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The Fastpitch Bulletin, Volume 20, Number 18 for April 2, 2020

04/02/2020, 8:30pm CDT
By Bob Tomlinson

1936 Was An Important Year for Fastpitch Softball

Pitching Distance Changed -- Some Great Nicknames In This Old Article

Througout the years and especially since 1988 when I started putting together a network of reporters to submit articles and information to launch The Fastpitch Chronicle newspaper then the first-ever fastpitch website at fastpitchchronicle.com and now fastpitchchronicle.net I have been interested in the history of the game.

I have known since back in those days that 1936 was a big year for softball. There was one rule change that changed the game immediately in 1936. The pitching distance went from 38’ 8 ½ inches to 40 feet. Another rule change that year resulted in all base runners moving up a base when an illegal pitch was called. That rule remained in the rule book until last year in NFHS but was removed while I was the Northern Vice President of the International Softball Congress. So that was sometime before the 2005 ISC season. 

Here is an article from June 12, 1936 that I found in my archive vault this morning. I started hunting for it after last night’s posts on 

New Rules Help Make Softball More Popular
Regulations Remove Advantages Pitcher Has Had Over Batter In Part

By Jimmy Donahue - NEA Service Sports Writer

Chicago, June 12, 1936 -- As fast as softball is with its abbreviated diamond, the rules committee of he American Softball association made three important changes this year, designed to speed up the sport. 

The first, and probably the most important, the the moving of the pitchers box back 40 feet from home plate in place of the former 38 feet 8 ½ inches. The shorter distance gave the pitcher a distinct advantage heretofore; a tall pitcher with a good stride and stretch seemed to be almost on top of the batter as he delivered his swift underhand offerings.

Eighteen or more strikeouts weren’t uncommon in seven innings in the past, moving the mound back will help the sluggers who seldom had time to get their bludgeons off their shoulders under old rules.

Another regulation governing pitching also may work to the advantage of the batter. Hurlers now are prohibited from employing the double windup, an action designed to confuse hitters in a way somewhat similar to the freak motions Buck Newsom and other big league ball players employ.

The third rule change was allowing runners to steal and score on a balk or illegal pitch. Heretofore, scoring on a balk was forbidden, but now all base runners advance, including the man on third.

Star Color Game

Standardization of the playing field to a baseline distance of 60 feet, when played with the regulation 12-inch ball, also cleared up a moot point in the sport. 

With such a short organized existence behind it, softball really has outdone itself in producing colorful stars. Since 1933, when the J.L. Gill Boosters of Chicago won the “world series.” and through 1934 and 1935, when the Ke-Nash-A's of Kenosha, Wis.,. And Crimson Coaches, Toledo annexed the national titles the sport has produced some pitchers with all the antics of the eccentric Dean, who plays with a Phoenix, Ariz. team and Joe :”Two-Gun Hunt,” another unusual individual who is a top-notch Phoenix twirler. 

“Cannon Ball” Bill Bailey, former pitcher with a Cincinnati team now with the Toledo champions on a coast-to-coast tour, has one of the fastest deliveries in the game, and displays all the smoke of Lefty Bob Grove and Walter Johnson in their primes. 

“Wild Bill Pecnick, a southpaw, who pitched the Ke-Nash-A’s to the 1934 title, now tossed ‘em in for a Boone, Ia. club. In six seasons Bill has worked in 424 games, winning 381. Among is victories were 32 no-hit, no- run tilts. Bill is somewhat of a Babe Ruth in softball, having a lifetime batting average of .375 in the sport. 

That’s Wiffing ‘Em

Harry Kraft who set a new record for overtime pitching in defeating Newport, Ky., 2 to 1 in the 19 inning semi-final game of the 1934 tournament which is Ke-Nash-A’s won, now is with the Bendix, South Bend, Ind., team.

In the Newport game Kraft, a fast-ball specialist, fanned 38, allowing only six hits. In four seasons he has won 122 games, lost 21, and pitched 12 no-hit, no-run contests.

The Softball world series again will be held in Chicago this year. September 12-14. Soldiers Field, where thousands can be accommodated, will be the scene of the battle. 

The sport will need all the room it can get for the classic for, in addition to the expected increase in spectators, nearly 100 entries are expected, due to the increase in the communities adopting the organized sport last year. 

Softball is here to stay and grow bigger and better every year -- for 62,000,000 spectators annually can’t be wrong.

 

Publisher’s Note: For those of you interested. Back in 2018 I was asked by Derren Derricks, owner of The Circle Tap in Denmark and sponsor of the Circle Tap Dukes and other teams if I would be interested in attending the 2019 ISC World Tournament and do individual game summaries the way I did them back in my publishing days of the newspaper. I agreed to take on the task. It was daunting to say the least. I summarized every game played in Tisch Mills, Denmark and Circle Tap including the ISC World Tournament, The ISC 2 Tournament, the NAFA Youth event Darren put together and the ISC Master’s Division Tournament. That was far more games than the 94 or 95 games I would do back in the day during the week of the ISC World Tournament. If you click on the Men’s tab of fastpitchchronicle.net you can read the daily reports. Have a great day and may all your days be fastpitch days. 

 

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