Alexander Cartwright has been credited with inventing the game of baseball in 1845. It’s all here in our Museum Series Baseball design: the bats, balls, gloves, and cleats, which together offer a fascinating glimpse at the evolution of America’s favorite pastime. We’ll just start with the baseball for the younger set, but below is a glimpse of other historical changes in baseball.
From 1845 to 1874 players caught the ball barehanded—and were even scorned for using a glove! Early gloves were little more than thin workmen’s gloves until later, glove design began to feature both padding and webbing.
Early baseballs were “dead” with little rebound and, during the “Dead-ball Era” known for low-scoring games and a lack of home runs, a ball would be used until it began to unravel. After 1910, with the introduction of a cork center and tighter yarn windings, the new “rabbit balls” —balls that behaved like hippity-hopping rabbits and traveled long distances once hit (the term was used in news stories whenever the number of home runs suddenly increased)—were faster and far more lively. With Babe Ruth’s rise as a power hitter in 1919, a whole new era of power baseball had begun.
Early bats were more substantial than those of today. Averaging 10 ounces more in weight, these were big-nosed, fat-handled clubs made of hickory for durability. In early days, the breaking of a bat was considered bad luck!
The introduction of cleats made a dramatic change in the ability to run, intimidate the other player, and steal bases.
The inventions depicted here evoke memories of Ty Cobb’s cleats, Micky Cochran’s catcher’s glove and Babe Ruth’s bat—the “real stuff” of baseball.