The Rules of 1869, as adopted by the National Association of Base-Ball Players

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SOURCE: courtesy Eric Miklich. 19c Base Ball



Sec. 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 the first and third games of a series 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.


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 seventeen yards distant from the home base. The pitcher must stand within these lines, and must deliver the ball as near as possible over the center of the home base, and fairly for the strike.

Sec. 2. Should the pitcher repeatedly fail to deliver to the striker fair balls, for any 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 striker shall take the first base without being put out; but no base-runner shall take a base on called balls unless he is obliged to vacate the base he occupies. 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 and must be called by the umpire whenever so delivered, provided the pitcher has been previously warned of the penalty. One warning for each striker shall suffice.

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 outside the lines of his position, either when about to deliver the ball, or at the time of its delivery; 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, or if the ball be delivered in any other way than with a straight arm, swinging perpendicularly from the body.

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. No ball or strike shall be called without the warning, as defined in Section 2 of Rule Second, and in Section 3, Rule Third. And neither shall a ball or strike be called until the ball has passed the home base.


Sec. 1. The striker, when in the act of striking at 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 foul 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 was the third player out. Any player failing to take his turn at the bat, unless by reason of illness or injury, or by consent of the captains of the contesting nines, shall be declared out.

Sec. 3. 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.

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 before touching the ground; or if a fair ball is struck, and the ball be held by an adversary on the first base, before the striker touches that base, or if a fair ball be caught from the hands or person of a player before having touched the ground; or if a foul ball be similarly caught after touching the ground but once. No fair or foul ball, if caught from any other object than the person of a player even before touching the ground, shall put a player out.


Sec. 1. 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 when running to the first base. No base runner shall be forced to vacate a base unless as provided in this section; and no player running the bases shall be allowed a substitute to run such bases unless for reason of illness or injury.

Sec. 2. 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. 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. When a balk is made by the pitcher, every player running the bases is entitled to one base, without being put out.

Sec. 5. A player making the home base, shall be entitled to score one run; (Formerly Sec. 6) but 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, or player running the bases, is put out before touching the first base.

Sec. 6. 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 fail to touch each base he runs to, he shall be declared out, unless he return to such base before the ball be held on it. No base can be run or player be put out on a dead ball.

Sec. 7. 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.


Sec. 1. 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, unless it be mutually agreed upon by the captains of the two nines to consider the game as drawn. But in case of no such agreement the parties refusing to play shall forfeit the ball. All innings must be concluded at the time the third hand is put out.

Sec. 2. 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 -College clubs excepted- for sixty 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.

Sec. 3. 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 forfeit the ball to the club having their nine players on the ground ready to play, and the game so forfeited 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. Should 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, no such forfeit shall be declared. No such notice shall be considered as due unless it shall have been sent at least two days before the time appointed for the game.

Sec. 4. 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, and 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. 5. 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. 6. 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, in which case the ball shall be furnished by the challenging club. All matches shall terminate before the close of the season; and no agreements between clubs shall be considered binding unless made in writing.

Sec. 7. All players who play base ball for money, or who shall at any time receive compensation for their services as players, shall be considered professional players; and all others shall be regarded as amateur players.


Sec. 1. 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. 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. If the ball, from the stroke of a 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. If the ball be dropped from the hands of a player, it shall be considered a muffed ball.

Sec. 4. 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, but not otherwise.


Sec. 1. 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 balks, 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. No game, however, shall be forfeited from the failure of the umpire to record his decision, or properly discharge his duties.

Sec. 2. 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, unless one nine shall have completed their inning, and the other nine shall have exceeded the score of their opponents in their incompleted inning, in which case the nine having the highest score shall be declared the winners. But no game shall be considered as played unless five innings on each side shall have been completed.

Sec. 3. When the umpire calls “play,” the game must at once be proceeded with; and the party failing 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. 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 shall the umpire or scorer 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 decision 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. (Formerly Rule Sixth, Sec. 6) The captains of each nine shall alone be allowed to appeal for the reversal of a decision of the umpire.

Sec. 7. No person shall be permitted to approach or to speak with the umpire, 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; and any club willfully infringing any rule of the game, shall, after trial before the State Judiciary Committee, be liable-for the first offense-to the penalty of suspension from membership of the National Association, for any period the said committee may direct, not exceeding one year; and expulsion from such membership for the second offense.

Interpretation Notes.

Places where these are the home rules.

  • The grounds of the 1869RedStockings, Heritage Village at Sharon Woods Park, Sharonville, Ohio.


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