Day 57 : who’s on first?


Baseball has been steeped in American tradition since the 1850s.

Conventionally, left-handers played first base because they were better suited, with their mitt in their right hand, to field balls hit in the hole between first and second bases, making throws to second or third, and holding runners on base. But that has been changing since 1928 when 92 percent first basemen were L-H, including the great Lou Gehrig. There were 67 percent in 1941, then left-handed pitchers declined to 39 percent in 1998. Recently, the proportion of lefty first basemen has fallen between one-third and one-quarter. With designated hitters used in the American League, there is less bunting thus changing the way infielders have to play.

The SF Giants’ first baseman, Brandon Belt is left-handed. The Giants may sacrifice the left hand advantage and move Belt to the outfield so right-hander Buster Posey can play first base when Posey needs a break from playing catcher. Both Belt and Posey in the line up gives the team an offensive advantage.

Sandy’s year long journey – going from being a right-hander to left-hander, and Kelly’s parallel trip as a left-hander doing things as a right-hander.


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