Sunday, December 28, 2008
A Perfect Distance
The Category Was: Perfect Distances
The Answer Was: 90 Feet
I nearly jumped out of my seat watching JEOPARDY! on television (something we don't do a lot of). The African Queen telling me to calm down.
But how could I?
There was only one Correct Question: What is the distance between the bases on a baseball diamond?
Even Alex Trebek himself had to pounce in and pontificate on this answer and question: "Yes, 90 Feet, remarkable how perfect that distance is in the great game of baseball!!"
Canadian Native Alex understood the geometric simplicity and perfection of the baseball field. And when he called it "The Great Game" did I ever smile accordingly. It's my MONIKER for baseball.
Yes, Mr. Trebek gets it, just like one of his contestants that answered correctly on this particular program.
Of course I would like to know: Is Alex a Dodger Fan?
But this moment also had me wondering again about how exactly did someone come up with 90 Feet between bases?
The Best Answer: No Good Reason.
It just happened.
In 1845, The Knickerbocker Club of New York officially paced off 42 strides from home to second base and then from first to third base to form the infield bases. If you then consider one stride being a three foot length--the corresponding distances would be 126 feet. Laid out a diamond, 90 feet would be the resultant triangle between bases (home plate to first, second to third, etc.).
Not only simple, but Simply Perfect.
How many times does that ground ball hit by the batter result in the fielder throwing out the runner by the typical half stride at the bag?
How many times does that little extra effort by the runner result in the umpire calling safe?
Every player knows how quickly he must field and toss the baseball or run to the bag.
Whether a throw is coming across the infield or from the outfield, everyone, even those in the stands, knows when the play is going to be close.
Just like you know when the runner is going to be out.
As well as--when you know the runner is going to be safe.
That 90 Foot Distance between bases allows the right amount of athleticism, and skill, to participate in the game--neither really overshadowing the other.
There will always be great fielders.
There will always be great runners.
But none of them will ever be as Perfect as the 90 Foot Distance set between bases on the baseball diamond.
When you really thing about it, the Game Of Baseball has changed tremendously over the past 163 Years of play. But from the very first days of Organized Ball--the infield distances have stayed the same. If a player from 1845 emerged today to watch the modern game--he may not know all the rules--but he would know the game being played was BASEBALL.
90 Feet--A Perfect Distance.
PS--The Knickerbocker Rules
PSS--Who wants to take a stab at 60' 6"? Why not just 60 Feet for the distance from The Pitchers Mound to Home Plate?