why a pitchers mound

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    How the pitcher's mound was born

    In the early days of baseball , pitchers were required to stay within a pitcher's box that had its front edge 45 feet away from home"" plate. But pitchers were dominating batters, so in 1881, the front edge of the box was moved back five feet.

    But this was still not enough, so in 1887, a new rule required a pitcher to keep his back foot on a line that was 55 and one-half feet from the plate. Finally in 1893, the pitcher's box was removed, but the pitcher's plate, or rubber, was introduced and moved back an additional five feet. That gave us today's 60 feet 6 inches.

    With an official diameter of 18 feet, and rising to 10 inches above the level field, the pitcher's mound, or hill, has been a part of baseball since around the turn of the 20th century. By elevating their delivery point, pitchers can gain momentum as they stride down towards the plate. This forward motion adds speed"" and a downward angle to the ball, making it more difficult to hit.

    How the mound's height has changed

    According to baseball historian Bill Deane, the idea for a mound was claimed by an 1880s pitcher, John Montgomery Ward. From 1903 to 1968, baseball rules limited the height of the mound to 15 inches, although several groundskeepers were rumored to have added an inch or two depending on the state of their team's pitching.

    Over the years, as pitchers grew bigger and stronger, hitting declined. Major League Baseball knew that most fans would rather see home runs than shutouts, so the mound was lowered to ten inches in 1969. The adjustment worked team batting averages jumped up about 15 points.

    Compared to those 1969 numbers, last season's"" averages were about 10 points higher still, but so far the pitchers have been quiet.


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