National Association of Professional Base Ball Players 1873

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Source: Courtesy of Eric Miklich; 19c Base Ball



SECTION 1. The ball must weigh not less than five nor more than five and one quarter ounces avoirdupois. It must measure not less than nine nor more than nine inches and one-quarter inches in circumference. It must be composed of india rubber and yarn, and covered with leather. The quantity of rubber used in the composition of the ball shall be one ounce, and the rubber used shall be vulcanized and in mould form.

[Even according to this rule lively balls can be made, as the finer the yarn and the tighter it is wound round the rubber ball in the centre the more elastic the ball is. The best fielding nines always select dead balls.]


2. In the first and odd games of a series the ball shall be furnished by the challenging club, and in the second game and even games by the challenged club. But when “single” games are played only, the ball shall be furnished by the challenging club. In all cases it shall become the property of the winning club, as a trophy of victory.

[The above rule is applicable to any series of games. The best two out of three is the amateur rule.]


3. 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 shall not exceed forty-two inches in length.

[Light bats are the best, as they can be handled quicker in facing swift pitching.]

4. 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. The bases 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 shall consist of white marble or stone, so fixed in the ground as to be even with the surface.

[Umpires should see that these two rules are strictly observed, and especially that the bases are properly placed and kept in position.]


5. 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, as also the line of the striker’s and pitcher’s positions, 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. The line of the home base shall extend three feet on each side of the base, and it shall be drawn parallel to a line extending from first to third base.

[The line of the home base ought to be distinctly marked, as also the foul ball lines, and the lines of the pitcher’s position.]



SECTION 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. There must also be an iron plate at each end of the front line of the position.

[The pitcher can only legally deliver the ball while standing between the above lines.]


2. The player who delivers the ball to the bat must do so while within the lines of the pitcher’s position, and he must remain within them until the ball has left his hand; and he shall not make any motion to so deliver the ball while outside the line of the pitcher’s position.

[The penalty for an infringement of this rule is the calling of a “balk.”]


3 . Whenever the player delivering the ball to the bat shall throw it by an overhand or roundarm throw, the umpire shall declare a foul balk, and should the player delivering such balls to the bat persist in his action, the umpire, after warning him of the penalty, shall declare the game forfeited by a score of 9 to 0. Also, when the player delivering the ball makes any motion to deliver the ball to the bat, he shall so deliver it, and he must not have either foot outside the lines of his position, either when commencing to deliver the ball or at the time of its delivery; and if he fail in any of these particulars, then it shall be declared a balk, in which case any base runner occupying a base shall take one base without being put out.

[In another part of the book will be found an explanatory chapter on this rule.]


4. All balls delivered to the bat which are sent in over the striker’s head, or on the ground in front of the home base, or on the side opposite to that which the batsman strikes from, or which hits the striker while he is standing in his proper position, or which are sent in within a foot of his person, shall be considered unfair balls, and every such unfair ball must be called in the order of its delivery, after the first ball has been delivered, the first ball, to each striker alone to be excepted.

[The object of this rule is to render all balls that are wide of the bat, unfair balls. The pitcher has no right to deliver balls out of reach of the batsman. He has ample room for strategic play in sending in balls within reach of the bat, and he should be punished for pitching wide balls.]


5. All balls delivered to the bat which are sent in over the home base, and “high” or “low,” as the batsman calls for and which are not delivered by an overhand throw or by a round-arm delivery, as in cricket, shall be considered fair balls.

[This section defines every ball which is sent in over the home base, and within the designated reach of the striker, as a “fair ball,” no matter if it be delivered by means of a simple toss or pitch, by a jerk, or by a wrist or elbow underhand throw. But no fair ball can be delivered by a “roundarm” or overhand delivery. This rule now the regular rule for pitching in base ball.]


6. 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 on a foul ball be called, or a base run on such a ball.

[If the umpire discharges his duty properly no ball can be hit on which a “balk” or “ball” is called, as the umpire is required to call a “balk” the moment the pitcher infringes the rule of legal delivery, and he has no right to call a “ball” until the ball has passed the striker.]


7. Any balls sent to the bat from the pitcher’s position, which shall accidentally hit the striker’s bat, shall be declared a “dead foul ball,” and no base shall be run or player put out on such ball.

[Should the batsman not be standing in his position and a ball strikes the bat, and it is evident to the umpire that the act was not accidental, in such case the striker must be decided out for obstructing the catcher. It is seldom that the ball does strike the bat accidentally.]


8. Should the player who delivers the ball to the bat repeatedly fail to deliver to the striker fair balls, from any cause, the umpire must 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 his first base without being put out; but no base runner shall take a base on third called balls unless he is obliged to vacate the base he occupies. No ball shall be called on the first ball delivered, and not until the ball has passed the home base. With this exception, all unfair balls must be called in the order of their delivery.

[The above section admits the following construction: Suppose the first ball delivered touches the ground before reaching the home base, and the second is sent in over the striker’s head, and the third so as to touch him, while the fourth is too far of from his bat, and the fifth not at the right height designation. In such case the first ball is not counted or called at all; the second is not to be called, but it is counted as an unfair ball as is the second and third, the latter two being, in addition called, as by this time the pitcher has, thereby, “repeatedly” – viz., twice failed “to deliver to the striker fair balls,” and of course the fourth and fifth are to be called; it will therefore be seen that the rule under certain conditions – as above shown – admits of three balls being called in succession out of five balls delivered, but under no circumstance can three balls be called with a less number delivered. The object of the rule is to put a stop to wild pitching, or through a lack of command of the ball.]



SECTION 1. The striker, when in the act of striking at the ball, must stand astride the line of the home base, and distant not less than one foot from the base, and when occupying this position only one foot must be forward or backward of the line of the home base. 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 base.”

[By the above rule the striker is debarred from taking any step which shall take both his feet on one side of or the other of the line of his position when about to strike, but as long as he keeps one foot on each side of the line he can take either a backward or forward step. By this means he is allowed that freedom of movement necessary to ensure a good hit, while he is, on the other hand, properly debarred from taking an unfair advantage either by lengthening the distance from the pitcher by a backward step, or shortening it by a forward one. If a backward step were allowed, short balls hit down would invariably touch the ground foul, and in such manner as not to be caught; and if a forward step were permitted, the batsman would nullify the effect of the curved line delivery, besides gaining other undue advantages.]


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 after the umpire has called for the striker, unless by reason of illness or injury, or by consent of the captains of the contesting nines, shall be declared out.

[The moment the umpire calls for the striker, and the batsman fails to take his position in the order of his play, the umpire must decide the absent man out.]


3. The striker shall be privileged to call for either a high or a low ball, in which case the pitcher must deliver the ball to the bat as required. The ball shall be considered a high ball if pitched between the height of the waist and the shoulder of the striker; and it shall be considered a low ball if pitched between the height of the waist and one foot from the ground.

[The striker cannot call for a ball just where he wants it, he can only designate the height of the ball, whether high or low. In case the batsman does not call for either a high or low ball, than all balls within a foot of the ground and the shoulder of the striker are to be considered fair.]


4. Should the striker fail to call for either a “high” or “low” ball, in such case no ball shall be called which is delivered over the home base and within the range of shoulder high, and one foot from the ground; provided, also, that the balls so delivered shall not include any balls described in rule 2, section 4th, as “unfair balls.

[Both the above rules refer to the delivery of balls, which, though not “unfair” from being out of the batsman’s reach are, nevertheless, not “fair” balls from the fact that they are not sent in at the height called for.]


5. Should the striker refuse to strike at balls pitched over the home base, and within the specified reach of the bat, the umpire shall call “one strike,” and if the striker 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. If three balls are struck at and missed, and the last one is not caught, either flying or upon the first bound, the striker (or the player running for him) must attempt to make his run, and in such cases he can be put out on the bases in the same manner as if he had struck a fair ball. No strike shall be called upon the first ball delivered except the ball be struck at, and neither shall any strike be called when the ball is struck at for the purpose of willfully striking out.

[In carrying this rule into effect umpires must be careful to observe the spirit of the law, which is to punish the striker for willfully refusing to strike at balls sent in within the legitimate reach of his bat. They should be very strict, however, in carrying out the rule when the striker has a special object in view in refusing to strike and in playing what is called the “waiting game.” Unquestionably if the batsman refuse to strike at balls sent in fairly over the base and at the right height called for, he ought to have strikes called on him.]


6. 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 be 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; or if the striker willfully strike at the ball, either to be put out or to balk the catcher. 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.

[If the umpire sees that the striker merely strikes at the ball to obstruct the sight of the catcher, he must promptly decide him out.]


7. The striker shall be privileged to use his own private bat exclusively, and no other player of the contesting nines shall have any claim to the use of such, except by consent of its owner.

[No player of the contesting nine has the right to use a player’s private bat, or even a bat belonging to the opposing nine, without the consent of the owner or the opposing party.]


8. If the ball, from the stroke of the bat, first touches the ground, the person of a player, or any other object, behind the line of 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, the person of a player, or any other object, either upon or in front of the line of range of these bases, it shall be considered fair. All foul balls must be called whenever the ball, while in the air, is seen to be falling behind the lines of the bases, as above described.

[By the above rule the umpire is required to call “foul” whenever the ball is seen to be falling behind the line of the bases, instead of waiting until the ball falls to the ground. The umpire should closely watch the ball from the bat when the striker is trying to hit what is known as “fair fouls,” that is, balls which touch the ground directly in front of and close to the home base, and yet rebound outside the foul ball lines.]



SECTION 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; but the moment the ball is caught, or the player running to first base is put out, other players running bases shall cease to be forced to vacate their bases, and may return to them.

[Suppose a base runner is standing on first base and a ball is hit to the first baseman, and the striker runs to first base; should the baseman first touch the player who is standing on the base and then – while holding the ball – touch the base before the striker reached it, in such case both men would be out, but should the fielder instead touch the base – ball I hand – and then touch the runner standing on the base, then only the striker would be out, as the moment the fielder touches the base, that moment the base runner standing there ceases to be obliged to vacate the base.]


2. The player running to first base may overrun it without being put out, provided that in so doing he runs either straight forward, on the line of the foul ball line, or to the right of the base; but should he turn to the left, or attempt to make second base, he shall be liable to be put out, as in the case of running to second, third or home base.

[By the above rule the base runner can only claim exemption from being put out – after overrunning the base – by either running straight on, or by turning to the right. If he turns to the left and attempts to make second base after overrunning, he becomes liable to be given out for running out of the line of the bases to avoid the ball, besides being out if touched by the ball in the hands of the fielder on returning to the base after so overrunning it.]


3. 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 or returns to, he shall be declared out, unless he return to such base before the ball be held on it.

[If any base runner fails to touch a base, either in making a run or in returning on a fouls or fly ball, if the ball be held on the base he failed to touch, before he can get to it to touch it, he is out.]


4. No base runner shall be forced to vacate a base unless as provided in section 1 of this rule; and when the first and second bases, or the three bases, are occupied, and a fair ball is struck the moment the player running to a base in put out, the players occupying the bases ahead of him shall cease to be forced to vacate their bases, and shall be privileged to return to the bases they have vacated, but only at the risk of being put out while off a base.

”[Should a base runner, for instance, be on third base and one on second, and should the latter on seeing the former running home – attempt to make third and get there, he cannot legally hold that base if the player who was previously there should return to it before touching the home base.

According to the rule, too, the moment the player occupying first base ceases to be forced to vacate it, other players previously forced to vacate bases, cease to be obliged to vacate them. But should the striker not be put out when running to first base when that base is occupied, and the base runner is put out in being forced off at second, in such case the player running from second to third – the three bases being occupied when the ball was hit -ceases to be forced off the moment the player running to second is put out.]”


5. 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 any part of the field he may happen to be. 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 momentarily settled in the hands of the player catching it.

[The umpire must bear in mind that if a base runner should run from first base to third – passing and touching second base en route – while the ball goes from the bat to he hands of the out fielder, the base runner (if the ball be caught) must return to first base, touching second again as he returns; and if the ball be returned in and held on either base before the runner returns to it he is out.]


6. When a balk is made by the pitcher, every player running the bases must take one base, without being put out, whether it be on a “foul balk” or an ordinary balk.

[Balks must be called by the umpire unasked, and the moment the “balk” is made. An ordinary balk is made when the pitcher makes any motion to deliver the ball and fails to deliver it, or when he steps beyond the bounds of his position in delivering the ball. A “foul balk” is made when the pitcher throws the ball with an overhand throw, or with a roundarm delivery, as in cricket.]


7. In the case of a fair hit ball on the fly, the player running the bases shall not be entitled to any base touched after the ball has been hit, and before the catch has been made.

[This rule applies when a fly ball is hit to the outer field, and a base runner takes two or more bases before it is caught, and thereby claims that he has only to return to the last base touched. Its application is as follows: If a long ball be hit to the left field – the fielder standing out very far – and the player occupying first base when the ball is hit, gets round to third just as the ball is caught, he must not only return and touch second base but also the base he left when the ball was struck.]


8. A player running the bases shall, after touching the home base, be entitled to score one run, but if a fair ball be struck when 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.

[The umpire – when two hands are out – should watch every hit closely, especially in cases of balls hit to the in-field when a base runner is attempting to get home, for it is frequently difficult to tell whether the base runner touched home base before the third hand was put out. If the striker be put out at first base or on the fly or foul it does not matter, but if he makes his first base and is put out trying to reach second, in such case the base runner scores his run if he touch the home base before the striker is put out in running to second.]


9. 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.

[The application of this rule is as follows: Suppose the striker hits a ball to short stop and it be forwarded to the first baseman, who, in standing to take it occupies a position on the line of the base between home and first, instead of in front of his base or on the other side of it, in such case, he would prevent the base runner from a free access to the base, and therefore the latter could not be legally put out. In all cases of fielders occupying positions in the way of base runners, in which the obstruction could readily have been avoided, no base runner can be put out. In the case of every position a fielder can occupy, except when striving to catch a fly ball from the bat, the base runner is entitled to the right of way along the line of the bases.]


10. 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, except as provided in section 2 of Rule IV. And should a fielder, with ball in hand, while in the act of touching a base runner while off a base, have the ball knocked out of his hand by the base runner, the latter shall be declared out.

[If the umpire sees that the fielder holds the ball and that he has touched the player with it, the mere fact of the collision knocking the ball out of his hand does not vitiate the play, and the player touched must be decided out.]


11. Any player running the bases, who shall have a base given him on called balls, shall be privileged to run the risk of making all the bases he can by fielding errors beyond the base given him; but in such case he shall be liable to be put out by being touched while off the bases, as described in section 10 of Rule IV.

[If the umpire calls three balls, and the ball on which the last call is made passes the catcher, the striker is at liberty not only to take the first base which he is entitled to, but also to run for and try to reach second base on the passed ball. He cannot, of course, in such case, be put out between home and first, but he runs the risk of being put out in attempting to run the other bases on the passed ball.]


12. No player shall be allowed a substitute in running the bases, except for illness or injury, unless by a special consent of the captain of the opposing nine; and in such case the latter shall select the player to run as substitute.

[This rule gives the captain of the nine in question the privilege of selecting any player of the opposing nine he may choose, to act as a substitute in running the base for a lame or injured player. The rule is necessary to prevent the trick of putting in swift base runners to act for poor ones.]


SECTION. 1. The game shall consist of nine innings to each side, when, at the close of such number of innings, 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. All innings must be concluded at the time the third hand is put out.

[When the last part of the ninth innings of a game has ended and the score on each side is equal, the umpire must insist upon the game being continued, unless rain is falling or it be too dark to fairly play the game out. In case either one of the other side refuse to play further, in such case the umpire must give the game to the nine ready to continue the game, and by a score of 9 to 0]


2. Whenever a game of five or more innings on each side is stopped by darkness, rain, or other such causes, and the score at the time is equal on the even innings played then the game shall be declared drawn; but under no other circumstances shall a drawn game be declared.

[No draw game can be declared by mutual consent. Experience – in the professional arena at least – has shown conclusively that draw games are very unsatisfactory in their results to the spectators, except in cases when it is too dark to continue play.]


3. Under no circumstances shall a game be considered as played, or a ball be claimed or delivered as the trophy of victory, unless five innings on each side shall have been played to a close. And should darkness or rain intervene before the third hand is put out in the closing part of the fifth innings of a game, the umpire shall declare “no game.”

[The last part of the fifth inning must been played to a close, and the contestants must be in readiness to commence the sixth innings before any game can be declared. Unless this is done the uncompleted innings count for nothing.]


4. No match shall be commenced when rain is falling; and neither shall any such game be continued after rain has fallen for five minutes. Should rain commence to fall during the progress of a match game, the umpire shall promptly note the time it began to rain, and should rain continue for five minutes, he shall suspend play directly; and such suspended game shall not be resumed until, in the opinion of the umpire, the ground is in fit condition for fair fielding.

[No ground, after a fall of rain, can be considered in a “fit condition for fair fielding,” that is so moist as to soak the ball, or is in such a state as to make the fielders slip and slide in running. Playing a game in the rain is in direct violation of the rules, and no umpire should permit it, under any circumstances.]


5. No ball shall be claimed or delivered (except as otherwise provided in these rules) unless it be won in a regular match game; and no match game shall be considered regular if any of the rules of the game be violated by either of the contesting clubs, whether by mutual consent or otherwise.

[The umpire should see that the rules of the game are strictly observed, and should the contesting nine violate any rule of the game he should notify them of such violation, and if it be continued he should resign his position. He is placed there to observe the rules himself, and to see that they are observed by the players, and he fails in his duty if he countenance any infringement of the rules, even if both the contesting nines consent to such violation.]


6. Positions of players and choice of innings shall be determined by captains previously appointed for that purpose by the respective clubs. The nine fielders of each contesting club shall be privileged to take any position in the field their captains may choose to assign them.

[The regular positions in the field are those which experience has shown to be the most desirable for the fielders to take, in order to put their opponents out, or to prevent their making runs. But should the captain for the nine in the field deem it advisable to place his men in irregular positions, he is at liberty to do so, with exception that he cannot place the pitcher in any other position than that assigned to him. But he can place all his men in the out-field for catchers if he likes, or he can place two men behind the bat to catch, or place all his men in the in-field, besides changing his pitcher every innings, or in any part of an innings.]


7. In playing all matches, nine players from each club shall constitute a full field, and these players must be regular members of the club which they represent. They also must not have been members of any other base ball club – whether in or out of the Professional Association – or have played in any match game with any other club for sixty days prior to the date of the match they are to play in, matches played prior to April 1st of the season they play in expected. 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; and all matches shall be regarded as “regular” in which nines of two contesting clubs are opposed to each other.

The above rule governs every base ball club that is not in the professional arena. The professional rule reads as follows:

7. In playing all matches nine players from each of the contesting clubs shall constitute a full field, and these players must be regular members of the club they represent. They must also not have been members of any other base ball club – whether in or out of the Professional Association – or have played in any match game with any other club for sixty days prior to the date of the match they are to play in, matches played prior to April 1st of the season they play expected. 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; and all matches shall be regarded as “regular” in which nines of two contesting clubs are opposed to each other.

[The two rules are the same except in regard to the name of the Association referred to, and the naming of April as an exception. The design in so doing being to allow professionals to be engaged by Southern clubs from the close of the Northern season in November to its beginning in April.]


8. No person who shall, at any time during the year the match is played in, have been constitutionally expelled from another club for dishonorable conduct, shall be competent to take part in any match game; and no player not in the nine taking their position on the field in the third innings of the game, shall be substituted for a player in the nine, except for reason of illness or injury.

[Constitutional expulsion can only occur after an offending member has been duly tried before the club whose rules he has violated. In regard to substitutes no player who is not in his position in the nine when they take their places in the field to commence the third innings, can be placed in the field or at the bat except for reason of illness or injury to a player previously in the nine, and even then the captain of the opposing nine has the right to name who the substitute shall be.]


SEC. 9. All series of games played between clubs belonging to this Association must be completed before November 1 of each year; and the club refusing to complete their regular series before such date, shall forfeit such incomplete series.

The above rule is binding only to amateur clubs. The professional club rule is as follows:


SEC. 9. No player who has willfully broken a written engagement to a club shall be eligible to take part in any game played by any clubs of the Professional Association during the year in which such engagement was made. No agreement for any engagement shall be considered as binding upon club or player which is not made in writing and signed by at least one witness. This rule shall be binding, unless its penalties be rescinded by a legal decision given by the Judiciary Committee of the Professional Association.

[Of course this latter rule does not affect amateur clubs.]


10. 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 to none for any game so forfeited. Should the delinquent club fail to play on account of the recent death of one of its members, or by an unavoidable accident, however, no such forfeit shall be declared.

[Of course if it rains on the day appointed, no forfeit can be claimed, unless no rain fell within an hour of the appointed time for the match.]


11. No person who shall be in arrears to any other club than the one he plays with, or shall at any time receive compensation for

[The above clause is of course, not observed by professional clubs. The rule explicitly exclud4es any player from taking part in a match game between two amateur clubs who is in anyway pecuniarily compensated for his service as a player in such match, or as a player in the club playing the match. The words are “place, money or emolument.” This, of course, excludes any salaried player, also any player who holds office or place as a reward or compensation for his services, or who receives any present at any time for such services.]



SECTION 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 and weight of the ball 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; and there shall be no appeal from his decision, except through the Judiciary Committee of the Amateur Association. 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 selecting an umpire for a match, the visiting club shall submit the names of three persons, members of different clubs, whom they desire to act, at least five days before the day for play, and all correspondence in relation thereto shall be by telegraph. No game, however, shall be forfeited from the failure of the umpire to properly discharge his duties.

[The umpire is “the sole judge of fair and unfair play,” and as such he decides all disputes incident to the game. Moreover, he is expressly prohibited from deciding any point or question in dispute by the testimony of any of the contesting players; nor can any decision be reversed on such testimony. The captains of the nines may, however, appeal for a reversal of a decision if it has been marked by a misinterpretation of the laws of the game, but not in cases of mere errors of judgment.]


2. No person shall be permitted to act as umpire in any match if he receives compensation for his services as umpire. Neither shall the umpire or scorer be changed during a match, unless with the consent of both captains of the contesting nines, except for reason of illness or injury, or for a violation of the above rules.

[The above rule does not prohibit a club from paying the actual traveling expenses of any person they may select as an umpire, who has to come from a distant city to act; but it does prevent the umpire from being paid for his services in any way whatever; and any club infringing this rule not only forfeit the game, but render themselves liable to expulsion from the Association. An umpire violates the rules in the manner above referred to, if he decides players out, who are plainly not out; or if he fails in other respects to properly and impartially discharge the duties of his position. But this violation must be plainly apparent to both contesting nines to occasion his removal. No umpire can be thoroughly correct in his decisions, and when his errors are those of judgment they must be borne with.]


3. No decision given by the umpire shall be reversed upon the testimony of any player; and neither shall the umpire be guided in his decisions by any such testimony. The captains of each nine shall alone be allowed to appeal for the reversal of a decision of the umpire, and then only in the case of a palpable error in misinterpreting the rules.

[The umpire must judge whether that ball has been caught or not, and whether a base runner has been touched or not, solely by the evidence of his own sight, and if he from the cause, is unable to decide whether the ball was held so as to constitute a fair catch, or that the base runner was fairly touched, he cannot decide the batsman or base runner out.]


4. No person shall be permitted to approach the umpire, or in any manner to interrupt or interfere during the progress of the game. The umpire shall require the captain or players of the side to the bat to remain at a reasonable distance (at least 15 feet) from the home, first, third base, and outside the foul lines; also, to avoid interfering with the fielders when directing the movements of players running the bases. If either side persists in infringing this rule the umpire shall declare the game forfeited by the score of 9 to 0 against the side violating it.

[The umpire should especially see to it that the players stand back from the position who are not engaged in fielding; and also insist that the captain of the batting nine shall not stand near enough to any of the base players to interrupt or annoy them in any way. He can judge the “reasonable distance” mentioned in the rule to mean fifty feet from the base of the bases, but no player can go within 15 feet distant of first or third base to direct players running bases. The object of this rule is to put a stop to the reprehensible habit of “coaching” poor base runners around the bases, and that other habit of interfering with the fielders some captains and undisciplined nines indulge in.]


5. 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 score of the last equal innings played; unless one nine shall have completed their innings, and the other nine shall have exceeded the score of their opponents in their incompleted innings, in which case, the nine having the highest score shall be declared the winners; also in all games terminating similarly, the total score obtained shall be recorded as the score of the game.

[The explanation of this rule is as follows. Suppose the A nine have completed their sixth innings and the score is 15, and the B nine commenced their sixth innings with a score of 12, and that their first three strikers score their runs before a man is put out, and another run is scored with the loss of but one hand, and with the score at 16 to 15 in favor of the B nine the umpire from rain or darkness “calls” the game, in such case the B nine wins the game by a score of 16 to 15. But should the game be called before the first part of the sixth innings-or the first part of any innings after the fifth even innings have been played-in such case the score of the game at the time the last even innings was completed decides the contest. Equity demands that if one party have had their innings and done their best, the other side is fully entitled to count all the runs they can make in their inning, even if the requisite number of players should not be put out.]


6. 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. All such forfeited games shall be recorded as won by a score of nine runs to none, and the game so won shall be placed to the credit of the nine ready to continue the game. When the umpire calls “time”, play shall be suspended until he calls “play” again, and during the interim no player shall be put out, or base run, or ball called.

[In suspending play in a contest on account of rain or a storm of any kind, the umpire should appoint a special time for resuming the contest and should it not clear up within that time he should “call” the game. In all cases when a game is to be suspended the umpire simply calls “time.” When he says: “I call this game,” that ends the contest, and it cannot be resumed.]


7. 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.

[Under no circumstances can a game be resumed after the day it was commenced.]


8. Whenever a ball touches the umpire, or is accidentally stopped by him, unless it be a passed ball, it shall be considered dead, and not in play until again settled in the hands of the pitcher while in his position; and no such dead ball shall put a player out, nor shall any base be run, or run scored on such a ball.

[If the ball, which “passes” the catcher, should touch the umpire it is not dead, but under any other circumstances the fact of its touching the umpire makes it dead until it is held by the pitcher again. No ball can be considered a “passed” ball that does not come within reach of the catcher.]


9. In the case of a ball becoming ripped, out of shape, or, in the opinion of the umpire, otherwise unfit to play with, the umpire shall call for a new ball at the end of an even innings, said new ball to be furnished by the club furnishing the ball for the game.

[The ball should not be changed unless it is badly injured, as a new ball in the middle or closing part of the game gives an advantage to the side which first bats it.]


10. 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.

[No player can bet on a game and play skillfully or fairly. In 1872, professional players bought pools on contests they were engaged under the plea that buying a pool was not betting. It is the very worst form of betting, and to pool selling does professional playing owe its decline in popularity, as few fair games can be played where pools are sold on the contest.]


11. Any club willfully infringing any rule of the game shall, after trial by the competent Judiciary Committee, be liable, for the first offense, to the penalty of suspension from membership of the Amateur Association, for any period the said committee may direct, not exceeding one year; and expulsion from such membership for the second offense. All games in which any of the rules of the Amateur Association are infringed shall also be considered forfeited games, and shall be recorded as games won by a score of nine runs to none, and against the club infringing the rules.

[This rule applies in this way: If a nine in a match is found to be composed of any players who are ineligible from play by reason of being paid for their services,-if in an amateur club-or in not having been legal members of the club they play with, the game they play in is forfeited.]



1. Clubs may adopt such rules respecting balls knocked beyond 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.

[The rules in question refer to giving but one base for a ball over a fence, or when it falls into a pond or swamp.]


2. No fence shall be erected within ninety feet back of the home-base of a ball-field, except such fence marks the boundary line of the grounds on which the field is laid. And in case such fence be located within ninety feet of the home base, then each ball passing the catcher and touching the fence shall give each base-runner one base without his being putout.

[Clubs should especially avoid laying out their ground in such a way as to place the catcher’s fence within ninety feet of the home base. The boundary line refereed to is that of the grounds on which the ball field is laid out, and not the field itself.]


3. If a fielder stops the ball with his hat or cap no player can be put out on such ball, and each player running the bases shall be entitled to one base; no player can be put out by any ball so stopped or caught’ or if a ball be stopped in any way by a 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.

[No player can be put out if the ball has been stopped by a fielder with his hat or cap. Such ball is entirely dead for putting a player out. And in case the ball is stopped by outsiders the ball is dead for putting a player out until it has been settled in the hands of the pitcher while he stands within the lines of his position. The rules never intended that a ball should be in play at any time that it has been stopped by the hat or cap of a player.]


4. Any player who shall intentionally prevent an adversary from catching or fielding the ball, or any base runner who shall, in any way, prevent a fielder from catching a fly-ball from the bat-fair or foul-shall be declared out.

[Any fielder running to catch a ball on the fly or a foul ball on the bound, is entitled to the right of way, no matter how he may get in the way of a base runner; and unless the latter makes room for him and avoids obstructing him in any way, the umpire must promptly decide the base runner out.]


SEC. 5. Any player who shall designedly let the ball strike him, or kick the ball when at the bat, or when running the bases, and thereby prevent an adversary from holding or fielding such ball, shall be declared out.

[Umpires should strictly enforce this rule, especially when batsmen violate it by standing in the way of the ball when pitched to the catcher, so that it may touch them and glide off.]


The following is the Secretary’s official copy of the proceedings of the Professional Convention held in Baltimore, March 3, 1873, sent exclusively for publication in “De Witt’s Base Ball Guide” for 1873.

Third Annual meeting of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, held at the St. Clair Hotel, Baltimore, Md., Monday evening, March 31, 1873. The meeting was called to order by the President at half-past eight P.M. The following delegates presented credentials, and were admitted to membership as representatives of their respectable clubs:

Henry Wright, of the Boston club of Boston, Mass.

E. H. Hayhurst, of the Athletic club of Philadelphia, Pa.

Frank Mc Bride?, of the Philadelphia club of Philadelphia, Pa.

R. C. Hall, of the Baltimore club of Baltimore, Md.

W. J. Smith, of the Maryland club of Baltimore, Md.

N. E. Young, of the Washington club of Washington, D.C.

Robert Mathews, of the Mutual club of New-York.

Charles N. Garrington, of the Resolute club of Elizabeth, N. J.

Robert Ferguson, of the Atlantic club of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved.

Mr. Young moved that the regular order of business heretofore followed be suspended, for the purpose of considering the question of the adoption of a Constitution and By-Laws for the government of the Association. Carried. Mr. Harry Wright submitted the following Constitution and By-Laws, which, as amended were adopted, as follows:


There are no upcoming events at this time.

Learn More:

Check back soon for more updates!


rulebookstutorialsvendorsrec-reading threads-final


Login to update your public profile and add events to the calendar.