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Abner Powell has a remarkable place in Baseball and it has nothing to do with his baseball abilities…..which were limited.

Baseball has so many innovations that we take for granted and their origins have long ago been forgotten. Abner Powell, another player among the thousands that have been forgotten by the game, is responsible for many contributions to the sport that it’s worth mentioning here. But first a bit about him as a player.

He came up with the Washington Nationals in 1884 and then played for the Cincinnati Red Sockings and  Baltimore Orioles.  His whole career lasted two years  with a .257 BA.

In 1887 while in New Orleans to play in the Southern League, he noticed something along the waterfront which would become part and parcel in the way the game is played. Whenever it rained the longshoremen would cover the bales of cotton with a canvas blanket of sorts. Up to that point when rain would appear in a game, the game would be called and the players would lose their salary. Powell took a page out of the longshoreman’s book and created a canvas to act as a tarpaulin to protect the field during the rain.

By 1910 every ballpark had their own tarps to use during the rain.  

There’s more.

From the early 1800’s on it was the custom to have special events for “Ladies” during sporting events such as horse races and cricket matches. Powell believed that introducing a ”Ladies Day” once a week at the ballparks would generate more revenue, and clean up the foul language which was prevalent in the stands at that time. He was right and in 1887 New Orleans had the first regular day scheduled for ladies (Ladies Day).

It was  the practice then to give fans a bulky cardboard ticket  when they payed to get into the park.

When the rain was so hard that the game had to be postponed, a ticket was given for another game.

Powell noticed that more fans were getting tickets then had payed to see the game so he invented a detachable stub that was called ‘The Rain Check”. By 1890 that innovation had become standard for the game.         He wasn’t much of a player, but baseball has a lot to thank him for.



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