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The Dead Ball Era is generally considered to have lasted from the turn of the century into the beginning of the roaring '20s. As the name suggests the game used a "dead" or almost soft ball to play its game. The same ball was usually used for the entire game.
For pitchers, it was the era of the "spit ball" (completely legal at the time). Many pitchers relied on the spit ball and other trickery to keep batters on their toes. Some of the most skilled pitchers of all time developed in baseball's Dead Ball Era, however.