How Baseball Has Changed Over the Years

How Basketball has Changed

  • There are many ways to gauge the throughout its over 130 years professional existence.
  • Obviously, from the earliest days to today’s modern game there have been many but extend way beyond just matters related to sport – Baseball has grown up and transformed as much as the United States has during the league’s existence.

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How baseball has changed begins in many ways with how it began. As an amateur sport it was a loose organization of rules and it became more and more sophisticated as time passed. After the league began in 1876, the rules had already been being adapted for the previous 20 years. During the first 15 years of existence, the league brought the base-on-balls rule from 9 total pitches to 4 non-strike pitches, the convention used today, along with rules about ball construction, statistics, the size of the batter box and materials used for bases. These were the early years of rule and game development.

In the next phase of existence, as baseball become populated with stars and it grew in popularity the need to track and distinguish between players become more important and baseball rules changes came with it. Most significantly, in 1917, earned run statistics were defined and began being recorded. This was the first of many changes in baseball that focused on the pitching strategy. In successive years, rules were changed to ban the spitball (1920), changed again to ban any moistened pitch (1968); and then in rapid succession the strike zone was shrunk, the pitcher’s mound was lowered, and the save rule was changed two more times.

The most major way that baseball has changed over the years is, of course, the erasing of the color line that split baseball into the Major League and the Negro League. When Jackie Robinson first set foot on a Major League Field in 1947 it not only marked a coming of age for the sport but for the country as well. The changes that came from fans celebrating players of all race undoubtedly sped the segregation changes that finally came about 20 years later in the country at large.

One of the major ways how baseball has changed over the years is that as money escalated in other industries so too it arrived to baseball with advent of televised games. Immediately, night games became increasingly more prevalent to catch viewers at their home after work. Free agency was fought for and introduced in the 1970s which drove up player contracts and ended an era when teams had a player’s rights for their career unless they decided otherwise. The money throughout the system has only increased and with it the construction of new stadiums has replaced all but two original ballparks and the number of teams has roughly doubled form 16 to 30.

The core of the game has thankfully remained untouched. Each player argues that the era that preceded it was more difficult and more authentic and all of them may be right. But even as it has morphed and changed it has remained the American Pastime.

6 thoughts on “How Baseball Has Changed Over the Years

  1. Many of the changes in major league baseball trickled down to the PeeWee baseball leagues. Kids today have the perfect opportunity to really learn and understand all there is to know about it and knowing how it’s changed over the years is important and helps them appreciate the game.

  2. Free contracting made a mess out of both baseball and football simply because of the cost of contracts. There are teams in both sports that keep their caps low in order to attract players who really WANT to be there. That’s how it should be. There is just no team loyalty anymore.

  3. Yeah, but free agency has brought about more teams because more people want to play since they know they will have a choice to move, say, from the Mets to the Braves. That means we baseball fans get a longer season.

  4. I want to go back to the days of wooden bleachers, draft beer, roasted peanuts, ill-fitting uniforms, and plywood fences. And I believe all statistics should be kept on the backs of baseball cards with a bubble gum scent.

    But I do want to keep the broadcasts in HD.

  5. Thui says, “There is just no team loyalty anymore.” There never was. The idea that the sainted dignitaries of the past played solely for the love of the game is just one of many myths that surround the game. Like the myth of Abner Doubleday inventing the game in a Cooperstown pasture, myths serve a variety of purposes, one of which is sometimes to make life more palatable. During baseball’s professional history, any time an opportunity arose to leave a team for another to make more money, the players took it. Just as you and I do in our own jobs. When the American League went major, they raided the National League rosters and players were quite willing to jump to the new league for more money, violating their contract with the old. The same happened with the Federal League, the Players League, etc. Some might recall a few players, Max Lanier, Mickey Owen, etc., jumping to the Mexican League in the late 40s for more money.

    As for current teams holding their caps low to attract motivated players, the intent is to save money, pure and simple. Players in the past stayed “loyal” to their teams because the owners’ interpretation of the reserve clause (which an arbitrator ruled was incorrect) gave them no choice. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio had no choice but to be “loyal” to the Red Sox and Yankees. But the “loyalty” of the owners didn’t stop them from discussing a trade for the two. Why was it so admirable for Ted Williams to spend his entire career with the Sox when he had no choice? And why is there no similar expectation for owners? Johnny Damon leaves Sox for Yanks. Outrageous! Sox trade Shea Hillenbrand to Arizona. Ho hum.

    Baseball today is still a great game. The players are better conditioned, the equipment is better, the groundskeeping is better. Baseball was great when Honus Wagner played on a pebbly infield. It’s great with Derek jeter playing on the manicured fields of today. But the players of today are no better or worse, morally, than the players of a hundred years ago. Manny Ramirez violated the rules and has been suspended. But to think that this is a comment on the failings of the modern player and the heroism of the players of yesteryear is a case of willful blindness.

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