Rounders, from the 1860 Beadle's Dime Base Ball Player

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by Henry Chadwick

THIS invigorating exercise and manly pastime may now be justly termed the American Game of Ball, for though of English origin, it has been so modified and improved of late years in this country, as almost to deprive it of any of its original features beyond the mere groundwork of the game. As we propose briefly to note the progress of Base Ball from its origin, we deem it appropriate to introduce the rules for playing the English Game of Rounders, from which Base Ball is derived. We therefore quote as follows from an English work on out-door sports:

Rounders.- This game is played with a ball and bats, or sticks something of the form of a policeman’s truncheon. A hole is first made, about a foot across and half a foot deep. Four other stations are marked with pegs stuck into the ground, topped with a piece of paper, so as to be readily seen. Sides are then chosen, one of which goes in. There may be five or more players on each side. Suppose that there are five. One player, on the side that is out, stands in the middle of the five-sided space, and pitches the ball toward the hole. He is called the feeder. The batsman hits it off, if he can; in which case he drops the stick, and runs to the nearest station, thence to the third, and all round if the hit has been a far one. The other side are scouting, and trying to put him out, either by hitting the batsman as he is running, or by sending the ball into the hole, which is called “grounding.” The player at the hole may decline to strike the ball, but if he hits at it, and misses twice running, he is out. When a player makes the round of the stations back to the hole, his side counts one toward the game. When all the players are out, either by being hit or the ball being grounded, the other side get their innings. When there are only two players left, a chance is given of prolonging the innings, by one of them getting three balls from the feeder; and if he can give a hit such as to enable him to run the whole round, all his side come in again, and the counting is resumed. The feeder is generally the best player on his side, much depending on his skill and art. The scouts should seldom aim at the runners from a distance, but throw the ball up to the feeder or to some one near, who will try to hit or to ground, as seems the most advisable. A caught ball also puts the striker out.

The above is a very simple game, and one designed only for relaxation during the intervals from study in schools, and is entirely devoid of the manly features that characterize Base Ball as played in this country. Boys and even girls can play Rounders without difficulty; but Base Ball, to be played thoroughly, requires the possession of muscular strength, great agility, quickness of eye, readiness of hand, and many other faculties of mind and body that mark the man of nerve.