Dear Mr. Baseball:Years ago, outfielders and some...

MR. BASEBALL

August 11, 1994

Dear Mr. Baseball:

Years ago, outfielders and some infielders left their gloves on the field. Now they bring them into the dugout. When did the change occur?

Joseph Noone

Glen Burnie

Dear Joseph Noone:

Mr. Baseball has no memory of this practice but developed an answer to your question by drawing on recollections from longtime baseball fans, including U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, veteran comic Red Buttons and former Marlins pitcher Charlie Hough.

The panel confirms your point: that fielders of long ago dropped their gloves at their positions, giving little thought to the chance that their abandoned mitts might interfere with balls in play.

The possibility of glove interference apparently became more of a concern as fielders' equipment grew to today's butterfly-net proportions.

Finally, in 1954, the official baseball rules were amended to read: "No equipment shall be left lying on the field, either in fair or foul territory."

Dear Mr. Baseball:

With games going on so long, have the Orioles given any thought to moving up the start of games from 7:35 p.m. to 7:05? I have to be at work by 7 a.m., as do many health-care workers. I haven't seen the end of a game this season -- and I'm a season-ticket holder!

Suzanne Carson

Parkville

Dear Suzanne Carson:

Other than requests for Cal Ripken's cellular phone number, your question may be the most frequently asked of the Orioles.

The American League gives the 14 clubs a pretty long leash when it comes to setting starting times for their games. In the Orioles' case, team publicist Charles Steinberg says the goal simply is to choose times most convenient to a majority of fans.

Over the years, the club has experimented with a few starting times -- never hitting on a formula to please everyone.

As for the current opening pitch times -- 7:35 p.m. weeknights, 7:05 p.m. Saturdays -- the Orioles say they were chosen to give people the time they need to finish work, dinner and their commute to the ballpark. But if enough fans hollered, they might change.

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