1857 Convention Rules

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Rule Sets
Bloodletting lancet thumb illustration of use.png

Official Rule Sets
Early New York Club Rules
1845 Knickerbocker Rules
1848 Knickerbocker Rules
1852 Eagle Rules
1854 Unified Knickerbocker-Eagle-Gotham Rules
1856 Putnam Rules
1857 Convention Rules
National Association of Base Ball Players Rules
1858 NABBP Rules
1859 NABBP Rules
1860 NABBP Rules
1861 NABBP Rules
1863 NABBP Rules
1865 NABBP Rules
1866 NABBP Rules
1867 NABBP Rules
1868 NABBP Rules
1869 NABBP Rules
1870 NABBP Rules
Chadwick's Summary of Rules Changes, 1871
Massachusetts Rules
1858 Dedham Rules
1863 New Marlboro Rules

Published Descriptive Rule Sets
Gutsmuths' Englische Base-ball 1796
La balle empoisonnée (Poisoned Ball) 1815
Rounders 1828
Base, or Goal-ball 1834
Base Ball 1835
Feeder and Rounders, 1841
Rounders ca. 1860

Informal descriptions
Base Ball, upstate New York (1820s)
Town Ball, Georgia (1830s)
Gotham Club Rules (1837)
Baseball, Ontario (1838)
Round Ball, Massachusetts (1840s)
“A Game of Ball”, Massachusetts (1853)
Townball, Cincinnati (1860s)
Round Town, Virginia (1890s)

Related games
The Laws of Cricket (1774)
Gutsmuths' Deutsche Ballspiel
German Schlagball
Polish Palant (Pilka Palantowa)
Danish Longball (Langbold)
Russian Lapta
Swedish Brännboll (Burn-ball)
German Brennball (Burn-ball)
Norwegian Dødball (Dead-ball)
Finnish Pesäpallo
Irish Rounders
British Baseball

Add a Rule Set

See also Jeffrey Kittel's analysis of the 1857 Rules



New York, January 22, 1857.

Section 1. The ball must weigh not less than 6 nor more than 6 1/4 ounces avoirdupois; it must measure not less than 10, nor more than 10 1/4 inches in circumference; it must be composed of India-rubber and yarn, and covered with leather. It shall be furnished by the challenging Club, and become the property of the winning Club, as a trophy of victory.

Section 2. The bat must be round, and must not exceed 2 1/2 inches in diameter in the thickest part; it must be made of wood, and may be of any length, to suit the striker.

Section 3. The bases must be four in number, placed at equal distances from each other, and securely fastened upon the four corners of a square whose sides are respectively thirty yards. They must be so constructed as to be distinctly seen by the umpires and referee, 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 sand or saw-dust; the home base and pitcher’s point to be each marked by a flat circular iron plate, painted or enameled white.

Section 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.

Section 5. The pitcher’s position shall be designated by a line four yards in length, drawn at right angles to a line from home to the second base, having its centre upon that line, at a fixed iron plate placed at a point fifteen yards distant from the home base.

Section 6. The ball must be pitched, not jerked or thrown to the bat, and whenever the pitcher draws back his hand, with the apparent purpose or pretension to deliver the ball, he shall so deliver it. The pitcher must deliver the ball as near as possible, over the centre of the home base, and must have neither foot in advance of the line at the time of delivering the ball, and if he fails in either of these particulars, then it shall be declared a baulk.

Section 7. When a baulk is made by the pitcher, every player running the bases is entitled to one base without being put out.

Section 8. If the ball from a stroke of the bat is caught behind the range of home and the first base, or home and the third base, without having touched the ground, or first touches the ground behind those bases, it shall be termed foul, and must be so declared by the umpires, unasked. If the ball first touches the ground, or is caught without having touched the ground, either upon or in front of the range of those bases, it shall be considered fair.

Section 9. A player making the home base, shall be entitled to score one run.

Section 10. 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.

Section 11. The striker is out if a foul ball is caught, either before touching the ground or upon the first bound.

Section 12. Or, if three balls are struck at and missed; and the last is caught either before touching the ground or upon the first bound.

Section 13. Or, if a fair ball is struck, and the ball is caught either without having touched the ground or upon the first bound.

Section 14. Or, if a fair ball is struck, and the ball is held by an adversary on on the first base, before the striker touches that base.

Section 15. Or, if at any time hi is touched by the ball while in play in the hands of an adversary, without some part of his person being on a base.

Section 16. No ace or base can be made upon a foul ball, nor when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground; and the ball shall, in both instances, be considered dead and not in play, until it shall first have been settled in the hands of the pitcher. When a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground, the players running the bases shall have the privilege of returning to them.

Section 17. Players must stand on a line drawn through the centre of the home base not exceeding in length three feet from either side thereof, and such line shall be parallel with the line occupied by the pitcher. They shall 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.

Section 18. Players must make their bases in the order of striking; and when a fair ball is struck, and not caught flying, nor on the first bound, 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 upon any base, under these circumstances, in the same manner as the striker when running to the first base.

Section 19. Players running the bases must, so far as possible, keep upon the direct line between the bases; 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.

Section 20. Any player, who shall, intentionally, prevent an adversary from catching or fielding the ball, shall be declared out.

Section 21. If a 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.

Section 22. If any adversary stops the ball with his hat or cap, or takes it from the hands of a party 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.

Section 23. If a ball, from the stroke of the bat, is held under any other circumstances than as enumerated in section 22, and without having touched the ground more than once, the striker is out.

Section 24. If two hands are already out, no player, running home at the time a ball is struck, can make an ace, if the striker is put out.

Section 25. An innings must be concluded at the time the third hand is put out.

Section 26. The game shall consist of nine innings to each side, when, should the number of runs be equal, the innings shall be continued until a majority of runs, upon an equal number of innings, shall be declared, which shall conclude the game.

Section 27. 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, for thirty days prior to the match. No change or substitution shall be made after the game has been commenced, unless for reason of illness or injury. Positions of players shall be determined by captains, previously appointed for that purpose by the respective clubs.

Section 28. Any player holding membership in more than one club, at the same time, shall not be permitted to play in the matches of either club.

Section 29. The umpires in all matches shall take care that the regulations respecting the ball, bats, bases, and the pitcher’s position, are strictly observed; they shall be the judges of fair and unfair play, and shall determine all differences which may occur during the game; they shall take especial care to declare all foul balls and baulks immediately on their occurrence. They shall together select a referee, from whose decision-in case of a disagreement between them-there shall be no appeal.

Section 30. No person engaged in a match, either as umpire, referee, or player, shall be either directly or indirectly interested in any bet upon the game. Neither umpire, referee nor player shall be changed during a match, unless with the consent of both parties, except for a violation of this law, and except as provided in section 27, and then the referee may dismiss any transgressor.

Section 31. The umpires and referee in any match, shall determine when play shall be suspended; and if the game cannot be concluded, it shall be decided by the last even innings, provided five innings have been played; and the party having the greatest number of runs shall be declared the winner.

Section 32. 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 every player and umpire, and the referee, previous to the commencement of the game.

Section 33. No person shall be permitted to approach or to speak with the referee, umpires, or players, or in any manner to interrupt or interfere during the progress of the game, unless by the special request of the umpires or referee.

Section 34. No person shall be permitted to act as umpire or referee in a match, unless he shall be a member of a Base Ball Club, governed by these rules.

Section 35. 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 fifteen minutes thereafter, the party so failing shall admit a defeat.