It seems a baseball season doesn’t go by without talk of speeding up the pace of play. Who knew that 51 years ago the topic was a focal point at the annual winter baseball meetings being held in 1967 in Mexico City? The stewards of the game were concerned over three-and-a-half hour ballgames and the fact fans were changing the dial to watch football.
At a joint meeting of managers and general managers, it was agreed – without players’ input – batters would no longer be permitted to step out of the box to request that the umpire put in a new ball; pitchers could not ask for another ball if they did not like the feel of a new ball put into play; pinch hitters would have to be on the bench ready to go and not summoned from the bullpen; and teams would be encouraged to use motorized carts to bring in relievers. All this would supposedly speed up the game.
At the same meeting, the group also agreed to strengthen the ban on the spitball.
More than a half century later, at this year’s winter meetings, look for baseball to once again talk about speeding up the game. Maybe more clubs should join Arizona and bring back the bullpen carts.