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The First Rules Of Base Ball



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The First Rules Of Base Ball

Contrary to accepted wisdom, Abner Doubleday did not invent the game of baseball in 1839 (after watching a game of bat and ball).

Documentation and other evidence uncovered in the past 30 years indicates that Alexander Cartwright and the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club (circa 1845) created the game we are familiar with today.

As set down by the Knickerbocker Club, these were the original 14 rules of the game of base ball:

Section 1 – The bases shall be from “home” to second base 42 paces; from first to third base 42 paces equidistant.

Section 2 – The game is to consist of 21 counts or aces, but at the conclusion an equal number of hands must be played.

Section 3 – The ball must be pitched and not thrown for the bat. 

Section 4 – A ball knocked outside the range of the first or third base is foul. 

Section 5 – Three balls being struck at and missed, and the last one caught, is a hand out; if not caught, is considered fair, and the striker bound to run. 

Section 6 – A ball being struck or tipped, and caught either flying or on the first bound, is a hand out. 

Section 7 – A player running the bases shall be out if the ball is in the hands of an adversary on the base, as the runner is touched by it before he makes his base – it being understood, however, that in no instance is a ball to be thrown at him.

Section 8 – A player running, who shall prevent an adversary from catching or getting the ball before making his base, is a hand out.

Section 9 – If two hands are already out, a player running home at the time a ball is struck, cannot make an ace if the striker is caught out.

Section 10 – Three hands out, all out.

Section 11 – Players must take their strike in regular turn.

Section 12 – No ace or base can be made on a foul strike.

Section 13 – A runner cannot be put out in making one base, when a balk is made by the pitcher.

Section 14 – But one base allowed when the ball bounds out of the field when struck.

Fifteen years later – on March 14, 1860 – the National Association of Base Ball Players began adopting a set of rules and regulations (standardizing the bat and ball and setting the positions of the striker and pitcher).

At first, the striker (batter) was allowed to call where he wanted to ball and the pitcher needed to deliver it as closely as possible to that spot.

Soon, rules were adopted that the batter could not stall and had to strike at a ball or strikes would be called upon him. Also, the pitcher had to make a fair attempt at throwing the ball over the plate or balls would be called upon him.

Now, some vintage base ball clubs play by 1880 rules, which allow for overhand pitching, webless gloves and masks (for catchers).

Also, the batter was no longer allowed to request a high or low pitch.

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