1880 December

8th  At the annual NL meeting, the league rejects the Nationals’ bid for admission, electing Detroit instead, although there is no established club there. The Michigan city is chosen for geographic reasons, since its 1880 population (116,340) is smaller than both Washington’s (147,293) and Cincinnati’s (255,139), the city being replaced.

9th  The NL reelects William Hulbert as president, and adopts several new rules, including:

  • Moving the pitcher’s box back 5 feet so that its front line is 50 feet from the back point of home plate.
  • Again reducing the number of called balls for a walk, from 8 to 7.
  • Eliminating substitutions (except in the case of illness or injury), the old rule having allowed subs in the first inning but not thereafter.
  • Prohibiting all pinch runners (this rule will be ignored many times).
  • Reinstituting the old rule that allowed the fielding team to put out a runner on a foul ball if they can return the ball to the pitcher in his box, and then to the runner’s original base before the runner can get back.
  • Adopting the first rule requiring that the batting order be announced before the start of the game. This first rule was a scorecard printer’s delight, since it called for the captain to announce the lineup the night before the game.

30th  The Providence club meets and announces its squad for 1881. The newcomers include Bobby Mathews, Jerry Denny, and Bill McClellan.