You may know of the hit batsman rule as hit by pitch, hit by pitcher, or if you read box scores: “HBP,” or if you’ve played baseball you might simply say: “OUCH! #@#&$(!ING. OUCH.”
But to put it more eloquently, The Baseball Field Guide by Dan Formosa and Paul Hamburger, 2008, defines hit by pitch as such:
“When a batter is hit by a pitch he will be awarded first base. The ball will be dead and no other runners will be allowed to advance [unless forced] — even if the ball deflects off the batter in such a way that the catcher is unable to catch the ball.”
The Field Guide also notes that there are three conditions to this rule:
1. The offending pitch must be in the strike zone, or else, fool, git yo’self outta tha way. Also: no leaning in to meet pitches.
2. The batter must not be swinging at the ball, as this leads to a strike.
3. The batter must attempt to get out of the way. So basically, those Spidey Senses better be tingling cause when a 90mph projectile is hurling towards you, it don’ come cryin’ if you don’ dodge it.
As you might suspect, the rules of the game, including this one, have evolved and changed since their inception in the 1840′s. Which is great if you’re a baseball historian, or, if you like to feel smarter (and better than other people), so read on.
The Dickson Baseball Dictionary states that the hit by pitch rule came into play in 1882 due to a certain rowdy rascal, the pitcher Mr. Will White of the Cincinnati Red Stockings. (Just take a look at the inset photo and tell me you wouldn’t be suspicious of what’s hiding under that remarkable moustache.) According to
history legend, White often intentionally hit batters to hold them off the strikezone and away from the plate.