The Pitching Mound…


First_mound_ussr

(At left First Mound in USSR "Diamond Diplomacy Tour")

Rule 1.04 in the MLB rule book states, " The pitchers plate shall be 10 inches above the level of home plate. The degree of slope from a point 6 inches in front of the plate shall be 1 inch to 1 foot and such degree of slope shall be uniform".   The rule book gos on to detail other mound specifics regarding the pitching rubber, the diameter and the size of the level area on top of the mound.

It didn’t used to be this way.  In the late 1800’s approximately 1859,  there was no pitching rubber,  only a  line that was drawn in the dirt about 45 feet from the home plate. A few years later they changed the line to a box so the pitchers could no longer take 2 or 3 steps before throwing the ball from the line. The front line of  the 6-foot square box was still 45 feet from the home plate ….not 60 feet 6 inches like it is today.  Another perspective is that the distance between home plate and the pitchers mounds initially was measured from the front foot of the pitcher during the early days of the game not as it is today where the distance is measured from the back foot. 

In those days the batters were actually allowed to tell the pitcher where he wanted the ball thrown. In about 1882 they decided to move the "pitchers box back to 50 feet because it was beginning to be to tough on the hitter.  A few years later they changed the rules again to make the pitching box a little smaller and the batter lost the control of telling the pitcher where to throw the balls.

During or around 1893, a pitcher’s plate made from wood not rubber was used.  This pitching plate was installed about five feet behind the back edge of the pitchers box which gave us the 60 feet distance.  The difference in the measurement of 60′ 6 inches  and what was measured in that era was "supposedly" blamed on the groundscrew for not measuring the distance correctly. They probably had to blame it on someone and the groundskeeper was as good as any!

One must remember the pitchers mound was still flat during those years until they set a height of 15 inches in 1903.  There is really no written notation of the word "mound" until the 1903 rules were formed.

The mound has remained the same distance from home plate for over 100 years. The next big change took place in the mid 1960’s when during that era, pitchers were dominating the game.  Low ERA’s and both leagues naming pitchers MVP’S caused ownership to make another change around 1967. Following a season where Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA and Carl Yaztremski won the batting title with a 301 average, the mound was lowered to 10 inches in 1968.  And if that wasn’t enough to change the game and make it more offensive,  along came the DH a couple years later in 1973. Dscn0418With that change we saw a change in the pitchers mechanics change from the "stand tall and fall" to the "drop and drive".

Today it appears things are swinging back the other way and they may need to make a change to the mound again (or get rid of the DH.)  Only time will tell.

11 Comments

Murry – Neat blog! I take care of baseball fields in palm beach county and also considering going to a local turf school. Where in russia was the photo taken? Were you there? Do you ever need any help?

Grassman- The photo was taken in Talninn, Estonia. I was asked to build a mound on a soccer field. We also were in Moscow and Kiev but materials to construct a mound were difficult to locate until we moved north to Estonia. It wasn’t much of a mound but it was the first for the pros! That’s Charlie Eschbach throwing out the first pitch for ESPN. Stump Merril was our manager.

Good luck in school and send me some contact info.

Murry, would you describe the process for building a pitching mound in a major league ballpark? Thanks.

M Moore

Mounds are a little different in MLB parks as they relate to the type of clays and maintenance. Installation methods vary to a slight degree as well.

I have installed mounds using a different approach and it turned out fine. The difference between a good mound and a great mound is the material used between the toe plate and the landing area and how you maintain it.

As far as specific grades, elevations, depth of packing clay and installation process, I will send you something on that via email. Good luck!

Murry,
I am currently coaching a 12 & under baseball team. We have been given the use of a local church baseball field. We have constructed a mound which is a few years old now. We are having trouble with the kids digging craters in front of the mound and the landing area is getting worse than ever. We went to a Durham Bulls game last year and talked to one of their grounds crewman. He said to pack clay back into the holes and apply calcium to it to harden it. We packed clay back into, blisters to prove it, and applied a liquid calcium to it. Nothing seems to work. Any Ideas? Thanks!

I have been keeping up on your blog, trying to take notes when you mentioned them. Now I am hoping you can help with this question. We are bringing in new mar mound clay to work into our holes and rebuild the mound we have, we don’t have enough to tear out the old mound, just repair and change the color of it. My question is on the slope. How can I gauge our slope and make sure we have the correct drop? is their a secret tool I can use?

Murray–I am interested in building a mound for a 12U baseball team to use for practice. Would it be possible to build a good mound in my back yard?? I have plenty of room and willing to put in the work. Could you please email me imformation on how to accomplish this??

HI. Excellent site!!

I want to build a mound – using sand, clay, etc in my back yard.

Recommendations as to the best type of material and any other advice would be greatly appreciated. Please e-mail me anything you might think valuable.

The reason the pitcher’s mound is where it is today at 60’6″ is largely attributed to my great uncle, Amos Rusie, who was a pitcher for the New York Giants. He was known as “Fireball Rusie” and the “Hoosier Thunderbolt”, had a drink named after him in New York, dated Lillian Russell, and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is being honored, among other Hoosier Hall-of-Famers, at an Indianapolis Indians game tonight. Check him out; he was a pretty interesting character!

Love the site, but i would like to recieve some info via email on how you recommend building a mound that has already been built up, i already ordered 10 bags of mar mound clay,tamp,rake, and cover, the mound is shrunk 11 ft in cirum. and is in my backyard. any info would be greatly appreciated.

Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your theme. Appreciate it

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