Train Like A Real Baseball Pro

Play Ball! Everything You Need to Be the World’s Best Baseball Player


By John Montgomery Ward

of the New York Baseball Club


Someone has truthfully said, that ball players, like poets and cooks, are born, not made, though once born, their development, like that of their fellow-artists, may be greatly aided by judicious coaching. Of what this training shall consist becomes then a question of much importance.

The only way to learn baseball is to play it, and it is a trite saying that the best practice for a ball player is baseball itself. Still, there are points outside of the game, such as the preliminary training, diet, and exercise, an observance of which will be of great advantage when the regular work is begun. The method and style of play and the points of each position are given in the subsequent chapters, so that I shall here speak only of those points which come up off the field and are not included in the game proper.

But first of all, let me say, that no one will ever become an expert ball player who is not passionately fond of the sport. Baseball cannot be learned as a trade. It begins with the sport of the schoolboy, and though it may end in the professional, I am sure there is not a single one of these who learned the game with the expectation of making it a business. There have been years in the life of each during which he must have ate and drank and dreamed baseball. It is not a calculation but an inspiration.

There are many excellent books devoted exclusively to the general subject of training, and a careful reading of one such may be of much service in teaching the beginner the ordinary principles of self-care. It will show him how to keep the system in good working order, what are proper articles of diet, how to reduce weight, or what exercises are best calculated to develop certain muscles; but for the specific purposes of a ball player such a book is entirely wanting, for the reason that the “condition” in which he should keep himself, and therefore the training needful, differ from those for any other athlete. To perform some particular feat which is to occupy but a comparatively brief space of time, as to run, row, wrestle, or the like, a man will do better to be thoroughly “fit.” But if the period of exertion is to extend over some length of time, as is the case with the ball player, working for six months at a stretch, his system will not stand the strain of too much training. Working solely on bone and muscle day after day, his nervous system will give way. He will grow weak, or as it is technically known, “go stale.” This over-training is a mistake oftenest made by the young and highly ambitious player, though doubtless many of the instances of “loss of speed” by pitchers and “off streaks” by older players are really attributable to this cause.

The “condition” in which a ball player should keep himself is such that his stomach and liver are in good order, his daily habits regular, his muscles free and firm, and his “wind” strong enough to allow him to run the circuit of the bases without inconvenience. He must not attempt to keep in what is known as “fine” condition. He should observe good hours, and take at least eight hours sleep nightly; and he may eat generously of wholesome food, except at noon, when he should take only a light lunch. There are many players who eat so heartily just before the game that they are sleepy and dull the entire afternoon. The traveling professional player needs to pay particular attention to the kind and quality of his food. The sudden changes of climate, water, and cooking are very trying, and unless he takes great care he will not get through a season without some trouble. Especially should he avoid under or over ripe fruit, for it is likely that many of the prevalent cases of severe cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting effecting players during a game are due to indiscretions in this particular.

The amount of work necessary to keep a player in the proper form must be determined in each particular case by the individual himself. If he is inclined to be thin a very little will be enough, and he should not begin too early in the spring; while if prone to stoutness he may require a great deal, and should begin earlier. It is scarcely necessary to say that all exercise should be begun by easy stages. Commencing with walks in the open air and the use of light pulley weights or clubs or bells, the quantity of exercise may be gradually increased. Never, however, indulge in heavy work or feats of strength. Such exercise is not good for any one, but especially is it dangerous for ball players. They do not want strength, but agility and suppleness; besides, the straining of some small muscle or tendon may incapacitate one for the entire season, or even permanently. Right here is the objection to turning loose a party of ball players in a gymnasium, for spring practice. The temptation to try feats of strength is always present, and more than likely some one will be injured.

The best preliminary practice for a ball player, outside of actual practice at the game, is to be had in a handball court. The game itself is interesting, and one will work up a perspiration without noticing the exertion; it loosens the muscles, quickens the eye, hardens the hands, and teaches the body to act quickly with the mind; it affords every movement of the ball field except batting, there is little danger from accident, and the amount of exercise can be easily regulated.


But whatever preliminary work is found advisable or necessary to adopt, the player should be particular in the following: Having determined the amount of exercise best suited to his temperament, he should observe regular habits, keep the stomach, liver, and skin healthy, and attend carefully to the quality of food taken.


This is a sample chapter from theBetter Days Books release Play Ball! Everything You Need to Become The World’s Best Baseball Player, by John Montgomery Ward. To order your copy, visit

First published in 1888, Play Ball! Everything You Need To Become The World’s Best Baseball Player is a classic manual of the Great American Pastime, written by a champion professional ballplayer, team captain and manager. John Montgomery “Monte” Ward was a man of tremendous talent and personal integrity, and a true sports hero for his own time and ours.

This latest Better Days Books Growing up Great Guide for American Boys is a practical and inspiring beginner’s guide to understanding the “nuts and bolts” of America’s favorite game (the rules, the layout of the field, the domain and duties of each position, etc.), and an indispensible handbook aspiring stars of the field, mound and batter’s box can employ toward the achievement of their highest potential as players. Includes valuable tips on training and diet, how and when to steal bases (and how to know when to stay put!), the mechanics of pitching an unhittable curve ball and more!


1 Comment

Filed under 19th Century, america, american culture, baseball, baseball history, books, boy scout, boy scouting, boys, character, character building, christian camp, fatherhood, fathers and sons, fun, guys, heroes, how to, kids activities, men, old books, old days, outdoor activities, outdoor fun, outdoor sports, outdoors, raising boys, scout, scout movement, scouting, single parenting, sports, spring, spring training, springtime, summer, summer camp, Uncategorized, vintage, vintage baeball, vintage sports

One response to “Train Like A Real Baseball Pro

  1. Vincent Paul B. Labadan

    its cool!..

    thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s