Clipping:Hints on scoring base hits; early form of fielder's choice

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Date Saturday, March 5, 1870

A correspondent from Washington send the following question in regard to bases on hits, and his queries are answered below. He says in regard to judging of bases on hits: “I find there is a wide difference on the subject, scarcely any two agreeing in scoring. I would like some hints on these points. 1. What is a base on a hit? 2. How many bases should be given? that is, what sort of a rule should govern in the latter question. 3. Would you score ‘base on a hit’ when a ball is hit to the ground and bounds either just high enough to tip an infielders fingers, or is batted to the one side with the same result? 4. Would you score bases on a hit when an out fielder runs in for a ball and lets it go over his head, or stays in with the same result, or stays out too long, so that it drops short of him? 5. Would you score base on a hit when a hot bounder is well stopped, but held a little too long, or when it strikes the leg or foot and bounds one side? 6. Would you score ‘base on a hit’ when an infielder seemingly, made no effort to stop the ball? 7. Or, when the first base man is knocked from his base by the base runner just as he is receiving the ball? 8. How many bases would you give when a man bats to the left field, and the ball is thrown to the third, thereby giving the striker his second? 9. What constitutes a home run? 10. If, on the third strike, the catcher fails to hold the ball, and the striker is put out on the first, should it not be scored ‘out on first, with catcher assisting,’ putting three strikes to the batsman discredited?”

We will proceed to answer the above queries in the order in which they are given: 1. A “base on a hit” is a base made by a hit which sends the ball in such a way to the field that it cannot be either caught on the fly or stopped in time to field the batsman out at the first base. 2. The number of bases given on a hit depends entirely upon the nature of the hit. It is comparatively easy to tell whether the first base is made by a hit or not; for the catalogue of errors which yield that base is limited to instances which can pretty readily be defined. For instance, a dropped fly-ball, a wild throw to a base, a failure to hold a well thrown ball, or a failure to stop and field a moderately hit ball are all errors which prevent bases being recorded on hits; and also when the ball is fielded to second or third base to cut off players forced from bases, instead of being thrown to first base, that also prevents a base being scored on a hit; and if a high ball is hit, and owing to the hesitation of two fielders as to which should take it, it fall to the ground, that also prevents a base being recorded on a hit. Now all these errors are readily defined; but when it comes to judging as to whether a player is entitled to more than his first-base, the difficulty of judging accurately is increased threefold. In fact there can scarcely be any rule worded to cover all points on which exceptions could be taken, as regards giving two and three bases on hits. 3. No base on a hit should be recorded when a ball is hit direct to a fielder, but which, owing to its great elasticity bounds over the fielder’s head; for this is not a result of good batting, but of a lively rubber ball. But balls sent bounding out of the reach of the in-fielders, and not over their heads, should give bases on hits. 4. In judging of such a ball you must score a base on a hit–one base only as a general things–unless the error of judgment on the part of the fielder is very palpable, in which latter case you do not credit the hit, but charge the error. 5. Yes, as a general thing; for in such cases the fielders does well even to check the progress of a hot ball from the bat. 6. No, if the chance offered him to field the ball was a plain one. Otherwise, yes. 7. In this case certainly not, for it was not the base-player’s or fielder’s fault that the base-runner was not put out, but the latter’s foul play. Of course, in such an instance it would not be good batting, but unfair play, which gave him his base. 8. Only one, unless the chance of his reaching the second if the ball had been thrown to the second, was good, in which case he would merit two bases. 9. A home run is a run obtained by a hit to the out field which sends the ball so far out of the reach of the fielder that it cannot be returned in time to put him out at the home base. If a ball, however, be put to the out-fielder, and he runs leisurely after it or muffs it, or throws it in so poorly that the base runner can easily get home, but could not have done so with sharp fielding, in such case it is not a home run, but only so many bases, generally not more than two. 10. Yes, but it should be recorded with the letter “K,” as for “struck out,” and with the letter “A” for first base also.

Source National Chronicle
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Submitted by Richard Hershberger
Origin Initial Hershberger Clippings


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