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  • 1920-1940

    Hi all,

    Please see the attached:
    http://home.istar.ca/~mbein/baseball.html

    What are the main reasons for the increased hitting during this time???
    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

  • #2
    I believe the 3 main reasons are:

    1: They introduced a ball with Australian wool which was wound tighter-
    this new ball was introduced into the AL at the beginning of the 1920 season and into the NL in the later part of the 1920 season-this new ball travelled further which lead to increases in the power stats.

    2. A new rule went into effect which required the umpires to throw out dirty balls and replace them with clean white balls during the course of games-batters could now see the ball that was being thrown far better-and this resulted in batters making better contact and more base hits

    3. A number of trick pitches, such as spitballs, were banned, except that those pitchers who were then active at the time of the ban who relied on these pitches were allowed to continue to use these pitches until their career came to a conclusion (Burleigh Grimes of the NL being the most prominent example)-a "grandfather clause"-this ban didn't necessarily have immediate effects because of the grandfather clause, however as time went by and most of the grandfathered pitchers left baseball in the long term this change helped fuel the offensive surge.

    c JRB

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    • #3
      JRB,
      Thanks.... then what happened in 1940 to make hitting go the other way?
      "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
      - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
      Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
        JRB,
        Thanks.... then what happened in 1940 to make hitting go the other way?
        When your looking at a graph a line the drop appears more drastic close to the year 1940, hard do distinguish the exact year. If you look at the MLB yearly stats on a numbers chart, say runs scored, RBIs and home runs it's more obvious that the real drop came in 1942 and thats when some of the better hitters, many hitters went off to war.
        There was a drop in the years 1940 and 1941 but not as dramatic as line on a graph makes it appear.
        Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-25-2008, 07:46 PM.

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        • #5
          Thanks... makes sense.
          "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
          - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
          Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JRB View Post
            I believe the 3 main reasons are:

            1: They introduced a ball with Australian wool which was wound tighter-
            this new ball was introduced into the AL at the beginning of the 1920 season and into the NL in the later part of the 1920 season-this new ball travelled further which lead to increases in the power stats.

            2. A new rule went into effect which required the umpires to throw out dirty balls and replace them with clean white balls during the course of games-batters could now see the ball that was being thrown far better-and this resulted in batters making better contact and more base hits

            3. A number of trick pitches, such as spitballs, were banned, except that those pitchers who were then active at the time of the ban who relied on these pitches were allowed to continue to use these pitches until their career came to a conclusion (Burleigh Grimes of the NL being the most prominent example)-a "grandfather clause"-this ban didn't necessarily have immediate effects because of the grandfather clause, however as time went by and most of the grandfathered pitchers left baseball in the long term this change helped fuel the offensive surge.

            c JRB
            I hadn't heard about the introduction dates for the "Australian Wool" baseballs. But I do believe things are more complex than that.

            The Reach baseball, officially introduced in the 1910 World Series, was livelier than previous balls because it had a cork center instead of rubber. Reach supplied the AL baseballs while Spalding made the NL baseballs, but Spalding later adopted the Reach design. While homeruns increased at this time few batters swung for the fences and it didn't make much of an impact on the game. But in 1911 both Ty Cobb and Joe Jackson hit over .400, the first time anyone hit .400 since the foul strike rule was introduced. The league average jumped 30 points in the AL.

            But the batters advantage was soon nullified by an ever-increasing number of trick pitches, such as the spitball, emery ball, shine ball and other pitches that involved altering the surface of the baseball. Although defacing the ball was always technically against the rules it was almost never enforced. Baseballs were not removed from play unless they were lost, and if a new ball needed to be put in play the first thing the defense would do was dirty it up so the other team's hitters did not gain the advantage of swinging at a clean white ball. From there it was a short step to strategically altering the ball by the pitcher to gain unusual movement on his pitches. Offense suffered futher declines as the Great War led to shortages in raw materials, including high-quality wool.

            In 1919 the war was over and offense surged. There were no rules changes in 1919, so the additional offense must have come from more resilient baseballs. I don't think the baseballs were intentionally livened up, but with wartime shortages finally over it was the first time in years that baseballs could be manufactured as in 1911-1913. In the stats, 1919 looked quite a lot like 1911. Deadball tactics still ruled the game. But an undisciplined young pitcher-converted-to-outfielder established a new record for homeruns in a season, with 29.

            1920 brought a major rules change. The spitball was banned, although each team was allowed to name a pair of designated spitball pitchers, who would be allowed to throw legal spitballs until they retired. And umpires were instructed to enforce the rules regarding defacing the ball, even to the point of removing such baseballs from play. This severely limited those who relied on trick pitches. With fresh baseballs in play batters were seeing the ball better than ever. And new baseballs were a bit livelier than those that had been softened by several innings of play. So, offense increased yet again. Percentage-wise, the 1918-1919 increase was larger than the 1919-1920 increase. Babe Ruth shattered his own HR record, with 54. Based on Ruth's HR totals and the general increase in hitting throughout the league, there is a natural assumption that the ball was livened up in 1920, not 1919. What really happened with Babe Ruth is an example of park effects. When Ruth hit 29 in 1919 for Boston he played his home games in old Fenway Park. In 1919 Fenway was not the bandbox we know today. It was an extremely tough HR park. Babe hit 20 HRs in road games and just 9 in Fenway. And this was in a 140-game season. When Ruth hit 54 in 1920 for New York he played his home games in the Polo Grounds, with the shortest foul-line distances in either league. His road HRs increased to 25, but he gained 20 HRs at home, hitting 29 at the Polo Grounds.

            Late in the 1920 season tragedy struck. Ray Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch from Carl Mays and later died from his injuries. Although umpires were supposed to keep clean baseballs in play, I suppose there was room for some difference of opinion over just how much dirt and wear was allowable. Pitchers liked the grip they could get on a used baseball and complained that new baseballs were too slick. The death of Chapman insured that umpires would keep clean baseballs in play. This set the stage for the offensive boom of the 1920s. In just under 2 years (late 1918 to late 1920) baseball went from being a pitching dominated game to a hitting dominated game.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by stevebogus View Post
              I hadn't heard about the introduction dates for the "Australian Wool" baseballs. But I do believe things are more complex than that.
              Steve, I'm on the same page with this issue, the offensive surge in 1920, besides the ball.
              There were two changes that contributed to that surge that you mentioned.
              Trick deliveries banned 1920, this meant a great deal to the hitters.
              Also the practice of tossing out old beat up balls and replacing with a new clean white ball, came about in mid season 1920.

              Imagine the hitter having to face those trick deliveries, pitches almost unhittable.
              Imagine hitters hitting a ball that was left in the game for several innings as long as the cover remained on it. A ball stained with dirt, grass and tobbacco, the tobacco coming from the delivery of spit balls. A ball that was beat up, batted around for several innings. Spectators were obliged to return balls that were batted into the stands or else face ejection from the park. in 1917 six spectators were arrested and booked for failing to return balls (Polo Grounds) hit in to the stands. In one game in Philadelphia that went 13 innings only three balls were used.

              Yes it was more than the ball in 1920 and later in the decade another boost more hitters jumped on The Babe's bandwagon, going for the long ball.
              Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-26-2008, 08:32 AM.

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