As Ridiculous As The Ghost Runner Rule Was For The Past Two Years, 19th Century Baseball Had Some Strange Rules
For instance – a batter could be called out for deliberately fouling off pitches
MLB has been tinkering with the rules for the last few years, trying to improve the game. Seven inning double headers; ghost runners; pitching mound visit limits; and the relief pitcher, minimum three batter requirement are just a few of the gimmicks that have been implemented with many more changes under consideration such as; designated hitters in the National League; pitch clocks and moving the pitching rubber back twelve inches.
Thankfully the 2021 World Series does not have any ghost runners. That is the MLB rule enacted during the last two seasons in which a runner was placed on second base to begin extra innings in the hopes of shortening the length of extra inning games. Most fans hope the ghost runner will be abolished permanently in 2022.
In the 19th century baseball was constantly evolving and changing rules. While baseball’s basic rules have remained the same for the last 120 years, modern fans would be perplexed at many of the old rules. Before 1884 all pitchers had to throw underhand. The batter could request to the pitcher where he wanted the baseball thrown. Very few players wore baseball gloves – they were considered unmanly.
In the 1880s and 1890s the rule changes came fast and furious.
The following examples are from Jerry Lansche’s entertaining book Glory Fades Away The Nineteenth -Century World Series Rediscovered (Taylor Publishing Group) 1991.
1884- Pitchers were now allowed to throw overhand.
1884- An error was charged to the pitcher for a walk, balk, wild pitch or hit batsman and by the same logic an error in the catcher’s column for a passed ball.
1884- A foul ball caught on one hop was no longer an out. Continue reading