Chadwick's Summary of Rules Changes

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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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fromHenry Chadwick's Base Ball Manual for 1871

The rules of the game adopted at the convention of 1858 were crude and incomplete as a whole, though they sufficed for the purposes of the half-organized style of play in vogue at that period. In the first place the ball was too heavy and too cumbersome in size, its legal dimensions admitting of a circumference of ten and a quarter inches, while it was allowed to weigh six and a quarter ounces, exactly an inch in size and an ounce in weight greater than is now allowed. Secondly, the bat was then allowed to be any length a player chose; so that he could use a bat five feet long if he liked.

The pitcher's position was undefined, except that he was not to step beyond a line fifteen yards from home base, and four yards in length. This allowed him to stand at such an angle to the bat as would oblige the striker to bit every ball to third base, or to short stop if the pitcher had chosen to deliver from the extreme end of his line, and also to take a short run, if he liked, in delivering the ball. The rule governing the running of bases did not allow a base to be run on a caught fly ball, until the ball had been held by the pitcher, and even then the base runner could not be put out until after the ball had been once pitched to the striker.

After the game had commenced, no substitution of one player for another in the nine was permitted, except on account of illness or injury. The umpire was obliged also to keep a record of the game in a book. The striker was subject to a penalty for not striking at good balls, but there was no penalty for pitching wild balls. There was no reference in the rules then to paid players, the change in the rule which prohibited compensation to players being introduced afterwards, so as to prevent clubs being benefited by the assistance of trained players in games against mere amateur players, as was the case in the cricket matches then the feature of the sports at Hoboken. At the convention of 1859 the ball was reduced in weight a quarter of an ounce, and a quarter of an inch in size. The rule governing the running of bases on fly balls caught was also changed so as to allow the base runner to make his base the moment the ball was held. The rule prohibiting compensation to players was introduced at this convention, and a single game decided the match.

Up to 1860 the conventions had always been held in March, but at the convention in March, 1860, it was resolved to change the time to the close of the season, and consequently there were two conventions held in 1860, one in March, and the other in December. At the March convention an effort was made by the Committee of Rules to adopt the fly game, but the bound rule was still retained. At the December Convention of 1860 the annual dues from clubs, which had been five dollars, were reduced to two. At this convention too, the rules were amended so as to require the foul ball lines to be marked with chalk, and in judging of a foul ball, the fact of a ball touching a player while the latter was on fair ground made the ball fair even if it first touched the ground foul. The fly game was again proposed at this convention, but it was defeated by a vote of fifty-one to forty-two. The convention, however, consented to allow fly games to be played by mutual consent of contesting clubs. At this convention, too, the ball was again reduced in size and weight a quarter of an inch and a quarter of an ounce.

At the convention of 1861 an amendment was proposed, which in effect was similar to the one adopted in 1868, giving the game to the party having the most runs in an incompleted inning; but it was not adopted, as the Committee of Rules did not endorse it; in fact, that committee did not have a meeting that year, nor did they present any report. At the convention of 1862 a resolution was adopted, expressive of the feelings of the convention at -the demise of Mr. Jas. Creighton. The President also alluded to the death of Guy Holt, while serving in his regiment in Virginia. No changes of importance were made in the rules this year.

At the convention of 1863 the Committee of Rules again reported in favor of the fly game, but it was again voted down. Previous to this meeting, at every convention trouble had been occasioned by the presentation of charges against clubs, which the convention 'was required to act upon; almost endless discussions were of course sure to be the result of this plan, and so the constitution and by-laws were amended so as to throw the duty of adjudicating upon disputes upon a Judiciary Committee, and since then no trouble of the kind has bored the convention, except where they were called upon to endorse the decisions of the Judiciary Committee.

It was at the convention of 1863 that the important change was made in the rules governing the pitcher's movements, which obliged him to stand within a space six feet by three, and in this space he was required to stand still while delivering the ball, no step being allowed to be taken. The object of this change was to oblige the pitcher to reduce his speed, and also to pitch with greater accuracy; but experience proved that it failed in both objects; besides which, the position the pitcher was obliged to take was to many a cramped one; to others, however, it made no difference, Zettlein and McBride still retaining their standing position in pitching. Another and far better amendment, which was adopted at this convention, was that of calling balls on the pitcher when he failed to pitch fairly for the bat. Previously the striker alone was punished for unfair play, for “strikes” could be called on him for refusing to strike at fair balls; but the pitcher could send in unfair balls with impunity. The introduction of called balls, however, equalized matters, and the rule now works very advantageously indeed in promoting skilful play. An amendment was also adopted, at this convention, which obliged base runners to touch their bases in running round, the custom previously admitting of players going round without touching a base, provided they went near to them; though the old rules really required them to be touched. In fact, at this convention a series of improvements, were inaugurated in the rules of the game, which have done much to bring the game up to the high point of fielding skill now required to play it as it ought to be played. The system of scoring, as published in Mr. Chadwick's work on base ball; was also endorsed by the convention of 1863.

At the convention of 1864 the advocates of the fly game, after battling with the old fogy admirers of the boy's play of the bound catch, succeeded in establishing the fly catch of fair balls as the future rule of play. By way of record we give the names of the clubs who voted in favor of the fly game on this occasion: Athletic, of Philadelphia; Eclectic, Empire, Gotham, Knickerbocker, Mutual, and Union, of New York; Excelsior, Eckford, Enterprise, Resolute, and Star, of Brooklyn; Knickerbocker, National, and Eckford, of Albany; Hudson River, of Newbergh; Monitor, of Goshen; Mountain, of Altoona; National, of Washington; and Newark and Utica Clubs. Among. those who voted for the bound game were the delegates from the Atlantic Club, of Brooklyn, the Active, of New York, and the Eureka, of Newark, — three clubs who have since been three of the most skilful exemplars of the beauties of the fly game. The rule was adopted by a vote of thirty-two to nineteen. The convention book for 1864 was marked for the first time by an explanatory appendix, prepared by the present chairman of the Committee of Rules for the instruction of umpires.

At the convention of 1865 a resolution was adopted, directing the Printing Committee to collate the duties of umpires, and add the same to the appendix explanatory of the rules. A resolution was also adopted, recommending that measures be taken to record club averages. This was done, and the Convention Book of 1866 therefore presents the most interesting publication of the convention series, for it not only contains an explanatory appendix both for players and umpires, but also the three best averages of the leading clubs for the season.

At the convention of 1866 the first report of the Judiciary Committee of the Association appears upon the record, the committee having had no complaints before them in 1864, —the first year of the existence of the Committee, — or in 1865. In this report we find a complaint from the Mohawk Club, of Brooklyn, against the Surprise, of West Farms, for playing members in their matches who had not been in the club the required thirty days. Also a complaint from the Empire Club against the Active, for playing Ryder in their nine, he having been expelled from the Empire Club for unbecoming conduct. Also a complaint from the Active Club against the Atlantic for playing C. Mills in their nine at a time when he had 'been a member of the Active Club less than thirty days previous. All these charges were dismissed, for the reason that the complaints had not been recorded within the time specified by the law. Also a complaint from the Irvington Club against the Actives for playing Stockman in their nine, when he was at the time also a member of the Irvington Club. This complaint was dismissed, for the reason that a copy of the complaint had not been sent to the Active Club, the committee deciding that they had no jurisdiction in complaints wherein the laws of the Association had not been complied within making the complaints. Also a complaint from the Union Club, of Morrisania, against the Atlantic Club, charging the latter with making an agreement to play a game with the former, which they failed to carry out, besides which they refused to give up the ball forfeited. This charge was not acted upon, owing to a failure of the committee to meet. Also a complaint made by Colonel Fitzgerald against the Athletic Club, to the effect that the latter had paid Pike, Dockney, and McBride twenty dollars per week for their services as ball-players during 1866. The committee were unable to take any action on this charge, owing to the failure of both complainant and defendants to appear before them at the appointed meeting. The above cases were left as a legacy to the incoming committee of 1867; but this committee had other matters to attend to of more importance, It will be seen.

It was at this convention that the Constitution was amended so as to recognize State Association representation; but, in granting this privilege, they allowed State Association delegates two votes for each club represented in the State Association. It will be seen how this system worked in effect at the next convention. The Judiciary Committee was increased from five to nine, and the Committee of Rules from nine to thirteen. At a later convention, however, the latter was very properly decreased to five. Among the amendments to the rules was that prohibiting base running on hit-called balls, the misinterpretation of which. created much confusion for one season. The forward or backward step in striking at the ball was also prohibited, the penalty of “no strike” being inflicted for a violation of the law. It was properly considered that if the pitcher was obliged to stand still when he delivered the ball, the striker ought also to be required to do the same. Both now comparatively enjoy freedom in their movements, the pitcher being now allowed to take such steps as he can within the space of six feet square; and the striker any steps he likes, provided he has one foot behind the line of his position when he strikes at the ball, this rule admitting of a forward step. The rule governing forfeited balls was also amended so as to oblige clubs to claim and receive forfeit when an opposing club failed to keep their appointment. The rules referring to giving compensation to players were amended at this convention, so as to give all players who were paid for their services, either by “money, place, or emolument,” the status of “professional players”, and this class of players were prohibited from taking part in any match game.; any club playing such in their nines being liable to expulsion from the Association. It proved to be a dead-letter law, however, besides which it obliged all players who received compensation to do so by some dishonorable evasion of the law. Now they can receive pay honestly. Sebring's parlor game of Base Ball was endorsed at this convention, as also Mr. Chadwick's system of abbreviations in scoring.