British Baseball

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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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“Baseball has a long history in Britain. Literary references to it can be found in the eighteenth century and even

earlier. However, the name seems to have faded from use, and by the early nineteenth century “rounders” had become a popular bat-and-ball game, especially among children. Later that century, rounders was being played by men at a highly competitive level. There were teams in Scotland, in Gloucestershire (southwest England), south Wales, and northwest England, and probably elsewhere too. Liverpool appears to have been the most active rounders city and was home to The Rounders Reporter, a publication launched in 1885.

“The name baseball for the indigenous British game was revived in 1892, when the Liverpool Rounders Association changed the name of its sport from rounders to baseball. Exactly why this happened is a matter for speculation. It is argued that the name rounders suggested a children’s game and did not reflect the manly sport played in these working-class areas. Inspiration for the name change may have come from recent visits to Britain by U.S. professional baseball teams—the Boston Red Stockings and Philadelphia Athletics in 1874 and the Chicago White Stockings and an All-America team in 1889. Both tours included games in the rounders hotbed of Liverpool.

“Following their Liverpool counterparts, the south Wales authorities renamed their game baseball in the summer of 1892, and since then this peculiar British sport has shared a name with its more famous American, and increasingly global, counterpart.
“Today the sport is organized by the Welsh Baseball Union (WBU) in Cardiff and Newport and by the English Baseball Association (EBA) in Liverpool... A common set of rules is determined by the grandly

titled International Baseball Board (IBB), which was established in 1927 and involves representatives of both governing bodies.”

--Excerpted from Andrew Weltch, “British Baseball: How a Curious Version of the Game Survives in Parts of England and Wales”, in The National Pastime Vol. 28 pp 30-34. Society for American Baseball Research (2008)



A. The field of play and appurtenances shall be as shown in the following plan:—

C. DIAMOND The ground shall be laid out in the form of a diamond, to the dimensions in the previous illustrations

D. BOWLER’S BOX It is a rectangle to the dimensions in previous illustration. The marked line should be outside the dimensions. The front is to be in line with No.1 and No.3 bases.

E. BATTING CREASE This line shall be as illustration with a rubber peg at each end, and an additional rubber peg in the centre, and the container, holding each rubber insert must be flush with the ground.

F. BATTING CREASE DIAMOND From the centre of the batting crease line a diamond of 18in. (0.457m) diagonal must be provided.

G. PROMPTER’S BOX It is a square of 4ft. (1.220m) sides, placed centrally between No. 3 and No. 4 bases, and 15ft (4.572m)from the line. (Ladies, under 12 boys and girls, the box is between 1 and 2 bases)

H. LINES The batting crease, running and bowling box lines are to be marked clearly and straight. Marking lines should not be more than 2in.(0.051m) in width and the measurements of the bowling box, batting crease and the prompter’s box are to be taken from inside the lines.The rubber pegs, in the case of the bowling box, are to be placed at the inside corners.


A. BASES To mark the position of numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 bases, cylindrical,hexagonal or octagonal poles, from 2 to 3in. (0.076m) max. in diameter, are to be used, 3½ ft. (1.066m) above the ground, and laid out in accordance with the Plan of the Field. The top 18in. (0.457m) max. of each base must be painted white. Bases are to be of wood but light metal can be used subject to the approval of the E.B.A. or the W.B.U. Steel plates, with a spike for anchoring the base, are permitted.

B. PEGS The part of the peg above the ground must be made of white rubber and not less than 4in. (0.102m) and not more than 6in. (0.152m) high. The holder must be driven in flush with the ground. They must be painted white or fluorescent.

C. BAT The [flat] bat to be used must not exceed 36in. (0.914m) in length, 3½ in.(0.089m) in breadth at the base, or 2½ in. (0.064m) in breadth 19in.(0.483m) from the base of the bat, and taper evenly from base to handle.


Size. In all matches, the ball to be used is that approved by the International Board and stamped accordingly by the makers. The ball shall weigh from 4½ oz. (128gr) to 5oz. (142gr) inclusive, while the circumference shall not exceed 9in. (0.229m) or be less than 8½ in.(0.216m). A metal or plastic template can be used to check the size of the ball.
Referee’s inspection. The referee must inspect the ball at the beginning of a match. He has the power to discard it at any period of the play if it be found unsuitable or unplayable.Each batting side may, before the commencement of a match, hand its own ball to the referee, unless it has been mutually agreed to play with one ball. Then the ball will be provided by the home side. At international games the referee will be handed two new baseballs, one marked “E” the other “W” by the IBB secretary. Each team could then use their own ball when batting.


(i) In a match the number of players shall not exceed eleven on each side, plus one substitute.
(ii) On all grounds no player shall position himself outside the boundary, but must be visible to the referee and the batsmen.
(iii) No player is allowed to catch any ball in any part of his clothing or equipment except the backstop who may use gloves of an approved pattern for that purpose.

F. DRESS OF PLAYERS A team must be attired in the registered regulation dress of the club (shirt, shorts, socks and suitably approved footwear), unless there is a clash of colours, when shirts distinguishable from those of the opponents must be worn by the home side unless agreed otherwise. Players may wear a cap of an approved design.

G. INJURED PLAYER AND SUBSTITUTE Any player may be substituted during the course of the game by another nominated player of his club. A player who has been substituted cannot take any further part in that game. A substitute may fully participate in the game and be allowed to bat and bowl. Clubs must inform the referee prior to the commencement of the game the name of the nominated substitute; failure to do so will prevent a substitute being used. First Aid treatment can be given to an injured player during the progress of the game and subject to the approval of the referee a runner can be permitted for any other injured player, provided that a substitute has already been used.

H. BACKSTOP A backstop must stand behind the batting crease clear of the batsman. Should he interfere with the batsman’s stroke or take the ball before it crosses the batting crease, a NO BALL is declared. A backstop is permitted to wear a face mask and/or gloves.

I. PROMPTER A team must elect a prompter, who shall be one of its players and who must wear regulation dress.

J. REFEREE A referee shall be appointed in each game. He shall:—

(i) enforce the laws and decide any disputed point:
(ii) record the scores of the game at the end of each innings:
(iii) stop the game for any infringement of law, or if any player is seriously injured:
(iv) suspend or terminate the game when he deems such action necessary:
(v) caution a player guilty of misconduct or ungentlemanly behaviour, or suspend a player from further participation in the game if guilty of persistent misconduct or violent behaviour:
(vi) stop any person, other than the players, from entering the field of play without permission. The referee’s decision on point of fact connected with the play is final insofar as the result of the game is concerned.

K. REFEREES’ DRESS International referees will be presented with gold colour shirts bearing a badge agreed by both unions and wear dark trousers


A. NUMBER OF INNINGS Normally two innings each side shall be played to decide the match, but either side may terminate the game when the referee has satisfied himself, on perusal of the two official score books, that a winning score has been made.

B. FOLLOW ON AND DECLARATION When a team is 30 runs or more behind, it is optional for the leading side to compel its opponents to follow on. Both teams may agree to declare their first innings closed after batting for one round. This is to ensure the game is completed, especially when weather/light may threaten abandonment. The governing body (EBA-WBU) may instruct certain games to be played under the aforementioned law.

C. INTERVAL An interval not exceeding 10 minutes shall be allowed at the completion of the first two innings. No other interval shall be permitted.

D. TERMINATION When there is none of the batting side HOME the innings may be terminated by placing the ball inside the batting crease diamond and leaving it there. Should there be any baserunners holding the bases when the last batsman takes his stance and strikes, the baserunners can be run out individually until there is only one left, but he can only be put out by the ball being placed inside the batting crease diamond as above.

E. NON-COMPLETION OF INTERNATIONAL MATCHES In the event of an international match not being completed on the first day it will commence from that point on the subsequent day (2008). If the match does not finish it will be declared a drawn match.

F. WINNING SCORE An Extra, No Ball or a Bye constitutes a winning score, at which time the game should cease

G. LAST MAN - REST When there is only one player left on the batting side, he shall be entitled to claim a rest of one minute after running the continuous circuit of the bases before being called upon to take his place at the batting crease again.

H. LAST MAN - OUT (See also Law 7) When there is only one player left on the batting side, such player cannot be dismissed by being based.


A. STYLE The ball must be bowled underarm with an uninterrupted pendulum swing from the back to the front of the bowling box. The arm holding the ball must be within the width of the bowling box and, at the moment of delivery, must be fully extended in front of the body within the width of the bowling box. The feet must at all times be within the limits of the bowling box. The bowler must not change Bowling Arm until the Current Batsman has been served off the pegs.

Throwing: Should the arm come in contact with the body prior to delivery or the ball be jilted or jerked it constitutes THROWING which is not allowed, and a No Ball must be declared.


(i) Every ball not bowled in accordance with the above law shall be declared a No Ball by the referee immediately it has left the bowler’s hand. Referee will also raise both hands above his head to indicate to the scorers that “No Ball” has been called.
(ii) Bowling to Fielders. A bowler, while standing within the limits of the bowling box in the act of delivery to the batsman, must not bowl a ball underarm to a fielder with the object of putting out a baserunner. The referee will declare “No Ball” for contravention of this rule and the baserunner be allowed to proceed to the base he was attempting to reach.

C. DELIVERY The ball is not allowed to be delivered to a batsman until he toes the peg and is ready to receive the ball when he faces the first delivery from the bowler in each round. For every subsequent delivery he must be prepared to receive the ball or take the consequences of not being ready unless there are circumstances which make the acceptance of the ball impossible, i.e. if the batsman receives an injury.

D. GOOD AND BAD BALLS Every ball delivered over the batting crease not higher than the CHIN or lower than the forward KNEE of the batsman shall be declared by the referee a GOOD BALL. Referee will when calling “good ball” point his right hand extended straight to the batsman, calling “one good.” 2 such good balls to a batsman on any visit to the pegs will dismiss that batsman, referee to call “2 goods and out”. Every ball delivered outside these limits or touching the ground before reaching the batting crease will be declared a BAD BALL. TWO BAD BALLS constitute an EXTRA to the batting side.


A. STYLE Double or single-handed batting is permitted. Only the face side of the bat is to be used. The FOREARMS for all purposes are to be regarded as part of the bat when a batsman has made a stroke.

B. STANCE The batsman must stand with his forward toe touching the batting crease peg and clear of the batting crease while his rear foot must be clear of the batting crease until the delivery of the ball. After delivery he is at liberty to move his rear foot across the batting crease but not beyond the centre peg.The stance of the batsman is considered to be his natural height.


(i) A penalty stroke is committed when a batsman deliberately removes his forward foot from the toeing peg except at the completion of the stroke or pass the centre peg with his rear foot to gain advantage of the bowling.
(ii) A player committing a penalty stroke must gain No. 1 base and then return to the batting crease and bat again. A batsman can be touched out by the backstop, caught or based from a penalty stroke.
(iii) No Ball - Penalty Stroke.

In the event of a bowler bowling a no-ball and the batsman committing a penalty stroke, the referee shall declare a NO DELIVERY, the baserunners will return to their former bases and neither the no-ball or the penalty run shall be recorded.

D. BACK HITTING If, in the opinion of the referee, any batsman strikes back, he shall be declared out.

E. NO STROKE A NO STROKE is committed by a batsman who upon receiving a ball does not strike but merely drops the bat and proceeds to a base.This is considered Misconduct. For the first offence the referee will warn the batsman and make him bat again. On the second offence, in same innings, is declared out - Law 7 (E).

F. BATSMEN STRIKING Should a batsman strike at any ball he must proceed to a base and take the consequences of his stroke. A batsman failing to strike at one of two good balls must be declared out.

G. NO BALL It is optional for a batsman to strike at a No Ball. Should a batsman strike he must proceed to No. 1 base and all baserunners move forward one base without penalty. After passing No. 1 base a batsman proceeds at his own risk. A baserunner is allowed to take the risk of advancing should the batsman not take the option, but he can be touched out.

H. NO BALL BOWLER - BACKSTOP In the event of a bowler giving away a NO BALL during delivery, and the backstop preventing the batsman from making a stroke by taking the ball before it has crossed the batting crease or by otherwise interfering with him, the referee shall declare a No Ball for the bowling offence and No Ball for the backstop offence. The batsman, however, will only be allowed the option of proceeding to No. 1 base without penalty and the baserunners shall, if the option be claimed by the batsmen, proceed one base likewise.

I. A batsman must bat in the correct place in the Batting Order.


A. RUNS A batsman, after hitting the ball, scores one run for each base he succeeds in touching without stopping. Should a batsman miss a base,upon reaching the next he shall be ordered back to touch the missed base and be credited with only that number of runs.

B. BYES Should a batsman, when making a stroke, fail to hit the ball but succeed in reaching a base without being put out, such scores must not be credited to the batsman but entered as byes in the score book and must be included in the total score of the innings.

C. EXTRAS For every two Bad Balls delivered to any one batsman one extra is credited to the batting side.

D. NO BALL One run is added to the batting side for each No Ball declared.

E. PENALTY RUNS One run is added to the score of the fielding side for the first and second penalty stroke committed by each batsman in one innings. The run if committed in the first innings, must be credited to the opponent’s first innings score and so on.

F. OBSTACLES Should the ball strike No. 4 base from a batsman’s stroke, he is allowed to proceed to No. 1 base and all baserunners move forward one base without penalty, except when hit off a foul stroke.




(i) Should he strike, miss and be touched by the ball or the hand of the backstop holding the ball.
(ii) Should he strike, miss and walk off, or fail to proceed.
(iii) Should he strike, miss and be hit on the body, including his dress(except the forearm which is regarded as part of the bat).
(iv) should he not strike at one of two good balls.
(v) Should he strike, miss and No. 1 base be touched with the ball or the hand containing the ball before the batsman touches the base.
(vi) Should he strike at a No Ball and fail to proceed.

B. CAUGHT If the ball be caught off the bat and held by any of the fielding side before touching the ground, or hitting an obstacle, and no runs shall be scored. No. 4 base is the only obstacle.

C. THIRD PENALTY STROKE Should he commit three penalty strokes in one innings. Runs are only given away on the first two occasions.

D. BACK HITTING Should he, in the opinion of the referee, strike back.

E. SECOND NO STROKE Should he commit a second no stroke in one innings.

F. LAST MAN OUT by ball being placed in batting diamond before batsman reaches No. 4 base.




A. BASED Having hit a ball and No. 1 base be touched by a fielder with the ball or the hand containing the ball before he reaches No. 1 base.The fielder must not lose possession of the ball during this action.


(i) If he be touched with the ball or the hand containing the ball before he has touched Nos. 2, 3 or 4 bases.
(ii) If he be overtaken and passed or his base be claimed by an oncoming baserunner.
(iii) Should, he, having claimed a base, return to a former base.
(iv) MISSING BASES. If, on the forward journey, after missing a base,he be touched with the ball or the hand containing the ball before reaching the next base. Should the base missed by him be claimed by an oncoming baserunner, the offender is declared run out.
(v) OVERRUNNING BASES. If, on the forward journey, he overruns abase then turns to the left and is touched by a fielder with the ball, or the hand containing the ball, he shall be declared out as he is considered to be trying to steal to the next base.

C. DEVIATION If he deliberately deviates from the defined running lines to avoid any fielder with the ball, or if he retires from the diamond without permission.


(i) Should a batsman, or baserunner, wilfully obstruct by kicking,carrying or delaying the ball, or should he hit the ball twice consecutively, or should be interfere with a fielder, such offender must be declared OUT.
(ii) Any member of the batting side deemed guilty of wilfully obstructing the ball so as to gain and advantage for his side,should be dismissed from the Field of Play and the Batsman given out.

A. Any misconduct on the part of players, officials or spectators must be reported to the ruling body concerned.

B. WILFUL OBSTRUCTION Should the baserunner be so obstructed as to prevent him reaching abase by the action of any fielder, the baserunner shall be declared Not Out and the offending fielder cautioned for misconduct will be dismissed and sent from the field of play and all base runners be allowed to advance to Base 4. Any member of the batting side deemed guilty of wilfully obstructing the ball to gain an advantage for his side should be dismissed from the field of play and the batsman given out. Situations involving spectators to be left to the referee to deal with as he sees the situation.

C. PROMPTER Any misconduct by a prompter may be dealt with first by a caution or by removal from the prompter’s box by the referee and a replacement permitted, but any serious misconduct renders the prompter liable to be sent from the field of play.

D. Abusive language will be considered violent misconduct and the offenders removed from the field of play without warning and reported by the referee.

E. Any player striking an opponent will be sent from the field of play and reported for violent misconduct.

F. Any offence committed by players or officials before or after the match shall be dealt with as having been committed on the field of play.

G. The referee will officially caution a player for an offence by showing him a yellow card and if it becomes necessary for the same player to be ordered from the field because of further misconduct, the referee shall show the player a red card. The referee, of course, can order a player from the field without first issuing a caution if he considers that the misconduct warrants such action. Any player so ordered from the field must retire to the dressing room.