TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO FEBRUARY 20, 1963 IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. Baseball is often described as a traditional game that never changes. It’s a myth. Baseball is a traditional games that changes often. For example, the strike-zone has changed several times.
On this date in 1963, Alvin Dark, the manager of the San Francisco Giants, bemoaned the fact that the strike-zone will be raised. It will go from the top of the batter’s arm pits to the top of the shoulders.
Dark is worried his pitchers will have trouble keeping the ball down even though the bottom of the strike zone is not changing, “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 to the strike zone and balls and strikes:
1876 - 1-foot above ground to shoulders, batter calls for low or high pitch 1887 - Knees to shoulders, batter no longer calls for high or low pitch 1950 - Top of the knees to armpits 1963 - Knees to the top of shoulders 1969 - Top of knees to armpits 1988 - Top of the knees to midpoint between shoulders & the top of pants 1996 - Bottom of 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 become strikes
-the makeup of the baseball
-the height of the pitcher’s mound
Yes, baseball is a traditional game that changes often.
Associated Press (AP), San Francisco, California, February 21, 1963
Official changes to strike zone