Back in 1920, Baseball Banned the Infamous Spitball

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sanabia spitball

One of baseball’s sneakiest and slipperiest (literally) throws was officially removed from the sport. The National League officially banned the infamous spitball on December 10th back in 1920 from use in regulation play–a move that still has some sports legends and lovers scratching their heads.

The ban came from a bizarre ruling by pro-baseball’s rules committee that barred just about every trick pitch used on the mound including the famous spitball. The ruling came completely out of left field (pun intended) and the committee didn’t offer a valid explanation for their reasoning behind the move. According to a Sports Illustrated report from 1967, some speculate that the infamous Chicago White Sox World Series scandal prompted an overreach by league officials to create as pure of a sporting experience as possible causing tricky pitches to become a casualty in the clean-up efforts. Others suspect that the league wanted to give batters a better chance to hit more home runs and create more excitement for the game as evidenced by Babe Ruth’s legendary status in the previous season.

That doesn’t mean that the spitball has been completely absent from the game. Last summer, the Miami Marlins’ Alex Sanabia was caught on camera hocking a big ol’ loogie on the ball just after the Philadelphia Phillies’ Domonic Brown sent a screaming home run into the stands possibly as a desperate attempt to keep the manager from removing him from the mound. Major League Baseball never issued a fine or punishment because, well, it’s Major League Baseball. ‘Nuff said.

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