Originally home plate was a 12 inch by 12 inch square. It was rotated 45 degs. so that it fitted the playing field. The pitchers would argue that they would not get the called strike when the ball went over the corners of the plate. On March 9th 1900 the owners in the National League changed the shape of home plate to five sides in order to get rid of the corners. They figured this would eleminate the arguements on called strikes. Before changing the shape of the plate, the distance across the corners was 16.97 inches. After making the change it appears that they rounded off the distance to make the width of the plate an even 17 inches.
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