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Change in Strike Zone Provokes Discussion

Feb. 12, 1963 - No baseball rule change in recent years has caused more discussion than the one of the past winter which saw the game’s deep thinkers decide to alter the strike zone. At least, they put it back to where it had been more than a dozen years ago, when the strike area ranged from the knees to the top of the shoulders. Around 1950, it began to shrink, with umpires calling any pitch above the armpits a ball, while at the lower level the ball had to cross the plate just above the knee to be a strike. Joe DiMaggio (pictured right with Mickey Mantle), a guest instructor at the Yankees’ training camp, remarked on the change today. “It’s going to hurt a lot of hitters,” he said, “the good ones as well as the bad. They’ll have to learn to let up on their swing, especially after the pitcher gets two strikes, and be satisfied just to meet the ball. They won’t hit so many home runs, but they’ll get more base hits, and maybe after awhile you’ll see better batting averages again.” According to DiMaggio, over-swinging is the bane of all batters, especially the ones capable of hitting the long ball. “It’s a funny thing,” he pointed out, “but power hitters like Mantle and Maris really do not have to go all out when they swing on the ball. Timing and meeting the ball just right is the big thing.”


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