About the Game
When the Brooklyn team began playing in 1883 the game of baseball was similiar to today’s fast-pitch softball. Pitchers threw the ball underhand from a flat pitcher’s box 50 feet from home plate. Pitchers had learned to throw the ball fast by bending the rules and their arms. Nobody wore gloves except the catcher and the first baseman, who wore rudimentary mitts much like work gloves. Batters could order the pitcher to throw a high pitch or a low pitch. A foul ball caught on first bounce was an out.
There were two major leagues, the National League that had been formed in 1876 and the American Association that had been formed in 1882. Brooklyn was an independent city and the third largest in the U.S. New York was the biggest city and had two, new major league teams — the New York Gothams (later the Giants) in the National League and the New York Metropolitans in the American Association. The Brooklyn owners built a new baseball stadium called Washington Park. It included an entrance for horse-drawn carriages, which were parked behind the outfielders. Fans were called “cranks.” There was only one umpire, and after the game he often had to leave the field under a police escort if his calls had gone against the home team.