The Rules of 1868, as adopted by the National Association of Base-Ball Players

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RULES AND REGULATIONS DECEMBER 11th, 1867.

(These rules of 1868 appeared in a new format. They were given sub headings then sorted)

RULE FIRST. THE BALL, BAT, AND BASES.

SECTION 1. The ball must weigh not less than five nor more than five and one quarter ounces avoirdupois. It must measure not less than nine and one-quarter nor more than nine and one-half inches in circumference. It must be composed of India rubber and yarn, and covered with leather, and, in all match games, shall be furnished by the challenging club, and become the property of the winning club as a trophy of victory.

SEC 2. The bat must be round, and must not exceed two and a half inches in diameter in the thickest part. It must be made of wool, and shall not exceed forty-two inches in length.

SEC 3. The bases must be four in number, placed at equal distances from each other, and securely fastened upon each corner of a square whose sides are respectfully thirty yards. They must be so constructed and placed as to be distinctly seen by the umpire, and must cover a space equal to one square foot of surface. The first, second and third bases shall be canvas bags, painted white, and filled with some soft material; the home base and pitcher’s points to be each marked by a flat plate, painted white.

SEC 4. The base from which the ball is struck shall be designated the home base, and must be directly opposite to the second base; the first base must always be that upon the right hand; and the third base that upon the left hand side of the striker, when occupying his position at the home base. And in all match games a line connecting the home and first base and the home and third base shall be marked by the use of chalk, or other suitable material, so as to be distinctly seen by the umpire. The base bag shall be considered the base, and not the post to which it is, or should be, fastened.

RULE SECOND. THE PITCHING DEPARTMENT.

SEC. 1. The pitcher’s position shall be designated by two lines, two yards in length, drawn at right angles to a line from home to the second base, having their centers upon that line, at two fixed iron plates, placed at points fifteen and sixteen and one third yards distant from the home base. The pitcher must standwithin the lines, and must deliver the ball as near as possible over the center of the home base, and fairly for the striker.

SEC. 2. Should the pitcher repeatedly fail to deliver to the striker fair balls, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or for any other cause, the umpire, after warning him, shall call one ball, and if the pitcher persists in such action, two and three balls; when three balls shall have been called, the sstriker shall take the first base; and should any base be occupied at that time, each player occupying it or them shall be entitled to one base without being put out. All balls delivered by the pitcher, striking the ground in front of the home base, or pitched over the head of the batsman, or pitched to the side opposite to that which the batsman strikes from, shall be considered unfair balls.

SEC. 3. The ball must be pitched, not jerked nor thrown, to the bat; and whenever the pitcher moves with the apparent purpose or pretension to deliver the ball, he shall so deliver it, and he must have neither foot in advance of the front line at the time of delivering the ball; and if he fails in either of these particulars, then it shall be declared a balk. The ball shall be considered jerked, in the meaning of the rule, if the pitcher’s arm touches his person when the arm is swung forward to deliver the ball; and it shall be regarded as a throw if the arm be bent at the elbow, at an angle from the body, or horizontally from the shoulder, when it is swung forward to deliver the ball.

SEC. 4. No player shall be put out on any hit ball on which a balk or a ball has been called; and neither shall a strike or a foul ball be called, or a base run on such a hit ball. But bases can be taken on third “called” balls, and on “balked” balls, in accordance with Section 2 of Rule Second. (This rule combines rules 8 and 10 from the previous year and adds more to the definition of the balk.)

RULE THIRD. THE BATTING DEPARTMENT.

SEC. 1. (Formerly Sec. 21.) The striker, when about to strike the ball, must stand astride of a line drawn through the center of the home base, not exceeding three feet from either side thereof, and parallel with the front line of the pitcher’s position, and he must not take any backward step when striking at the ball. The penalty for an infringement of this rule shall be the calling of one strike; and when three such strikes have been called, the striker shall be declared out. If a ball on which such a strike is called be hit and caught, either fair or foul, the striker shall be declared out. No base shall be run on any such called strike. But any player running the bases, shall be allowed to return to the base he has left, without being put out. As soon as the striker has struck a fair ball, he shall be considered “a player running the bases.”

SEC. 2. Players must strike in regular rotation, and, after the first innings is played, the turn commences with the player who stands on the list next to the one who lost the third hand. (This rule was part of Section 21 from the previous year.)

SEC. 3. (Formerly Sec. 42.) Should a striker stand at the bat without striking at fair balls for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or of giving advantage to a player, the umpire, after warning him, shall call one strike, and if he persists in such action, two and three strikes. When three strikes are called, and the ball be caught, either before touching the ground or upon the first bound, the striker shall be declared out, provided the balls struck at are not those on which balls or balks have been called, or not those struck at for the purpose of willingly striking out. If three balls are struck at and missed, and the last one is not caught, either flying or upon the first bound, the striker must attempt to make his run, and he can be put out on the bases in the same manner as if he had struck a fair ball. (This last section has been combined from several rules.)

SEC. 4. The striker is out if a foul ball is caught, either before touching the ground, or upon the first bound or, if a fair ball is struck, and the ball is held by an adversary on the first base, before the striker touches that base. (Rules 14 & 17 were combined for this statute)

RULE FOURTH. RUNNING THE BASES.

SEC. 1. (Formerly Sec. 22.) Players must make their bases in the order of striking; and when a fair ball is struck, and not caught flying, the first base must be vacated, as also the second and third bases, if they are occupied at the same time. Players may be put out on any base, under these circumstances, in the same manner as the striker when running to the first base.

SEC. 2. (Formerly Sec. 18.) Any player running the bases is out, if at any time he is touched by the ball while in play in the hands of an adversary, without some part of his person being on a base.

SEC. 3. (Formerly Sec. 19. & 20.) No run or base can be made upon a foul ball. Such a ball shall be considered dead and not in play until it shall first have been settled in the hands of the pitcher. In such cases, players running bases shall return to them, and may be put out in so returning, in the same manner as when running to the first base. Neither can a run or base be made when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground; but such a ball shall be considered alive and in play. In such cases also players running bases shall return to them, and may be put out in so returning, in the same manner as when running to first base; but players, when balls are so caught, may run their bases immediately after the ball has been settled in the hands of the player catching it.

SEC. 4. (Formerly Sec. 8.) When balk is made by the pitcher, every player running the bases is entitled to one base, without being put out.

SEC. 5. (Formerly Sec. 12.) A player making the home base, shall be entitled to score one run.

SEC. 6. (Formerly Sec. 28.) If two hands are already out, no player running home at the time the ball is struck can make a run to count in the score of the game if the striker of it is put out.

SEC 7. (Formerly Sec 23).  Players running bases must touch them; and so far as possible, keep upon the direct line between them; and must touch them in the following order: first, second, third and home; and if returning must reverse this order; and should any player run three feet out of this line, for the purpose of avoiding the ball in the hands of an adversary, he shall be declared out; or if he fails to touch each base he runs to, he shall be declared out, unless he returns to such base before the ball be held on it.

SEC. 8. (Formerly Sec. 25.) If the player is prevented from making a base, by the intentional obstruction of an adversary, he shall be entitled to that base, and shall not be put out. Any obstruction that could readily have been avoided, shall be considered as intentional.

RULE FIFTH. THE GAME.

SEC. 1. (Formerly Sec. 29 & 30.) The game shall consist of nine innings to each side, when, should the number of runs be equal, the play shall be continued until a majority of runs, upon an equal number of innings, shall be declared, which shall conclude the game. An innings must be concluded at the time the third hand is put out.

SEC. 2. (Formerly Sec. 31.) In playing all matches, nine players from each club shall constitute a full field; and they shall be members of the club which they represent. They also must not have been members of any other club, either in or out of the National Association for thirty days immediately prior to the match. Positions of players and choice of innings shall be determined by captains previously appointed for that purpose by the respective clubs. Every player taking part in a regular match game, no matter what number of innings are played, shall be, in the meaning of this section of the rules, considered a member of the club he plays with. (The wording is much different though the meaning is the same.)

SEC. 3. When a club sends a challenge to play a first-nine match game of Base Ball and the same is accepted, the first game shall be played upon the grounds of the challenging club, within fifteen (15) days from the date of the acceptance of the challenge; the second game shall be played upon the grounds of the challenged club within fifteen (15) days thereafter; and if a third game be necessary; it shall be played upon grounds to be mutually agreed upon within fifteen (15) days from the date of the second game, provided; that the above arrangement may be varied by mutual consent. And when a first-nine match game is to be played, the contestants shall present on the field their recognized first-nines, as far as practicable.

SEC. 4. (Formerly Sec. 39.) Whenever a match shall have been determined upon between two clubs, play shall be called at the exact hour appointed; and should either party fail to produce their players within thirty minutes thereafter, the party so failing shall admit a defeat and shall deliver the ball before leaving the ground; which ball must be received by the club who are ready to play, and the game shall be considered as won, and so counted in the list of matches played; and the winning club shall be entitled to a score of nine runs for any game so forfeited, unless the delinquent side fail to play on account of the recent death of one of its members, and sufficient time has not elapsed to enable them to give their opponents due notice before arriving on the ground.

SEC. 5. (Formerly Sec. 41.) No person who shall be in arrears to any other club than the one he plays with, shall be competent to play in any match.

SEC. 6. (Formerly Sec. 34.) No player, not in the nine taking their positions on the field in the third innings of a game, shall be substituted for a player, except for reason of illness or injury.

SEC. 7. (Formerly Sec. 40.) No match game shall be commenced when rain is falling; and neither shall any such game be continued after rain has fallen for five minutes. No match game shall be postponed unless by the mutual consent of the contesting clubs.

SEC. 8. (Formerly Sec. 43.) Every match shall be decided by the best two games out of three, unless a single game shall be mutually agreed upon by the contesting clubs; and all matches shall terminate before the close of the season.

SEC. 9. (Formerly Sec. 43.) No person who shall be in arrears to any other club, or who shall at any time receive compensation for his services as a player, shall be competent to play in any match. No players who play base-ball for money shall take part in any match game; and any club giving compensation to a player, or having, to their knowledge, a player in their nine playing in a match for compensation, shall be debarred from membership in the National Association, and they shall not be considered by any club belonging to this Association as a proper club to engage in a match with; and should any club so engage with them they shall forfeit membership.

RULE SIXTH. MISCELLANEOUS.

SEC. 1. (Formerly Sec. 26.) If an adversary stops the ball with his hat or cap, or if a ball be stopped by any person or persons not engaged in the game, no player can be put out unless the ball shall first have been settled in the hands of the pitcher, while he stands within the lines of his position.

SEC. 2. (Formerly Sec. 24. & 25.) Any player, who shall intentionally prevent an adversary from catching or fielding the ball, shall be declared out, or if any player be prevented from making a base, by the intentional obstruction of an adversary, he shall be entitled to that base, and not be put out even if touched with the ball.

SEC. 3. (Formerly Sec. 14. & 16.) If a fair ball be held by a player before touching the ground, after rebounding from the hands or person of a player it shall be considered a fair catch. And if a foul ball be similiarly held after touching the ground but once, it shall be considered a fair catch.

SEC. 4. (Formerly Sec. 11.) If the ball, from a stroke of the bat, first touches the ground, the person of a player or any other object behind the range of home and the first base, or home and the third base, it shall be termed foul, and must be so declared by the umpire, unasked. If the ball first touches the ground, either upon, or in front of the range of those bases, it shall be considered fair.

SEC. 5. (Formerly Sec. 36.) Clubs may adopt such rules respecting balls knocked beyond or outside of the bounds of the field, as the circumstances of the ground may demand; and these rules shall govern all matches played upon the ground, provided that they are distinctly made known to the umpire, previous to the commencement of the game.

SEC. 6. (New rule.) The captains of each nine shall alone be allowed to appeal for the reversal of a decision of the umpire.

SEC. 7. (This rule simplifies several previous references to a dead ball.) No base can be run or player be put out on a dead ball.

RULE SEVENTH. DUTIES OF THE UMPIRE.

SEC. 1. (Formerly Sec. 32. & 33.) The umpire shall take care that the regulations respecting balls, bats, bases, and the pitcher’s and striker’s positions, are strictly observed, and he shall require the challenging club to furnish a ball on which the size, weight and the name of the manufacturer shall be stamped. He shall be the judge of fair and unfair play, and shall determine all disputes and differences which may occur during the game. He shall take special care to declare all foul balls and baulks, immediately upon their occurrence in a distinct and audible manner. He shall, in every instance, before leaving the ground, declare the winning club, and shall record his decision in the books of the scorers. The umpire shall also require that the game be recorded by a scorer for each of the contesting clubs.

In all matches the umpire shall be selected by the captains of the respective sides, and shall perform all duties above enumerated.

SEC. 2. (Formerly Sec. 35.) The umpire in any match shall determine when play shall be suspended; and if the game can not be fairly concluded, it shall be decided by the last equal innings, provided five innings have been played, and the party having the greatest number of runs shall be declared the winner.

SEC. 3. (Formerly Sec. 37.) When the umpire calls “play,” the game must at once be proceeded with; and the party failling to take their appointed positions in the game within five minutes thereafter shall forfeit the game. When the umpire calls “time”, play shall be suspended until he calls “play” again.

SEC. 4. When the umpire “calls” a game, it shall end; but when he merely suspends play for any stated period, it may be resumed at the point at which it was suspended, provided such suspension does not extend beyond the day of the match.

SEC. 5. (Formerly Sec. 34. & 38.) No person engaged in a match, either as umpire, scorer, or player, shall be either directly or indirectly, interested in any bet upon the game. Nor shall any person shall be permitted to act as umpire or scorer in any match, unless he shall be a member of the National Association, or of a State branch thereof. Neither umpire, scorer, nor player shall be changed during a match, unless with the consent of both parties except for reason of illness or injury, or for a violation of the above rules.

SEC. 6. No desicion given by the umpire shall be reversed upon the testimony of any player; and no decision whatever shall be reversed except for a palpable infringement of the rules, and then only on an appeal by the captain.

SEC. 7. (Formerly Sec. 37. & 40.) No person shall be permitted to approach or to speak with the umpire, scorers, or players, or in any manner to interrupt or interfere during the progress of the game, unless by special request of the umpire. Any match game played by any club in contravention of the rules adopted by the National Association, shall be considered null and void, and shall not be counted in the list of match games won or lost.

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