Why does a first baseman wear what looks to be a bigger or, at least, different looking glove than other fielders? -- T.N., of Cahokia
Third base may be the "hot corner," but any baseball devotee can tell you it that it's often mighty steamy at first, too.
I'm sure you've seen first basemen turn into acrobats as they work to haul in errant throws to nail speedsters tearing up the line. Whether it's doing the splits in front of the bag or leaping to snag a rocket headed toward the stands, they know their grab might spell the difference between a 1-2-3 inning and a 10-run rally.
So, as you might expect, they look for every edge -- which is why their gloves are specially built for a little extra help in backhanding those misfires to their right or left.
In fact, it even has been written into the official Major League Baseball rule book. According to the 2014 edition, there are three rules dealing with the dimensions of gloves -- one for catchers (Rule 1.12), one for first basemen (1.13) and one for other fielders (1.14). (Rule 1.15 covers pitchers' gloves, but it deals only with color and other potential distractions, not size.)
I'll mail you the entire rule if you'd like, but basically it calls for a glove no more than 12 inches long and 8 inches wide across the palm. It also allows an approximately 4-inch-wide section between the thumb and finger sections which may be what makes the glove look unique to you. The glove can be of any weight but the webbing "shall not be deepened to make a net type of trap."
Looks like advantages only go so far.
I am curious to know what year Illinois started the FOID card program. Let's say it was 50 years ago -- what was the legal process when a person bought a gun from a private party? -- Harold Griffin, of Belleville
Your shot in the dark was pretty good, Mr. Griffin. It was Thursday, Aug. 3, 1967 -- 47 years ago this Sunday -- when Gov. Otto Kerner signed the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act.
Kerner was chairman of a special presidential committee probing growing racial disorder in large urban areas. In championing Illinois' new law, he also appealed to Congress to pass Lyndon Johnson's safe streets and crime control legislation.
"If we're going to control firearms in Illinois, we've got to control firearms in the nation," Kerner said during the signing ceremony.
He pointed specifically to the troubles in New Jersey. Despite that state's own strict gun control law, many firearms were being brought in from surrounding states, proving the need for federal legislation. On Oct. 22, 1968, LBJ signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 as a response in part to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
The Illinois law had taken effect three months earlier -- on July 1. It required those owning firearms or ammunition to have FOID cards, which at that time were $5 for five years. Cards are issued by the Illinois State Police after a check on applicants through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a database maintained by the FBI, and a state Department of Human Services database to disqualify those with mental health issues.
As of last Jan. 1, the law also requires private sellers to use a new system to verify that a buyer's gun permit is valid. Before that, the law required sellers to check for cards, but there had been no way to know if a card had been revoked. Before the FOID act, there apparently were no restrictions on private sales, according to officials
At the same time he signed the FOID act, Kerner vetoed for the second year in a row a "stop-and-frisk" law that would have allowed police to stop, search and detain anyone they thought had committed, were committing or were about to commit a crime.
The state, however, had banned concealed carry of handguns way back in 1949. As a result, Illinois became the last state to approve the practice and the Legislature passed the Firearm Concealed Carry Act on July 9, 2013. (The complete laws can be found in sections 65 and 66 of chapter 430 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.)
Which was cheaper per acre -- the Louisiana Purchase or Alaska?
Answer to Sunday's trivia: On June 23, 1917, Boston Red Sox ace Babe Ruth walked Ray Morgan, the first Washington Senator he faced -- and then was promptly ejected for arguing the call. On his way out, Ruth slugged the umpire, and Sox catcher Chester "Pinch" Thomas was booted as well. With only a few warm-up tosses, on came reliever Ernie Shore. After Morgan was caught stealing, Shore mowed down the next 26 Senators in order. For years, people called it a perfect game for Shore, but it was merely a no-hitter shared by two pitchers. Ruth was fined $100, suspended for 10 games and never pitched a no-hitter by himself. Shore spent nine seasons in the majors with the Giants, Bosox and Yanks, compiling a 65-43 record and a 2.47 ERA during the last half of the so-called dead-ball era.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com or call 618-239-2465.