Did you know that according to the rules in 1876, the batter actually was allowed to "call" for his pitch? He would call for a high or low pitch which the pitcher then had to throw. This was changed in 1887.
Baseball has had it's changes but has stayed pretty much consistent compared to Football and Basketball, who seem to change the rules every season!
There have been some changes over the years, though. For example, in 1858 a batter was called out if a fly ball was caught in the air or on one bounce! This changed in 1865.
Looking back at some of these early rules, it makes you wonder what they were thinking. From 1885-1893, one side of the bat was allowed to be flat and in 1887 a walk was counted as a hit for the batter.
There have been some sensible changes though. In 1953, players were no longer allowed to leave their gloves on the field when their team was batting. And in 1971, batting helmets became mandatory.
In 1969, the two leagues were each divided into divisions for the first time. The "League Championship Series" was born.
The New York Mets won the National League East and the Atlanta Braves the West. In the American League, the Baltimore Orioles took the Eastern crown, while the Minnesota Twins captured the West. It was the first major rule change in baseball for decades. The National League champion Mets would play the American League's Orioles in the 1969 World Series as the Miracle Mets took the world title.
Perhaps the most controversial rule change came on April 6, 1973, when New York Yankees Ron Bloomberg became the first "Designated Hitter". The rule adopted by the American League allows a manager to "designate" a tenth player to bat for the pitcher. This has possibly become the most argued rule in Baseball history. Baseball purists argue that it removes much of the strategy from the game. Backers of the "DH' rule claim it increases the run production which is what fans want. Although stats show that there has not been much more run production with the DH.
For us Baseball purists, rule changes are usually not a good thing. We like to see the game untouched.
In 1994 baseball decided on the controversial "Wild Card" system.The leagues were expanded to three divisions. The division winner with the best record would play the wild card team which would be the team with the next best record who had not won a division. The stipulation being that the team with the best record could not play the wild card if they were from the same division.
Because of the 1994 strike shortened season, American League's New York Yankees and the National League Colorado Rockies are the first official wild card winners.
Many fans and baseball people think the wildcard system is un-fair to the division champs. It adds a new "round" of playoff games which is good for TV money. It also keeps some interest in a division that has a club way ahead by mid season.
There would have been little interest in the National League East race in 2006 were it not for the wildcard, as the Mets cruised to a double digit game title.
Another problem with this extra round of playoffs is that the World Series is now usually played in frigid weather. This year (2009) the seventh game of the World Series is scheduled for November 5!
Maybe they could start the season two weeks earlier. The folks that do the scheduling could plan those early series to be played in San Diego, Los Angeles, Arizona, Texas, Florida or any place with a dome.
I think as fans we resist major changes in baseball rules because we like to see the sport un-touched as much as possible. Post season records are being shattered every season now, because there are so many more post season games played.
It used to be the only post season was the World Series. Now we have several weeks of playoffs. I really don't have a problem with the wildcard other than the fact that a team could win their division by a ton and get bounced out in the first round by a team that, according to some, shouldn't even be there.
Original Baseball Rules
Here is a list of the fourteen baseball rules that Alexander Cartwright and his panel originally came up with.