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1879 in baseball

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The following are the baseball events of the year 1879 throughout the world.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Baseball's first curveball was thrown underhand and inspired by seashells


- [Narrator] The pitcher's ability to throw a ball, that moves while approaching a plate, is a fundamental cornerstone of the game of baseball, but that wasn't always the case. The role of the pitcher has humble beginnings, and the name itself indicates that the ball wasn't meant to be thrown, it was meant to be pitched underhand like a gentleman. (Upbeat Music) In 1845, the Knickerbocker rules formalized the way the game of baseball was played. It was considered the New York game, and it was chosen as the basis of modern baseball, over its competitor, the Massachusetts game. However, the New York version, unlike its Massachusetts counterpart, did not allow overhand pitching, stating in rule nine that the ball must be pitched, not thrown for the bat. At the time, the pitcher's role was merely to get things started. He would lob the ball towards the plate, with no intent of tricking the batter, and resume normal fielding duties. (Upbeat Music) The rules surrounding pitching grew alongside the sport. At first, a swing and a miss was the only strike. A called strike didn't exist until 1858. It wasn't until 1879 that there was a limit placed on called balls. And in 1884, the National League voted to lift the ban on overhand pitching. Throughout this time the pitcher evolved from the initiator in a gentleman's game, to a major competitive force in a national sport. And to put the growth of competition in context, the creation of the first professional league, with the first players to legally get paid, was in 1871. The story of the curveball however, starts in 1863, two years after the start of the American Civil War. As the tale goes, a 14-year-old boy by the name of William Arthur Cummings, was throwing seashells with his friends on a beach in Brooklyn. They noticed that the shells curved in the air when they threw them. And Cummings thought to himself, what if I could make a baseball move like that? Throwing a curve ball is one thing, but doing it underhand is quite another. And he found it difficult to snap his wrist, and keep his feet on the ground. In the book Catcher by Peter Morris, Cummings is quoted saying that he was holding the ball in many different ways, and throwing with a variety of motions. Of course, many of the ways in which I held or threw the ball were useless. Four years after beginning his quest to throw a curveball, Cummings was a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Excelsiors, an amateur team. It was here that he earned the nickname Candy, a slang term for the best in the 19th century. And he did so without unveiling the pitch he had spent years figuring out. According to the Society of American Baseball Research, that moment finally came on October 7th, 1867, just shy of his 19th birthday. The Excelsiors were playing Harvard College at Jarvis Field in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cummings had already given up a run, when Archibald Bush came to the plate. Years later, he would admit that he was afraid of Bush's prowess at the bat, so Cummings decided to unleash the curve. He later recounted the moment to the Boston Daily Globe. Snapping the ball with a wrist movement and getting it to spin through the air, caused an air cushion to gradually form around the ball, turning it in the direction of the least resistance. When he struck at the ball it seemed to go about a foot beyond the end of his stick. I tried again with the same result, and then I realized that I had succeeded at last. Candy Cummings had done it, but he hadn't quite perfected it. And the day was bittersweet, as the Excelsiors lost 18 to 6, but he continued to practice the pitch, and when he went pro in 1872, Cummings with his curving pitch, was considered one of the best. In each of his six professional seasons, he placed in the top 10 in strikeouts. So can we definitively say that Candy Cummings was the first person to throw a curveball? No, like when you heard your teacher smoked pot with the cool kids, it's basically just a series of uncorroborated stories. In 1869 a reporter watching Brooklyn Eckfords pitcher Phonney Martin described him as “an extremely hard pitcher to hit, for the ball never comes in a straight line, but in a tantalizing curve.” New York Mutuals pitcher Fred McSweeney, claims to have thrown a curve in 1866, but perhaps the biggest name, opposite Cummings in the curve ball debate, is Fred Goldsmith. Goldsmith claimed that he was the first to publicly demonstrate the feat in 1870, when he set up poles on a field and threw a pitch that curved around them. There are however people who claim that demonstration was another man, not Goldsmith, and others say there's no evidence to support any such demonstration ever took place. But one man who sides with Fred Goldmith is Bill Stern, a sportscasting legend enshrined both in the Radio Hall of Fame and on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Stern wrote about Goldsmith's invention of the curve ball in his 1949 book, Bill Stern's Favorite Baseball Stories. In it he writes, “Freddy Goldsmith lived happily in the knowledge that posterity would always know him as the inventor of the curveball. However, another pitcher named Arthur Cummings popped up, claiming to be the inventor, and quite a few baseball men believed him. When Freddy Goldsmith heard about this, it broke him up completely. Ill and bed-ridden at the time, he died a broken-hearted man, pathetically maintaining to the end that he, and only he, was the original inventor of the curveball.” Goldsmith died in 1939, the same year Arthur "Candy" Cummings was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Upbeat Music)



Inter-league playoff: Providence Grays (NL) def. Albany Blues (NA), 2 games to 0.

National League final standings

National League W L Pct. GB Home Road
Providence Grays 59 25 0.702 34–8 25–17
Boston Red Caps 54 30 0.643 5 29–13 25–17
Buffalo Bisons 46 32 0.590 10 23–16 23–16
Chicago White Stockings 46 33 0.582 10½ 29–13 17–20
Cincinnati Reds 43 37 0.537 14 21–16 22–21
Cleveland Blues 27 55 0.329 31 15–27 12–28
Syracuse Stars 22 48 0.314 30 11–22 11–26
Troy Trojans 19 56 0.253 35½ 12–27 7–29

Statistical leaders

National League
Type Name Stat
AVG Paul Hines PRO .357
HR Charley Jones BOS 9
RBI Charley Jones BOS 62 Jim O'Rourke BOS 62
Wins John Montgomery Ward PRO 47
ERA Tommy Bond BOS 1.96
Strikeouts John Montgomery Ward PRO 239

Notable seasons

  • Tommy Bond of the Boston Red Caps finishes 2nd in the National League with 43 wins. It is the 3rd consecutive season that Bond has won 40 games, a feat that has never been matched in major league history. Bond also wins his second ERA title, finishing at 1.96, and leads the league for the third straight season in shutouts with 11.



  • January 26 – The Troy Trojans learn that they have been accepted into the National League.
  • February 14 – The Milwaukee Grays remaining assets are sold to satisfy their bankruptcy judgement.
  • February 18 – The International League changes its name to the National Association after losing its Canadian teams.
  • March 25 – The National League votes to keep admission at 50¢.


  • April 1 – The Northwest League is formed and refuses to affiliate with National League or the National Association (formerly International League). The league consists of 4 teams; Davenport, Omaha, Dubuque and Rockford.
  • April 4 – The Providence Grays announce the creation of a "bull pen", to be located in center field, where fans may purchase tickets for 15¢ beginning in the 5th inning. The team also installed the first backstop behind home plate, to protect fans in what had become known as the "slaughter pen" from injuries due to foul balls and wild pitches.[1]
  • May 2 – Rookie Mike Mansell of the newly formed Troy Trojans, in attempting to break up a double play, sprains the neck of star player Ross Barnes of the Cincinnati Reds. As this is not yet an accepted style of play, Mansell is censured for his actions.
  • May 17 – With no available regular catchers, the Cleveland Blues (NL) give Fred Gunkle a try. Midway through the game, after 3 errors and 7 passed balls, Gunkle is mercifully moved to right field. It is the only game he will ever play in the majors.
  • May 20 – After catcher Pop Snyder cuts his hand in the 8th inning, Boston Red Caps pitcher Tommy Bond is forced to ease up on his pitching. The Chicago White Stockings take advantage of the slower speed and score 4 in the 9th to beat the Red Caps 9–5.
  • June 6 – Charley Jones of the Boston Red Caps, who will lead the league in home runs, hits one that is estimated to travel 500 feet in the air.
  • June 14 – Silver Flint of the Chicago White Stockings hits a ball over the left field fence in the 9th inning against the Troy Trojans. Flint chooses to stop at third base for a triple so that the catcher will have to play closer to the batter, thus giving him a better hitting opportunity. Flint does score, but the White Stockings lose 10–9.
  • June 20 – Oscar Walker, of the Buffalo Bisons, becomes the first major league player to strike out 5 times in a 9-inning game.
  • June 21 – William Edward White plays first base for the Providence Grays in their 5–3 win over the Cleveland Blues. White is believed by some to have been the first black player to play in the major leagues.
  • June 22 – The New York Times reports on the death of a player named Alexander Taylor. The article states that Taylor, while catching, set up too close to the batter as he swung and was hit in the head by the bat, smashing his skull.
  • June 23 – Dan Brouthers makes his debut with the Troy Trojans.
  • June 26 – Boston catcher Pop Snyder starts a triple play by dropping a third strike with the bases loaded and no outs to help the Red Caps beat the Providence Grays 3–2. The dropped third strike rule will not be implemented until 1887.






External links

This page was last edited on 28 April 2019, at 18:56
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