Baseball's Math Error
The design of a baseball field involves some strange geometry and measurements. Why?
For example, why is the distance between home plate and the pitching rubber equal to exactly 60 feet 6 inches? Seems odd, though even!
Bill Deane, Research Associate for the Baseball Hall of Fame, points out that the original distance was 45 feet. It was increased to 50 feet in 1881, and then to 60'6" in 1893 when overhand pitching was allowed.
But, why the "odd" 60'6"? Based on the historical evidence available, Deane suggests that "the unusual distance resulted from a misread architectural drawing that specific 60'0"."
Note: This means that the pitching rubber is not at the "expected" intersection of the diagonals of the square forming the infield baseball diamond (or square for those of you at Van Heile level 3).
That is, using a base path length of 90 feet, the Pythagorean Theorem suggests that the intersection occurs at "exactly" 63.63961031... feet, not 60'6".
So, why aren't the distances from home plate to the outfield fence equal from park to park? Or, why don't outfield fences approximate circular arcs centered at home plate? More math mistakes...?
Source: Adapted from D. Feldman's A World of Imponderables, 1992, p. 485
