1878 December

4th  The full NL meets and admits the Stars of Syracuse, Buffalo, and Cleveland. Indianapolis resigns, and the Milwaukee club is given 20 days to pay its creditors and resign honorably or be expelled. The also deny the appeals of reinstatement from Bill Craver and Edward Nolan.

New rules include the following:

  • Nonplaying managers are barred from the bench (a rule aimed at Harry Wright of Boston).
  • The pitcher’s box is narrowed from 6 feet wide to 4 feet wide.
  • Every pitch is called either a ball, a strike, or a foul and 9 balls are required for a walk, as opposed to the old rule in which every 3rd bad pitch was a called ball and 3 called balls gave the batter his base.
  • A system of fines is established against pitchers who hit batsmen with pitches.
  • Pitchers are barred from turning their backs completely to the batters during delivery.
  • Batting-order rules are altered to make the first batter in a new inning follow the last batter in the previous inning.

5th  In its final session, the NL votes to abolish all outs on the first bounce, both on fouls and 3rd strikes. The league also institutes a reserve clause (as noted by Cliff Blau) and each team is allowed to designate five players who cannot be signed by other teams. This will increase to 11 players in the next few years. In 1892, following the mergers of the two major leagues, each team will be allowed to reserve 15 players.

10thThe Troy City Base Ball club applies for membership in the NL.

29th  The Professional Baseball League of Cuba is founded in Havana. In the first league game ever played, the Havana Reds edge Almendares, 21-20.

31st  It is reported that 8,000,000 bats were sold in the United States during 1878.