Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Base Ball Is Now Wonderfully Perfect

The game of base ball is now wonderfully perfect and I never tire of looking at it or thinking of the extraordinary strides it has taken in fifteen or twenty years. Why, when the old Empires and Unions used to play it was considered a wonderful performance for a man to catch a ball on the fly; then it was all first or second bound. I remember what astonishment it created at the base ball Convention in 1969 when somebody proposed to abolish the first bound and make nothing but fly catches count out in the field. Why, most of us rose up and protested against any such innovation as calculated to injure the game; and I was one of the most earnest opposers of the new scheme. It went through, though. Now we have nothing but fly catches, and the game of 1886 is as different from the game of 1869 as death is from heaven.
-Henry Clay Sexton, quoted in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 25, 1886

This is a nice quote from Sexton but he's a bit off in his recollections. If I remember correctly, the fly rule was put into place at the national convention in 1864 and it had been hotly debated for several years prior to that. So while Sexton may have "rose up and protested," momentum had been building for years towards the acceptance of the fly rule.


Mike S said...

That first line is awesome.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

The more I see it the more I like it. I think it ranks up there with the best quotes I've ever read about the game.

It's a shame the quote's not well known. It's the perfect answer for why we love the game. Why am I a baseball fan? Because the game is wonderfully perfect.