Charlie Sprague, Pitcher, Chicago White Stockings
Baseball history photo: Charlie Sprague, Pitcher, Chicago White Stockings (National League). Sprague pitched three games for the third place Chicago Club in 1887 and two games for Cleveland, sometimes referred to as the Spiders, also of the National League in 1889. In his final top level professional season with the Toledo Maumees of the American Association, Sprague appeared in 55 games, 19 of them as a pitcher. Sprague demonstrates his delivery using the required “T-Stance,” first instituted in 1887. After the 1886 season the pitcher was no longer allowed to move around in the 7 foot by 4 foot pitcher's box prior to delivering the ball to the batter. Beginning in 1887, the pitcher's back foot was required to be placed, and left, on the back line on the pitcher's box, reduce to 5½ feet by 4 feet. He had to point his landing foot toward the batter and present the ball so it could be seen by the umpire, who generally stood to one side of the batter. For the first time since the beginning of baseball, the pitcher was mandated to pause between each pitch, attempted pick-off or fake pick-off, before delivering the ball to the batter. He was also only allowed only one step in his delivery. The 1887 season regarding the pitcher, was the beginning of “modern” baseball. However, it took five balls before the batter received his base on called balls and four strikes before being called out. Click photo to return to previous page.