1893 is considered by many to be modern major league baseball’s 1st real season. The implementation of a 60’ 6’’ pitching distance was established, and has been unchanged for 117 seasons. The league felt that the attendance was down in 92 because of a glut of low scoring games, and lengthening the pitching distance was the logical action. The 60’ 6” distance has always been considered a baseball anomaly. Why the extra 6 inches? Why not just 60 feet? It has generally been blamed on a surveyors error, and has always been my take on the distance as well. But while doing the research for this season, I have since changed my mind. Since 1887 the pitcher has had to start his wind up with his rear foot on the back line of the pitcher’s box. This line was 55’ 6” from home plate, making the standard release point 50 ft. from home plate. The rule change called for the release point to be 5 ft further from the plate. Thus placing the pitching rubber 5 ft back at 60’ 6”.
The pitcher had to maintain contact with a 4×12 inch metal plate rather than just a back line of a pitcher’s box, when releasing the ball. This plate would later be covered in rubber, giving us the aptly named pitching rubber. The pitching area was still located on flat ground. A raised mound would still be a couple of seasons away, and would be at the teams discretion, rather than mandatory. The popular flat-sided bat would also be abolished.
The effect of this added pitching distance obviously increased the scoring, and attendance figure as well. The league batting average jumped 35 points, teams averaged 1.47 more runs per game, strikeouts would go down 30%, and home runs would increase 30%, but that would work out to approx 10 more home runs per team. The Philadelphia Phillies would lead the league with just 80 home runs.
The schedule was reduced by 22 games and the split season format would be abandoned as well.
Frank Selee’s Beaneaters won their 3rd straight NL championship, thanks in part to a 35-5 stretch that started in late July. The Pirates finished 5 games back to take 2nd. There would be no post season series of any kind for the 1st time in 11 years.
The offensive juggernaut Philadelphia Phillies were led by an all Hall of Fame outfield of Ed Delahanty, Sam Thompson, and Billy Hamilton. Harry Wright’s Phillies led the league in hits, runs,(1011) doubles, HRs(80), average(.301), and slugging(.431). They also set a new defensive standard, fielding at a .944 rate. Combine that with the 9th worst pitching staff in the league and that places them all the way back in 4th place. The loss of Billy Hamilton for 50 games due to typhoid fever didn’t help as well.
The vast majority of players were now utilizing some form of a fielding glove, but that didn’t stop Joe Sullivan(Nationals) and Herman Long(Beaneaters) both shortstops, from being the last 2 players to commit 100 errors in a season. Long broke the 100 mark 3x in his career, with a record 122 in 1889. The only other player to have multiple 100 error seasons was Frank Fennely with 2.
William Temple, part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates proposed a postseason series between the 1st and 2nd place teams with the winner receiving a 2 foot high silver cup, appropriately called the Temple Cup. He was able to generate a lot of interest, but the Temple Cup would not be implemented until the 1894 season. The 2nd place Pirates would never get a chance to play for their own championship trophy.
On Feb. 4th the 1st recorded version of “Casey At The Bat” was released. It was narrated by Russell Hunter. DeWolf Hopper would not record his version until 1906. More on Casey at The Bat can be found here.
On Nov. 21 1893 Ban Johnson is named President of The Western League. I wonder how that works out?
1893 Final Standings
Team Name G W L T PCT GB RS RA
Boston Beaneaters 131 86 43 2 .667 - 1008 794
Pittsburgh Pirates 131 81 48 2 .628 5.0 967 766
Cleveland Spiders 129 73 55 1 .570 12.5 977 839
Philadelphia Phillies 133 72 57 4 .558 14.0 1011 843
New York Giants 136 68 64 4 .515 19.5 940 846
Cincinnati Reds 131 65 63 3 .508 20.5 760 814
Brooklyn Bridegrooms 130 65 63 2 .508 20.5 775 845
Baltimore Orioles 130 60 70 0 .462 26.5 820 891
Chicago Colts 128 56 71 1 .441 29.0 829 874
St. Louis Browns 135 57 75 3 .432 30.5 745 831
Louisville Colonels 126 50 75 1 .400 34.0 760 939
Washington Nationals 130 40 89 1 .310 46.0 722 1032
Jimmy Durante-“Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”
1893 Chicago World’s Fair-Book recommendation-The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson The World’s Fair and America’s 1st serial killer, Dr. H. H. Holmes. What else do you need?
1/12- HERMANN GORING (NOT A NICE MAN)
2/10- JIMMY DURANTE (A FUNNY MAN)
2/17- WALLY PIPP (A MAN WITH A HEADACHE)
3/9- LEFTY WILLIAMS (A MAN WITH A BOOKIE)
4/20- HARROLD LLOYD (A MAN WITH GLASSES)
5/8- EDD ROUSH
6/9- IRISH MEUSEL
7/3- DICKIE KERR
7/22- JESSE HAINES
8/17- MAE WEST
8/18- BURLEIGH GRIMES
8/22- DOROTHY PARKER
10/23- GUMMO MARX
12/26- MAO ZEDONG
1/17- RUTHERFORD B HAYES
10/10- LIP PIKE
11/6- PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY
1/17- US MARINES ENTER HAWAII, RESULTING IN THE OVERTHROW OF THE GOVT. OF QUEEN LILIUOKALANI
2/23- RUDOLPH DIESEL PATENTS THE DIESEL ENGINE (RUMOR HAS IT THAT HE WANTED TO CALL IT THE RUDOLPH…COOLER HEADS PREVAILED)
4/8- 1ST RECORDED COLLEGE BASKETBALL GAME IS PLAYED IN BEAVER FALLS PA. GENOVA COLLEGE VS NEW BRIGHTON
5/1- THE CHICAGO WORLDS FAIR OPENS
5/10- US SUPREME COURT LEGALLY DECLARED THE TOMATO A VEGETABLE
9/19- NEW ZEALAND BECOMES THE 1ST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD TO GRANT WOMEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE