Thorn: The functions of each defensive player, in 1860

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on December 14, 2016:

There was a time when baseball’s principal feature was neither hitting nor pitching prowess but instead fine fielding. As points of information:

  • the called strike had been born only two years earlier, and called balls were three years in the offing;
  • a ball caught on a bounce, in fair play or foul, registered an out;
  • a ball landing once in fair territory and then skittering into foul was deemed a fair ball, and basemen had to give chase (which explains why they played very close to if not on the bag);
  • fielders wore no gloves, catchers wore no masks.

Putting the ball in play was a presumed ability of even the weakest hitter …

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Originally published: December 14, 2016. Last Updated: December 14, 2016.