# Pythagoras' Nightmare

 Project by ChuckV posted 10-07-2012 09:44 PM 20062 views 5 times favorited 26 comments

My 8 and 10 year-old boys are playing Fall Little League. They have two great coaches, and I want to give them something in thanks for all of their effort, time and patience. I decided to make boxes in the shape of home plate.

This boxes feature Paul’s (shipwright’s) wooden hinges. The carcase is black walnut and the top is ash, as are baseball bats. The finish is Danish Oil.

Here are all the pieces for one box:

This close-up of a top shows how it attaches to the rest of the lid (the top is upside down here):

I used rubber bands to provide the clamping pressure during the glue-up:

...

What does this have to do with Pythagoras? To determine the dimensions of the box lids, I used this sketch showing the official dimensions:

It is not possible to make a figure in this shape. If it were, the right triangle on the back of the plate would have sides 12, 12, 17. As Mr. P. knew, this means that 12×12 + 12×12 = 17×17, or 288 = 289. So, I guess that no baseball game has ever been played according to the rules!

The actual rule doesn’t explicitly say that the point on the plate has to be 90 degrees, but it does say that the two 12” edges must coincide with the first and third base lines, which implies 90 degrees. Here is the official wording:
Home base shall be marked by a five-sided slab of whitened rubber. It shall be a 17-inch square with two of the corners removed so that one edge is 17 inches long, two adjacent sides are 81/2 inches and the remaining two sides are 12 inches and set at an angle to make a point. It shall be set in the ground with the point at the intersection of the lines extending from home base to first base and to third base; with the 17-inch edge facing the pitcher’s plate, and the two 12-inch edges coinciding with the first and third base lines.

End of useless trivia for now.

-- “While the world with closed eyes sleeps, The sky knows and weeps - steel rain. ” ― Nathan Bell