“Anson, the Baseballist, would like to see some Changes”

26 Sep

Some of baseball’s pioneer’s had ideas for rule changes that would have if adopted, dramatically changed the game.  In 1896 Adrian Constantine “Cap” Anson proposed two such changes.

Anson’s Colts had not finished better than fourth place in the National League in the previous five seasons, and the manager apparently thought two radical changes would improve his team’s chances and simplify the game.

"Cap" Anson

“Cap” Anson

The Chicago Record said:

“Anson, the baseballist, would like to see some changes in the present system of playing ball.”

Anson said he wanted to make a change to the 1893 rule that established the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate and replaced the pitcher’s box with the rubber:

“He is in favor of putting the pitcher’s slab in front of the pitcher, instead of having it behind him.  He wants this done in order to stop the interminable bickering that is going on in almost every game as to whether the pitcher was in position.  It is much easier to see whether the rule is conformed to when the slab is in front of the pitcher, and he dare not stop over it.”

Anson’s other rule change would have led to complete chaos, and would have made it an adventure to fill out a scorecard:

“Another radical change that Anson is in favor of allowing the captain to put players back into the game after they have been taken out…(Anson)  wants all restrictions removed, the manager being allowed to play his men just as he sees fit, taking them out and putting them back just when he wants to.”

The issue of introducing free substitution into baseball has occasionally been raised in the years since Anson advocated for it.

Montreal Canadians coach Dick Irvin suggested it to Kennesaw Mountain Landis as a solution to player shortages when the baseball commissioner attended an NHL game during World War II.   Lew Fonseca made a pitch for the rule in the 1950s, and Walter “Red” Barber, long-time Dodger and Yankee broadcaster suggested in the 1960’s that the rule would help keep baseball from being “as exciting as watching paint dry.”

In 1967, Eddie Stanky of the Chicago White Sox was given permission from the American League to experiment with a crude form of what would become the designated hitter rule six years later.  The convoluted rule, according to The Milwaukee Sentinel, said:

“(T)he Sox and their spring opponents will be allowed to call on a pinch hitter twice provided that he is designated before the game is not used twice in the same inning.”

Eddie Stanky

Eddie Stanky


10 Responses to ““Anson, the Baseballist, would like to see some Changes””


  1. Hence his Careless, Indifferent air when he goes to the Plate to Bat.” | Baseball History Daily - November 18, 2013

    […] said Cap Anson, “wouldn’t hire a pitcher who couldn’t hit,” and said former Chicago pitchers Pat Luby […]

  2. “By-By, Baby Anson” | Baseball History Daily - December 26, 2013

    […] August 20, 1888 Adrian Constantine “Cap” Anson and his Chicago White Stockings were set to begin a three-game series with the Pittsburgh […]

  3. “You are mostly Fakes, and yet I love you all!” | Baseball History Daily - March 19, 2014

    […] Foster stories—including several regarding drunken pranks Foster was alleged to have played on Cap Anson—became so ubiquitous that William A. Phelon of The Cincinnati Times-Star  said in […]

  4. Frank Bancroft | Baseball History Daily - July 14, 2014

    […] no man now before the public except Harry Wright or Adrian C. Anson have had a longer or more varied experience with the intricacies of the great National Game than […]

  5. “Baseball is now Played by certain Mathematical rules and Regulations” | Baseball History Daily - July 16, 2014

    […] drawing to a close.  The game was close, and Lange led off the eighth inning with a two bagger.  Anson went to bat and laid down a perfect bunt, intending to sacrifice.  He went out in a close finish at […]

  6. The Wealthiest Ballplayers, 1894 | Baseball History Daily - September 19, 2014

    […] “(Cap) Anson is probably the wealthiest ball-player on the diamond today.  His wealth has been estimated anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.  It is, without doubt, nearer the latter sum than the former.” […]

  7. “Stories of his Badness are told all over the League” | Baseball History Daily - October 8, 2014

    […] though, was almost uncanny at times. I saw him working with (Cap) Anson on first and (Bill) Dahlen at short. It might be taken for granted that Eagan would have to move […]

  8. “We didn’t have any High-Faluting Baseball Paraphernalia” | Baseball History Daily - October 15, 2014

    […] Kennedy, who later helped pitch one of Pop Anson’s Chicago teams into the championship, was hurling for our side that day, and baby but he could […]

  9. “He’s a Loafer and a Drinker” | Baseball History Daily - December 3, 2014

    […] and I slipped away from (Cap) Anson’s ever watchful eye and sought the buffet car and liquid refreshment. While we were thus engaged […]

  10. Things I Learned on the Way to Looking Up Other Things #18 | Baseball History Daily - March 7, 2016

    […] 1917, John Tener wrote an article in “Baseball Magazine” about Cap Anson, his former manager with the Chicago White […]

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