as though it had struck a stone.
The use of a glove on one hand may be found helpful in counteracting the
effect of the twist. The short-stop is expected to try for all such hits
falling in his own position, and also all falling back of the third
baseman and in short left-field.

With runners on bases, a double play may sometimes be made by allowing
such a hit to first strike the ground. In order that the ball may not
bound beyond reach, it should be caught or "picked up" on the short
bound, and to do this safely requires a great deal of skill. It is a
pretty play, and often of invaluable service, and it should therefore be
practiced carefully until it can be made with approximate safety. The
short-stop must not betray beforehand his intention, but pretend that he
is going to catch the ball on the fly.

With all signals given by the catcher to the different in-fielders the
short-stop must be perfectly familiar, in order that he may be prepared
to do his part. If there is to be a throw to second or third he should
know it, so that he can be ready to back up in case the throw is wide or
breaks through the baseman's hands. So, too, he must know when to expect
a throw if he himself be covering second.

In all cases where a runner is caught between bases, the short-stop must
take part. If the play is between first and second or between second and
third, he and the second baseman alternate in backing one another up on
one side of the runner, while the other baseman and the pitcher do the
same on the other side. If it is between third and home, he and the
third baseman attend to one side, while the catcher and pitcher look
after the other. In every case the base runner should be run down as
quickly as possible, and always toward the base farthest from the home
plate, so that if an error is made the runner will gain no advantage.

In backing up other fielders a short-stop may be of great service, and
he should do this in every possible case, no matter where the play may
be. But the positions which he is specially bound to back up are the
second and third bases, not only on all throws from the catcher, but
from any other fielder, where it is possible for him to get in line with
the throw. He must not get too close to the baseman but keep a
sufficient distance back of him to make sure of getting in front of the


The simplest of the three out-field positions is the left-field, and one
evidence of this is seen by the fact that a left-fielder almost
invariably leads in the averages.

If fielding were the only consideration, the man who was the surest
catch, who could run the fastest and throw the longest, would be the
best man for the left-field position; but other points enter into the
question. A team, to win, must have hitters as well as fielders, and it
is therefore usual to fill up the outfield with good batters, even at
the expense of a slight weakness in fielding.

Considered simply as a fielder, the occupant of the left-field should
have a good "eye" to "judge" a ball hit in the air. The moment the hit
is made he must be able to tell its direction and locate the place where
it is going to fall. The best fielders acquire a remarkable skill in
this respect and are able to decide these things at a glance. The
fielder who is obliged to keep his eye on the ball all the time it is in
the air will not cover nearly so much ground as the one who is able to
put down his head and run until near the ball. Particularly is this true
of a fly hit over the fielder's head. The player who attempts to run
backwards or sideways for the ball, or who turns his back to the ball
but keeps his head twisted around so as to see it, will not begin to get
the hits that a man will who is able to locate the hit exactly and then
turn and run until he has reached the spot where the ball is going to
fall. If the eyesight is good any fielder can learn to do this, all it
requires being sufficient practice and plenty of confidence.

Another qualification for a fielder is the ability to start quickly and
run fast. The player who excels in these respects will, of course, get
more hits than one who starts and runs slowly.

Next, he must be a sure catch on a batted ball, no matter in what shape
he may be obliged to take it, whether running toward or with the ball,
and whether it be high, low, or on either side. Many fielders are sure
of a ball if they can get it in a particular position or at a certain
height, but this is not enough, for it is not always possible to do
this. A player who feels himself weak on any point should practice and
practice upon that particular thing until he has mastered it. If he can
catch hits on his right better than on his left side, let him practice
catching only on the left; if he is weak on hits over his head, he
should have some one bat to him thus, until he has overcome the
weakness. Any failing of this nature may be corrected by practice.

A fly ball should never be caught holding the hands and arms rigid. The
fielder should reach up to meet the ball and then bring the hands down
easily with it. There are some balls hit to the outfield, as well as to
the in-field, which the fielders cannot possibly reach with both hands
but may be able to get with one. In a game played to-day (May 7th),
between New York and Indianapolis, Hines, of the latter Club, made a
marvelous one-hand catch of a hit that would otherwise have been good
for three bases; and the effect of that one play off the first New York
batter was so bracing to the rest of the Indianapolis team that it
probably accounted for the strong and winning game they afterwards
played. So that, while discountenancing one-hand plays when two hands
may be used, I still think every fielder should practice one-hand
catches, to be prepared for such a play when it becomes necessary.

In fielding balls hit along the ground, the fielder should not wait
until the ball comes to him, but run in to meet it as quickly as
possible. Then, if fumbled, he may still have time to get it back to the
infield before base runners can take an extra base.

The instant an out-fielder gets a ball in his hands he should throw it
to some point in the in-field. The habit of holding a ball is extremely
dangerous. If the bases are clear and a single base-hit is made the ball
should be sent at once to second base. If there is a runner on first, it
should be thrown to third base, because if sent to second a bold runner
will sometimes keep right on to third. If there is a runner on second
when the hit is made and the left-fielder secures the ball quickly, he
should throw it to third, because most runners will over-run that base
in order to draw the throw to the home plate, and a quick throw to the
base will catch them before they can return.

The left-fielder is expected to back up the second and third bases on a
throw from first base or right-field. He should also back up third on a
throw from the catcher, and to this end must be on the look-out for the
catcher's signal. He must also back up the centre-fielder when that
player runs in to meet a hit, for, though he may not be able to get in
front of the ball, he will still be able to recover it quicker than the
centre-fielder in case it gets by the latter. He should also get near
the centre-fielder when the latter is trying for a high fly, so that if
the ball is missed he may assist in sending it quickly to the in-field.

As soon as a fielder has decided that he can get to a hit and has made
up his mind to take it, he should call out loudly and distinctly, "I'll
take it." That gives every one else warning to keep out of the way, and
avoids the chance of collisions. On the other hand, if he is running for
a hit and hears some other fielder call out, he should reply, quickly
and clearly, "Go ahead." That gives the other fielder confidence, and he
need not hesitate or take his eye from the ball to learn the location of
other fielders. If this very simple rule is observed there will never be
any collisions, nor will any hits that should be caught be allowed to
drop between fielders.

On all long hits out of the fielder's reach he should go after the ball
with all possible speed and return it to the in-fielder, who has gone
out to help him back with the ball. If he misses a fly he should get
after the ball at once and send it to the proper point on the in-field,
and not walk after it simply because he has missed it.

Andy Leonard, of the old Bostons, was, in his day, one of the best of
left-fielders. He was particularly strong on balls hit over his head,
which he always took over his shoulder while running with the direction
of the hit. He was also a remarkably bard and accurate thrower.


Much of what has been said with reference to the left fielder is
applicable also to the occupant of the centre field. As a fielder only,
it is necessary that he should possess the same powers of "judging" a
hit quickly, of starting the instant the hit is made, of running fast
until he has reached it, and of catching the ball in any position; but
as a fielder and batter as well, his fielding qualities are often
overlooked, to a certain extent, in favor of his power as a batter.

Many fielders prefer to catch a ball while they are running and so
regulate their speed as to be still on the move when they meet the ball.
Some of them do this because they can catch a ball better in that way,
and others because they think it looks prettier and pleases the grand
stand; they are continually making what appear to be difficult catches,
and they occasionally fall down and roll over to add to the effect. But
while this may deceive the average spectator, it never escapes the other
players, and they soon grow extremely weary of such gymnastics. And
after awhile the spectators, too, discover his tricks, and then the
player will not get credit even for the really good work he may do.
Another thing to be said against this grand-stand style of play is that
these players sometimes miscalculate the direction or force of a hit
just enough to lose it, whereas if they had run hard at first the ball
would have been easily caught. The safest plan is to get under the hit
as quickly as possible and then there will be time to correct any slight

In fielding balls hit along the ground, the outfielder should run in
quickly to meet the ball and return it instantly to the proper point on
the in-field. I have seen games lost by out-fielders stupidly holding a
ball or returning it lazily to the in-field. There is absolutely nothing
to be gained but everything to be lost by such plays.

In throwing to any point on the in-field, if the throw is at all a long
one, the fielder should line the ball in on the bound. An out-fielder
should never attempt a long throw on the fly, to first or third or home.
A throw on the first bound will reach there just as quickly, more
accurately, and with less chance of getting by the fielder to whom it is

The centre fielder must back up second base on all throws from the
catcher, and also on throws from any other position, whenever possible.
On throws from the direction of first base he will be assisted by the
left fielder and from the direction of third base by the right fielder.
When a runner is stealing second base and the catcher's throw is wild,
the centre fielder must meet the ball quickly so as to prevent the
runner from going on to third. In a case of this kind a crafty runner
will often make a feint to run to third in order to force the fielder to
throw the ball in the hope that he may throw it wild. If there is a
probability that the runner actually intends to go to third, there is
nothing left the fielder but to throw and take the chance. But if the
fielder has good reason to suspect the honesty of the runner's
intentions, a quick throw to second, instead of to third, will often
catch him before he can return.

The centre fielder should also back up the left and right fielders on
all hits along the ground which either-of them runs in to meet. It gives
one fielder more confidence to go in quickly after a ball if he knows
there is another fielder behind him to stop it in case it passes

Even on an in-field hit to the second baseman or short-stop the out-
fielder should move in at once, so as to be able to recover the ball
quickly if it gets through the in-field.

When a runner is caught between first and second or second and third
bases, the centre fielder should get in line with the play, back of
second base. For, while only four players take an active part in such a
play others should back up to provide for the possibility of a wild

The necessity of "calling" for a fly hit applies with particular force
to the centre fielder. As soon as he has seen that he can get to a hit
and has decided to take it, he calls out loudly so that every one must
hear, "I'll take it," and all the other fielders near him respond, "Go
ahead." This will avoid all danger of collisions to which he is
specially exposed by having a fielder on either side.

On all high flys to another out-fielder he should go near the fielder
who is attempting to make the catch, so that if the ball is missed and
bounds his way, he can recover it quickly and prevent runners from
gaining extra bases.


The right field, when properly played, is the most difficult of the out-
field positions. A ball hit in that direction by a right-handed hitter
always describes a curve and is therefore very hard to judge. A good
right fielder should also throw out many men at first base during a
season, and this means that he must possess all the qualifications of an
in-fielder. A few years ago it was not an unusual thing to see a batsman
thrown out at first on a hit into right field. One of the best fielders
for this was George Shaffer, who for several seasons played with the
Cleveland Club. Another good man was "Jake" Evans, of the Troy Club, and
when with the Providence Club, Dorgan seldom let a game go by without
catching one or more men in this way.

Of late this is not done so often, for the reason that the right fielder
plays a much deeper field now than he did a few years ago. Then, when
the "curve" was still a novelty, there were very few hard hits made to
right field by right-handed batters. Still, even now, there are many
batters for whom there is no reason to play a deep right field, and such
a batter should often be thrown out at first. Yet the only player whom I
have seen make the play this season was Brown, of Boston, who threw out
Titcomb twice in one game on the Polo Ground.

All that has been said about the other out-fielders as to judging a hit,
starting, running, and catching, may be said of the right fielder.
Equally with them he must locate a hit instantly, start quickly, run
speedily, and be able to catch the ball in whatever form he may reach
it. In judging a hit the fielder always takes into consideration the
force and direction of the wind--with the effect of which he has become
familiar in the preliminary practice--and the curve which the ball is
likely to take if hit by a right-hand batter.

In fielding ground-hits he meets the ball quickly, and, where possible
to catch the batter at first, he throws there on the fly. The reason for
throwing so in this instance is, that if he is near enough to catch the
man at all, he is near enough to throw accurately on the fly. But to
third base or home he should always throw on the bound.

He should back up first base on all throws from the catcher. He also
should assist the centre fielder in backing up second base, and to this
end run back of the centre fielder when the latter goes in to meet the
ball; so that if it passes one, the other will still be there to stop
it. He should also back up the centre fielder on all ground-hits to the
latter, and on all fly hits to him he should go near so as to quickly
recover the ball if it be missed.

He should "call" for the ball the moment he has decided to take it, and
as between an out-fielder and an in-fielder the former will take any hit
he can reach. He is running in for the ball and has it before him all
the time, while the in-fielder, running out, is apt to get twisted up
and in bad shape to make the catch.

Out-fielders, like in-fielders, must change position to correspond with
the direction the batsman is likely to hit. For instance, there are some
men who are never known to hit to right field, and for such the entire
out-field moves toward the left field, the right fielder going almost to
centre, the centre fielder to left centre, and the left fielder close to
the foul-line. When the fielder knows the batsman, he will change
without direction; but in any case he should respond quickly to any
signal from the pitcher, because the latter may be going to force the
batter to hit in a particular direction. The best fielders make the
greatest difference in the positions they play for different batsmen.

The right fielder must be on the look-out for the catcher's signal to
throw to first or second base, because, in order that he may get in line
with the throw, it is necessary that he shall start when the pitcher
begins to deliver. He cannot wait until the catcher throws or he will be
too late to get in line.


The most unsatisfactory feature in base-ball to the player himself, is
batting. In theory it is so simple, yet in practice so difficult, that
one is forever finding fault with himself and thinking, when too late,
of what he might have done if only he had not done as he did.

Of course, the element of chance or "luck," as it is called, enters
largely into the question. The hardest hit will sometimes go directly
into the waiting hands of a fielder, while a little "punk" hit from the
handle or extreme end of the bat may drop lazily into some unguarded
spot. But, in the course of a season, these chances should about
equalize one another, and, though fate may seem to be against a man for
a half dozen or more games, he will be found finally to have benefited
as much by "scratch" hits as he has lost in good, hard drives.

The theory of batting is simplicity itself. All that is necessary is to
wait until the ball comes over the plate and then hit it on a line back
into the field. From the grand stand, nothing could be easier. To sit
back of the catcher and see the balls come sailing over the plate, one
will wonder why they are not hit out of creation, and when some player,
who has allowed a couple of balls to pass directly over the plate
without making the least attempt to hit at them, finally lets go at one
that he could scarcely reach with a wagon tongue, much less with a 36-
inch bat, the spectator is likely to question the fellow's sanity. It is
amusing to sit in a base-ball crowd and hear the remarks. There are more
good batters and umpires and all-round ball players in the grand stand
within one's hearing, than are to be found in both the contesting teams.

It would be more amusing still if some of these prodigies could be
lifted out of their seats and taken down into the field, and, with a bat
in hand, made to face some first-class pitcher until they had hit the
ball just once. They would be surprised to see how differently it looks.
At a distance of only fifty feet from a man who can throw a ball like a
streak of lightning, or with the same apparent motion, send it so slowly
that one will think it is never going to reach him, who can curve it in
or out, up or down, the question of hitting the ball at all becomes one
of some doubt, to say nothing of "base hits." And then, add to this the
danger of a swift, wild pitch carrying away an arm or burying itself in
the batsman's stomach, and the difficulty is greatly increased. Just
think of it for a moment. A player who can throw a ball, say one hundred
and sixteen and two-thirds yards, goes into the pitcher's box and from a
distance of only sixteen and two-thirds yards throws the ball to the
batter with all speed. If the throw is wild and the ball hits the batter
it strikes him with a force that would have been sufficient to carry the
ball one hundred yards further. It would be interesting to know just how
many mule power there is behind such a blow. There are a few moments
after a man has been hit during which he wishes he had never seen a
base-ball, and for the next couple of games, at least, he will think
more of escaping a recurrence of the accident than of hitting the ball.
Hines, of Indianapolis, has already been hit on the head this season by
one of the Chicago pitchers, and the result is a long, ragged-looking
scar that he will always carry. An inch lower, and the blow might have
cost him his life.

The first consideration in learning to bat is to acquire the proper
form. By this is not meant the position to be assumed while waiting for
the pitch, because each batter may, and generally does have his
distinctive style. But when in the act of hitting there is a certain
form to be observed, and this, in its salient points, is the same with
all good batters.

Standing within easy reach of the plate, the batter should hold his bat
ready to hit a breast-high ball. It is easier to hit a low ball when
expecting a high one than to hit a high ball when a low one was
expected, for the reason that it is easier to drop the bat quickly and
swing underhand than it is to elevate it and chop overhand. When the
ball is pitched be should not move until he has seen where the ball is
going. Not until in the act of swinging his bat should he step forward,
and then his step should be short, and, generally, directly toward the
pitcher. When he hits, the body should be held erect and flung slightly
forward, so that when the bat meets the ball the weight is principally
on the forward foot.

If he steps too soon, his position is taken and he cannot change it to
suit any slight miscalculation he may have made in the speed or
direction of the ball.

Neither should he make too long a stride, for the same reasons given in
the preceding paragraph, and also because it puts him in bad form to hit
at a high ball.

He should generally step directly toward the pitcher, unless he has
special reasons for doing otherwise. For instance, if a right-hand
hitter wishes to hit to left-field, he had better step so as to face
slightly in that direction; and if he wishes to hit to right-field, he
will stand farther from the plate and step in with the left foot so as
to face somewhat in the direction he intends to hit.

The object in standing erect is to keep well the balance and be in a
position to cut under or over at a low or high ball. The body is thrown
slightly forward so that the weight and force of the body may be given
to the stroke. It is not necessary to hit hard, but solidly, and this is
done not so much by the swing of the arms as by the push and weight of
the shoulder behind it.

The accompanying cut of Ewing is an excellent representation of a
batter, in the act of hitting. He not only swings the bat with the arms,
but pushes it with the weight of the shoulders. The position is a
picture of strength.

In hitting at a high ball the bat should be swung overhand, in an almost
perpendicular plane, and so, also, for a low ball, the batter should
stand erect and cut underhand. If the bat is swung in a horizontal plane
the least miscalculation in the height of the ball will be fatal. If it
strikes above or below the centre line of the bat, it will be driven
either up into the air or down to the ground. Whereas, if the bat is
swung perpendicularly, the same mistake will only cause it to strike a
little farther up or down on the bat, but still on the centre line, and
if it misses the centre line it will be thrown off toward first or
third, instead of up or down.

There are two classes of good batters whose styles of hitting are so
different that they may be said to be distinct. The one, comprising such
hitters as Connor, Brouthers, Tiernan, Wise, Fogarty, Whitney, Ryan,
Denny, and Fred Carroll, use the full length of the bat, and in addition
to the push of the shoulders make a decided swing at the ball. In the
other, in which are Anson, Kelly, Dunlap, and a few others, the motion
is more of a push than a swing. Anson, who, if not the best batter in
the country, is certainly the surest, seldom does anything but push the
bat against the ball, only occasionally making what might be called a
swing. Many of the latter class grasp the bat up short, and some of them
keep the hands a few inches apart. If I were advising a novice which
style to learn I should say the latter, because it is the surer, though
such batters seldom hit as hard as the others.

Every ball player who pretends to play the game with his brain as well
as with his body, should be able to hit in whatever direction he wishes.
It may not be always possible to hit in the exact direction desired,
and, of course, he cannot "place" the ball in any particular spot, but
he can and should be able to hit either to left field or right, as the
occasion demands. The advantage of this to the player himself and to his
team cannot be overestimated. For example, there is a runner on first
who signals to the batter that he will try to steal second on the second
ball pitched. When he starts to run the second baseman goes for his base
and the entire field between first and second is left open. Now, if the
batter gets a ball anywhere within reach and taps it down toward right
field, the chances are that it will be safe, and the runner from first
will keep right on to third. Oftentimes, too, the batter himself will
reach second on the throw from right field to third to catch the runner
ahead of him. Here, now, by a little head-work, are runners on third and
second, whereas, an attempt to smash the ball, trusting to luck as to
where it should go, might have resulted in a double play or at least one
man out and no advantage gained. Many a game is won by such scientific
work, and the club that can do the most of it, day after day, will come
in the winners in the finish.

When a batter is known as one who will attempt a play of this kind, it
is usual for the second baseman to play well over into right field,
allowing the second to be covered by the short-stop. When the batter
discovers such a scheme to catch him he should continue to face toward
right field, in order not to betray his intention, but when the ball is
pitched, he should turn and hit toward left field. If the short-stop has
gone to take the base, the space between second and third is left open
just as the other side was.

A great fault with many batters is that they try to hit the ball too
hard. This is especially true of the younger players, the "colts," as
they are called. A young player with a reputation as a hitter in some
minor league, goes into a big club and at once thinks he must hit the
ball over the fence. The result is that he doesn't hit it at all, and
unless he corrects his fault, he goes on "fanning the atmosphere" until
he is handed his release. And yet the same player, if he would steady
himself down and once get started hitting might do just as well as he
did in his former club.

And this brings up the reflection that there is a great virtue in
confidence. The player who goes timidly to the bat with his mind made up
that he can't hit, anyhow, might just as well keep his seat. But the one
who walks up, saying to himself, "Other men hit this ball, and I can,
too," will be inspired by his own confidence, and for that very reason
he will be more likely to hit. So it is that batting goes so much by
streaks. A nine that has not made a hit for several innings will
suddenly start in and bat out a victory. One player leads off with a
good hit and is followed by another and another, each benefited by the
confidence and enthusiasm the preceding batters have aroused.

It goes without saying that the player's eyesight must be perfect or he
can never hope to be a good batter. It requires the keenest kind of an
eye to keep track of the ball and tell when it is over the plate and at
the proper height.

So, too, the nerves must be kept in good condition or the player will be
unable to resist the temptation to hit at wide balls. A nervous batter
is easily "worked," because he is so anxious to hit that he can't wait
for a good ball.

But the most important attribute of all in the composition of a good
batter is courage. In this term I include the self-control and the
resolution by which a man will force himself to stand before the
swiftest and wildest pitching without flinching, the fearlessness that
can contemplate the probability of a blow from the ball without allowing
the judgment to be affected. Out of ten poor batters nine are so because
they are afraid of being hit. It is often asked, "Why are pitchers, as a
rule, such poor batters?" and to this the answer in my own mind has
always been that it is because they know so well the danger which the
batter incurs. There is perhaps no such thing as absolute fearlessness;
the batter who has once been hit hard--and all of them have--will never
quite forget the occurrence, and he will forever after have the respect
for the ball that a burned child has for the fire. But some men will not
allow this feeling to overcome them.

It is absolutely necessary, then, to first conquer one's self, to fight
down fear and forget everything except that the ball must be hit. To
some, this seems not a difficult matter, to many it comes only after the
most determined effort and schooling of the nerves, while to a few it
seems to be an utter impossibility. The instinct of self-preservation is
such a controlling power with them that unconsciously they draw away
from the ball, and, try as they will, they cannot stand up to the plate.
The player who cannot overcome this feeling will never be a good hitter,
though when he finds that he is a victim he should not give up without a
struggle. Some players have broken themselves of the habit of running
away from the plate by stepping back with the rear foot, instead of
forward with the forward foot, when in the act of hitting. Thompson, of
Detroit, who is a remarkably good hitter, steps backward instead of
forward. Others, like Hecker, of Louisville, step neither way, but hit
as they stand, simply throwing the body forward. Every expedient should
be tried before the case is given up as incurable. In my own case I was
forced to change from right to left-hand hitting. I had been hit so hard
several times that I grew afraid of the ball and contracted the habit of
stepping away from the plate. It was a nervous fear over which I had no
control, and the habit became so confirmed that I resolved to turn
around left-handed. I thought that in learning to hit the new way I
could avoid the mistakes into which I had before fallen. It took time
and practice to learn, but the result, I think, has been an improvement.
While not able to hit so hard left-handed, because the muscles are not
yet so strong, I make more single hits, reach first base oftener, and
score more runs.


Of the four departments of play, batting, base-running, fielding, and
battery work, the most interesting is base-running. It is the most
skillful, it calls into play the keenest perception and the soundest
judgment, it demands agility and speed, and it requires more daring,
courage, and enthusiasm than all the others combined.

Its importance as a factor in winning games cannot be estimated. We only
know that a team of base-runners wins game after game in which it is
out-batted and out-fielded by its opponents. No system of scoring has
been or can be devised by which a full record of this kind of work can
be kept. The system now in vogue, crediting the number of bases stolen,
is all right so far as it goes, but it covers only a small part of the
ground. Stealing bases is a part of base-running, but it is a very small
part, and to say that the player who steals the most bases is therefore
the best base-runner, is an altogether unwarranted statement. A quick
starter, speedy runner, and clever slider might easily steal the most
bases, and yet in general usefulness fall far behind some other player.

Beginning with the more mechanical features, the first qualification for
a base-runner is the ability to start quickly. The distances on a ball
field have been laid out with such marvelous nicety that every fraction
of a second is valuable. Almost every play is close, and the loss of an
instant of time is often the loss of the opportunity.

But to start quickly means more than a quick action of the muscles; it
means also that the brain and body must act together. The base-runner
who must wait to be told what to do will always be too late. By the time
the coacher has seen the point and called to the runner and the latter
has gotten himself into action, the chance has long passed. The player
must be able to see the play himself and act upon it instantly, without
waiting to be told.

Different runners adopt different methods for getting a long start from
a base. Some take as much ground as possible before the pitch and then
start the moment they see the first motion to deliver. Others stand near
the base, and when they think it about time for the pitcher to pitch
make a start. If they happen to guess aright they get a running start,
which is, of course, a great advantage. And if they guess wrong, the
pitcher is so taken by surprise that it is always possible to return to
the base before he can throw. Of the two methods I prefer the latter.
Remaining near the base disarms suspicion, and the runner is not tired
out, by repeated feints to throw, on the part of the pitcher.

In either case the practice of standing with the feet wide apart is
altogether wrong and in violation of every principle of quick starting.
Unlike a sprinter, a base-runner must be in shape to start in either
direction, and this can be done best and quickest by standing upright
with the feet almost together. A second qualification is speed. While,
as before said, mere speed will not make a base-runner, in the full
sense of the term, yet, other things being equal, the faster runner will
be the better base-runner. Straight away running is something to which
ball players do not devote sufficient attention. While, to a certain
extent, it is a natural gift, yet every man can improve himself greatly
by practice, and if the spring training of players included more of this
work, the result would certainly be an improvement in the base-running.
Notwithstanding the importance of starting and running and sliding,
there is absolutely no attention given these matters, and, consequently,
the majority of players seem to be entirely ignorant of the proper
"form." It would be a good investment for some clubs to employ a
professional sprinter to teach their men how to stand, in order to start
quickly, and how to put one foot in front of the other in the approved

An important aid also to successful base-running is the knack of sliding
well. A player skillful in this respect will often save himself when he
seems caught beyond escape. Every runner should know how to slide if he
expects to accomplish anything at all, and every man will slide who has
the proper interest in his work. Some players do not do so because they
have never learned and are afraid to try, while others seem to care so
little for the team's success that they are unwilling to take the
chances of injury to themselves. As for the former class, a half hour's
practice on sawdust or soft earth will show them how easily it is
learned, and as for the latter, they should be made to slide, even if it
be found necessary to persuade them through their pockets.

Sliding, as an art, is of recent growth, though it has long been the
practice of base-runners to drop to avoid being touched. In view of its
present importance it is amusing to read, in an article written on the
subject some years ago, an argument against the practice indulged in by
a few players of sliding to the base in order to avoid being touched by
the ball.

The old style of sliding was with the feet foremost, but there are now
various methods employed. Many runners now slide head foremost, throwing
themselves flat on the breast and stomach. Some keep to the base-line
and slide direct for the base, while others throw the body and legs out
of the line and reach for the base with a hand or foot. Among those who
always slide feet first and direct for the base, Hanlon is the most
successful. He doesn't go down until quite close to the base, and then
does not at all slacken his speed. Connor also slides feet foremost, but
instead of throwing himself at full length, he maintains a sitting
posture, and each of his slides is the signal for a laugh from the
crowd. On account of his size and the weight behind his spikes, he is
always given the entire base-line without dispute. Williamson is a very
successful slider. He runs at full speed until near the base and then
throws his body away from the baseman and his feet at the base. The
successful runners who slide flat on the stomach are Fogarty, Tiernan,
Miller, Andrews, Brown and others. Of those who go in head foremost but
throw the body out of the line and away from the baseman, are Ewing,
Glasscock, Pfeffer, Dalrymple and some others.

An expert base-runner will confine himself to no particular style, but,
being familiar with all, will use, in each instance, the one best
suited. Sometimes one style is best and sometimes another, depending
upon where the ball is thrown and the position of the baseman. I
consider Kelly the best all-round slider in the League, because he can,
and does, use every style with equal freedom.

The American Association has some of the finest runners in Nicoll,
Latham, Stovey, Purcell, and many others, but I have, unfortunately, not
seen enough of their work to speak accurately of their methods.

Though stealing bases is only a part of base-running, yet even this
requires considerable skill, and it is by no means always the fastest
runner who succeeds the oftenest. Much depends on the start, and much,
too, on the slide. I may be permitted to outline my own method: Having
reached first, I signal to the next batter when I am going to steal.
Then, standing near the base, well upright and with my feet together, I
try to get a running start on the pitcher; that is, when I think he is
about to pitch, though he has yet made no motion, I make my start. If he
does pitch I get all the ground that I would have had by playing off the
base in the first place, and I have, besides, the advantage of being on
the move. Every one who knows anything of sprinting will appreciate the
advantages of such a start. If the pitcher does not pitch I usually
manage to return to the base in safety. Having secured my start, I
expect that the batter will hit the ball, if it is a good one, into
right-field, in which case I will keep right on to third base; or, if it
is a bad ball, the batter will at east hit at it, in order, if possible,
to blind the catcher and help me out. In any event I put down my head
and run direct for the base, and in no case do I attempt to watch the
ball. It is a foolish and often fatal mistake for a runner to keep his
head turned toward the catcher while running in another direction. If
the ball is hit I listen for the coacher's direction, but if it is not,
I keep my eye on the baseman, and by watching his movements, the
expression of his face, and the direction he is looking, I can tell as
certainly just where the throw is going as though I saw the ball. If he
stands in front of the line I run back of him, and if he is back of the
line I slide in front. In every case, and whether I go in head or feet
foremost, I throw my body away from the baseman so as to give him the
least possible surface to touch with the ball.

There is an advantage in sliding head foremost, in that the runner, by
falling forward, gains the length of his body and the reach of his arm,
whereas in sliding feet foremost, he loses this. But if one always goes
in head foremost, the baseman, knowing what to expect and standing in no
fear of injury, will block the base-line. It seems necessary to
occasionally throw the spikes in first in order to retain one's right to
the line and command a proper respect from opposing basemen.

In order that the runner may not be continually cut and bruised by
gravel or rough ground he should protect his hips and knees by pads.
Some have the padding stitched to the inside of the pants, and for the
knees this is the better plan, though it interferes somewhat with the
washing of the uniform. But for the hips I prefer the separate pads,
which may be bought at any store for the sale of base-ball goods. The
best make is buttoned to a strap which hinds tightly the lower portion
of the body, and this latter feature is itself of great advantage; not
only as a matter of comfort and safety, but also for the sake of
decency, every player should wear one of these straps, the same as
athletes do in other branches of sport.

But, after all, the important factors in successful base-running are yet
to be spoken of, and the foregoing points are merely mechanical aids.
There is no other department of play in which intelligence plays so
important a part, and no matter how clever the player as a starter,
runner, or slider, these faculties will be of little value unless
directed by a quick perception and sound judgment. Indeed, they will
often serve only as traps to lead him into difficulty.

By its very nature a quick perception is an inborn faculty of the mind,
and while it may be developed by constant use, no amount of coaching can
create it. There are some players who are no more capable of becoming
good base-runners than of living under water, so unfitted are they by
nature. The power of grasping a situation and acting upon it at once is
something which cannot be taught.

In order, however, to know when a fair opportunity presents itself, the
runner must be familiar with the chances of play, and this comes only
from experience and close observation. A runner who is thoroughly alive
to all the possibilities of the game will see a chance and gain a point
where another of less ready perception would find no opening. The former
has learned to marshal at a glance all the attendant probabilities and
possibilities and to estimate, in the same instant, the chances of
success or failure.

It is not, however, always best to accept an opportunity when presented,
even where the chances of success are largely in the runner's favor. The
stages of the game must be taken into consideration, and what may be a
perfectly commendable play in one situation may be altogether reckless
and foolhardy in another. Therefore, the most important faculty of all,
the pendulum which regulates, and the rudder which guides, is judgment.
An illustration may make my meaning clear. In the ninth inning, with a
runner on first base and the score a tie, it may be a good play for the
runner to attempt to steal second, because from there a single hit may
send him home. But suppose that, instead of the score being a tie, the
side at bat is four or five runs behind, of what possible use will the
steal be now, even if successful? One run will do no good, and the only
chance of victory is in the following batters also getting around the
bases. But the hits or errors by which this must be accomplished will
also send the first runner home without a steal, so that in attempting
to steal he takes a chance which is of no advantage if successful, and
perhaps a fatal mistake if not.

Again, suppose there is a runner on third and none out and the batter
hits a short fly to the out-field, on the catch of which it is doubtful
whether the runner can score. If the next batter is a good hitter, he
will not make the attempt, trusting to the next hit for a better chance.
But if the next batter is weak and not likely to offer as good a chance
he may decide to try for the run on the small chance already presented.
These are only given as examples and they might be multiplied, because
the same problem will always present itself in a more or less imperative
form every time the runner has a play to make. The question he must
always decide is, "Is this the best play, everything considered?" It
goes without saying that he must answer this for himself. In conclusion,
I will describe some plays that may arise and venture some observations,
running through which the reader may discern the general principles of

There is an element in base-ball which is neither skill nor chance, and
yet it is a most important factor of success. It is the unseen influence
that wins in the face of the greatest odds. It is the element, the
presence of which in a team is often called "luck," and its absence a
"lack of nerve." It is sometimes spoken of as "young blood," because the
younger players, as a general rule, are more susceptible to its
influence. Its real name is enthusiasm, and it is the factor, in the
influence of which, is to be found the true explanation of the curious
standing of some clubs. Between two teams of equal or unequal strength
the more enthusiastic will generally win. The field work may be slow and
steady, but at the bat and on the bases there must be dash and vim.

If, for example, it be found that a catcher is a poor thrower, or a
pitcher slow in his movements, every fair runner reaching first should
immediately attempt to steal second, and even third. This style of play
will demoralize an opposing team quicker than anything else, and even if
unsuccessful at first, and the first few runners be caught, it should
still be kept up for a couple of innings, because it will, at least,
affect the nerves of some of the opposing players, and if a break does
come, the victory will be an easy one. Every batter should be ready to
take his place quickly at the bat, and hit at the first good ball; every
runner should be on the move; and with plenty of coaching, and everybody
full of enthusiasm, it is only necessary to get the run-getting started
in order to have it go right along. This is the game that is winning in
base-ball to-day, as every observant spectator knows.

Base-running begins the moment the ball is hit. There are some players
who don't know how to drop their bats and get away from the plate. Some
stand until they see whether the hit is safe, and they run to first with
the head twisted around to watch the ball. The instant the ball is hit,
no matter where it goes, the batter should drop the bat and start for
the base; leaving the ball to take care of itself, he should put down
his head and run, looking neither to the right nor the left. Every foot
gained may be of vital importance, for in most cases the runner is
thrown out by the distance of only a few feet.

Some runners make a mistake in jumping for the base with the last step.
It not only loses time but makes the decision so plain to the umpire
that the runner fails to receive his fair share of benefit from close

A runner to first on a base hit or fly to the outfield should always
turn first base and lead well down toward second, so that if the ball is
fumbled or handled slowly or missed, he may be able to reach second. And
by hurrying the out-fielder he increases the probability of an error.

A runner should always run at the top of his speed, except in the single
case where he feels himself to be clearly within reach of his base and
then slackens up in order to draw the throw.

At no other time is there anything to be gained by slow running, and
often there is much to be lost. In the game spoken of elsewhere in this
book, between Providence and Chicago, which virtually decided the
championship for 1882, Hines was on first when Joe Start hit what looked
like a home-run over the centre-field fence. The wind caught the ball
and held it back so that it struck the top of the netting and fell back
into the field. Hines, thinking the hit perfectly safe, was jogging
around the bases when the ball was returned to the in-field. Start had
run fast and overtaken Hines, and the result was that instead of a run
scored, a man on third and no one out, both runners were put out and we
lost the game by one run, and the championship by that one game. A
player has no right to "think this or that;" his sole duty is to run
hard until the play is over.

When a runner is on first and a hit is made he should run fast to
second, and if possible force the throw to third. Every such throw
offers an opportunity for error, and the more of these the runner can
force the more chances there will be in his favor. By getting quickly to
second he is in a position to go on to third if the ball is fumbled or
slowly handled, or returned to the wrong point on the in-field.

So, too, a runner on second, when a hit is made, should always force the
throw to the home plate, even if he does not intend to try for the run.
In order to do this he must run hard to third and turn the base as
though he really meant to go home. Any hesitation or looking around will
fail of the object. The throw home gives the player who hit the ball a
chance to reach second base.

In a game where there is plenty of hitting runners should obviously take
fewer chances than where the hitting is light.

It is usually advisable for a good runner, who leas reached first with
two men out, to attempt to steal second, because then one hit will
likely bring him home; whereas if he stays on first it will require two
hits, or two errors in succession, and these are not likely to come,
with two men already out.

The only times to steal third are, first, when there is only one out,
for then a hit, a sacrifice, or a long fly will score the run. If there
is no one out, the chances are that a runner on second will eventually
score anyhow, and if there are two out there is little advantage gained
by stealing third. It still requires a hit or an error to score the run,
and the same would probably score it from second as easily as from
third. Second, it may sometimes be advisable for a runner on second base
to steal third, even when there are two out, provided there is also a
runner on first. Because, if successful, the runner on first also gets
to second, and the result is two stolen bases front the one chance, and
a hit will now likely score two runs instead of one.

When there is a runner on second or third with no more than one out, and
the batter makes what is apparently a long, safe hit, the runner should
hold the base until he has seen, beyond a doubt, that the hit is safe.
If safe, he will still have ample time to reach home, while if, by any
chance, it be caught, he will nevertheless get third or home, as the
case may be. A couple of seasons back a New York runner was on third,
with no one out, when the batter made what looked like a home-run hit.
The runner on third, instead of waiting to make sure, started home; the
ball was caught and, though he managed to return to third, he did not
score, as he otherwise might easily have done. The next two batters went
out, the score was left a tie, and we finally lost an important game.

Succeeding base-runners should have private signals so that they may
communicate their intentions without apprising the opposing players. A
runner on first who intends to steal second should inform the batter, so
that the batter may hit the ball, or at least strike at it. A runner on
second should notify a runner on first of his intention to steal third,
so that the other may at the same time steal second. When there are
runners on first and third each should understand perfectly what the
other purposes doing so they can help one another with the play.

In such a situation the runner on first will generally attempt to steal
second, and if the catcher throws down to catch him there are several
things which the runner on third may do. First, as soon as he sees the
throw to second he may start for home, and if he has previously decided
to do this, he should take plenty of ground front third base. Second, he
may not start for home on the throw, but if the runner from first gets
caught between first and second, it will then be necessary for him to
try to score. For this purpose he carefully takes as much ground from
third as possible, while the other player is being chased backward and
forward. Finally, when the ball is tossed by the second baseman to the
first baseman, he makes a dash for home. The idea of waiting until the
ball is thrown to the first baseman is because the latter has his back
to the plate, and not only cannot see the play so well but must turn
around to throw. Third, if the circumstances are such that he thinks
best not to try to score on the throw, he should, at least, on seeing
the throw to second, make a strong feint to run in order to draw the
second baseman in and allow the runner from first to reach second.

There is a pretty play by which one run may be scored when there are
runners on first and second. It is, however, a desperate chance and
should only be resorted to in an extremity. The runner on first leads
off the base so far as to draw the throw from the catcher, and, seeing
the throw, the runner on second goes to third. Then, while the first
runner is playing between first and second, the runner now on third
scores as described in the preceding play, waiting until the ball is
passed to the first baseman. If the second baseman is a poor thrower it
may be best to make the dash for home when the ball is thrown to him.

A runner on second may receive a signal from the batsman that the latter
intends to try a "bunt," in which case the runner will try to steal
third. If the bunt is made the runner reaches third, but if the bunt
does not succeed, the attempt draws the third baseman in close and
leaves the base uncovered for the runner.

Without particularizing further, it will be seen that a base-runner must
not only have some wits but he must have them always with him. Exactly
the same combinations never conic up, new ones are continually being
presented, and in every case he must decide for himself what is best. In
view of all the circumstances, he makes a quick mental estimate of the
chances and acts accordingly. Sometimes for-time will be against him,
but if his judgment is sound he is sure to be successful in the majority
of attempts.


Curve pitching is a scientific fact, the practice of which preceded the
discovery of its principle. For a long time after its existence was
familiar to every ball-player and spectator of the game, there were wise
men who proclaimed its impossibility, who declared it to be simply an
"optical delusion," and its believers the victims of the pitcher's
trickery. It was only after the curve had been practically demonstrated
to them, in a way which left no room for doubt, that they consented to
find for it a scientific explanation.

The discovery of the curve itself was purely an accident. During the
years from 1866 to 1869 the theory was held by many pitchers that the
more twist imparted to a pitched ball, the more difficult it would be to
hit it straight out. It was thought that even if it were struck fairly,
this twist would throw it off at an angle to the swing of the hat. One
writer on the game declared strongly against this practice of the
pitchers on the ground that, though this twist did do all that was
claimed for it, it at the same time caused the ball, when hit, to bound
badly, and thus interfered with good fielding. Of course, both of these
theories become absurd in the light of the present, but it was doubtless
the belief in the former that led to the introduction of the curve. In
1869 Arthur Cummings, pitching for the Star Club, noticed that by giving
a certain twist to the ball it was made to describe a rising, outward
curve, and his remarkable success with the new delivery soon led to its
imitation by other pitchers, and finally to the general introduction of
curve pitching.

The philosophy of the curve is, in itself, quite simple. A ball is
thrown through the air and, at the same time, given a rotary motion upon
its own axis, so that the resistance of the air, to its forward motion,
is greater upon one point than upon another, and the result is a
movement of the ball away from the retarded side. Suppose the ball in
the accompanying cut to be moving in the direction of the arrow, B C, at
the rate of 100 feet per second. Suppose, also, that it is rotating
about its vertical axis, E, in the direction of I to H, so that any
point on its circumference, I H D, is moving at the same rate of 100
feet per second. The point I is, therefore, moving forward at the same
rate as the ball's centre of gravity, that is, 100 feet per second, plus
the rate of its own revolution, which is 100 feet more, or 200 feet per
second; but the point D, though moving forward with the ball at the rate
of 100 feet per second, is moving backward the rate of rotation, which
is 100 feet per second, so that the forward motion of the point D is
practically zero. At the point I, therefore, the resistance is to a
point moving 200 feet per second, while at D it is zero, and the
tendency of the ball being to avoid the greatest resistance, it is
deflected in the direction of F.

In the Scientific American of August 28th, 1886, a correspondent gave a
very explicit demonstration of the theory of the curve, and, as it has
the virtue of being more scientific than the one given above, I append
it in full.

"Let Fig. 3 represent a ball moving through the air in the direction of
the arrow, B K, and at the same time revolving about its vertical axis,
U, in the direction of the curved arrow, C. Let A A A represent the
retarding action of the air acting on different points of the forward
half or face of the ball. The rotary motion, C, generates a current of
air about the periphery of the ball, a current similar to that caused by
the revolving flywheel of a steam engine.

"If, now, at a point on the face of the ball we let the arrow, R,
represent the direction and intensity of this rotary current of air, and
if at the same point we let the arrow, A, represent the direction and
intensity of the retarding action of the air, then we will find by
constructing a parallelogram of forces that the resultant or combined
effect of these two currents acts in the direction indicated by the
dotted arrow, T. In other words, we have a sort of compression, or force
of air, acting on the face of the ball in the direction indicated by the
arrow, T. This force, as we can readily see, tends, when combined with
the original impetus given to the ball, to deflect or cause time ball to
curve in the direction of the dotted line, B P, instead of maintaining
its right line direction, B K. If the ball rotate about its vert axis in
the opposite direction, the curve, B N, will be the result."

To the above demonstrations it is only necessary to add an explanation
of one other feature. The question has arisen why it is that the ball
apparently goes a part of its course in a straight line and then turns
off abruptly. One might suppose at first thought that the greater speed
at the beginning would create the greater resistance and consequently
cause the greatest deflection. This, however, is not true. The
difference between the resistance upon opposite points of the ball in
the circumference of its rotation always remains the same, no matter how
great the force of propulsion, and therefore the increased force of the
latter at the beginning has no effect on the curve. But while the force
of the twist itself is not affected by the rate of the forward movement,
its effect upon the ball is greatly nullified. The force of propulsion
being so great at first, drives the ball through the air and prevents it
from being influenced by the unequal resistance. It is only when the two
forces approach one another in strength that the latter begins to have a
perceptible effect. As soon, however, as it does, and the course of the
ball begins to change, the direction of the dotted arrow, T, begins to
change likewise. It follows the course of the ball around, and the more
it curves the more this resultant force tends to make it curve, and this
continues until the ball has lost either its twist or its forward

Having established the fact that a ball will curve in the direction of
the least resistance, it is only necessary to alter the direction of the
axis of rotation in order to change the direction of the curve. Thus, if
in the cut first given the ball were rotating in the direction of D H I
instead of I H D, the ball would curve, not toward F, but to the right.
So, also, if the axis of rotation is horizontal instead of vertical, and
the greatest resistance is made to come on top, the ball will curve
downward, or "drop." And in the same way, by imparting such a twist that
the resistance falls on some intermediate point the ball may be made to
take any of the combination curves known as the "outward drop," the
"rising out-curve," and so on through the entire category.

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