In society, virtue is supposed to be crowned with success. Hard work should produce accomplishments and accomplishments should bring recognition and respect. It does not always work out that way. A sport is a circumscribed area of controlled striving and, in a limited sense, is a model of a good society, where rules are respected and excellence is rewarded. Part of the pleasure of sport is in savoring this sense of a small, well-ordered universe.
Baseball, like other pro sports, has stringent rules requiring the reporting of any injury that might influence the outcome of a game. In the early 1990s, San Francisco Giants manager Roger Craig reported to the league that he had cut his hand on a bra strap, but that he believed it would not interfere with his managing. He was 62 years old at the time.
In 1961, eccentric Chicago Cubs owner and chewing gum magnate P.K. Wrigley got tired of firing managers and instituted a system of management-by-committee he called "The College of Coaches." Instead of a single, authoritative manager, the Cubs operated using a rotating staff of "Head Coaches" who ruled for a few games and then were replaced by another member of the coaching staff. Sometimes the temporary manager became the first base coach, and sometimes he was rotated down into the minor leagues to coach or manage, and a minor league coach came up to the bigs to work.
The Cubs finished the season with 64 wins and 90 losses, in seventh place. So, all in all, it worked about as well as anything else the Cubs were doing.
In 1962, the New York Mets were added to the National League as an expansion team. The Mets lured former Yankee manager Casey Stengel out of retirement to take the helm of the worst team in baseball.
Early in the Mets' inaugural season, Stengel engineered a trade with the Cleveland Indians that brought catcher Harry Chiti to the Big Apple in exchange for a player to be named later. Chitti played 15 games for the Mets, batting .195 with no homeruns and no RBI, and then was returned to the Indians in exchange for himself.
Stengel is later reported to have said:
There comes a time in every man's life, and I've had plenty of them.
From 1949 to 1960, Stengel managed Yogi Berra. Can you imagine the conversations?
There are 23 ways for a player to reach first base safely, none of which is to get the girl really drunk and convince her he's Vince Vaughn.
The 23 routes to first are: walk, intentional walk, hit by pitch, dropped third strike, failure of the pitcher to deliver pitch in 20 seconds after taking his position on the rubber, catcher interference, fielder interference, spectator interference, fan obstruction, fair ball hits ump, fair ball hits runner (the runner is out, the batter reaches first), fielder obstructs runner, pinch-runner, fielder's choice, force out at another base, preceding runner put-out allows batter to reach first
(fielder's choice, to those of us in the know), sac bunt fails to advance runner (which seems to me like a fielder's choice, but I'm going with the rulebook here), sacrifice fly dropped, runner called out on appeal, error, four illegal pitches, base hit, and the most obscure and my personal favorite:
The game is suspended with a runner on first, and that player is traded prior to the resumption of the game in progress, a new player is allowed to take his place.
Abner Doubleday, who is credited with inventing baseball, is also thought to have fired the first shot in defense of Ft. Sumter at the outset of the Civil War. After the war, he sought and received a patent for the cable car technology that is still in use in San Francisco.
In 1879, when the rules of baseball were first written down, a pitcher had to throw nine balls to walk a batter. In an attempt to even the balance between pitching and hitting, in 1887 the Major Leagues experimented with a four-strike strikeout, but returned to three strikes the next year. In 1889, the league settled on four balls for a walk and three strikes for an out.