Changes in Baseball from the early 1600's through to Today

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Year 10 Physical Education

Changes in Baseball from the early 1600's through to Today

Nicholas Barry


Page 1 - Front Page Page 2 - Contents Page 3 - Introduction Page 4-6 - Relevant Issues Page 7 - Conclusion Page 8 - Bibliography


Most of the changes in baseball have affected the game in a good way, for example in 1971 a rule change required all players wear protective helmets, this change didn't detract from the sport, and it just made it safer and more enjoyable.

Changes in Baseball Clothing and Equipment

The current clothing and equipment worn and used by modern Baseballers is quite different to the clothing and equipment worn and used by Baseballers that played in the last 2 centuries.

Since 1876, over 4,000 different uniform styles have been worn by Major League Baseballers. In the early 1900's baseball uniforms were made of wool flannel or a blend of wool and cotton. These uniforms were heavy and hot compared to uniforms worn today and the players still played with the same vigor and enthusiasm. By the 1940's the uniforms' weight had reduced by half but still had the same shrinkage and durability problems. In the 60's a WOOL / ORLON blend was made and was called the "ultimate" material for baseball flannels. Only 10 years later a double-knit material was made and in many ways was better than the flannels, it was lighter, more attractive, cooler, more comfortable and more durable. This is the material that uniforms used by Baseballers today are made of.

Changes in the rules of Baseball

The rules of baseball have evolved from the original Knickerbocker Rules that were first used in 1845 into the first set of National League/Major League rules in 1877. The Knickerbocker Rules was a compilation of 20 rules and makes up a basis for the National League rules that were first used in 1877 and have been changed and updated ever since.

Some major rule changes in Major League baseball have been introduced for the safety of the players, for example in 1906 shin guards were made compulsory. Other rules were changed to increase the fairness of the game, to make it more enjoyable for all. In 1913 a rule was created that stated no fielder could take a position in line with the batters line of sight with an intention of distracting or putting the batter off.

Other than the few rule changes that were made with safety in mind all other changes were made to clarify older rules and to introduce new technicality's to make the game more competitive and too increases fairness.

Changes in the Public image of Baseball

Baseball has always been a popular sport and in the 1820's it became a common source if recreation and was played according to local customs so it had no official form of rules or regulations. In 1845 the first set of rules for baseball were made, this set of rules was called the Knickerbocker Rules. After 1945 baseball became more organized and more of a completion sport and became popular in the public eye and started attracting spectators.

As baseball's popularity grew many people saw the sport as a way of making money. By 1850 landowners were renting out ovals to baseball clubs. Initially baseball clubs collected donations from spectators to cover this cost. In 1858 a law was made by The National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) to prevent Baseballers from being paid for playing, but in 1868 this law was changed and players could now accept money for playing baseball. This was the beginning of professional baseball.

In 1976 eight baseball clubs came together and created the national league/major league, this league of baseball had different rules and is the form of baseball that is played today. The 1880's drew crowds to these national league games and larger ballparks were built. In the late 1890's public interest in baseball fell and many clubs had financial problems, but in 1901 a new age of baseball started. This boom was caused by the creation of a new league, the America league, and in 1903 the national league agreed to compete with the American league in championship matches, called the World Series.

This boom of popularity was good and bad for the game in different ways, the increased money bought in through the attendance of spectators meant that bigger and better ballparks were built. Some of the downsides to the money going through baseball were that players were complaining that their salaries were too low and in 1919 a World Series game was fixed by professional gamblers.

Baseballs' public image recovered and went on to thrive through the 1920's 30's and 40's and has continued to increase in popularity through to today and it is now a very popular, very important game to the American public.

At the turn of the 21st century baseball was hit with a major controversy, over the use of performance enhancing drugs, particularly steroids. As taking steroids increases muscle size and power it gives an unfair advantage to the ball player using the drug. In 1991 it was stated that no player would be allowed to compete if they had taken steroids but unfortunately there was no regular drug testing and this law could not be regulated. It was not until 2002 until mandatory drug testing was introduced. This rule cleared up the controversy and there was no longer a big issue of cheating in the public eye, baseball was once again seen as fair in its public image.


Modern Baseball is played in America and is starting to be played in other parts of the world. Baseball has had many changes over the years, and has evolved from a relatively simple sport that was much like rounders into a sport that is much loved by most Americans. The changes in clothing and equipment have made baseball a safer and more enjoyable game for the ball players and the spectators. The many rule changes that have occurred since the first set of rules was written have benefited the game and have made the sport fairer and more profitable. Most of these changes were written for that reason, to make the game as fair and safe as possible. The growth of baseball has been massive. Baseball has gone from a sport occasionally played for recreation to a sport that is played in front of thousands of people bringing in millions of dollars of revenue each year. The public image of baseball is very high-quality, people love the sport and it is seen as America's national sport, along with rugby and basketball. The safety of baseball has changed in many areas, from ball players having to wear protective equipment, like shin guards, helmets and protective clothing. This safety equipment has become mandatory and has reduced the amount of injuries in baseball. Other changes in baseball include the payment of professional ball players, Baseball becoming a sport played in massive, enclosed ball parks opposed to be played on ovals and the sport being a major source of making money, through entry fees, advertising and gambling.

Baseball has become a sport known world wide, played and enjoyed by many.


(2006).Baseball - MSN Encarta.[Internet]MSN Encarta. Available from: [accessed 4/28/2008.]

(2007).Baseball clothing and equipment.[Internet]Wikipedia.Available from: [accessed 4/28/2008.]

(2008).Baseball Rule Change Timeline.[Internet]Baseball Almanac.Available from: [accessed 4/28/2008.]

(2008).Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century.[Internet]Baseball Almanac.Available from: [accessed 4/29/2008.]

(2008).Early delelopment.[Internet]Changes in Baseball. Available from: [accessed: 4/28/2008.]

An Example of the typical Major-League Ballplayer

A measure of the popularity of baseball by decade

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