Tom Hanks made one of the more famous quotes ever in a sports movie when he told one of his players in “A League of Their Own”: “There’s no crying in baseball.”
You know what else is not in baseball? A clock.
As a baseball enthusiast, and purist, I can relate to the passion that Hanks displayed when he made that comment. I feel that way about a clock.
The game of baseball has made fewer changes through the years than any other sport, maybe with the exception of soccer. But baseball is American. We inherited soccer.
Baseball is still played with wooden bats at the Major League level. And with the way bats are being designed now, we are getting back to the grassroots era of the game offensively, even in the high school ranks and lower.
Gloves haven’t really changed over the years. They may be constructed to higher standards but the composition of the tool is basically the same. The ball still has the same number of stitches as it did when the first one was hand-stitched, same as it is today.
There are 216 stitches by the way.
Fences have been moved back to comply with stronger players, but all in all, baseball has remained consistent with the same rules and spirit as when Abner Doubleday invented the game.
There was no time limit for Doubleday. There was no clock. A game was seven or nine innings and that was that.
As a former USSSA coach, I was part of many games that involved time limits. Some tournaments were two hours. Some were an hour and a half. Most put no limitations on championship games but the time limit was there to prevent tournaments from ending at midnight.
I understand that. I didn’t like it as a coach and I don’t like it now. It’s not the way the game was intended to be played.
I have been to a few tournaments over the past few weeks and while the events were successful, they did have time management problems. And in this business, time management problems equal missed deadlines.
Sheridan is hosting the Peoples Bank Wood Bat Classic this week and one of the first things I noticed was the fact that there were no time restrictions throughout the event. All games would be played in entirety. Each game is scheduled every 2 ½ hours and after the first day, each game started on time and finished on time. Why? Because there’s no clock in baseball.
As a coach, I learned how to manipulate time late in games when I needed to burn a few minutes so the opposing team was limited in how many at bats they could receive. Or I could burn the final three minutes off the clock so they didn’t get another at bat.
That’s not baseball. If you want a clock, go to the gym.
Chan Davis is a sports writer for The Commercial. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.