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Batters' "Hits" First Appear in a Game Report
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In the first issue of The Ball Players’ Chronicle, edited by Henry Chadwick, a game account of the “Championship of New England” between the Harvard College Club and the Lowell Club of Boston featured a box score that included a list of the number of “Bases Made on Hits” by each player. This was the first instance of player’s hit totals being tracked in a game.
The Ball Players' Chronicle (New York City, NY), 6 June 1867: p. 2.
Note: for a 1916 account of the history of the "hit," see the supplemental text below.
For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,” p 1 – 9:
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John H. Gruber wrote about early scorekeeping in The Sporting News, April 6, 1916:
"In spite of the momentous importance of the hit, it was never officially defined until 1880. Before that time little attention was paid to the art of scoring. It was evidently taken for granted that everybody knew a base hit when he saw one made and there was therefore no need of an expounder or interpreter, at least not officially. Under the circumstances a group of "tight" and another of "open" scorers came into existence.
"‘Tight’ were those who recognized only ‘clean’ hits, when the ball was not touched by a fielder either on the ground or in the air. Should the fielder get even the tip of his fingers on the ball, though compelled to jump into the air, no hit was registered; instead an error was charged.
"The ‘open’ contingent was more liberal. To it belonged the more experienced scorers who used their judgment in deciding between a hit and an error, and always in favor of the batter. They gave the batter a hit and insisted that he was entitled to a hit if he sent a ‘hot’ ball to the short-stop or the third baseman and the ball be only partly stopped and not in time to throw it to a bag.
"Some of them even advocated the ‘right field base hit,’ which at present is scored a sacrifice fly. “For instance,” they said, “a man is on third base and the batsman, in order to insure the scoring of the run by the player on third base, hits a ball to right field in such a way that, while it insures his being put out himself, sends the base runner on third home, and scores a run. This is a play which illustrates ‘playing for the side’ pretty strikingly, and it seems to us that such a hit should properly come under the category of base hits."
"In 1880 the first rules on scoring were adopted. By that time the 'open' scorers had made an impression, and were prepared to lay down rules based on experience and common sense, so far as base hits were concerned. So it came to pass that the rules officially adopted then are still the law of the game, some of the clauses having retained their literal rendition even to the use of the word 'striker' instead of the more modern 'batter' or 'batsman.'"