A lot has changed in this country and culture since the first Phillies game, but the basic game of baseball hasn’t changed that much.
There are 30 teams today, the designated hitter, divisions and Wild Cards, none of which existed in 1883. But a regulation game is still nine innings played by nine players. There are still three outs in an inning and a batter still gets three strikes. The bases are still 90 feet apart and the weight of a baseball has not changed.
Some of the more interesting rules and practices that were in effect in 1883:
• Gloves were made of thin leather and did not cover the fingers.
• The pitcher’s “mound” was a flat surface, 50 feet from home plate (it became 60’6″ in 1893).
• Home plate was a 12-inch square, instead of the present-day five-sided figure that is 17 inches wide.
• Catchers were positioned 20 or more feet behind the batter and caught the balls on a bounce. They did not wear chest protectors until 1885 or shinguards until 1907.
• Batters were permitted to ask for a high or low pitch (rule was abolished in 1886).
• Pitchers had to throw seven balls in order to issue a walk and were required to throw underhanded (overhanded began in 1884).
• Rules prohibited the use of a new ball until the beginning of a new inning, no matter how worn or disfigured the ball might have been.
• No games were played on Sundays.
• There was one umpire per game.
• Players had to pay for their uniforms (clubs began paying for them in 1912).
• Team rosters were 11 or 12 players.
History shows the Phillies played their first game on May 1, 1883, losing to the Providence Grays, 4-3, at Recreation Park, located at 24th and Columbia Avenues. The crowd was an estimated 1,200. Time of game: 1:30.
The Grays scored four runs in the eighth to win the game. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer game story of May 2, “The fielding was good on both sides, but the batting was weak.” According to the box score, each team had six hits. The Grays had five errors, the Phillies three.
Left fielder William (Blondie) Purcell got the Phillies’ first hit and scored the first run. He singled to left-center in the first inning and scored on a ground out.
Right-hander John Coleman went the distance and took the loss. Coleman finished the season with a 12-48 record in 65 games, pitching a total of 538 1/3 innings.
100th Anniversary Game
The Phillies defeated Houston, 11-3, on May 1, 1983, before 27,968 at Veterans Stadium. Time of game: 2:48.
First baseman Tony Perez was 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs. His .391 average at the time led the NL. Left fielder Gary Matthews batted second, and went 1-for-5 with two runs scored.
Larry Christenson (1-2) was the winner, allowing three hits and one run in seven innings. Al Holland and Sid Monge finished the game, pitching one inning each. Reliever Larry Andersen was unavailable for unexplained reasons. (H/T Phillies.com)
So, today’s the 125 anniversary of the Phillies first game? Best way for them to celebrate would be for them to defeat the Padres tonight and take over first place. 🙂