The Rules of 1867, as adopted by the National Association of Base-Ball Players

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SOURCE: Beadle’s Dime Base-ball Player (1867)


Sec. 1. The ball must weigh not less than five and one-half, nor more than five and three-fourths ounces, avoirdupois. It must measure not less than nine and one-half, nor more than nine, and three-fourths 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 wood, and may be of any length to suit the striker.

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 respectively thirty yards. They must be so constructed 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 point to be each marked by a flat circular iron plate, painted or enameled 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.

Sec. 5. The pitcher’s position shall be designated by two lines, two yards in length drawn at right angles to a line from home to 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 stand within the lines, and must deliver the ball as near as possible over the center of the home base, and fairly for the striker.

Sec. 6. Should the pitcher repeatedly fail to deliver to the striker fair balls, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game or 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; and should any base be occupied at that time, each player occupying it or them shall take one base with-out being put out. All balls delivered by the pitcher, striking the ground in front of the home base, or pitched, striking the batsman, or pitched to the side opposite to that which the batsman strikes from, shall be considered unfair balls.

Sec. 7. The ball must be pitched, not jerked or 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 must have neither foot in advance of the front line or off the ground 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. A pitched ball is one delivered with the arm straight, and swinging perpendicularly and free from the body.

Sec. 8. When a balk is made by the pitcher, every player running the bases is entitled to one base, without being put out.

Sec. 9. The striker shall be considered a player running the bases as soon as he has struck a fair ball.

Sec. 10. Any ball, delivered by the pitcher, on which a balk or a ball has been called, shall be concerned dead and not in play un-til it have been settled in the hands of the pitcher, while he stands within the lines of his position; and no such ball, if hit, shall put the striker out.

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. 12. A player making the home base shall be entitled to score one run.

Sec. 13. If three balls are struck at, and missed, and the last one is not caught, either flying or upon the first bound, it shall be considered fair, and the striker must attempt to make his run.

Sec. 14. The striker is out if a foul ball is caught, either be-fore touching the ground or upon the first bound.

Sec. 15. Or, if three balls are struck at and missed, and the last is caught, either before touching the ground, or upon the first bound; provided the balls struck at are not those on which the balls or balks have been called; or not those struck at for the purpose of willfully striking out.

Sec. 16. Or, if a fair ball is struck, and the ball is caught without having touched the ground.

Sec. 17. Or, if a fair ball is struck, and the ball is held by an adversary on first base, before the striker touches that base.

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 ad-versary without some part of his person being on the base.

Sec. 19. 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 maybe put out in so returning, in the same manner as when running to the first base.

Sec. 20. No run or base can be made when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground; such a ball shall be considered alive and in play. In such case, players running the 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. 21. The striker, when in the act of striking, shall not step forward or backward, but must stand on a line drawn through the center of the home base, not exceeding in length three feet from either side thereof, and parallel with the line occupied by the pitcher. He shall be considered the striker until he has struck a fair ball. 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.

Sec. 22. Players must take their bases in the order of strik-ing; 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.

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.

Sec. 24. Any player, who shall intentionally prevent an ad-versary from catching or fielding the ball, shall be declared out.

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 not be put out.

Sec. 26. If an adversary stops the ball with his hat or cap, or if a ball be stopped by any person not engaged in the game, or if it be taken from the hands of any one 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. 27. If a ball from the stroke of a bat is held under any other circumstances than as enumerated in Section 22, and without having touched the ground, the striker is out.

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 is put out by a fair catch, by being touched between home and first base, or by the ball being held by an adversary on the first base, before the batsman reaches it.

Sec. 29. An innings must be concluded at the time the third hand is put out.

Sec. 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 in-nings shall be declared, which shall conclude the game.

Sec. 31. In playing all matches, nine players from each club shall constitute a full field, and they must have been regular members of the club which they represent, and no other club, either in or out of the National Association, for thirty days immediately prior to the match. Position players and choice of innings shall be determined by captains previously appointed for that purpose by the respective clubs.

Sec. 32. The umpire shall take care that the regulations respecting the ball, bats, bases, and the pitcher’s and strikers position are strictly observed. He shall be he 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 occur-rence, and when a player is put out, in what position and manner, unasked, 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.

Sec. 33. In all matches, the umpire shall be selected by the captains of the respective sides, and shall perform all the duties enumerated in Section 32, except recording the game, which shall be done by two scorers, one of whom shall be appointed by each of the contending clubs.

Sec. 34. 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. 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 viola-tion of this law, and then the umpire may dismiss any trans-gressors.

Sec. 35. The umpire in any match shall determine when play shall be suspended, and if the game can not be concluded it shall be decided by the last even innings, provided five innings have been played; and the party having the greatest num-ber of runs shall be declared the winner.

Sec. 36. Clubs may adopt such rules respecting balls knocked beyond or outside 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 dis-tinctly made known to every player and umpire previous to the commencement of the game.

Sec. 37. 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.

Sec. 38. No person shall be permitted to act as umpire or scorer in any match, unless he shall be a member of a Base-Ball Club governed by these rules.

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 removed by the club who are ready to play, and the game shall be considered as won, and so forfeited 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 op- ponents due notice before arriving on the ground.

Sec. 40. Any match game played by any club in contraven-tion of the rules adopted by this Association, shall be con-sidered null and void, and shall not be counted in the list of match games won or lost, unless a game be delayed by rain beyond the time appointed to commence the same. Any match game can be put off by mutual consent of the parties about engaging in the game. No match game shall be commenced in the rain.

Sec. 41 No person who all all be in arrears to any other club or shall at any time receive compensation for his servi-ces as a player shall be competent to play in any match. All players who play base-ball for money, place or emolu-ment, shall be regarded as Professional Players, and no profes-sional player 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.

Sec. 42. Should a striker stand at the bat without striking at good balls repeatedly pitched to him, for the apparent pur-pose 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 he shall be subject to the same rules as if he had struck a fair ball.

Sec. 43. Every match hereafter made shall be decided by the best two games out of three, unless a single game shall be mutually agreed upon by the contesting clubs.

From the 29 June 1866 Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times, page 328, col. 1:

The New Rules

The official organ of the National Association published the rule as ordered to be changed by President Gorman. The following is the copy of the order sent to all clubs:

“National Association Of Base Ball Players, Washington, June 17, 1867,

“Sir: My attention has been called by Dr. J. B. Jones, Chairman of the Committee of Rules of the National Association, to an error in the printed rules for 1867.

“An examination of the original minutes of the Association satisfies me that such is the fact, and I therefore deem it my duty to inform you, and through you your club, that the correct reading of the rule in question is as follows:

“‘Sec. 10: If a batsman strikes a ball on which the ball has been called, no player can make a base on such a strike, nor can any player make a base if the batsman strikes a ball on which two balls have been called, nor if he strikes a ball on which three balls have been called can more than one base can be made by each player occupying bases ; in the latter event the batsman shall also be entitled to one base. If he strikes a ball on which a baulk has been called, sections eight and nine of the rules shall apply. In either case the ball shall be considered dead and not in play until settled in the hands of the pitcher ; in neither case shall it be considered a strike ; and if a batsman wilfully [sic] strikes at a ball out of the fair reach of the bat, for the purpose of striking out, it shall not be considered a strike.’

“On and after receipt of this communication all play in which your club is concerned will be governed accordingly.

“Very respectfully Arthur P. Gorman, President, N. A. B. B. P.

“To the corresponding secretary of the _______ B. B. Club, _______.”

This rule goes into effect from the date of its appearance in the Chronicle, June 20th.

Interpretation Notes.

  • The 1867 rules are one of the most contentious in use due to the change in section 21. The “shall not step” clause was disliked then as much as it is disliked now and was removed for 1868.

Places where these are the home rules.


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