Q: Why do baseball managers, unlike coaches of other professional sports teams, wear uniforms?
A: This goes back to the early days of baseball, when managers were often also players and had to wear uniforms to play. That was not the case for early basketball coaches, or for most early hockey and football coaches. Although player-managers had become scarce by the mid-1900s (Pete Rose of the 1986 Reds was the last), the tradition of wearing the uniform remained. Only two managers, Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1950, and Burt Shotton of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the late 1940s, have ever gone against the tradition by wearing suits during the games. The official rules say that “coaches” must wear uniforms. But although they are the equivalent of coaches in other sports, baseball managers are managers, and, therefore, not held to the rule.
Q: Why do baseball games begin at five minutes after the hour or half-hour, at times like 1:05 or 7:35, instead of exactly on the hour?
A: It’s believed to have begun when radio stations started broadcasting games. Radios shows were already timed to start and end on the hour or half hour, so having the games start at five minutes after gave stations time for ads, for the announcers to talk about the game to be played, and since, 1941, for the national anthem to be played. But not all games start at five after. Toronto starts games at seven minutes after, and other teams start games at 10 minutes or even 15 after, and afternoon games often start at five minutes before the hour. In 2006, the Chicago White Sox signed a three-year, half-million-dollar deal to change the times of their 7:05 games to… 7:11. (Guess who they made the deal with?).
Q: Why do baseball players pound home plate with their bats?
A: It’s not as silly a question as you might first think. Many players do it for a specific reason: to gauge their position to the plate, so they will stand in their exactly “right” spot. (The rest of them probably just do it to look tough).
Q: Why aren’t there women in Major League Baseball?
A: Probably because a woman good enough to make a big-league team hasn’t tried yet. Currently there is no rule that says women can’t play, although it’s fair to say that the “men-only” tradition of the game would die hard, baseball is a business, and the first team to have a successful female player would undoubtedly be rewarded financially. So maybe there’s one coming soon. There have been female players in minor leagues. The first, and most famous, was Jackie Mitchell, who signed on to the Southern Association’s Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts in 1931 when she was 17 years old. On April 2 of that year, she braved the boos and taunts of the fans at her first game, and exhibition game against the New York Yankees in Chattanooga … and struck the first batter out on five pitches. She needed only three pitches for the next strikeout. Who were the batters? Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Mitchell was pulled from the game after she walked the next batter, and women were banned from minor and major league baseball by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis just days later, on the grounds that it was “too strenuous” for them. Truth was, it was too embarrassing for men to get struck out by a woman. Mitchell played in exhibition games for the next few years and retired when she was 23. She died in 1987, five years before the ban on women in professional baseball was officially lifted.
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