Monday, February 21, 2011

Another Grays Historical First

For 19th century baseball loyalists in Syracuse, a June afternoon in 1885 guaranteed a slice of history. The Syracuse Stars, a minor league power, were hosting the Providence Grays, world champions of baseball’s major leagues. Three thousand fans packed Star Park, while hundreds more climbed trees or searched for vantage points outside the stadium.

While the fans were right — it was profoundly historic — it was hardly because the Grays won a meaningless exhibition by a score of 4-1.

It mattered because the man calling balls and strikes was an African-American.

The real question is how he interpreted and called the 1885 pitching rules, which require the pitcher to keep both feet on the ground throughout the pitching motion, which is pretty much impossible.

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