The Rules of 1887, as adopted by the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs

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SOURCE: Courtesy Eric Miklich, 19c Base Ball.

The National Playing Rules of Professional Base Ball Clubs – 1887

As recommended by the Conference Committee meeting in Chicago, November, 1886, and formally adopted by the National League and American Association at their respective conventions in November and December, 1886.

‘The Materials of the Game.

Rule 1. The Ground must be an enclosed field, sufficient in size to enable each player to play his position as required by these Rules.

Rule 2. The Infield must be a space of ground thirty yards square.

Rule 3. The Bases must be

(1) Four in number, and designed as First Base, Second Base, Third Base and Home Base.

(2) The Home Base must be of whitened rubber twelve inches square, so fixed in the ground as to be even with the surface, and so placed in the corner of the infield that two sides will form part of the boundaries of said infield.

(3) The First, Second and Third Bases must be canvas bags, fifteen inches square, painted white, and filled with some soft material, and so placed that the center of the second base shall be upon its corner of the infield, and the center of the first and third bases shall be on the lines running to and from second base and seven and one-half inches from the foul lines, providing that each base shall be entirely within the foul lines.

(4) The Foul Lines must be drawn in straight lines from the outer corner of the Home Base, along the outer edge of the First and Third Bases, to the boundaries of the Ground.

Rule 5. (Sec. 1.) The Pitcher’s Lines must be straight lines forming the boundaries of a space of ground, in the infield, five and one-half feet long by four feet wide, distant fifty feet from the center of the Home Base, and so placed that the five and one-half feet lines would each be two feet distant from and parallel with a straight line passing through the center of the Home and Second Bases. Each corner of this space must be marked by a flat iron plate or stone, six inches square, fixed in the ground, even with the surface.

(Sec. 2.) The pitcher shall take his position facing the batsman, with both feet squarely on the ground, the right foot on the rear line of the “box,” his left foot in advance of the right, and to the left of an imaginary line from his right foot to the center of the home base. He shall not raise his foot, unless in the act of delivering the ball, nor make more than one step in such delivery. He shall hold the ball, before delivery, fairly in front of his body, and in sight of the Umpire. In the case of a left-handed pitcher the above words “left” and “right” are to be reversed. When the pitcher feigns to throw the ball to a base he must resume the above position and pause momentarily before delivering the ball to the bat.

Rule 6. The Catcher’s Lines must be drawn from the outer corner of the Home Base, in continuation of the Foul Lines, straight to the limits of the Ground back of the Home Base.

Rule 7. The Captain’s or Coacher’s Lines must be a line fifteen feet from and parallel with the Foul Lines, said lines commencing at a line parallel with and seventy-five feet distant from the catcher’s line, and running thence to the limits of the grounds. And should the said Captain or Coacher willfully fail to remain in said bounds, he shall be fined by the Umpire five dollars for each such offence, except upon an appeal by the Captain from the Umpire’s decision upon a misinterpretation of the rules.

Rule 8. The Players’ Lines must be drawn from the Catcher’s Lines to the limits of the Ground, fifty feet distant from and parallel with the Foul Lines.

Rule 9. The Players’ Benches must be furnished by the home club, and placed upon a portion of the ground outside the Players’ Lines. They must be twelve feet in length, and must be immovably fastened to the ground. At the end of each bench must be immovable fixed bat rack, with fixtures for holding twenty bats; one such rack must be designated for the exclusive use of the Visiting Club, and the other for the exclusive use of the Home Club.

Rule 10. The Batsman’s Lines must be straight lines forming the boundaries of a space on the right, and similar space on the left of the Home Base, six feet long by four feet wide, extending three feet in front of and three feet behind the center of the Home Base, and with its nearest line distant six inches from the Home Base.

Rule 11. The Three Feet Lines must be drawn as follows: From a point on the Foul Line from Home Base to First Base, and equally distant from such bases, shall be drawn a line on Foul Ground, at a right angle to said Foul Line, and to a point three feet distant from it; thence running parallel with said Foul Line, to a point three feet distant from the First Base; thence in a straight line to the Foul Line, and thence upon the Foul Line to point of beginning.

Rule 12. The lines designated in riles 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 must be marked with chalk or other suitable material, so as to be distinctly seen by the Umpire. They must all be so marked their entire length, except the Captain’s and Players’ Lines, which must be so marked for a distance of at least thirty-five yards from the Catcher’s Lines.

Rule 13. The Ball.*

(Section 1.) Must not weigh less than five nor more than five and one-quarter ounces avoirdupois, and measures not less than nine nor more than nine and one-quarter inches in circumference. The Spalding League ball, or the Reach American Association ball, must be used in all games played under these rules.

(Sec. 2.) For each championship game two balls shall be furnished by the home club to the Umpire for use. When the ball in play is batted over the fence or stands, on to foul ground out of sight of the players, the other ball shall be immediately put into play by the Umpire. As often as one of the two in use shall be lost, a new one must be substituted, so that the Umpire may at all times, after the game begins, have two for use. The moment the Umpire delivers the alternate ball to the catcher or pitcher it comes into play, and shall not be exchanged until it, in turn, passes out of sight on to foul ground.

(Sec. 3.) In all games the ball or balls played with shall be furnished by the Home Club, and the last ball in play becomes the property of the winning club. Each ball to be used in championship games shall be examined, measured and weighed by the Secretary of the Association inclosed in a paper box and sealed with the seal of the Secretary, which seal shall not be broken except by the Umpire in the presence of the captains of the two contesting nines after play has been called.

(Sec. 4.) Should the ball become out of shape, or cut or ripped so as to expose the yarn, or in any way so injured as to be – in the opinion of the Umpire – unfit for fair use, the Umpire, on being appealed to by either Captain, shall at once put the alternate ball into play and call for a new ball.

Rule 14. The Bat.

(1) Must be made wholly of wood, except that the handle may be wound with twine, or a granulated substance applied, not to exceed eighteen inches from the end.

(2) It must be round except that a portion of the surface may be flat on one side, must not exceed two forty-two inches in length.

‘Field Rules.

Rule 15. No Club shall allow open betting or pool selling upon its grounds, nor in any building owned or occupied by it.

Rule 16. No person shall be allowed upon any part of the field during the progress of the game, in addition to the players in uniform, the manager on each side and the umpire; except such officers of the law as may be present in uniform, and such officials of the Home Club as may be necessary to preserve the peace.

Rule 17. Players in uniform shall not be permitted to seat themselves among the spectators.

Rule 18. The Umpire is the sole judge of play, and is entitled to the respect of the spectators, and any person offering any insult or indignity to him, must be promptly ejected from the grounds.

Rule 19. Every club shall furnish sufficient police force upon its own grounds to preserve order, and in the event of a crowd entering the field during the progress of a game, and interfering with the play in any manner, the Visiting Club may refuse to play further until the field be cleared. If the ground be not cleared within fifteen minutes thereafter, the Visiting Club may claim, and shall be entitled to, the game by a score of nine runs to none (no matter what number of innings have been played).

Rule 20. No Umpire, Manager, Captain or Player shall address the audience during the progress of a game, except in case of necessary explanation.

Rule 21. The Players of each in a match game shall be nine in number, one of whom shall act as Captain. Every club shall be required to adopt uniforms for its players, and in no case shall less than nine men be allowed to play on each side. Each player shall be required to present himself upon the field during said game in a neat cleanly condition, but no player shall attach anything to the sole or heel of his shoes other than the ordinary base ball shoe plate.

Rule 22. The Player’s Position shall be

(Section 1.) When in the field (designated “Fielders” in these Rules) such as may be assigned them by their Captain, except that the Pitcher must take his position within the Pitcher’s Lines, as defined in Rule 5.

(Sec. 2.) When their side goes to the bat they must immediately seat themselves upon the player’s bench and remain there until the side is put out, except when batsman or base runner. All bats not in use must be kept in the bat racks, and the two players next succeeding the batsman, in the order in which they are named on the score, must be ready with bat in hand to promptly take position as batsman; provided, that the Captain and one assistant only may occupy the space between the players’ lines and the Captains’ lines to coach base runners.

(Sec 3.) The Batsman must take their positions within the Batsmen’s Lines, as defined in Rule 10, in the order in which they are named on the score, which must contain the batting order of both nines, and must be followed, except in case of disability of a player, in which case the substitute must take the place of the disabled player in the batting order.

(Sec. 4) No player of the side at bat, except when Batsman, shall occupy any portion of the space within the Catcher’s Lines, as defined in Rule 6.

‘Definitions.

Rule 23. A Fair Ball is a ball delivered by the Pitcher while standing wholly within the lines of his position, and facing the batsman, the ball, so delivered, to pass over the home base, not lower than the batsman’s knee, nor higher than his shoulder.

Rule 24. An Unfair Ball is a ball delivered by the Pitcher as in Rule 23, except that the ball does not pass over the Home Base, or does pass over the Home Base above the batsman’s shoulder or below his knee.

Rule 25. A Balk is

(Sec. 1.) Any motion made by the Pitcher to deliver the ball to the bat without delivering it, shall be held to indicate any and every accustomed motion with the hands, arms or feet, or position of the body assumed by the Pitcher in his delivery of the ball, and any motion calculated to deceive a base runner, except the ball be accidentally dropped.

(Sec. 2.) If the ball be held by the Pitcher so long as to delay the game unnecessarily; or

(Sec. 3.) Any motion to deliver the ball, or the delivering the ball to the bat by the Pitcher when any part of his person is upon ground outside of the lines of his position, including all preliminary motions with the hands, arms and feet.

Rule 26. A Dead Ball is a ball delivered to the bat by the Pitcher that touched the batsman’s bat without being struck at, or any part of the Batsman’s person or clothing while standing in his position without being struck at; or any part of the Umpire’s person or clothing without first passing the Catcher.

Rule 27. A Block is a batted or thrown ball that is stopped or handled by any person not engaged in the game.

Rule 28. A Fair Hit is a ball batted by the Batsman, standing in his position, that first touches the ground, the First Base, the Third Base, the part of the person of a player, or any other object that is in front of or on either of the Foul Lines, or (exception) batted directly to the ground by the Batsman, standing in his position, that (whether it first touches Foul or Fair Ground) bounds or rolls within the Foul Lines, between Home and First, or Home and Third Bases, without first touching the person of a player.

Rule 29. A Foul Hit is a ball batted by the Batsman, standing in his position, that first touches the ground, the part of the person of a player, or any other object that is behind either the of the Foul Lines, or that strikes the person of such Batsman, while standing in his position, or (exception) batted directly to the ground by the Batsman, standing in his position, that (whether it first touches the Foul or Fair Ground) bounds or rolls outside the Foul Lines, between Home and First, or Home and Third Bases, without first touching the person of a player.

Rule 30. When a batted ball passes outside the grounds, the Umpire shall decide it fair should it disappear within, or foul should it disappear outside of the range of the Foul Lines, and Rule 28 and 29 are to be construed accordingly.

Rule 31. A Strike is

(1) A ball struck at by the batsman without its touching his bat; or,

(2) A Fair Ball, legally delivered by the Pitcher, but not struck at by the Batsman.

(3) Any obvious attempt to make a foul hit.

Rule 32. A Foul Strike is a ball batted by the Batsman when any part of his person is upon ground outside the lines of the Batsman’s position.

Rule 33. Play is the order of the Umpire to begin the game, or to resume play after its suspension.

Rule 34. Time is the order of the Umpire to suspend play. Such suspension must not extend beyond the day of the game.

Rule 35. Game is the announcement by the Umpire that the game is terminated.

Rule 36. An Innings is the term at bat of the nine players representing a Club in a game, and is complete when three of such players have been put out as provided in these Rules.

Rule 37. A Time at Bat is the term at bat of a Batsman. It begins when he takes his position, and continues until he is put out, or becomes a base runner; except when, because of being hit by a pitched ball, or in case of an illegal delivery by the Pitcher, as in Rule 48.

Rule 38. Legal or Legally, signifies as required by these Rules.

‘The Game.

Rule 39. A Game shall consist of nine innings to each contesting nine, except that,

(1) If the side first at bat scores less runs in nine innings than the other side has scored in eight innings, the game shall then terminate.

(2) If the side last at bat in the ninth innings scores the winning run before the third man is out, the game shall then terminate.

(3) If the score be a tie at the end of nine innings to each side, play shall only be continued until the side first at bat shall have scored one or more runs than the other side, in an equal number of innings, or until the other side shall score one more run than the side first at bat.

(4) If the Umpire calls “Game” on account of darkness or rain at any time after five innings have been completed by both sides, the score shall be that of the last equal innings played unless the side second at bat shall have scored one or more runs than the side first at bat, in which case the score of the game shall be the total number of runs made.

Rule 40. A Draw Game shall be declared by the Umpire when he terminates a game on account of darkness or rain, after five equal innings have been played, if the score at the time is equal to the last even innings played; but (exception) if the side that went second to bat is then at the bat, and has scored the same number of runs as the other side, the Umpire shall declare the game drawn, without regard to the score of the last equal innings.

Rule 41. A Forfeited Game shall be declared by the Umpire in favor of the Club not in fault, in the following cases:

(1) If the nine of a club fail to appear upon the field, or being upon the field, fail to begin the game within five minutes after the Umpire has called “Play,” at the hour appointed for the beginning of the game, unless such delay in appearing or in commencing the game be unavoidable.

(2) If, after the game has begun, one side refuses or fails to continue playing, unless such game has been suspended or terminated by the Umpire.

(3) If, after play has been suspended by the Umpire, one side fails to resume playing within five minutes after the Umpire has called “Play.”

(4) If, in the opinion of the Umpire, ant of these Rules is willfully violated.

Rule 42. “No Game” shall be declared by the Umpire if he shall terminate play on account of rain or darkness, before five innings on each side are completed.

Rule 43. A Substitute shall not be allowed to take the place of any player in a game, unless such player be disabled in the game then being played, by reason of illness or injury, of the nature or extent of which the Umpire shall be sole judge.

Rule 44. The choice of innings shall be,

(1) Given to the Captain of the Home Club, who shall also be the sole judge of the fitness of the ground for beginning a game after rain, and no game shall be begun later than two hours before sunset.

(2) In every championship game each team shall be required to have present on the field, in uniform, at least one or more players, and no player except he be so in uniform shall be substituted for any sick or injured player.

Rule 45. The Umpire must call “Play” at the hour appointed for beginning a game. The game must begin when the Umpire calls “Play.” When he calls “Time,” play shall be suspended until he calls “Play” again, and during the interim no player shall be put out, base be run, or run be scored. The Umpire shall suspend play only for an accident to himself or a player (but in case of accident to a Fielder, Time shall not be called until the ball be returned to, and held by the Pitcher, standing in his position), or in case rain falls so heavily that the spectators are compelled, by the severity of the storm, to seek shelter, in which case he shall note the time of suspension, and should such rain continue to fall thirty minutes thereafter, he shall terminate the game; or to enforce order in case of annoyance from spectators. The Umpire shall also declare every “Dead Ball,” “Block,” “Foul Hit,” “Foul Strike,” and “Balk.”

Rule 46. The Umpire shall count and call every “unfair ball” delivered by the Pitcher, and every “dead ball,” if also an unfair ball, as a “ball,” and he shall also count and call every “strike.” Neither a “ball” nor a “strike” shall be counted or called until the ball has passed the home base.

Rule 47. The Batsman is out:

(Sec. 1.) If he fails to take his position at the bat in his order of batting, unless the error be discovered, and the proper Batsman takes his position before a fair hit has been made, and in such case the balls and strikes called will be counted in the time at bat of the proper Batsman.

(1) If he fails to take his position within one minute after the Umpire has called for the Batsman.

(2) If he makes a Foul Hit, and the ball be momentarily held by a Fielder before touching the ground, provided it be not caught in a Fielder’s hat or cap, or touch some object other than the Fielder before being caught.

(3) If he makes a Foul Strike.

(4) If he plainly attempts to hinder the Catcher from fielding the ball, evidently without effort to make a fair hit.

(5) If, while the First base be occupied by a base runner, four strikes be called on him by the Umpire, except when two hands are already out.

Rule 48. The Batsman becomes a Base Runner

(1) Instantly after he makes a Fair Hit.

(2) Instantly after five Balls have been called by the Umpire.

(3) Instantly after four Strikes have been declared by the Umpire.

(4) If, while he be a batsman his person or clothing be hit by a ball from the pitcher, unless – in the opinion of the Umpire – he intentionally permits himself to be so hit.

(5) Instantly after an illegal delivery of a ball by the pitcher.

Rule 49. The Base Runner must touch each Base in Regular order, viz: First, Second, Third and Home Bases, and when obliged to return, must retouch the base or bases in reverse order. He shall only be considered as holding a base after touching it, and shall then be entitled to hold such base until he has legally touched the next base in order, or has been legally forced to vacate it for a succeeding Base Runner.

Rule 50. The Base Runner shall be entitled, without being put out, to take one Base in the following cases:

(1.) If, while he was batsman, the Umpire called five Balls.

(2.) If the Umpire awards a succeeding Batsman a base on five balls, or for being hit with a pitched ball, or in case of an illegal delivery – as in rule 48 – and the Base Runner is thereby forced to vacate the base held by him.

(3.) If the Umpire calls a “balk.”

(4.) If a ball delivered by the Pitcher pass the Catcher and touch any fence or building within ninety feet of the Home Base.

(5.) If he be prevented from making a base by the obstruction of an adversary.

(6.) If a fielder stop or catch a batted ball with his hat or any part of his dress.

Rule 51. The Base Runner shall return to his Base, and shall be entitled to so return without being put out.

(1.) If the Umpire declares a Foul Hit, and the ball be not legally caught by a Fielder.

(2.) If the Umpire declares a Foul Strike.

(3.) If the Umpire declares a Dead Ball, unless it be also the fifth Unfair Ball, and he be thereby forced to take the next base, as provided in Rule 50. (See clause 2.)

Rule 52. The Base Runner shall not have a substitute run for him.

Rule 53. The Base Runner is out:

(1.) If, after four strikes have been declared against him while Batsman, and the Catcher fails to catch the fourth-strike ball, he plainly attempts to hinder the Catcher from fielding the ball.

(2.) If, having made a Fair Hit while Batsman, such fair, hit ball be momentarily held by a fielder, before touching the ground or any object other than a Fielder: Provided, It be not caught in the Fielder’s hat or cap.

(3.) If, when the Umpire has declared four Strikes on him while Batsman, the Fourth-strike ball be momentarily held by a Fielder before touching the ground: Provided, It be not caught in a Fielder’s hat or cap, or touch some object other than a Fielder’s hat or cap, or touch some object other than a Fielder before being caught.

(4.) If, after four Strikes or a Fair Hit, he be touched with the ball in the hand of a Fielder before such Base Runner touches First Base.

(5.) If, after four Strikes or a Fair Hit, the ball be securely held by a Fielder, while touching First base with any part of his person, before such Base Runner touches First Base.

(6.) If, in running the last half of the distance from Home Base to First Base, he runs outside the Three Feet Lines, as defined in Rule11; except that he must do so if necessary to avoid a Fielder attempting to field a batted ball, and in such case shall not be declared out.

(7.) If, in running from First to Second Base, from Second to Third Base, he runs more than three feet from a direct line between such bases to avoid being touched by the ball in the hands of a Fielder; but in case a Fielder be occupying the Base Runner’s proper path, attempting to field a batted ball, then the Base Runner shall run out of the path and behind said Fielder, and shall not be declared out for doing so.

(8.) If he fails to avoid a Fielder attempting to field a batted ball, in the manner prescribed in clauses 6 and 7 of this Rule; or if he, in any way, obstructs a Fielder attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball: Provided, That if two or more Fielders attempting to field a batted ball, and the Base Runner comes in contact with one or more of them, the Umpire shall determine which Fielder is entitled to the benefit of this Rule, and shall not decide the Base Runner out for coming in contact with any other Fielder.

(9.) If, at any time while the ball is in play, he be touched by the ball in the hand of a Fielder, unless some part of his person is touching a base he is entitled to occupy; provided the ball be held by the Fielder after touching him; but (exception as to First Base), in running to First Base, he may over run said base without being put out for being off said base after first touching it, provided he returns at once and retouches the base, after which he may be put out as at any other base. If, in over-running First Base, he also attempts to run to Second Base, or, after passing the base he turns to his left from the foul line, he shall forfeit such exemption from being put out.

(10.) If, when a Fair or Foul Hit ball is legally caught by a Fielder, such ball is legally held by the Fielder on the Base occupied by the Base Runner when such ball was struck (or the Base Runner be touched with the ball in the hands of a fielder), before he retouches said base after such Fair or Foul Hit ball was so caught. Provided, That the Base Runner shall not be out in such case, if, after the ball was legally caught as above, it be delivered to the bat by the Pitcher before the Fielder holds it on said base, or touches the Base Runner with it; but if the Base Runner in attempting to reach a base, detaches it before being touched or forced out he shall be declared safe.

(11.) If, when a Batsman becomes a Base Runner (except as provided in Rule 50), the First Base, or the First an Second Bases, or the First Second and Third Bases, be occupied, any Base Runner so occupying a base shall cease to be entitled to hold it, until any following Base Runner is put out, and may be put out at the next base or by being touched by the ball in the hands of a Fielder in the same manner as in running to First Base, at any time before any following Base Runner is put out.

(12.) If a fair hit ball strike him he shall be declared out, and in such case no base shall be run unless forced by the Batsman becoming a Base Runner, and no run be scored.

(13.) If when running to a base or forced to return to a base, he fail to touch the intervening base or bases, if any, in the order prescribed in Rule 49, he may be put out at the base he fails to touch, or by being touched by the ball in the hands of a Fielder, in the same manner as in running to First Base.

(14.) If, when the Umpire calls “Play,” after ant suspension of a game, he fails to return to and touch the base he occupied when “Time” was called before touching the next base.

Rule 54. The Umpire shall declare the Batsman or base Runner out, without for an appeal for such decision, in all case where such player is put out in accordance with these rules, except as provided in Rule 53, Clauses 10 and 14.

Rule 55. In case of a Foul Strike, Foul Hit ball not legally caught flying, Dead Ball, or Base Runner put out for being struck by a fair-hit ball, the ball shall not be considered in play until it is held by the Pitcher standing in his position.

Rule 56. Whenever a Block occurs, the Umpire shall declare it, and Base Runners may run the bases without being put out, until after the ball has been returned to and held by the Pitcher standing in his position.

Rule 57. One Run shall be scored every time a Base Runner, after having legally touched the first three bases, shall touch the Home Base before three men are put out. If the third man is forced out, or is put out before reaching First Base, a run shall not be scored.

Rule 58. The Captain only may address the Umpire, and then, only, upon a question of interpretation of the rules. Any violation of this rule shall subject the offender to a fine of five dollars by the Umpire.

Rule 59. The Captains and Coaches are restricted in coaching to the Base Runner only, and are not allowed to address any remarks except to the Base Runner, and then only in words of necessary direction; and no player shall use language which will, in any manner, refer to or reflect upon a player of the opposing club or the audience. To enforce the above the Captain of the opposite side may call the attention of the Umpire to the offence and upon a repetition of the same the club shall be debarred from further coaching during the game.

‘The Umpires Duties.

Rule 60. The Umpire’s duties shall be as follows:

(1.) The Umpire is the sole and absolute judge of play. In no instance shall any person be allowed to question the correctness of any decision made by him except the Captains of the contending nines, and no other player shall, at such time leave his position in the field, his place at the bat, on the bases or player’s bench, to approach or address the Umpire in word or act upon such disputed decision, unless requested to do so by the Umpire. Every player violating this provision shall be fined by said Umpire ten dollars for each offence. Neither shall any Manager or other officers of either club except the Captains as before mentioned – be permitted to go upon the field or address the Umpire in regard to such disputed decision under a penalty of a forfeiture of the game to the opposing club. The Umpire shall in no case appeal to any spectator for information in regard to any such case, but may ask for information, if he so desires, from one or more of the players.

(2.) Before the commencement of a Match Game, the Umpire shall see that the rules governing all materials of the game are strictly observed. He shall ask the Captain of the Home Club, whether there are any special ground rules to be enforced, and if there are, he shall see that they are duly enforced, provided they do not conflict with any of these Rules. He shall also ascertain whether the fence in the rear of the Catcher’s position is distant ninety feet from the Home Base.

(3.) In case the Umpire imposes a fine on a player, or declares a game forfeited, he shall transmit a written

notice thereof to the President of the Association within twenty-four hours thereafter, under the penalty of

having said fine taken from his own salary.

Rule 61. The Umpire’s jurisdiction and powers in addition to those specified in the constitution and the preceding rules are:

(1.) He must keep the contending nines playing constantly from the commencement of the game to its termination, allowing such delays only as are rendered unavoidable by accident, injury or rain. He must, until the completion of the game, require the players of each side to promptly take their positions in the field as soon as the third hand is put out, and must require the first striker of the opposing side to be in his position at the bat as soon as the fielders are in their places.

(2.) The players of the side “at bat’ must occupy the portion of the field allotted them, but must speedily vacate any portion thereof that may be in the way of the ball, or of any Fielder attempting to catch or field it. The triangular space behind the Home Base is reserved for the exclusive use of the Umpire, Catcher and Batsman, and the Umpire must prohibit any player of the side “at bat” from crossing the same at any time while the ball is in the hands of, or passing between, the Pitcher and Catcher, while standing in their positions.

(3.) The Umpire is the master of the Field from the commencement to the termination of the game, and must compel the players to observe the provisions of all the Playing Rules, and he is hereby invested with authority to order any player to do or omit to do any act, as he may deem it necessary to give force and effect to any and all of such provisions, and powers to inflict upon any player disobeying any such order a fine of not less than five nor more then twenty-five dollars for each offense, and to impose a similar fine upon any player who shall use abusive, threatening or improper language to the Umpire.

(4.) The Umpire shall at once notify the Captain of the offending player’s side of the infliction of any fine herein provided for.

Rule 62. A fair batted ball that goes over the fence at less distance than two hundred and ten feet from Home Base shall entitle the Batsman to two bases, and a distinctive line shall be marked on the fence at this point. The Umpire shall not reserve his decision on any point of play upon the testimony of any player engaged in the game, or upon the testimony of any by-stander.

Rule 63. The Umpire shall not be changed during the progress of a Match Game, except for reason of illness or injury.

Rule 64. For the special benefit of the patrons of the game, and because the offences specified are under his immediate jurisdiction, and not subject to appeal by players, the attention of the Umpire is particularly directed to possible violations of the purpose and spirit of the Rules, of the following character:

(1.) Laziness or loafing of players in taking their places in the field, or those allotted them by the Rules when their side is at the bat, and especially any failure to keep the bats in the racks provided for them; to be ready (two men) to take position as Batsman, and to remain upon the Players’ Bench, except when otherwise required by the Rules.

(2.) Any attempt by players of the side at bat, by calling to a Fielder, other than the one designated by his Captain, to field a ball, or by any other equally disreputable means seeking to disconcert a Fielder.

(3.) Indecent or improper language addressed by a player to the audience, the Umpire, or any player. In any of these cases the Umpire should promptly fine the offending player.

(4.) The Rules make a marked distinction between hindrance of an adversary in fielding a batted or thrown ball. This has been done to rid the game of the childish excuses and claims formerly made by a Fielder failing to hold a ball to put out a Base Runner. But there may be cases of a Base Runner so flagrantly violating the spirit of the Rules and of the Game in obstructing a Fielder from fielding a thrown ball that it would become the duty of the Umpire, not only to declare the Base Runner “out” (and to compel any succeeding Base Runners to hold their bases), but also to impose a heavy fine upon him. For example: If the Base Runner plainly strike at the ball while passing him, to prevent its being caught by a Fielder; if he hold a fielder’s arms so as to disable him from catching the ball, or if he knock the Fielder down for the same purpose.

(5.) In the case of a “Block,” if the person not engaged in the game should retain possession of the ball, or throw or kick it beyond the reach of the Fielders, the Umpire should call “Time” and require each base runner to stop at the last base touched by him until the ball be returned to the pitcher standing in his position.

(6.) The Umpire must call “Play” at the exact time advertised for beginning a game, and any player not then ready to take the position allotted him, must be promptly fined by the Umpire.

(7.) The Umpire is only allowed, by the Rules, to call “Time” in case of an accident to himself or a player, or in case of rain, as defined by the Rules. The practice of players suspending the game to discuss or contest a decision with the Umpire, is a gross violation of the Rules, and the Umpire should promptly fine any player who interrupts the game in this manner.

‘Scoring.

Rule 65. In Order to Promote Uniformity in Scoring Championship Games, the following instructions, suggestions and definitions are made for the benefit of scores, and they are required to make all scores in accordance therewith.

‘Batting.

(1.) The first item in the tabulated score, after the player’s name and position, shall be the number of times he has been at bat during the game. Any time or times where the player has been sent to base by being hit by the pitcher’s illegal delivery, shall not be included in this column.

(2.) In the second column should be set down the runs made by each player.

(3.) In the third column should be placed the first base hits made by each player. A base hit should be scored in the following cases:

When the ball from the bat strikes the ground between the foul lines and out of reach of the fielders.

When a hit ball is partially or wholly stopped by a fielder in motion, but such player cannot recover himself I time to handle the ball before the striker reaches First Base.

When the ball is hit so sharply to an infielder that he cannot handle it in time to put out a man. In case of doubt over this class of hits, score a base hit and exempt the fielder from the charge of an error.

When a ball is hit so slowly toward a fielder that he cannot handle it in time to put out a man.

When the batsman is awarded a base on balls.

‘Base Running.

(4.) In the fourth column shall be scored bases stolen, and shall include every base made after first base has been reached by a base runner, except those made by reason of, or with the aid of a “battery” error, or by batting, “balks” or by being forced off. In short, shall include all bases made by a “clean steal,” or through a wild throw or muff of the ball by a fielder who is directly trying to put the base runner out while attempting to steal a base.

‘Fielding.

(5.) The number of opponents put out by each player shall be set down in the fifth column. Where a striker is given out by the Umpire for a foul strike, or because he struck out of his turn, the put-out shall be scored to the Catcher.

(6.) The number of times the player assists shall be set down in the sixth column. An assist should be given to each player who handles the ball in assisting a run-out or other play of the kind.

An assist should be given to a player who makes a play in time to put a runner out, even if the player who should complete the play fails, through no fault of the player assisting.

And Generally an assist should be given to each player who handles the ball from the time it leaves the bat until it reaches the player who makes the put-out, or in case of a thrown ball, to each player who throws or handles it cleanly, and in such a way that a put-out results, or would result if no error were made by the receiver.

An assist shall be given the Pitcher when the Batsman fails to hit the ball on the fourth strike, and the same shall also be entered in the summary under the head of “struck out.”

(7.) An error shall be given in the seventh column for each misplay which allows the striker or base-runner to make one or more bases, when perfect play would have insured his being put out; except that “wild pitches,” “base an balls,” “bases on the batsman being struck by a pitched ball,” or case of illegally pitched ball, balks and passed balls, shall not be included in said column. In scoring errors off batted balls see Section 3 of this Rule.

Rule 66. The summary shall contain:

(1.) The number of earned runs made by each side.

(2.) The number of two-base hits made by each player.

(3.) The number of three-base hits made by each player.

(4.) The number of home runs made by each player.

(5.) The number of double and triple plays made by each side, with the names of the players assisting in the same.

(6.) The number of men given bases on called balls, by each Pitcher.

(7.) The number of men given bases from being hit by pitched balls.

(8.) The number of passed balls by each Catcher.

(9.) The number of wild pitches by each Pitcher.

(10.) The time of game.

(11.) The name of the Umpire.

‘Amendments.

Rule 67. No Amendment or change of any of these National Playing Rules shall be made, except by a joint committee on rules consisting of three members from the National League and three members from the American Association. Such committee to be appointed at the annual meetings of each of said bodies to serve one year from the twentieth day of December of each year. Such committee shall have full power to act, provided that such amendments shall be made only by an affirmative vote of the majority of each delegation.

‘The Explanatory Appendix.

‘The Official Interpretation of the New Rules.’

Through consultations with President Young and with Mr. Ward, who acted on the Conference Committee in the work of revising the playing rules of the game in November, 1886, we are enabled to add to the Guide this year an official interpretation of the amendments made to the rules by the above committee, as well as to add an official definition of doubtful points in the code, and this we give in the following explanatory appendix to the National Code of playing rules. These explanations will be found under separate headings, not only as regards each class of rules, but also each separate clause of the most important rules of the code.

‘The Materials of the Game.

Beginning with the class of rules under this heading we find that the first amendment made was that of changing the positions of the first and third bases, so as to locate them within the boundaries of the diamond field, as in the case of the position of the home base, so that any batted ball touched or passing over either base must of necessity be a fair ball. Under last year’s code a ball would be foul in passing over one part of either base, and fair in passing over another part. The amendment does away with this difficulty.

‘The New Pitching Rule.

The changes made in the rules governing the delivery of the ball to the bat form the most radical of the amendments made to the code, and by far the most important. In the first place the size of the pitcher’s “box” has been reduced from seven feet in length to five feet six, thus rendering it almost impossible for him to take more than one forward step in delivering, even if he were not expressly forbidden to do so. The new rule also requires the pitcher to keep one foot on the rear line of his position, and this foot he cannot lift until he has completed the forward throwing or pitching movement of his arm in delivery. The rule also says that he shall not “make more than one step in such delivery.” Moreover, in taking his stand in the box, preparatory to the delivery of the ball, he must hold the ball fairly in front of his body, and in sight of the Umpire. This prohibits any holding of the ball behind his back, as was the general rule last year. When, too, he makes any pretence or feint to throw the ball to a base to put out a base runner, he must, after such feint, resume his original standing position, and make a distinct pause before actually delivering the ball to the bat.

‘The New Coaching Lines.

The players of the batting side – the Captain and an assistant only – are obliged under the amended rules to stand on the allotted space of ground, back of first and third bases, which is distant fifteen feet back of each base, and not nearer to home base than seventy-five feet. All coaching of base runners must be done within the lines of this fixed space of foul ground, and consequently no coaches can run from back of third base toward home base, to lead fielding side into the belief that the base runner is running home.

‘Two Base Balls to Ready for Use.

The new rules require that the Umpire, on taking his position, shall be given two regulation balls in boxes, to be used in the game as occasion may require. For instance, when the first ball given to the pitcher in the opening of the game is batted over the fence on either of the spectators’ stands, or onto foul ground, out of sight of the fielding side, the extra ball shall be immediately put in play by the Umpire. Moreover, as often as one of the two balls in use shall be lost or become unfit for use, a new regulation ball must be called for by the Umpire to replace it. In either case the moment the substitute ball is delivered by the Umpire to the pitcher it becomes in play and cannot be exchanged for any other ball, except under the preceding rules. The ball lost in play at the end of the game is the trophy ball, and it then becomes the property of the winning club. The home club is obliged to furnish the two new balls and all other balls called for during the game.

‘The Flat Bat Rule.

The bat used in the game can be made of any kind of wood, and at its handle it can be wound with twine, or any granulated substance designed to insure a firm grasp of the handle. But it must be round in form, and at no part of it can it exceed two and a half inches in diameter, nor must it exceed 42 inches in length. A portion of the surface of the bat at its end may be flattened, at the option of its owner.

‘Field Rules.

‘No Betting.

No club, one of the National Agreement compact, is allowed to have open betting on its grounds, or pool selling either on the grounds or in any building the club owns, leases or occupies. The penalty of a violation of this rule is explained from the National Agreement list of clubs.

‘None But Players on the Field.

No person other than the players of the two contesting teams in a match, viz., nine on each side, with two substitutes in uniform, are to be permitted upon any part of the playing field during the progress of a game, except the manager of each competing club, the Umpire, and such officers of the law – the police – as may be in uniform, and such club officials as may be necessary to preserve the peace in case of any disturbance.

‘Protection for the Umpire.

It should be borne in the mind that rules now require the ejection from the grounds of any person offering any insult to the Umpire, verbal or otherwise.

‘No Interference allowed.

In the case of the crowd of spectators encroaching on the playing field, or interfering in any way with the progress of the game, the home club – at the request of the visiting club – must at once clear the field, and unless that is done within a quarter of an hour of the commencement of the interruption of the game, the Umpire must declare the game forfeited to the visiting club, no matter what number of innings may have been played at the time the interruption began.

‘Players and their Positions.

‘Number of Players.

Nine players on each side – neither more nor less – constitute the playing sides in a match game, one of which, on each side, is to act as the Captain.

‘The Players’ Positions.

The Captain on each side is privileged to place his players on the field in any position he chooses, thus having two men behind the bat for catching purposes, a player at right short, with but two out-fielders, or no shortstop and four out-fielders, or other wise as he may see fit. There is but one exception to this rule, and that is that whoever may be designed to act as pitcher, that player must occupy the box. The pitcher can be changed at any time of the game, or in any inning.

‘Players on the Benches.

Under the new code all players of the batting side not engaged either as base runners, coaches, or in occupying the batsman’s position, must be seated on the bench, and remain there until called to the bat, or to act as coaches, and only the Captain and one assistant are allowed to do this.

‘Definitions.

‘A Fair Ball.

There are two classes of fair balls, viz., a “fair” ball, as delivered by the pitcher, and a “fair” ball, as hit by the batsman. A fair ball delivered by the pitcher is a ball which is “legally” delivered, and which passes over the home base, and not lower than the range of the batsman’s knee, nor higher than that of his shoulder. The rule in vogue last year, which allowed the batsman the privilege of calling for a “high” or a “low” ball, at his option, has been repealed. A “fair” ball hit by the batsman is a ball hit high in the air which falls to the ground on fair ground, or, which is hit direct to the ground from the bat, first touches foul ground, and then rebounds or rolls onto foul ground before passing over or touching first and third bases.

‘An Unfair Ball.

An unfair ball is a ball “legally” delivered, but which does not pass over the home base, or if it does so pass, does not come to the bat within the range designated in the case of a fair ball, that is, it either comes in below the batsman’s knee, or above his shoulder.

‘Illegal balls.

An illegally delivered ball is one sent in by the pitcher after he has raised his foot from its position on the rear line of the “box” before he delivers it to the bat; or after taking more than one step in delivery; or after stepping outside the lines of his position; or after failing to resume his standing position before delivering the ball to the bat, after making a feint to throw to a base. The penalty for delivering any such illegal ball is the giving the batsman his base.

‘On Balking.

The rule a balk is unmistakably plain in its wording, except wherein it states that a balk is “any motion calculated to deceive a base runner” and this is officially defined as referring to any side movement of the pitcher, which, while not violating the express wording of the rule in regard to the motions to pitch to the bat, do constitute a balk by leading the base runner to think that the side motion made is that of pitching to the bat, and not throwing to the bat. It does not, however, include a feint to throw to a base which is followed by the pitcher’s resuming his original position, and pausing before delivery.

‘Dead Balls.

“Dead” balls include all balls which are not expressly designated as “fair” or “foul” hit balls, or which are unfair balls, or illegally delivered balls, such, for instance, as a ball touching any part of a batsman’s bat without his plainly striking at the ball with the purpose of hitting it; or which hits the batsman, or touches his clothing, while standing in his regular position, without his striking at the ball; or which hits the person of the Umpire before the ball passes the catcher. All “dead balls” not fairly delivered to the bat must be called a “ball.”

‘Block Balls.

A “block” ball is one that is either batted to the field, or overthrown to a base, which is either stopped or handled by any person not one of the players engaged in the game.

‘Foul Hits.

A foul hit ball is a ball hit in the air which falls on foul ground; or which is hit direct from the bat to the ground on the fair ground, and then either rebounds or rolls on to foul ground before passing over or touching first or third bases.

‘Balls over the Fence.

When a ball is batted over the fence inclosing the grounds, the umpire is required to decide it to be a fair ball if it first disappears over the fence within the lines of a fair ball; or foul if it similarly disappears within the foul lines. No matter if the ball be thrown in its passage over the fence so as to insure its falling outside on foul ground, only the line of its range in going over the fence is to decide its character as fair or foul.

‘Calling Strikes.

In calling strikes the Umpire must call a strike on the batsman whenever he fails to strike at or hit at a legally delivered fair ball; and also whenever the batsman purposely hits a ball foul. In this latter case the purpose he has in view must be plainly obvious in the opinion of the Umpire, as to the intention of the batsman in the matter; the Umpire is the sole judge.

‘Time at Bat.

The batsman is now charged with a “time at bat’ every time he makes a fair, or is put out, or becomes a base runner; except in the latter case when he is sent to his base from being hit by a pitched ball, or in consequence of the pitcher’s delivered the ball illegally.

‘The Game.

‘What Constitutes a Game.

A “game” consists of nine innings for each contesting side in a match. But five completed innings on each side may constitute a game under the circumstances of an interruption to further play caused by darkness or rain. Also a game is completed if the side first at the bat after completing their ninth innings, fail to score as many runs in their nine innings play, as the side second at the bat did in eight innings play. In the case of rain or darkness stopping a game during the play of the last part of the fifth innings, it is no game, no matter if the score is equal or otherwise. The five innings must be played to a finish by both sides to constitute a game when stopped by rain or darkness. After five innings, however, should the side at the bat in the latter part of innings have scored more runs than the side first at the bat, and should rain or darkness then stop further play, the party having the most runs wins the game, no matter where there are one, two or three hands out, or no hands out at all. It is the same in the case of a nine innings’ game, the game being won by the side last at the bat the moment they scored one run more than the opposing side, even if no hand should be out at the time.

‘Drawn Games.

A draw game is to be recorded in every case when the score remains equal after five innings on each side have been completed and rain or darkness puts a stop to further play. Or if the score be equal after nine innings have been completed on each side and the game be stopped by rain or darkness; or if the score remain equal and the side last at the bat in any innings – after five completed innings – are prevented from completing their innings by rain or darkness.

‘Forfeited Games.

A game is to be declared by the Umpire to be forfeited in the following cases:

For failing to be on the field to play a regularly appointed and scheduled game.

For refusing to play, or to continue to play if the Umpire calls “Play.”

For refusing to resume play after a game has been suspended by the Umpire within five minutes after the Umpire’s call of “Play.”

For violating any rule of the “National Code of Playing Rules.”

‘The Employment of Substitutes.

No substitute player can take the place of any player of either nine in a match game, unless by reason of illness or injury, of the nature or extent of which the Umpire is the sole judge, and not either of the captains.

‘Fitness of Grounds for Play.

Under the new rules the captain of the home club’s nine is the sole judge as to the fitness or the condition of the ground for play after rain has fallen, and not the Umpire.

‘Time for Beginning a Game.

Hereafter no championship match shall be commenced later than two hours before the time stated for sunset in the city where the game is played.

‘Uniformed Substitutions

No player not ready in the field as a substitute player in uniform shall be substituted for a player disabled by illness or injury.

‘Choice of Innings.

There is no longer any tossing up for innings. The choice of innings remains with the captain of the home club.

‘Out on Strikes.

The batsman is out on strikes the moment the Umpire calls “four strikes,” whenever the first base is occupied and only one man is out, without regard as to the catch of the ball from the fourth strike or not. In all other cases of four strikes being called, the ball on the fourth strike must be caught on the fly, or the batsman – then becoming a base runner – must be thrown out at first base.

‘Bases on Balls.

The batsman who is given his first base on five called balls, is now charged with a “base hit,” and consequently with a “time at bat.”

‘Bases on Walks.

None but base runners can be given bases on balks; but the batsman can be given his base whenever the pitcher delivers an illegal ball, but not when a balk is made.

‘Bases on Pitched Balls Hitting the Batsman.

Every time the ball from the pitcher hits the person or touches the clothing of the batsman, he latter must be given his base; Provided, That the batsman makes a plain effort to avoid the pitched ball and prevent it striking him. The Umpire is to judge whether it was the intention of the batsman to allow himself to be hit or not.

‘Detached Bases.

If a base runner, in running a base detaches the base bag from its fastening to the base post, and he be not put out before touching the bag, the mere fact of his not touching the bag after it becomes detached shall not be cause for his being decided out from being “off the base.” This rule does not apply, however, in the case of a “force out.”

‘No Substitute in Base Running.

No base runner temporarily disabled in running a base can be allowed a substitute merely to run bases for him. If the runner is disabled from base running he must retire from the game, and then the substitute player can run bases, but only as a player of the nine replacing a retired player.

‘Over-running First Base.

An important change has been made in the rule governing the over-running of first base. The amended rule requires the runner to turn to the right after over-running the base, or otherwise he is not entitled to exemption from being put out in returning to the base after over-running it. He can return to the base after over-running or not at his option. If he see a chance to get to second after over-running first, he can run to that base without returning to touch first base, the only penalty incurred in not returning being that of forfeiture of exemption from being put out. This latter privilege he forfeits if he turns to the left after over-running.

‘Returning to Bases on the Run.

Base runners, running bases on foul balls, are no longer required to return on the run. But they must not walk back so lazily as to delay the game.

‘Disputing Decisions.

The captain of the nine is now alone allowed to question any decision of the Umpire, and he can only do so when the question involved is that of a misinterpretation of the rules, and not that of a mere error of judgment. The fine for each violation of this rule is five dollars for each separate offence.

‘The Umpire’s Duties.

The Umpire is declared by the rules to be the sole judge of every point of play in the game not otherwise expressly designated in the code. In no case is any player of the competing nines in a match game – except the captains under specified conditions – allowed to question by word or act any decision made by the Umpire, under the penalty of a fine of ten dollars for each separate offence; and this fine the Umpire must inflict and report it, or pay the fine out of his own salary.

The Umpire cannot reverse any decision he may make on the testimony of any player or spectator.

The Umpire cannot suspend a game by reason of rain falling unless it fall in such a manner as to compel the players and spectators to seek shelter by the severity of the storm. An ordinary drizzling rain, or a temporary slight shower is not a sufficient cause for the suspension of play.

Places where these are the home rules.

Occasionally at The Hewlett Grounds; Old Bethpage Village Restoration, Long Island, New York.

Events:

  1. 2018 VBBA Conference, Menomonie, WI

    March 23, 2018 - March 25, 2018

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