95 Fun Facts about Baseball

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 20, 2016Updated October 13, 2016
  • The base most stolen in a baseball game is second base.[6]
  • The unofficial anthem of American baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is traditionally sung during the middle of the 7th inning. It was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer, both of whom had never been to a baseball game.[3]
  • Mo’ne Davis (2001– ) became the first female to win a Little League World Series baseball game.[13]
  • No woman has ever played in a major league baseball game. American sports executive Effa Louise Manley (1897–1981) is the first and only woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[8]
  • Early baseballs contained anything from a rock to a walnut in the center
  • The life span of a major league baseball is 5–7 pitches. During a typical game, approximately 70 balls are used.[6]
  • While baseball initially started in the U.S., it has spread worldwide. Today more than 100 countries are part of the International Baseball Federation. Japan has the largest pro baseball league outside the U.S.[8]
  • Baseball’s L.A. Dodgers, originally founded in Brooklyn, are named after the legendary skill that that local residents showed at “dodging” the city’s trolley streetcar system.[8]
  • The Boston Americans won baseball’s first World Series in 1903.[8]
  • In 2014, Major League Baseball saw approximately $9 billion in gross revenue, up from $8 billion the previous year.[2]
  • The baseball team with the most World Series wins is the New York Yankees with 27 titles.[8]
  • The first known reference to the word “baseball” was in a 1744 publication by children’s publisher John Newberry called A Little Pretty Pocket-Book.[11]
  • A “can of corn” is an easy fly ball. The term comes from when old-time grocers used their aprons to catch cans knocked from a high shelf.[4]
  • Craig Biggio (1965– ) of the Houston Astros holds the record for a player most often hit by a pitch.[8]
  • In 2008, Dr. David A. Peters found that sliding headfirst into a base is faster than a feet-first slide.[6]
  • The mitt is the most evolved piece of sport's equipment
  • Baseball gloves have evolved more than any other piece of the sport’s equipment.[6]
  • The oldest baseball park still in use is Fenway Park, the home field of the Boston Red Sox, which debuted in 1912.[8]
  • The New York Yankees were the first baseball team to wear numbers on their backs, in the 1920s. They initially wore numbers based on the batting order. Babe Ruth always hit third, so he was number 3.[4]
  • For the first half of the 20th century, major league teams barred African-Americans from participating in its baseball games. However, African-Americans formed “Negro Leagues,” which had some of the greatest players of the century.[8]
  • The Yankees’ Mickey Mantle holds the record for the longest home run on record for a 565-foot clout hit at Washington DC’s old Griffith Stadium on April 17, 1953. As a switch hitter, he was batting right-handed against left-handed pitcher Chuck Stobbs from the Washington Senators.[8]
  • There is a rule in baseball that before every game, an umpire should remove the shine from the new baseballs by rubbing them with mud from a creek in Burlington County, New Jersey.[4]
  • Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday became a national hero when he rescued an American flag from two men who were trying to set it on fire in the outfield at Dodger Stadium during a game on April 25, 1976. The 25,167 fans gave him a standing ovation and burst out singing “God Bless America.”[8]
  • The first U.S. president to throw the ceremonial first ball was William Howard Taft (a former semipro baseball player) on April 14, 1910. American presidents, except Jimmy Carter, have been throwing out the first ball on Opening Day ever since.[8]
  • “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed for the first time at a sporting event on September 5, 1918, in the middle of the 7th inning of Game 1 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs at (rented out) Comiskey Park.[8]
  • Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. became the first father and son to play in the major leagues as teammates for the Seattle Mariners in 1990. On September 14, 1990, they hit back-to-back home runs, creating another father-son baseball first.[8]
  • Jackie Mitchell was banned from Major and Minor League Baseball
  • Minor league pitcher Jackie Mitchell (1913–1987) is famous for striking out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in succession in the 1930s. She was promptly banned from Major and Minor League Baseball.[8]
  • Famous baseball movies include The Bad News Bears (1976), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), The Natural (1984), Bill Durham (1988), Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), Moneyball (2011), 42 (2013), A League of Their Own (1992), Fear Strikes Out (1957), and Eight Men Out (1988).[12]
  • Visiting teams wear (at least mostly) gray uniforms so fans can easily distinguish between the visiting team and the home team. The tradition dates back to the late 1800s when travelling teams did not have time to launder their uniforms and, consequently, wore gray to hide the dirt.[4]
  • The first pro baseball game ever to be aired on television was on August 26, 1939. It was a doubleheader between Brooklyn and Cincinnati.[8]
  • “Soaking” was a very early baseball rule that allowed a runner who was off base to be put out by throwing a ball at him.[4]
  • The team with the most players in the Hall of Fame is the San Francisco Giants, who have 24 Hall of Famers.[8]
  • From 1995 to 2001, every seat at Jacobs Field was sold out every night for 455 baseball games in a row. The Cleveland Indians retired the number 455 in honor of their fans.[8]
  • The last major league ballpark to install lights was Chicago’s Wrigley Field in 1988. Until then, the Cubs did not have lights and played all their home games in the daytime.[8]
  • The association between hot dogs and baseball began as early as 1893
  • Hot dogs are the most popular ballpark food item. Baseball fans ate 21,357,316 hot dogs and 5,508,887 sausages during the 2014 major league season. That is enough hot dogs to stretch from Dodger Stadium in LA to Wrigley Field in Chicago.[9][14]
  • Boston Red Sox player Jimmy Piersall celebrated his 100th home run by running the bases backwards. He was an eccentric player who inspired the book and movie Fear Strikes Out, which chronicle his battle with bipolar disorder.[8]
  • In 1989, NBC’s Gayle Gardner (1950– ) became the first woman to regularly host Major League Baseball games for a television network.[8]
  • When baseball great Lou Gehrig retired from the game due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he said in his farewell speech that he was “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” His speech has been called the “Gettysburg Address of Baseball.”[8]
  • Toni Stone (1921–1996) became the first of three women to play in baseball’s Negro League over its 40-year history. Baseball historians called her the “female Jackie Robinson.” At one time, in 1953, she was the fourth best batter in the league.[13]
  • Dock Ellis (1945–2008), the Pirates’ starting pitcher, pitched his first and only no-hitter of his career on June 12th, 1970. He also happened to be high on LSD at the time.[8]
  • While baseball games today last about 3 hours, the fastest game ever played in major league history lasted just 51 minutes on September 28, 1919. The New York Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 at the Polo Grounds.[8]
  • The most innings ever played in a Major League Baseball game was 26 innings on May 1, 1920, when the Brooklyn Dodgers played the Boston Braves.[8]
  • The longest game on record was between the Chicago White Sox and the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on May 9, 1984. The game lasted 8 hours 6 minutes and went 25 innings.[8]
  • The record for the least amount of people at a baseball game was set in 2011 when the Florida Marlins played the Cincinnati Reds. Due to Hurricane Irene, just 347 people attended the game.[8]
  • Johannes Peter "Honus" Wagner was an American baseball shortstop
  • The most valuable baseball card ever is the 1909 Honus Wagner T206 baseball card, worth about $2.8 million.[8]
  • In the United States, baseball is often used as a metaphor for sex. The term “first base” indicates mouth-to-mouth kissing; “second base” symbolizes skin-to-skin contact, or manual stimulation of the genitals; “third base” includes oral sex, or touching of the mouth to the genitals; and “homerun” symbolizes full intercourse.[10]
  • In 1919, the Chicago White Sox earned the name “Black Sox” when eight players were accused of intentionally losing the World Series. The eight players were banned from baseball for life, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of baseball’s all-time greatest hitters. Because he was kicked out, he is also ineligible for the Hall of Fame.[8]
  • Baseball bats in the minor and major leagues are made from wood. However, metal bats are used at the college level.[6]
  • Even though two baseball bats weigh the same, they may feel lighter or heavier when they are swung. The “swing weight” differs according to the distribution of mass in a bat.[6]
  • Researchers note that the most successful baseball hitters have brains that can process visual information faster than normal. They have the ability to detect the spin of a ball as soon as the pitcher releases it and claim they can see the ball in “slightly slower” motion.[6]
  • A big-league player can hit a 90-mph pitch with more than 8,000 pounds during the millisecond that the bat is in contact with the baseball. The ball leaves the bat at a speed of 110 mph.[6]
  • A player increases his chance of hitting a home run if he hits the baseball at the bat’s “sweet spot.” This spot is an area between 5 and 7 inches from the barrel end of the bat. When a player hits the sweet spot, there is less vibration, and the bat makes a satisfying “crack” sound.[6]
  • Since 1983, major league players have been required to wear helmets with at least one earflap to protect the side of the head facing the pitcher. The latest helmets also provide increased protection to the back of the head.[6]
  • Only one major league player has been killed by a pitched ball. Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians was fatally hit in the head on August 16, 1920, by a ball thrown by Yankee pitcher Carl Mays.[6]
  • A baseball bat can travel up to 80 mph during a swing
  • During a swing, a baseball bat may travel about 80 mph at its peak.[6]
  • To advance from base to base, baseball players can either run in a straight line or in a curve. A straight path is fine for a one-base advance. However, a player will “round the base,” or run in a curve if he is going for extra bases to avoid momentum carrying him past his target.[6]
  • The first-ever radio broadcast of a major league baseball game occurred on August 5, 1921, by radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh. The first place Pirates beat the last place Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 at Forbes Field. It also featured the game’s first live play-by-play announcer, 26-year-old Harold Arlin.[8]
  • The first-ever television broadcast of a major league baseball game was on August 26, 1939, when the Cincinnati Reds played a doubleheader against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.[8]
  • The shortest player to ever bat in a major league baseball game was Eddie Gaedel (1925–1961), who was 3 feet, 7 inches tall. He came to the plate for the St. Louis Browns against the Detroit Tigers on August 19, 1951, during part of publicity stunt.[8]
  • The oldest player to hit a home run was Julio Franco (1958– ) of the New York Mets. He was 47 years and 240 days old when he hit a home run on April 20, 2006.[8]
  • Throwing a baseball significantly faster than 100 mph is nearly impossible. Speeds over that would create too much torque in a pitcher’s arm, leading to snapped tendons and ligaments.[6]
  • A baseball pitcher’s curveball can curve over 17 inches away from a straight line toward home plate.[6]
  • In 1931, Chattanooga shortstop Johnny Jones was traded to the Charlotte Hornets for a 25-pound turkey. Equally bizarre was when Jack Fenton was traded to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League for a bag of prunes. The most famous sale in baseball history took place in 1919 when the Yankees paid Boston $125,000 for Babe Ruth.[4]
  • In 1930, Babe Ruth was making $80,000, which is about $1 million in current money. When he was asked how he deserved to make more than the U.S. president, he replied, “I had a better year.”[8]
  • Many people believe that Abner Doubleday (1819–1893) invented baseball in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York. However, baseball actually slowly evolved from simple European bat-and-ball games that were played in the 18th and 19th centuries.[8]
  • Some of the most famous baseball records include Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Ted William’s .407 batting average in 1941, Barry Bonds’ 73 homers in 2001, and Cy Young’s 511 career wins.[8]
  • Baseball has been called America’s national pastime since the Civil War. Indeed, its popularity increased during that war (1861–65) as both Union and Confederate soldiers played the game as a morale booster and emotional escape when they had time.[8]
  • Babe Ruth was listed as "incorrigible" at a Catholic reform school
  • George Herman Ruth, Jr. (Babe Ruth) was nicknamed “Babe” when a player saw Baltimore Orioles manager Jack Dunn with his new player and said, “There goes Dunnie with his new babe.”[8]
  • Babe Ruth (also nicknamed “Bambino,” “The Big Bam,” and “The Sultan of Swap”) hit his first home run on May 6, 1915, off New York Yankees pitcher Jack Warhop. Ruth helped revolutionize baseball by transforming it into a power-hitting game.[4]
  • Harry Wright (1835–1895), a former cricket player and businessman, organized the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869. He signed nine players to contracts at an average annual salary of $950. The Red Stockings played their first game on March 15, 1869, against Antioch College, winning 41-7.[8]
  • The first professional baseball league was the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. It was formed during the winter of 1870, when Harry Wright of the Cincinnati Red Stockings broke away from the National Association of Baseball Players, which still claimed to be for amateurs only.[8]
  • In baseball history, “The Dead Ball Era” refers to the years 1900–1919 when baseballs were soft and loosely wound, which made them harder to hit far. Consequently, the pitchers of the day, such as Cy Young, Walter Johnson, and Grover Cleveland had a clear advantage over hitters (though there were also prolific hitters of that time, such as Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, and Honus Wagner).[8]
  • In addition to “pitchers elbow” and rotator cuff injuries, the worst shoulder injury for a baseball pitcher is a labrum tear, or when the cartilage between the upper arm and the shoulder socket tears. A torn labrum usually requires surgery, and very few pitchers have a successful career afterward.[6]
  • It is a rule that a pitcher must first wipe his hand on his uniform before he grips the ball for a pitch.[4]
  • The catcher has one of the most difficult jobs in baseball. Even with the extra padding in a glove, catchers often develop circulatory problems in their hand from catching so many powerful pitches. Catchers often also suffer from torn meniscus.[6]
  • A catcher's equipment is often called "tools of ignorance"
  • A baseball catcher’s equipment is sometimes called “tools of ignorance” because it is said that catching is such a difficult job that no intelligent person would do it.[4]
  • Evar Swanson (1902–1973), a leftfielder for baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, holds the record for the fastest time around the bases. On September 15, 1929, he ran the bases in 13.3 seconds, a record that has held for over 80 years.[8]
  • The fastest baseball ever thrown anywhere is usually credited to Cleveland Indian pitcher Bob Feller. In 1946, he threw a fastball at 107.9 mph during a pitching display at Griffith Field. The Guinness Book of World Records sites a 2010 pitch by Aroldis Chapman as the fastest, at 105.1 mph during a Reds’ game against the San Diego Pedros.[7]
  • Glen Gorbous (1930–1990) holds the record for the longest throw by a pro baseball player. During a throwing exhibition in 1957, with a running start, he threw the ball 445 feet, 10 inches (136 meters).[8]
  • In 1882, players wore colored jerseys according to the position they played, not the team they played for. In 1883, owners ruled each team could choose its own uniform, except the stockings, which would be decided by the leagues.[4]
  • “Cranks” was an early term for baseball fans in the late 1880s. The term “fan” is said to be a shortened form of “fanatic.”[4]
  • The term “Murderer’s Row” describes the 1927 Yankee lineup, which featured future Baseball Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, and Earle Combs.[4]
  • Alexander Cartwright (1820–1892) organized the first ever baseball team named the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York, named after a New York City fire department. He also helped create the first-ever written rules of baseball in 1845 and was the first to draft the baseball diamond. He is one of several people named the “Father of Baseball.”[8]
  • Known (among several others) as the “Father of Baseball,” sportswriter Henry Chadwick of the New York Clipper increased baseball’s popularity by reporting games and inventing an early version of the box score. He is also the only writer to have been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[6]
  • A major league baseball must have lacing with exactly 108 stitches. It also must have a circumference between 9.00 and 9.25 inches, a weight between 5.00 and 5.25 ounces, and two pieces of cowhide laced together with red-waxed cotton stitches.[6]
  • All baseball fields have certain features in common. The distance between the bases is always exactly 90 feet (27 meters). The pitching rubber, where the pitcher stands, is 60 feet 6 inches (18 meters) from the back tip of home plate.[6]
  • An average of 50 foul balls are hit during a major league baseball game
  • During the average major league baseball game, 50 foul balls are hit into a crowd of about 31,000 people.[8]
  • The youngest pitcher in major league baseball history is Joe Nuxhall (1928–2007) who was just 15 years old when he entered a game and pitched 2/3 of an inning for the Cincinatti Reds.[8]
  • Cal Ripken Jr. holds the record for playing in the most consecutive baseball games. He played in 2,632 games and was twice named the American League’s Most Valuable Player, in 1983 and 1991. He didn’t miss a game in 16 years.[8]
  • Pete Rose (1941– ) from the Cincinnati Reds holds the all time record for hits (4,256) and games played (3,562). He was banned from baseball for life for betting on games while managing the team.[8]
  • The National Baseball Hall of Fame is located in Cooperstown, New York, and was established in 1935. The first five men elected to “Cooperstown,” as it is also known, were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson.[8]
  • Philadelphia Phillies star Richie Ashburn (1927–1997) fouled off two consecutive pitches that hit the same woman twice in the stands. The first foul ball broke the woman’s nose. While medics were attending to her, Ashburn hit a second foul ball that hit the same woman as she was being carried off on stretcher.[8]
  • The Atlanta Braves team, which originated in Boston, at one time were called the Beaneaters after the area’s famous Boston Baked Beans. In 1912, the name was changed to the Braves.[8]
  • While Jackie Robinson is commonly thought to be the first African-American baseball player in the big leagues when he played on April 15, 1947, another African-American named William Edward White played a single game for the National League’s Providence Grays on June 21, 1879, making him the first.[8]
  • Baseball was a full medal sport in the Olympics from 1992–2008. However, a vote by the International Olympic Committee took baseball off the calendar starting in 2012. World baseball groups continue to try to return the sport to the games.[5]
  • In 1943, with the major leagues depleted due to WW II, Chicago Cubs owner Philip Wrigley started a professional women’s softball team to attract fan interest. The team eventually switched from playing softball (pitching underhand) to baseball and changed their name to the All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBL). The AAGBL played their final season in 1954.[8]
  • To achieve the crosshatched diamond pattern on a baseball field, rollers on a mower push the grass slightly forward, similar to running a vacuum back and forth on a plush carpet. Blades bent away from the viewer capture more light and appear paler. Grass blades that are bent toward the viewer look darker.[1]

1 Branch, John. “Groundskeepers Display Artistry on the Diamond.” New York Times. September 30, 2008. Accessed: October 20, 2015.

2 Brown, Maury. “Major League Baseball Sees Record $9 Billion in Revenues for 2014.” Forbes. December 10, 2014. Accessed: October 19, 2015.

3 Buckley, James. Baseball (DK Eyewitness Books). New York, NY: DK Publishing, 2010.

4 Cook, Sally and James Charlton. Hey Batta Batta Swing!: The Wild Old Days of Baseball. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007.

5 Denomme, Ian. “Will Baseball Return to the Olympics? We’ll Know in 2016.” Yahoo. February 5, 2015. Accessed: November 7, 2015.

6 Dreier, David. Baseball: How It Works (Sports Illustrated for Kids). Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2010.

7Fastest Baseball Pitch (Male).” Guinness World Records. 2015. Accessed: October 13, 2015.

8 Fischer, David. Baseball (Smithsonian Q & A: The Ultimate Question and Answer Book). Irvington, NY: Hyrda Publishing, 2007.

9Hot Dogs Remain Top Dog for Major League Baseball Fans.” GlobeNewswire. March 28, 2014. Accessed: October 19, 2015.

10 Levkoff, Logan. Third Base Ain’t What It Used to Be. New York, NY: Open Road Media, 2012.

11 Palmer, Alex. Weird-o-pedia. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012.

12 Smith, Kyle. “The 10 Best Baseball Movies of All Time.” New York Post. May 14, 2014. Accessed: October 20, 2015.

13 Stewart, Sara. “Will a Woman Ever Play in the Major Leagues?” New York Post. August 23, 2014. Accessed: October 19, 2015.

14The History of Ballpark Food.” History.com. March 31, 2011. Accessed: October 19, 2015.