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Hawkeye

When was catcher's box shape changed?

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Can anyone tell me when the shape of the catcher's box changed? My father swears that when he watched MLB on TV in the 1950s, it was trapezoidal in shape. Catchers used to stand 2-3 ft to the right or left of the plate to catch pitches intended to be intentional walks. They did not stay behind the plate until the intentional ball was thrown and then jump out to catch it like they have been doing for the past several years until this year's rule change. A trapezoid shape would allow them to stand within the box that way whereas the rectangular box 43" wide would not. My father thinks it was changed some time in the 1970s but isn't certain and wonders why the change was made that made the intentional pass like something out of a Marx Brothers movie. I'd  be grateful for any insight into that rule change and why it was done. Thank you.

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I believe it was 1955 when Major League Baseball instituted the 43-inch catcher’s box. Prior to that, the catcher’s area was triangular with the foul lines extended forming two sides of the area and the third side of the triangle formed by joining those two extended chalked lines.

You can actually see the change by checking You Tube videos of the 1950-1954 World Series games compared to chalked fields from the 1955 (and forward) World Series.

As for why the change was made, here’s what the Wendelstedt Rules and Interpretations Manual (2013 edition, p. 106) says:

“This rule was put into place in order to still allow runners a chance to steal during an intentional walk. Until its inception, some catchers would move clear up the first or third base lines to take pitches. This additional distance would not only prevent runners from being able to get a jump, but would also guarantee that no batter would be able to reach out and take a pitch the other way.”

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4 hours ago, Senor Azul said:

I believe it was 1955 when Major League Baseball instituted the 43-inch catcher’s box. Prior to that, the catcher’s area was triangular with the foul lines extended forming two sides of the area and the third side of the triangle formed by joining those two extended chalked lines.

You can actually see the change by checking You Tube videos of the 1950-1954 World Series games compared to chalked fields from the 1955 (and forward) World Series.

As for why the change was made, here’s what the Wendelstedt Rules and Interpretations Manual (2013 edition, p. 106) says:

“This rule was put into place in order to still allow runners a chance to steal during an intentional walk. Until its inception, some catchers would move clear up the first or third base lines to take pitches. This additional distance would not only prevent runners from being able to get a jump, but would also guarantee that no batter would be able to reach out and take a pitch the other way.”

LL still has the trapazoid on the 60' diamond but I think they got the geometry wrong.PONY allows the option of  the box or trapazoid on  any field. Never seen a trapazoid but if  you had an umpire who was looking to chalk up a "catchersbalk" you might put a trapazoid down for him.

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On 11/15/2017 at 9:55 AM, Jimurray said:

LL still has the trapazoid on the 60' diamond but I think they got the geometry wrong.

Both the old MLB box sides and the LL box sides were just the foul lines extended to the rear of the plate.

The MLB lines went to the wall.  The LL lines only go nine feet from the point of HP.

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1 hour ago, Rich Ives said:

Both the old MLB box sides and the LL box sides were just the foul lines extended to the rear of the plate.

The MLB lines went to the wall.  The LL lines only go nine feet from the point of HP.

The 1952 WS Youtube shows Mantle scoring and a triangle with the back edge lined which would accomodate the catcher and the umpire. The LL triangle using 9' sides brings the back edge of the triangle about 6' behind the point of the plate which causes many catchers to position themselves on the line, not that anyone would be concerned with that as far as rules go. PONY extends the lines so that the back edge is 8' from HP and is 16' in length, not that I've ever seen the triangle used in PONY. But I think their geometry is more realistic.

mantle.jpg

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29 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

The 1952 WS Youtube shows Mantle scoring and a triangle with the back edge lined which would accomodate the catcher and the umpire. The LL triangle using 9' sides brings the back edge of the triangle about 6' behind the point of the plate which causes many catchers to position themselves on the line, not that anyone would be concerned with that as far as rules go. PONY extends the lines so that the back edge is 8' from HP and is 16' in length, not that I've ever seen the triangle used in PONY. But I think their geometry is more realistic.

mantle.jpg

Interesting. I've seen pictures where the lines went to the wall.

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1 minute ago, Rich Ives said:

Interesting. I've seen pictures where the lines went to the wall.

I've seen lines to the wall also but a back line was also put behind the plate. The 1955 WS has the new box and the triangular lines:

 

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15 minutes ago, Jimurray said:

I've seen lines to the wall also but a back line was also put behind the plate. The 1955 WS has the new box and the triangular lines:

 

This is what Evans wrote in the JEA about the history

The catcher's box evolved from a large triangular area that was formed by extending the foul lines to the backstop or grandstand. Later, the back line of this triangle was reduced to 10 feet and then 8 feet. In the early 1950's, the catcher's box as we know it today was made part of the rules 

From the 1887 rules:

Rule 6. The Catcher’s Lines must be drawn from the outer corner of the Home Base, in continuation of the Foul Lines, straight to the limits of the Ground back of the Home Base.

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16 minutes ago, Rich Ives said:

This is what Evans wrote in the JEA about the history

The catcher's box evolved from a large triangular area that was formed by extending the foul lines to the backstop or grandstand. Later, the back line of this triangle was reduced to 10 feet and then 8 feet. In the early 1950's, the catcher's box as we know it today was made part of the rules 

I think the 10' and 8' references are from the point of the plate to the back line. Otherwise an 8' back line would be 4' from the point of the plate.

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