If you are are much of a baseball fan as me (a 35 of a scale of 1-10) you may know a lot of these.  But if you are a casual fan, these facts might be new to you.

  • Each park’s dimensions are different.  In most every sport, there is a regulation size to the field.  For example, a basketball court is 94 feet long.  Not 93 feet, not 95 feet.  In baseball, there are no such standard dimensions.  The differing dimensions can create advantages for either the hitter of the pitcher.  Fenway’s left field wall is very close to home plate, but the massive 37 foot high left field wall (the “Green Monster”) keeps a lid on the numbers of homers – while at at same time dramatically increasing the number of doubles.
  • The amount of foul territory in a park affects offensive numbers.  This isn’t blatantly obvious, but it is logical when you stop to think about it.  A park with a lot of foul territory allows more foul balls to be caught.  If a park has less foul territory, some of these balls are going to drop into the stands, allowing the hitter to remain alive in the at bat.
  • There are 50 rounds in baseball’s amateur draft.  Yes, 50 rounds!  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, unlike other sports, baseball has a deep minor league system, with each major league team stocking a half dozen minor league teams with players.  Second, unlike most sports, a significant percentage of players do not sign.  A lot of the drafted players are high school kids who opt to attend college instead of signing with a team.  A player can be drafted multiple times.  Players can be drafted out of high school, after their junior year of college, and again after their senior year of college.  College players are not eligible for the draft after their freshman and sophomore seasons unless they are attending a junior college or a division III school – or unless they are 21 years old.  Wow.  Pretty confusing.
  • The draft is not a worldwide draft.  Only players from the US, Canada, and US territories (Puerto Rico) and college players playing within those countries can be drafted.  Teams can freely sign players from other countries at age 16, with no regard to the draft.  The best of these players sign for million of dollars.  Michael Ynoa (Inoa) of the Dominican Republic signed a $4.25 million deal with the Oakland A’s when he was 16 (Ynoa is now 17)
  • The Baseball Hall of Fame is just the room with the plaques.  The full name of the facility is the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  The plaque room is the Hall of Fame, the rest of the facility is the museum.  However, this is a technicality that very few people realize, so feel free to use the term Hall of Fame to refer to the whole building.
  • If the DH is forced to play defense, the team forfeits the DH for the rest of the game.  The most logical way that this could happen is if your DH was a catcher.  An injury to the starting catcher could force the DH to play catcher (since some teams do not carry 3 catchers on their roster).  The pitcher would then take over the injured catcher’s spot in the batting order.
  • Carlton Fisk’s homer didn’t win the 1975 World Series.  OK, the majority of baseball fans realize this.  Fisk’s homer won game 6 for the Red Sox, but they lost game 7.  I just find interesting that one of the most dramatic plays in baseball history did not actually affect the outcome of the series.
  • The Colorado Rockies store their baseballs in a humidor.  The Rockies face a unique challenge – a ballpark this is 5280 feet above sea level.  Although the park’s dimensions are large, the thin air allows the ball to travel further than in other parks.  This is compounded by the fact that the balls dry out faster due to low humidity – resulting in a baseball that is lighter than the average ball – and thus able to travel further.  The Rockies could not simply make the park’s dimensions larger, as this would cause a very high number of doubles on balls that drop in front of the outfielders.  After many years, the Rockies determined that storing the balls in a humidor would keep them at the ideal relative humidity.  Major League Baseball is aware of this, and approves of the practice.  In fact, I find it a bit strange that all teams don’t do this.
  • The pitcher’s mound was lowered in 1969.  By 1969, pitcher were dominating batters dramatically.  Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson record a 1.12 ERA and Detroit ace Denny McClain won 31 games in 1968.  In order to help hitters, the pitcher’s mound was lowered 5 inches to the current height of 10 inches.
  • Draft picks cannot be traded.  Not only that, but drafted players cannot be traded until after the following season’s draft (a year after they are drafted).  This really frustrates me.  Many times, we see the top draft prospects fall in the draft due to concerns about their “signability”.  In other words, they want more money the the teas with the top picks are willing to pay.  If teams could trade picks, they could maximize the value of their picks, instead of settling for a player who was more signable.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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