In today’s episode of Baseball Shorts, we pay attention to the position of shortstop and especially how it got its name.
It is said that in the very early days of baseball, the position of shortstop did not exist. As the basemen played nearly on top of their base, the guy that now is a shortstop, played in the outfield.
As the very first official baseball game was played in 1845 (you know, the New York Knickerbockers and the New York Nine), it took about four or five years before the position was arguably invented by Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams. Back in those days, the balls they played with were so light that one hardly could throw more than 200 feet with it. So there was a need for a fielder that could relay the throws from the outfield or stop the throws short.
Another story about how the position of shortstop was invented is one about Dicky Pearce. Pearce played for the Brooklyn Atlantics. He wasn’t a slugger like most of his teammates. But he was smart and had studied hitting. As a result, he was a master in laying down bunts. But Pearce was a tiny man and had very short legs. So the Atlantics put him at the position what is now shortstop for the only reason that he was considered too short-legged to play in the outfield.
A third option of how the shortstop got his name is the next one. As written before, the basemen played nearly on top of their base. There was a need for a player that could deal with short hit balls before they dribbled to a halt and got lost somewhere, someone who could “stop them short.”
It is hard to tell which explanation is true. IMHO all seem rather plausible to me.