Baseball is our national sport, and it also has broad international appeal. It is by far the oldest organized professional sport. Its development reflects the history of our nation, as well our increasing technological sophistication. The application of physical principles to baseball is considered. Dynamical issues in pitching, hitting, fielding, and running will be examined.
|1839||Alexander Doubleday allegedly invented baseball in Cooperstown New York|
|1865||Overhand pitching legalized|
|1876||National League organized|
|1900||American League organized World Series begun|
|1919||Chicago White Sox scandal|
|1920||“Live ball” era “Spitball” banned|
|1927||Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs in a season|
|1932||Leagues adopt common baseballs|
|1935||Night baseball begun|
|1941||Joe DiMaggio hits safely in 56 consecutive games|
|1947||Jackie Robinson plays for Brooklyn Dodgers|
|1961||Roger Maris hits 61 home runs in extended season|
|1962||Maury Wills steals 104 bases in a season, breaking Ty Cobb’s record of 97|
|1971||Cowhide substituted for horsehide on baseballs|
|1972||American Leagues adopts “designated hitter” rule|
|1984||Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb’s lifetime record of 4189 hits. (4256 total)|
|1998||Sammy Sosa and Marc McGwire break Ruth’s Home Run record|
|2000||Leagues adopt common standards and training programs for umpires|
|2001||Barry Bonds hits home run #73, averaging one per 6.5 at-bats|
|2004||Ichiro Suzuki gets 258 hits in a season, breaking George Sisler's 1920 record of 257 hits|
Results of World Baseball Tournament: held 03 - 20 March 2006
The pitcher stands less than 20 meters from the batter, and throws the ball at speeds of around 40 meters/sec. In that time the ball drops from its "straight line" path by about 1.2 meters.
Because of the stitches on the baseball there is considerable turbulence affecting its motion, and it may behave somewhat erratically. The complications in the motion of the ball arise from the Prandtl Layer of air that moves with the baseball, and which has a dominating effect on the motion of the ball.
The pitcher may put considerable spin on the baseball, corresponding to about 20 revolutions over its path.
A few pitchers have been able to perfect the knuckleball, which hardly spins at all, and which drifts somewhat arbitrarily in its motion.
Ty Cobb's remembrance of his introduction to Walter Johnson:
"On August 2, 1907, I encountered the most threatening sight I ever saw in the ball field. He was only a rookie, and we licked our lips as we warmed up for the first game of a doubleheader in Washington. Evidently, manager Pongo Joe Cantillon of the Nats had picked a rube out of the cornfields of the deepest bushes to pitch against us. ...
The first time I faced him I watched him take that easy windup-and then something went past me that made me flinch. The thing just hissed with danger. We couldn't touch him...every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ball park."
The batter has about 0.5 seconds to gauge the path of a pitch, and the bat must be at the right place [within about 1 cm] at the right time [within 0.01 seconds] to make solid contact.
The bat-ball collision lasts typically for 0.001 seconds, and the average force on this ball is of order 10,000 Newtons, corresponding to a mass of about 1000 kg [or a ton].
The process of hitting is mysterious, but with God-given quick reflexes and many years of practice, a few players can learn to hit the ball regularly.
Ted Williams said "Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders" and wrote a book entitled The Science of Hitting, in which he analyzed hitting with detail normally reserved for scientists and scholars.
"Did they tell me how to pitch to Williams? Sure they did. It was great advice, very encouraging. They said he had no weakness, won't swing at a bad ball, has the best eyes in the business, and can kill you with one swing. He won't hit anything bad, but don't give him anything good." - Bobby Shantz
"Willie Mays was never sick, he was never hurt, he never had a bellyache, he never had a toothache; never had a headache. He came to the park every day to put on the uniform and play." - Leo Durocher, manager.
Like the conductor of a symphony, the catcher directs defensive play, calls the pitches, and keeps the team focused on getting the batter out.
Also, a good catcher can manage to block the umpire's view of a pitch on the outside corner, to keep the hitter psychologically on guard, and guide the pitcher to success.
The catcher is the ultimate line of defense against a stolen base. A quick runner can steal a base in just over 3 seconds. The catcher has a little over a second to catch the pitch and throw it accurately to stop the runner.
The catcher gets more than his share of bumps, bruises, and sprained fingers from foul tips, bad pitches, bats, and aggressive base runners.
Catchers are frequently required to chase after pop-ups behind the plate. These poorly hit pitches usually have a lot of spin, and move erratically, so that pop-ups may be very difficult to catch. A great catcher makes catching them look easy, in spite of the perils of bats, other equipment, dugout steps, fences, screens, and railing.
"Why has our pitching been so great? Our catcher (Yogi Berra) that's why. He looks cumbersome but he's quick as a cat." - Casey StengelFielding
The ball bounces differently in every ball park, and the differences are especially pronounced on artificial turf, on which the ball has a lively bounce.
A third baseman has to knock a ground ball down or block it, grab it, and then throw it to the first baseman --- all before two seconds have passed.
It is somewhat of a mystery as to how outfielders are able to gauge the flight of the ball, since it can vary greatly because of spin, wind conditions, and atmospheric drag.
"Throwing a fastball to Henry Aaron is like trying to sneak the sun past a rooster." --- Curt Simmons, pitcher
"Hitting against Sandy Koufax is like drinking coffee with a fork." --- Willie Stargell
"Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing." --- Warren Spahn
"I never saw anyone like Ty Cobb. No one even close to him as the greatest all-time ballplayer. That guy was superhuman, amazing." --- Casey Stengel.
"I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is once in a while I toss one that ain't never been seen by this generation." --- Satchel Paige
"I'd go through hell in a gasoline suit to keep playing baseball." --- Pete Rose
"When I came to Detroit I was just a mild-mannered Sunday-school boy." --- Ty Cobb
"He should play in handcuffs." --- A Sports Writer on Willie Mays
"He's got a gun concealed about his person. They can't tell me he throws them balls with his arm." --- Ring Lardner about Walter Johnson
"Ninety percent of baseball is mental, and the other half is physical." --- Yogi Berra
"I'm not sure what the hell charisma is, but I get the feeling it's Willie Mays." --- Ted Kluszewski
"I swing big, with everything I've got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can." --- Babe Ruth
Katie Casey was baseball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do."
"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."
Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:
"Take me out to the ball game,
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."
|Tyrus Cobb||left field|
|Rogers Hornsby||second base|
|Lou Gehrig||first base|
|Willie Mays||center field|
|Ted Williams||right field|
|Pie Traynor||third base|
|Sandy Koufax||[left handed pitcher]|
|Bob Feller||[right handed pitcher]|
And, I feel that the greatest player of all time, according to his proven record to hit, run, throw, bunt, and catch, was Willie Mays.
champ gauche, centre, droit -- left, center, right field formation des frappeurs -- batting order manche (f) -- inning retrait (m) -- out point -- run lanceur -- pitcher prendre son élan -- wind up (v) suivi (m), prolongé -- follow-through retirer sur prises -- strike out (vt) blanchissage -- shutout (n) (balle) rapide -- fastball (balle) courbe -- curve (balle) glissante -- slider (balle) jointure, tire-bouchon -- knuckleball balle papillon -- floater courbe renversée -- screwball tombante -- sinker changment -- change-up lancer latéral -- sidearm delivery mauvais lancer -- wild pitch feinte illégale -- balk bâton -- bat bonne balle, en jeu -- fair ball balle fausse -- foul ball ricochet (m) -- foul tip coup retenu, amorti -- bunt (n) risque-tout -- squeeze play roulant (m) -- ground ball chandelle (f), balle retroussée -- popup ballon sacrifice -- sacrifice fly flèche (f) -- line drive coup sûr -- base hit simple, double, triple -- single, double, triple (coup de) circuit -- home run plongeon (m), tete première -- head-first slide marquer (un point) -- score coureur coincé, pris en souricière, en trappe -- trapped runner receveur -- catcher premier-, deuxième-, troisième-but -- first, second, third baseman arrête-court -- shortstop voltigeur -- outfielder toucher -- tag double retrait -- double play relais hors cible -- wild throw la partie des étoiles -- all-star game recrue (f) -- rookie statistique: point produit -- run batted in laissés sur but -- left on base point mérité -- earned run présence officielle -- at-bat moyenne offensive, puissance de frappe -- batting average erreur (f) -- error balle passée -- passed ballFor additional information see The Physics of Baseball on my website at this URL: