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Baseball Diamonds and Dreams

July 05, 2011

Although it is a popular belief that Abner Doubleday "invented" baseball, this is a myth according to historians. In reality, there were bat and ball games played in ancient times by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and many others. British colonists brought ball games to America, and these evolved into the games we know today.

One of the many interesting parts of the evolution of American baseball is the baseball diamond. Baseball diamonds are not really diamond shaped. The infield area is based on a perfect square with 90 feet on each side between each of the bases. Viewed from behind home plate, the square stands on one corner and resembles a diamond. The 90 foot square is the geometric key of the diamond and the game itself. Pioneers of the game figured out that if baseball diamonds were any other size, the game would not work as well. A diamond exactly 90 feet on each side, however, makes the game competitive for both teams. A ground ball to the shortstop will mean a close play at first base. Double plays will be turned in the nick of time. The time it takes a base stealer to go from first to second is about the same amount of time it takes a pitcher to pitch and a catcher to throw down to second. So, the key distance of 90 feet is extremely important. A foot more or less in the distance between bases and the entire game would be off. This would give either the offense or the defense an advantage. A baseball diamond, then, is logical and measured with geometric perfection.

To learn more about the history of baseball, explore the 796.357 non-fiction area of the MCPL catalog. As an added treat, check out the movie Field of Dreams based on the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. Be sure to get the 2004 two-disc anniversary edition of the movie. Disc 2 contains some great bonus material including a round table discussion of the movie with Kevin Costner, George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, and Johnny Bench.

Principal Source: Baseball, James Buckley, New York: DK Publishing, 2010.

Neal M.
North Oak Branch

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