Saturday, April 12, 2008

Question of the Week

Jack, Houston, TX
Subj: Stolen base king
Hey Ryan, I was looking at a list of baseball records and I noticed some guy named Hugh Nicol once had 138 stolen bases in a single season. How is that possible?

Great question, Jack! As you may have noticed, Nicol set the single season record for stolen bases in 1887 when professional baseball was still working out the kinks on what constituted a swipe. According to the rules of the day, a stolen base was credited to any runner who reached an extra base on a hit from another player. That rule was eventually changed in 1898, but it helps explain why five of the top six base stealers of all time including Nicol, Arlie Latham, Charlie Comiskey, Billy Hamilton and John Ward set their marks prior to 1891.