TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO CLEARWATER, FLORIDA MARCH 7, 1955. – Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick believed baseball had tipped in favor of the hitter. So, on this date in 1955 he said if he had his way he would bring back the spitter.
While visiting the Philadelphia Phillies training camp Frick said, “Something positive should be done to help the pitchers.” In advocating the return of the spitball Frick added, “There’s nothing dangerous about it. It was nothing like the screwball they have to throw today, with a twisted elbow and tricky snapping of the wrists. No wonder today’s pitchers can’t go on as long.”
Had the game tipped in favor of the hitter? Runs scored and earned run average (ERA) were up in the 1950’s compared to the 1940’s (during World War II), but runs and ERA’s were down from the 1930’s.
It’s true, throughout the years pitchers have been steadily pitching fewer innings and throwing fewer pitches, but for a variety of reasons, two of the most prominent being the proliferation of the home run, and the increased strategic prominence of the bullpen. Needless to say, the spitball did not come back – legally.