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Monday, April 02, 2007

Part VII of History of Infield Fly Rule

by Tony D’Amato

While doodling in the dugout on July 17, 1859, Bernie Riemann, coach of the Münster Meisters, drew an equilateral triangle on a baseball. He noticed that the sum of its angles exceeded 180 degrees. "Holy Euclid!" he shouted out, "suppose our entire universe is a baseball and we are living on its surface like little ants." The players reacted with clever expressions such as “So’s yer old man,” “Yer mudder wears army shoes,” “Dipsy doodle,” and “If it ain’t fleas, it’s worms.”

The baseball with the triangle was discarded and passed through many owners during the next forty years until it wound up in the hands of a young man in Berne, Switzerland. Albert Einstein immediately grasped the significance of the triangle and invented his theory of relativity to flesh it out. Exactly forty years later, a test atomic bomb exploded at the Bombing and Gunnery Range in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

As for the game of baseball, alas, it was dying. The Civil War gave many young Americans something to do other than playing games. People were more interested in violent behavior, like shooting. Baseball itself went through a brief violent period that featured an exploding baseball. The object of the game was for the batter to miss the ball; if he hit it, he would literally be “out.”

Back in Europe, Riemann himself was putting the finishing touches on baseball by solving it mathematically as a two-person zero-sum game. The most amazing aspect of Riemann’s achievement was his inclusion of the Infield Fly Rule as an integral part of what has become known as the Fundamental Theory of Baseball:

ℜ ♢ = ±9[ϑ-1 us-i du ⇒ Πn=2 ξ(5/4/3)] ≥ ∫0 sin χ (Ξ ≈25) ϕ → ∫∫n=1 b↑ ± (2 + i)

Riemann mailed his formula to his friend Ulysses Grant in the United States. It arrived two years later and was handed to General Grant as he was mounted at the head of the cavalry outside Richmond, Virginia. Interpreting the formula as a secret military strategy, he reversed his left flank and ordered it to circle behind General Lee’s 23rd Armored Division in order to execute an indirect rear assault. It didn’t work, but fortunately was not outcome-determinative. Angry and cursing, Grant crumpled the paper and threw it to the ground, where it was retrieved by Colonel Abner Doubleday.

A few years after the war was over, fourteen-year-old Jimmy Doubleday found the paper stuffed in the toe of his father’s army boot. With his father’s permission, Jimmy decrypted the formula and proudly announced that it described a wholly new and brilliant sport called baseball. Abner gave into his son’s pleadings and organized a team near Cooperstown, New York. The new game caught on like cornflakes and in the twentieth century was dubbed America’s National Pastime.

What was the code that Jimmy cracked? And how did his father Abner get away with the colossal nerve of “inventing” a sport that was played in Biblical times? The answers to these questions and less will be forthcoming in the eighth and final installment of this definitive series.

Earlier posts:
Part I
Part II
Part III

Part IV

Posted by Administrators on April 2, 2007 at 06:20 AM in Legal Theory | Permalink


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