Major League Baseball plans to ban all home plate collisions in 2014. Personally, I would prefer that they ban all Yankee-Red Sox games, but that's just me.

As our oldest and most storied professional sport, baseball has a long history of occasionally tweaking its rules. Oh what fun it is to tweak the tweaking of those rules. So let's.

Here, as gathered from, is a random, chronological look at some of baseball's more interesting rule changes:

1876: Umpires are allowed to ask fans or players if a ball has been caught before making a ruling. (“The ball appeared to be dropped by the right fielder until the umpire checked with Myron Butterfield, of Parma, who was sitting down the right-field line and ruled it a catch.”).

1870: The batter can request that the pitcher throw a high pitch or a low pitch. (Without the pitcher responding “Yeah, right.”).

1877: To choose the umpire, the league selects “three gentlemen of repute” in each city where there is a team. Three hours before the game, the visiting team chooses the umpire from among that group. (So cities without at least three gentlemen of repute could not be awarded a major-league franchise?).

1878: Umpires were paid by the home team, $5 per game. (I see no conflict of interest there, do you?).

1879: Nine balls were required for the batter to be awarded a walk. (What?).

1880: Eight balls now required for a walk. (“Here's the 7-2 pitch . .. ball eight! He lost him!”).

1881: Seven balls now required for a walk. (Apparently those 20-minute at-bats started to take their toll).

1881: Any spectator who “hisses or hoots” at or insults the umpire may be ejected from the grounds. (This rule proved to be the death knell for the National Association of Hissers and Hooters).

1883: Pitchers were charged with an error when they walked a batter. (Fortunately for the pitchers, it was almost impossible to walk a batter).

1884: Six balls now required for a walk. (Keep going ... You're getting there).

1885: Home plate can be made of marble or whitened rubber. (I don't know about you, but I always loved those old 1880 ballparks with the marble home plates, the granite-topped dugouts, with the matching tile backsplash around the bat racks).

1886: Five balls now required for a walk. (Seriously?).

1886: The umpire can introduce a new ball into the game at any time. Before this, whenever a ball was lost, the umpire gave the team five minutes to find it before putting a new ball into play. (“Did you check under the couch?”).

1887: Strikeouts now require four strikes. (“Here's the 4-3 pitch ... strike four! He got him!”).

1887: A walk was counted as a hit. (I am not making this up: If this rule was still in effect in 1941, instead of hitting .406, Ted Williams' batting average would have been .551).

1888: Strikeouts now go back to three strikes. (Apparently this was brain surgery).

1889: Four balls now required for a walk. (Joy to the world!).

1890: The ump is called “Mr. Umpire” for the first time.

1896: Mr. Umpire could fine a coach or player $25 for using vulgar language. (This rule is still in effect today and, for the last 117 years, has totally eliminated all use of vulgar language on the baseball field).

1897: Mr. Umpire may fine a player $5 for discoloring or “injuring” the baseball. (Because there is nothing more pathetic than a baseball trying to play with a pulled hamstring).

1903: Games are worked by only one umpire, and he can stand anywhere on the field he likes. (Even if it's next to the right fielder).

1908: Four umpires are assigned to the World Series, but only two work in each game. (This is quintessential Major League Baseball thinking).

1909: All four umpires assigned to the World Series actually work each game. (Eureka!).

1914: In the case of fire, panic, or storm, the umpire does not have to wait until the pitcher has the ball on the mound to call timeout. (Had this rule not been changed, Major League Baseball would not have officially recognized the Stock Market Crash of 1929 until Burleigh Grimes had the ball on the mound).

1920: A runner may not run the bases in reverse order “for the purpose of confusing the fielders or making a travesty of the game.” (In subsequent years this became known as “The Manny Ramirez Rule”).

1921: Seventeen major-league pitchers were officially designated as spitball pitchers and were “grandfathered,” meaning they were allowed to continue to throw the spitball, which was banned in 1920, for the rest of their careers. (Imagine if this was how MLB had handled the steroid era).

1931: Balls that bounce over the fence are now doubles instead of home runs. (Wait ... what?).

1954: Players are no longer allowed to leave their gloves on the ground, near their position in the field, when their team comes in to hit.

That's right. They used to do that, back in the days when there were still home plate collisions.

Jim Ingraham is the Cleveland Indians beat writer for The Morning Journal and The News-Herald in Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @JITribeInsider.