July 31, 2019

"In Several Instances He Called Balls When They Should Have Been Strikes, And Vice Versa" (1871)

From the Boston Herald's report on a game between Boston and Olympic of Washington, May 8, 1871:
A word as to the umpire. Never in our experience at base ball matches for ten years past have we seen an umpire so completely ignore the pitcher and batter as did this man, according to his decisions, and his method of calling balls and strikes. The pitcher has to pitch every ball fairly, and today in several instances he called balls when they should have been strikes, and vice versa. We sincerely hope that he may never fill the position at any first class match again, as he completely discouraged both nines.
Richard Hershberger (author of Strike Four: The Evolution of Baseball) posted the snip, with the comment:
Complaints about the umpire were nothing new. Far from it. But the calling of balls and strikes took a while to develop. Early on, the complaints were about whether the umpire called them at all. So complaining about his zone was progress. This one is precocious. It would be about five years before this was normal.
Wishing for robots before anyone knew what robots were ...

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