NEW YORK, NEW YORK - One of the biggest challenges a catcher faces is trying to nab a knuckleball. It's like trying to catch a butterfly with a fly swatter. The Baltimore Orioles faced some special difficulty because one of their starters was premier knuckler Hoyt Wilhelm. The Orioles set a record in 1959 for the most passed balls with 49, 38 while Wilhelm was on the mound. They decided to try something drastic on this date in 1960. They couldn't use a net, but they used the next best thing. They gave catcher Clint Courtney an oversized mitt.
It seemed to work. Courtney had no passed balls (there had been 11 in Wilhelm's previous 28 innings), and Wilhelm pitched his first complete game of the season beating the Yankees 3-2. The mitt was the idea of Baltimore manager Paul Richards.
The oversized mitt led to a rule change a few years later. Beginning with the 1965 season catcher's mitts were limited to 38 inches in circumference and 15½ inches from top to bottom.
The Official Rules of Baseball Illustrated, David Nemec, 2006
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