Rules and Customs

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The Rules of 1860

From the Rules and Regulations of the Game of Base Ball Adopted by the National Association of Base-Ball Players March 14, 1860:

  • The ball is pitched underhanded from anywhere behind the pitcher’s line.
  • The batsman must stand on or straddle a line through home plate.
  • The pitcher must deliver the ball as requested by the batsman, who holds out the bat to indicate where the ball is to be sent.
  • Pitches are not judged as balls or strikes, but the umpire may call a strike if the batsman persists in not swinging at well-pitched balls.
  • The ball is judged fair or foul according to where it first touches the ground (people, structures, and trees don’t count as the ground).
  • Articles of clothing such as a hat or mittens may not be used to catch a ball.
  • An out is declared if

– a hit ball is caught on the fly or the first bound, including foul ticks to the catcher.

– a batsman misses swinging at three pitched balls and the third strike is caught by the catcher on the fly or first bound. If the catcher misses the pitch, the umpire will declare the ball to be fair and the batsman must make his run to first base.

– a ball arrives in the hands of a baseman whose foot is upon the base prior to a base runner who is required to make that base.

– a ball in the hands of an adversary touches a base runner not safely on his base.

– a base runner does not return to his original base before a caught fly ball reaches the same base.

– a base runner overruns any base and is touched by the ball in the hands of an adversary.

  • A base runner may not advance on any foul ball and must return to his original base. He may be tagged out if not there after the ball has been settled in the hands of the pitcher.
  • A base runner may advance at his own risk on a fair ball caught on the bound.
  • A base runner may advance after a fair fly ball is caught provided he has tagged his most recent base after the ball is in the hands of the fielder.
  • A base runner must run for the next base if the ball is hit, and the force remains on even if an out is made behind the advancing runner.

1867 rules

  • 1867 rules have only a few minor changes. Here’s a brief run down. . .
  • Most notably is that 67 is an all fly game. (foul balls can be caught on the bounce for an out)
  • The fielders are allowed to play where ever they want.
  • Sliding is permitted.  (We rarely do this, because we are clumsy and don’t want to hurt ourselves. But it is allowed)
  • A base runner must remain still at the time of the pitchers’ delivery, and then is allowed to move/steal.
  • If a batter is taking a particularly long time at the plate (taking pitches) they will be giving one warning.
  • 1 warning + 3 balls = walk
  • 1 warning + 3 strikes = out

Customs of the Time

  • Uncivil language, ungentlemanly behavior, spitting, or any actions that would offend a lady are not tolerated on pain of a fine of up to a week’s wages.
  • After scoring an ace, a base runner must report to the tallykeeper for the run to count.
  • Infielders should play several steps in front of their base. The shortstop plays inside the baseline but may play on either side of the second base. Outfielders play in the center of their field, shaded neither to left nor right; they may play in or out as required by a batsman’s ability.
  • The first batsman called to the line in the following inning is the person in the striking order after the player who made the last out, even if the last out was made by an advancing base runner.
  • There is no bunting or sliding.
  • The fans cheer teams on with loud “huzzas” for a good play by either side. Running to first would be urged by, “Leg it, leg it, leg it.” Hand shakes from opponents and a good word are earned by a ballist making an exceptional play.
  • A fine repast and sharing of good fellowship, cigars, and fine liquors follow a match.