Deadball Era Different, Yet Maybe Similar to the Steroids Era

With the release of the Mitchell Report, it seems that “The Steroids Era” is official. But 100 years ago, during baseball’s “The Deadball Era,” there was no fascination with hitting home runs. Instead of juicing to get stronger, the players in the first two decades of the 20th century sought their competitive advantages in other ways.

To give you an idea of what it was like 100 years ago, it was the a time when the spitball was still legal. The game was built on pitching, and hitting and running. There were far more sacrifice bunts, and more hit and runs than the game of today.

With the release of the Mitchell Report, it seems that “The Steroids Era” is official. But 100 years ago, during baseball’s “The Deadball Era,” there was no fascination with hitting home runs. Instead of juicing to get stronger, the players in the first two decades of the 20th century sought their competitive advantages in other ways.

To give you an idea of what it was like 100 years ago, it was the a time when the spitball was still legal. The game was built on pitching, and hitting and running. There were far more sacrifice bunts, and more hit and runs than the game of today. Games were played at a crisper pace. But with only eight teams per league, the competition for a major league roster spot was incredibly fierce and the players often did whatever they could to keep their jobs.

You can learn more about the best players of this era in Deadball Stars of the American League and Deadball Stars of the National League, both produced by the members of SABR’s Deadball Era Committee. Both books contain forewords by Keith Olbermann.

You can read about the work of SABR’s Deadball Era Committee, including reviews of other books dealing with the Deadball Era at the committee’s web pages.

Just after the Deadball Era ended, sportswriter F. C. Lane wrote a book detailing som e of the best hitters and hitting styles of the day. To learn more, read:   Batting by F. C. Lane (1925).



Originally published: December 14, 2007. Last Updated: December 14, 2007.

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