1886 November

6th The Sporting News publishes the official NL averages, which show King Kelly as the batting champ with a .388 average, 17 points ahead of Cap Anson. The paper previously had printed its own stats showing Anson ahead, .374 to .366. Also noted in TSN (by Bill Deane) that “Dundon, the deaf and dumb pitcher of the Acid Iron Earths, umpired a game at Mobile between the Acids and Mobiles, on October 20. . . . He used the fingers of his right hand to indicate strikes, the fingers of the left to call balls, a shake of the head decided a man ‘not out,’ and a wave of the hand meant out.’” The October 30, 1886 issue of the New York Clipper concurred with the description, saying “Dundon, the deaf-mute pitcher, umpired a game in Mobile, Ala., and gave entire satisfaction.”

11th  The Executive Council of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, formed the previous year, meets and chooses officers. John M. Ward is re-elected president, Dan Brouthers vice president, and Tim Keefe secretary-treasurer.

13th The official AA batting averages show Dave Orr (.346) edging Bob Caruthers and Guy Hecker, both at .342.

15th  Cincinnati and St. Louis complete the first trade ever of reserved players, the Browns sending Hugh Nicol to the Reds for Jack Boyle and $400.

16th  The AA and NL Joint Rules Committee announces the new rules code, which includes the following changes, among others:

  • 4 strikes for an out;
  • 5 balls for a walk;
  • the batter’s right to call for a “high ball” or a “low ball” is abolished.
  • A standardized strike zone from the knees to the shoulders is established;
  • Restricting the pitcher to just one forward step in making his delivery (the old rules had no restrictions);
  • Restricting the pitcher to start with one foot on the back line of the box;
  • the box is cut down from 4′ x 7′ to 4′ x 5.5′ thereby establishing a 55 1⁄2-foot pitching distance.
  • any intentional foul ball is a strike;
  • the catcher can no longer purposely drop a 4th strike to force the runners to run into a DP.
  • the bat may be flat on one side (to aid bunting).
  • Several AA rules are adopted for joint play, including giving the home team a choice of first or last ups, giving the batter first base on a HPB, and restricting the coaches to coaching boxes.

18th  The NL meets and admits Pittsburgh, which had been looking to leave the AA since last spring.

19th The NL adopts a straight guarantee system for paying visiting teams. Detroit, which wants a percentage system, threatens to leave the NL and join the AA. The NL will back down and allow the Wolverines a percentage.

22nd  The AA admits Cleveland to membership to fill the vacancy caused by Pittsburgh’s defection.

26th Having sold George Gore to New York 3 days earlier, Chicago sends Abner Dalrymple to Pittsburgh. Both outfielders were among those who did not receive bonuses because of drinking during the season. Spalding is apparently willing to break up his championship team to enforce temperance.