One-hundred and twenty-nine years ago, there was Phillies baseball, but no television, automobiles, airplanes, radio, NFL, NBA or NHL. Heck, when the Phillies celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1983, there was no iPod, no text messaging, no Twitter, no Facebook. Social networking was something different.
A lot has changed in this country and culture since the first Phillies game, but the basic game of baseball hasn't changed that much. Oh, there are 30 teams today, the designated hitter, closers, setup relievers, divisions, Wild Cards, playoffs -- none of which existed in 1883.
The game is still played by nine players, with nine innings being a regulation game. There are still three outs in an inning and a batter still gets three strikes. The bases are still 90 feet apart and the weight of a baseball has not changed.
But there were some interesting rules and practices that were in effect in 1883:
Gloves were made of thin leather and did not cover the fingers.
The pitcher's "mound" was a flat surface, 50 feet from home plate (it became 60 feet, six inches in 1893).
Home plate was a 12-inch square (instead of the present-day five-sided figure at 17-inches wide).
Catchers did not wear chest protectors (until 1885) or shin guards (1907). Catchers were positioned 20 or more feet behind the batter and caught the balls on a bounce.
Batters were permitted to ask for a high or low pitch (rule was abolished in 1886).
A pitcher had to throw seven balls in order to issue a walk. Pitchers were required to throw underhanded (overhanded pitching began in 1884).
Rules prohibited the use of a new ball until the beginning of a new inning, no matter how worn or disfigured the ball might have been.
No games were played on Sundays.
There was one umpire a game. He was paid $5.
Players had to pay $30 for their uniforms (clubs began paying for them in 1912).
Player salaries were limited to $2,000 annually. Team rosters were 11 or 12 players.
History shows the Phillies played their first game on May 1, 1883, losing to the Providence Grays, 4-3, at Recreation Park, located at 24th and Columbia Avenues. The crowd was an estimated 1,200. Time of game: 1:30.
The Grays scored four in the eighth to win. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer game story of May 2, "The fielding was good on both sides, but the batting was weak." According to the box score, each team had six hits. The Grays had five errors, the Phillies three.
Left fielder William "Blondie" Purcell got the Phillies' first hit and scored the first run. He singled to left-center in the first inning and scored on a groundout.
Right-hander John Coleman went the distance and took the loss. Coleman finished the season with a 12-48 record in 65 games, pitching a total of 538 1/3 innings. Pitch count, anybody?
Notable events of 1883
Ladies Home Journal is published for the first time.
The first vaudeville theater is opened in Boston.
Brooklyn Bridge is opened to traffic after 13 years of construction.
The Orient Express began operation.
U.S. and Canadian railroads instituted five standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.
University of Texas at Austin, Wagner College, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and LIFE magazine were founded.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.