1870 NABBP Rules

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Rule Sets
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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

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Text from the 1870 Beadle's Dime Base Ball Player. Changes from the 1869 rules in italics.



December 8th, 1869.


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 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.

SEC. 2. In the first and third games of a series the ball shall be furnished by the challenging club, and in the second game 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.

SEC. 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.

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 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, 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.


SEC. 1. The pitcher's position shall be designated by two lines two yards in length, drawn at right angles to the line from the 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, when commencing to deliver the ball to the bat, must stand within these lines, and must deliver the ball as near as possible over the center of the home base, and within the legitimate reach of the striker.

SEC. 2. Should the pitcher 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 the 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 pitched, and not until the ball has passed the home base. With this exception, all unfair balls must be called whenever delivered.

SEC. 3. All balls delivered by the pitcher which are not within the fair reach of the striker, such as balls pitched over the striker's head, or on the ground in front of home base, or pitched to the side opposite to that which the batsman strikes from, or which hit the striker while he is standing in his proper position, shall be considered unfair balls, and must be called whenever delivered.

SEC. 4. The ball must be pitched, not jerked, thrown, or bowled to the bat; and whenever the pitcher 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. When the pitcher's arm is swung forward to deliver the ball to the bat, his arm must be straight, and must swing perpendicularly to the side of the body.

SEC. 5. 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 run on called balls not hit', and players can be put out on called balls thrown to bases; and any player given a base on called balls shall be privileged to run all bases he can make beyond the base given him.


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. 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 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.

SEC. 3. Should the striker repeatedly refuse to strike at balls pitched to him within the legitimate 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, or not those struck at for the purpose of willfully 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. No strike shall be called upon the first ball delivered.

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 be held before touching the ground; or, if a fair ball is struck, and the ball be held by an adversary on first base before the striker touches that base, or if a fair ball be caught from the hands of a person or 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 take 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 is put out, other players running bases shall cease to be forced to vacate their bases, and may return to them. No base-runner shall be forced to vacate a base except as provided for 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 the 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 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 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.

SEC. 6. Players running bases must touch them, and, so far as is 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.

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, no matter from what cause, shall forfeit the ball, and the game thus forfeited shall be recorded as a game won by nine runs to none. 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, either in or out of the National Association - 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; 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, no such forfeit shall be declared.

SEC. 4. 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.

SEC. 5. No person who shall be in arrears to any other club than the one he plays with, shall be competent to take part in any match game; 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. 6. 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 except by the mutual consent of the contesting clubs.

SEC. 7. Every match made shall be decided by the winning of 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. 1. If an adversary stops the ball with his hat or cap, or if a ball be stopped in any wa 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 shall not be declared out even if touched with the ball.

SEC. 4 [sic]. If the ball, from the stroke of a bat, first touches the ground, the person of a player, or any other object, behind the line or 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 or 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. 5. 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 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 the ball, 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 sole 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 a State Association, or of that of the National 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 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 played; unless one nine shall have completed their inning, and the other nine shall have exceeded the score of their opponents in their uncompleted inning, 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 the score of the game. But no game shall be considered as played unless five innings on each side 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. 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.

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 be permitted to act as umpire or scorer in any match unless he shall be a member of a club belonging to 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 neither shall the umpire be guided in his decisions by any such testimony; and no decision whatever shall be reversed except for a palpable infringement of the rules, and then only on appeal by the captain. 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, 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. All games in which any of the rules of the Association, shall be considered as forfeited games, and shall be recorded as games won by a score of nine runs to none, and against the club infringing the rules.