For Pete's Sake

Did the birth of baseball launch angles come in 1885 in Caldwell, Kan.?

It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Statcast information wasn't readily disseminated to baseball fans.

During the 2014 playoffs, when the Royals were making that remarkable run to the World Series, Major League Baseball made Statcast information available, and we all got to see the raw numbers behind those Lorenzo Cain catches.

By the next spring, MLB had rolled it out for every game.

These days, fans get in-game information on route efficiency, pop time for catchers and launch angles for home runs.

If it seems like "launch angle" has entered the vernacular over the last few years, you'd be right. But Twitter user Nathan Ward shared a clipping from a newspaper that mentioned launch angles ... in 1885.

The Caldwell (Kan.) Advance noted, "A base ball should be struck at the angle of 23 degrees in order to send it to the greatest possible distance. If you can't strike it in 23 degrees, give it a boost in ten, five, or even one, but be sure to bat it in some degree."

Could this be a fake? Absolutely. If so, someone did a great job of matching typography to the rest of the newspaper.

If you click on the link, it goes to Page 3 of the Advance from May 28, 1885, and the launch angle chatter is sandwiched between items on a horse sale and a man who fell off a horse.

Elsewhere on the page there is this write-up about a baseball game:

"The Caldwell base ball club had another round-up with the Wellington Clippers Monday morning, and the result was the C.J. club got it put upon them in horrible shape. Up to the end of the seventh inning it looked as though the game might be a pretty respectable one for amateurs, the scoring standing 6 to 6; but after that the scrub cropped out and the was up to 28 to 16, in favor of the Clippers. We are all scrubs, and there is no use denying the fact, in the light of past events. The boys do not propose giving up the game until the scores come down below ten for nine innings. A game some time in the near future will be played at our fair grounds between the same teams."

My favorite line: "We are all scrubs, and there is no use denying the fact."

But I digress.

While that 23 degree launch angle might be better for line drives than home runs, it's interesting (if true) that a paper in Kansas wrote about this subject more than 135 years ago. Want more on launch angles, then you should check out Daren Willman's incredible site, which showed that launch angles between 25 degrees and 29 degrees led to the most homers in 2017.

So why did the Caldwell, Kan., write about launch angles? Well, that's a mystery that may never be answered.

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