Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/128

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98
AMERICA'S NATIONAL GAME

or, if they cannot do this, to strike the striker with it when he is running, which likewise puts him out.

"'Instead of wickets, there are, at this game, four or five marks called bases, one of which, being the one at which the striker stands, is called "home."

"'As at cricket, the point of the game is to make the most runs between bases; the party which makes the most runs wins the day.'

"The fact that the reporter thought it necessary to explain how the game was played, indicates the extent of the public's knowledge of Base Ball at that time, and even he wasn't quite sure whether there were four bases or five. When he says a base runner may be put out by hitting him with the ball, he makes no mistake, for that was an actual fact, and it was considered a good play on the part of the base runner to draw a throw from the pitcher, for usually the runner would dodge the throw and gambol around the bases while the fielders were hurrying after the ball. This rule was abolished as soon as the game became popular, for a baseman, instead of touching a runner with the ball, would often 'soak' him at short range, which generally brought forth unprintable remarks from the soakee.

"The artist, in illustrating this game, was not far behind the reporter. The picture shows us several hundred spectators, and, with the exception of a few ladies and gentlemen, seated in carriages, the only person sitting down in the entire assemblage is the umpire; and, as if to show the perfect tranquility of his mind and his contempt for foul tips, he leans back in his chair with his legs crossed. The basemen, instead of playing 'off,' are standing, each with one foot on his base, and a base runner is 'glued to third,' although the pitcher is ready to deliver the ball. In short, the general aspect of the field is enough to give a modern Base Ball captain nervous prostration."