One of the biggest inconsistencies in all of sports is the apparently-stated-but-not-really-followed-or-enforced standardized strike zone. In reality, baseball strike zones are extremely subjective from one home plate umpire to another and from hitter to hitter (they are all of different heights and use different batting stances).
If only there was a way to better error-proof strike zones for consistency!
Well thanks to Rob Neyer at BaseballNation we get this nugget of a jersey, worn by the 1952 Denver Bears of the Western League minor league baseball league, along with the reasoning behind the design:
Sometimes baseball experiments take root (as in the DH), and sometimes they fail to gain traction. In the latter category was Denver’s “strike zone” uniform, which made its debut against Omaha in August, 1952. Now, why the Denver management thought making it easier to call strikes against its players was a good thing we don’t know. Or perhaps they were responding to the quality of umpiring in the Western League by being helpful.
Clever, but yes…why would hitters want to make it easier for umpires to call strikes against them? I suppose it could also justify to an umpire that a high pitch was actually a ball. There’s probably no Pitch F/X data available for the 1952 Western League.
Maybe they were onto something – the 1952 Denver Bears won the Western League championship that season.
This is a nifty example of using visual indicators to better error-proof subjective measures. It’s not fully error-proofed, but it at least provides additional information to an umpire so that the odds of making an accurate call are increased.