50 Interesting Facts About Baseball That You Should Know

Last updated on September 25th, 2020

From uncertain origins, baseball has grown into a global sport. Considered the de facto national sport of the United States, baseball has managed to capture the hearts and minds of generations. Dubbed the National Pastime, baseball has long been a significant part of American culture. Jump to facts about baseball players, facts about baseball bat, facts about baseball teams

50 Interesting facts about baseball

1. The idea that Abner Doubleday invented baseball is a myth. In 1907, a commission led by sporting goods businessman Albert Spalding and National League President Abraham Mills convened the Mills Commission to specify the origins of baseball. Instead of acknowledging how baseball was a derivative of both the English game of rounders and cricket, they instead named Abner Doubleday as the sole inventor of the sport with scant evidence.[i]

2. The song “Take me out of the ball game” is one of the most popular songs associated with baseball and serves as the sport’s anthem. The song was written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, who have both never actually been to a baseball game before writing the song. It continues to be one of the most popular songs in the United States, at par with “Happy Birthday” and the country’s national anthem.[i]

3. Baseball is often referred to as the “National Pastime”. The first reference to baseball using this moniker comes from an article by the newspaper The New York Mercury on December 5, 1856.[i]

a baseball
Image via Andrew Malone

4. The year 1869 marked the first time that a baseball team turned professional. The Cincinnati Red Stockings are widely considered as the first professional baseball team. Eleven other teams turned professional that same year.[i]

5. The Cincinnati Red Stockings led the 1869 inaugural season 19-0 but the year’s pennant went to the Brooklyn Atlantics who posted a 15 to 6 record.[i]

6. In Major League baseball, the home base must be at the exact same level as all the other bases. The infield should always be 90 ft on each side with the outfield being the area formed by extending the sides from home base to third base and home base to first base outwards.[i]

7. In Major League baseball, regulations state that the pitcher’s plate must be 10 inches above the level of the home plate. The pitcher’s plate must be placed 60 feet and 6 inches away from the back point of home plate.[i]

8. The BEANO T-13 hand grenade was a World War II grenade designed to have similar dimensions to a baseball ball. Designed by CIA precursor OSS and manufactured in partnership with Eastman Kodak, this grenade’s similarity to a baseball was intended to increase the chance that Americans, who were mostly familiar with the sport, would be able to throw the grenade with a high degree of accuracy.[i]

Baseball pitch
Image by Stephen Rahn

9. The Metropolitan Museum of Art holds the Jefferson R. Burdick baseball card collection, an estimated 30,000 baseball cards all collected from the sport’s early years. Its collector, Jefferson Burdick, started when he was 10 years old and even though he amassed such a huge baseball card collection, he has never gone to a baseball game.[i]

10. The Yankees are often given credit as the first MLB team to have numbers on the back of their jersey uniforms. It was actually the Cleveland Indians who were the first to wear numbers on the back of jerseys in an MLB game on April 16, 1929. Although the Yankees’ first game was scheduled earlier, rain forced a postponement. The Yankees would debut their uniforms a day later, on April 17.[i]

11. In 1992, baseball became an official Olympic Sport. However, baseball’s first appearance in the Olympics was in the 1904 Summer Olympics. Baseball last appeared at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.[i]

12. The first World Series was held in 1903 between the Boston Americans of the American League (AL) and the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League (NL). Boston won five games to Pittsburgh’s three to cinch the Series.[i]

13. Aside from the United States, Taiwan, Venezuela, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic also consider baseball as their de facto national sport.[i]

Chicago Cubs button pin. facts about Baseball.
Image via Willis Lam. Interesting facts about Baseball.

14. Both the 1906 Chicago Cubs and the 2001 Seattle Mariners hold the record for the most wins in an MLB season with 116 wins. The Cubs won the National League title in 1906 while the Mariners lost the AL championship series in 2001.[i]

15. In Major League Baseball, special mud is used to rub baseballs before each game to reduce their luster and make them easier to grip as per MLB Rule 4.01(c). This mud comes from a secret location in Jersey.[i]

16. Bobby Richardson is the only player to win the World Series Finals MVP while playing for the losing team. He was part of the 1960 Yankees when they were defeated by the Pirates.[i]

National Hall of Fame Baseball
Image via Ron Cogswell

17. Baseballs Hall of Fame is located in Cooperstown since this was the rumored location of the birth of baseball.[i]

18. There are 333 elected members in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Former major league players make up the majority of these with 235 members. Pitchers compose the majority with 83.[i]

19. Cal Hubbard is the only player to be a member of both the baseball and the Pro football Hall of Fame. He played in the NFL for the Packers, the Giants, and the Pirates before becoming an MLB umpire.[i]

20. Baseball Hall of Fame members Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Fergie Jenkins have at one time each played for basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters.[i]

21. The youngest player to ever play in an MLB game was a left-handed pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds named Joe Nuxhall. He was 15 years and 316 days old when played for the Reds on June 10, 1944.[i]

22. Limited in opportunities to take part in MLB prior to 1946, African Americans formed “Negro Leagues”, a term usually serving as a catchall for different leagues for African-Americans. The Negro League Museum is located in Kansas, City, Missouri.[i]

Negro League logo
Image via David. Interesting facts about Baseball.

23. There were white players in Negro Leagues. The integration of African-American player Jackie Robinson into the MLB in 1946 also led to Negro Leagues allowing white Americans to play.[i]

24. There are 35 Negro League legends enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame.[i]

25. President William Howard Taft was a semipro player and the first president to throw the MLB ceremonial first ball on April 14, 1910.[i]

26. Ken Griffey Sr. and his son, Ken Griffey Jr. became the first father and son duo to play together in the MLB. They were both fielded by the Mariners on Aug. 31, 1990 against the Kansas City Royals.[i]

27. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was an all-women baseball league formed in 1943. The league was formed to keep people interested in baseball while most of America’s men were fighting overseas in World War II.[i]

28. Aside from players, 36 executives and pioneers and 23 managers are members of the Hall of Fame. There are also 10 umpires in the hall of fame.[i]

29. Mariano Rivera is the only member of the Hall of Fame to be inducted with all 425 votes cast being in favor.[i]

Brooklyn dodgers logo
Brooklyn dodgers logo. Image via PMell2293. Baseball facts and information.

30. The Brooklyn Dodgers played the Boston Braves in a May 1, 1920 game which set the MLB record for most innings with 26. It ended in a tie when the game was called due to darkness.[i]

31. The longest Major league game lasted 8 hours and 6 minutes. It was a 7-6 White Sox victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that lasted 25 innings.[i]

32. Jimmy Bonner became the first African-American player to play in the Japanese Professional Baseball League, the country’s first professional baseball league. He played in the league in 1936, a decade before Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut.[i]

a baseball with beautiful red stitches
A baseball with beautiful red stitches. Image via Peter Miller. Interesting facts about Baseball.

33. An MLB regulation baseball has 108 red double stitches. The ball has a core made of rubber or cork. Rawlings is the official manufacturer of MLB baseballs.[i]

34. The league banned the use of spitballs in 1920. However, the league designated 17 pitchers who were allowed to use spitballs until they retired. The last legal spitball win in an MLB game was by Pirates’ Burleigh Grimes who pitched in a 1934 game against the Giants.[i]

35. On August 16, 1920, Shortstop Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians became the only player in MLB history to have died as a result of a pitch. Yankees pitcher Carl Mays threw the ball that hit Chapman on the head. Chapman died the following day.[i]

36. Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays manager Bobby Cox has been ejected a record 161 times, the most in MLB history.[i]

baseball catcher's mask and glove. baseball fact file
Image via Warren B.

37. In the MLB, if a ball is caught in the catcher’s mask or stuck in any part of his uniform after the third strike or fourth call, the batter gets to walk to first base and all other runners can advance a base.[i]

38. Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to coach in a Major league baseball game. She was hired as an assistant coach by the San Francisco Giants on January 2020 and was assigned as a base coach in July 2020.[i]

39. The fastest game in MLB history was a Sept. 28, 1919 game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Giants won 6-1 after 51 minutes.[i]

40. The term sabermetrics was coined and defined by Bill James. Bill James was one of the main proponents of using statistical analysis to measure and improve team performance. His tenure as a Senior Advisor for the Boston Red Sox led to 4 World Series Championships.[i]

41. On September 24, 2010 game against the San Diego Padres, Aroldis Chapman threw a pitch measured at 105.1 mph which is the fastest pitch ever recorded in Major League Baseball.[i]

A baseball pitcher
A baseball pitcher. Image by Eric Kilby.

42. Pitcher Jim Abbott is the only MLB pitcher to have only a single arm. He was born without a right hand. Abbott spent 10 seasons in the MLB and retired with a record of 87–108 and a 4.25 ERA.[i]

43. July 1 is known as Bobby Bonilla Day. Every July 1st since 2010, the Mets pay Bonilla $1.2 million as part of his 2000 buyout deal. These payments will continue until 2035 netting him around 29.8 million total.[i]

44. There are 6 players who have played in the MLB with the name Bob Smith. The last Bob Smith played in 2002.[i]

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