FEBRUARY 20th in Baseball History-THE STRIKE ZONE

1963 | SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Baseball is often described as a never changing game of tradition. It’s a myth. On this date in 1963 the manager of the San Francisco Giants, Alvin Dark, bemoaned the fact that the strike zone had been raised from the top of the batter’s arm pits to the top of the shoulders.

Dark told the Associated Press (AP) that he was worried that his pitchers will have trouble keeping the ball down even though the bottom of the strike zone had not changed, “It’s the way they [the umpires] stand that raises or lowers the strike zone. If they’re up higher [to see the higher strike] it may pull the strike zone up.”

The strike zone has changed numerous times over the years, and many believe it changes depending on who’s calling balls and strikes. Here, according to mlb.com, are the “official” changes over the decades to the strike zone and balls and strikes:

1876  1-ft above ground to shoulders, batter calls for low or high pitch
1887 Knees to shoulders, batter can no longer call for high or low pitch
1950Top of the knees to armpits
1963Knees to the top of shoulders
1969Top of knees to armpits
1988 Top of the knees to midpoint between shoulders & the top of pants
1996Bottom of the knees to midpoint between shoulders & top of the pants

There also have been changes to:

-how many balls for a base-on-balls
-whether foul balls are counted as strikes
-the makeup of the baseball
-the height of the pitcher’s mound

Contributing sources:
Associated Press (AP), San Francisco, California, February 21, 1963
Official changes to strike zone