Revisiting 1883 - When Beaneaters Met Alleghenys

baseballI was just reading about the year 1883 in baseball. My 19 run inning forced me back in time, and I enjoyed reading about a baseball season exactly 100 years before I started checking the boxscores and standings on a daily basis.

Here are the final standings from 1883. The American Association champion Philadelphia Athletics declined to play the Boston Beaneaters for national championship status.

1883

Looking back at 1883, it's interesting to see how things have evolved. Providence, Buffalo, Louisville and Columbus no longer have teams. White Stockings have become White Sox, Red Stockings have become Reds, Metropolitans have become Mets... some nicknames have disappeared completely, like Browns, Alleghenys, Beaneaters, Blues, Gothams and Wolverines.

But the most interesting difference from 1883 to now is how they used their starting pitchers. There were no pitch counts or four days of rest for these warriors. Charles Radbourn led the league that year with 48 wins.

The very next season, Radbourn would have the greatest statistical season in the history of the game. He went 59-12 with a 1.38 ERA and 441 strike outs in 678.2 innings pitched. They don't make 'em like they used to.

And yes, you can follow Old Hoss Charles Radbourn on Twitter. He's @OldHossRadbourn.

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Ajax Mike

I wonder what changed? Did batters simply get better? Were pitchers using doctored balls and the like that wouldn't be acceptable in today's game?

Perhaps it's the near-lifelong training that pro athletes do in their sport these days. It may be that there's only so good pitching can get, and that batters have caught up with the curve.

June 26, 2010 @ 11:58 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

My theory is that it has everything to do with money.

An organization invests so much money and time in pitchers. And we all know how rare good pitchers are. So it's a simple risk / reward scenario. Nobody wants to take a chance on ruining a good arm.

So we have pitch counts and they pitch every fifth day and after 100 pitches the manager gets ready to call in a reliever.

Take a look at the innings pitched by starters in the 70s vs. today. It's the money that changed.

June 26, 2010 @ 1:18 PM

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