Why In Baseball a Fielder Is Not Permitted To Catch a Ball With His Cap

In 1857, baseball rules stated that if a player caught a ball with his cap, no opposing player could be put out until the pitcher had touched the ball. The Boston Red Stockings turned this rule to their advantage on September 14, 1872, when the opposing team loaded the bases, with no one out. The batter hit an easy popup to Boston shortstop George Wright, who deftly caught the ball with his cap, then tossed it to the pitcher. The pitcher threw it to the catcher, who tagged home plate and threw it to third base. Boston then applied tags to third base and second base before their opponents realized what was happening. Although Boston argued for a triple play, the umpire refused to count the play at all. A clearer rule was established in 1872 and modified in 1874. Now, the runner is awarded the base if a fielder catches the ball with his cap. The fielder must catch the ball with his hand or glove.