Evolution of Baseball
Baseball has been around since 1846, but how has baseball changed over the years?
When baseball began as an amateur sport, it consisted of a loose collection of rules that hadn’t been fully decided upon, and it became more defined as time passed. After the first professional leagues began in 1876, the rules had been developed for over 20 years. During the league’s first years of existence, it had changes like the base-on-balls rule that brought the total amount of pitches from 9 total to 4 non-strike pitches. This is used today and was revolutionary for the game. Ball construction became standardized in this time period as well, creating a standard across the country for what would be used in games. At this time the batter’s box was defined, and bases were standardized so every ballpark would play similarly no matter the environment.
In the next era of baseball, the sport saw a rise of stardom. Statistics like earned runs began being recorded, and the league began to focus more on pitching strategy. Players began to experiment with curveballs, breaking balls, and the notorious spitball. The rules changed to soon ban the spitball, and at the same time, the strike zone was shrunk to make the game more competitive.
The next era of baseball brought some of the biggest changes baseball has ever seen. In this era, teams saw a push for inclusivity, and players like Jackie Robinson stood out as game-changing players whose impact on the game will never be forgotten. The changes that came from fans celebrating players of all races were monumental for the sport and the country. The end of segregation soon began to be fought for harder than ever in the coming years, and the world of sports was forever changed.
When players and fans ask how baseball has changed over the years, no answer is more relevant than the creation of televised games. Televised games pushed the league to host more night games when the general public could watch from home. This change also brought the league towards popularity never seen before. Players’ contracts rose faster than ever, and the money brought into the league allowed for new stadiums to be built across the country. This added popularity in the sport allowed for an expansion from 16 teams to the modern 30.
On the modern stage, technology has been one of the biggest changes to the game. While the bats and balls used have not changed a lot, the technology allowing players to analyze every motion on the field has revolutionized baseball. Today, players can break down every motion in a pitch, allowing them to reach speeds unheard of 100 years ago. Players can use technology to simulate in-game situations and make the most of their practice before ever stepping foot on the diamond. Technology is sure to advance and will only be more influential in the game's future.
Today the league continues to change for the better, but the core of the game has remained untouched. The athletes who enter the league push the limits set by the players before them and the competitive aspect of the game continues to grow. No matter how much baseball has evolved and continues to grow, it will forever hold its place as the American Pastime.
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