Dickerson: The mystery of the 1885 article on launch angles

From Dan Dickerson at Bless You Boys on April 30, 2018:

So we’re sitting in the booth on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, waiting for the postponement, and high above Jim and me is a muted TV tuned to the MLB Network. And I happen to look up at the exact moment the panel is talking about some article from 1885 about – of all things – launch angles. Okay, not those exact words, but they were showing a screenshot purported to be from the Caldwell (Kansas) Advance from May of 1885 that said “a base ball should be struck at an angle of 23 degrees in order to send it to the greatest possible distance.” I was stunned, amazed, and delighted. Someone figured this out 133 years ago? What a story!

But I wanted to know more. Who was the 19th Century genius who had figured this out? Who was the enterprising sabremetrician in 1885 who tracked this guy down and convinced his editor he had to write about the next revolution in the growing game that was still called ‘base ball’? Was this from a long article about the best strategies for a base-ballist to strike a ball? Was this a belated April Fool’s Day joke?

The story came from a simple tweet from author and historian Nathan Ward, who passed along a screen shot from the actual newspaper published May 28th, 1885. There was a link to the full page from the newspaper where the “article” appeared. But once I clicked on that full page to see the context, all it did was raise more questions – and deepen the mystery.

Read the full article here: https://www.blessyouboys.com/2018/4/30/17301864/the-mystery-of-the-1885-article-on-launch-angles-and-possible-proof

Originally published: April 30, 2018. Last Updated: April 30, 2018.