Evolution of Baseball Equipment
Baseball is a sport that our nation has loved and enjoyed since the early nineteenth century. I have played baseball for as long as I can remember, and the game has become a passion of mine. As I am passionate about the sport, I have begun to wonder where the equipment we have today has come from. How did we get to pristine gloves and flawless bats? There a five main pieces of equipment used by a baseball player, and all of which today have been modified to perfection. The five pieces of equipment would be the glove, used to field the ball, a bat, used to hit the ball, catcher’s equipment, worn to protect the catcher, cleats, used to increase traction, and of course the baseball. The progression I have seen in my lifetime is unbelievable and I cannot imagine all of the progress that has been made since baseball originally came to America.
Baseball, like most other American culture, is derived from another country. An English game called rounder’s, which is significantly close to baseball, is believed to the basis of American baseball. Baseball was officially formalized in 1845 when Alexander Cartwright wrote the first set of rules. There is a legend that a man named Abner Doubleday was the inventor of baseball, but many baseball historians disagree. Cartwright created the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City, and the game began to gain popularity in the northern part of the country. During the civil war, Union prisoners would play baseball in Confederate camps and teach the southerners how to play. (RPI.EDU) The game was then spread all over the country and its popularity has soared to the magnitude it is today.
The most important piece of equipment in the game is by far the baseball. No other piece of equipment carry’s the responsibility of the ball, because the game itself depends on the ball. The baseball was originally made on a custom order basis, very different from today’s mass production. Baseballs were often homemade or ordered from cobblers, tanners, or other small business owners. After the National League was created the demand for baseballs increased which forced manufactures to make more balls. The raw materials used to create a baseball have only experienced one major change since the beginning of baseball. Every baseball has a round cork pill as the core, a wool thread as the middle section, and a hide covering. The one major change is in the hide; originally the baseball was made with horsehide but due to the shortage of horses in 1974 caused manufacturers to switch to cowhide. The reason wool was chosen to be the mid section of a baseball is that tightly wound wool will contract on impact and return to its original size. (Madehow.com) Because the baseball has been made the same way for so long there is no evidence that the ball will evolve in any way in the future. On the contrary, other components of baseball would see dramatic and continuing changes, such as the baseball bat.
At the first baseball convention the general rules for a baseball bat were established. The rules were that the bat must measure within the acceptable girth (two and a half inches), it must be round, and it can be any length. The bat of the ninetenth century has changed greatly to form the bats we have today. Today’s bats are considerably smaller in girth at the handle and tapers steeply to the end of the bat. In the nineteenth century, the handle of the bat was much thicker and the taper was a lot more gradual. The reason for this was that the tooling of that time period wasn’t made for steep tapers. Another aspect of the bat that has changed is the color schemes. Today’s bats are either a solid color, or two colors separated at a spot on the handle. The bats of the nineteenth century were one solid color with various rings that displayed the team color. The weight suggested for bats has also altered significantly from the early bats. It was suggested...
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