Baseball/Track question - Why counter-clockwise?

Why do we seem to run counter-clockwise in these two venues? I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve seen a track meet, bicycle race, or auto racing event, they always go counter-clockwise. Even at the local track, everyone goes in the same direction. Even if I’m the only one at the track, I walk counter-clockwise. To walk the other way just seems strange. Why is this? Is this a US phenomenon, or is this worldwide?

Also, this got me thinking about baseball. The vast majority of players are right-handed, which would make me think that the natural inclination would be to run to the left… to what is now third base. This would give the right handed batter the slight advantage of getting down the line just a bit quicker, which is something today’s left-handers enjoy. I know the conventional thinking is that the current baseball configuration demands that right-handers play second base, third base, and shortstop (a more natural throw across the body to first), however I don’t buy it. On my high school team, we had a left handed kid playing shortstop who made every play that a right-hander would be expected to make… it looked odd, but it didn’t seem to hamper his ability to make the play.

Any ideas?

… and roller rinks, ice skating rinks, etc.

Might be related to traffic: keep to the right. Our traffic circles also go counter-clockwise. I believe on the other side of the pond their horse races go clockwise?, and traffic keeps to the left.

I think that in baseball since most batters are right-handed, the natural inclination would be to run straight ahead, which would be toward first. Remember that in the early days of baseball, hitters weren’t taking huge swings so they weren’t all twisted around.

I would also think that since baseball evolved from other bat and ball games, you would likely find that many of them have the bases set up in a counterclockwise direction.

I don’t think I have never seen a left-handed throwing 2nd baseman, 3rd baseman or shortstop in the major leagues. Certainly never seen as a starter.

The extra split second an infielder needed to correct his throwing position would cause an unacceptable number of infield hits.

I am also not sure if there would be enough lefthanders in the general population to fill those infield spots.

A left handed shortstop would always have to turn to make the throw to first. This would make it easier for the batter to reach first.

I would hate to see a second baseman try to turn a double play who was lefthanded.

Cecil on Why are races always run in a counterclockwise direction?

Every (auto racing) oval I’ve ever seen has been run counter-clockwise, but other types of tracks aren’t nearly so uniform.

I don’t know what an exhaustive study of the various road and street courses in various subsets of the world might reveal, but if anything I am guessing that there would be more clockwise tracks than not.

The only thing I can quote for sure right now is this year’s Formula One breakdown (racing snobs might argue that this is all that matters, anyway). Of the seventeen circuits on the 2002 calendar, 14 are clockwise, 2 are counter-clockwise (Interlagos and Imola), and one is a figure-eight (Suzuka).

The 14 CW ones include that of the United States Grand Prix, run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The circuit uses part of the oval and then winds through the infield. The part of the oval that is used is traversed backwards as far as Indy 500 fans are concerned.

As some would describe it, it’s just more poop on the carpet in the Temple of American Open-Wheel Racing. First stock cars, and now furriners runnin’ bass-ackwards. :slight_smile:

Amusement park rides have this trend, too.I first noted it when working at a kid’s amusement park, where all eleven of the rides were counterclockwise. It’s interesting to note that many of them could just as easily be run either way (the hand carts, for instance, were taken off the rails every night), but they never were.

When I asked my superviser, he said that it was because of the direction of the Earth’s rotation, but I’m almost certain that he was joking.