Rules & Customs of
Nineteenth Century Base Ball

The rules of base ball changed often throughout the nineteenth century. Sometimes the rules by which you played depended on where in America you were located. We attribute much of the modern game's rules to those pioneered by the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club that began in 1845 at the famous Elysian Fields in Hoboken, NJ. The K.B.B.C.'s major developments in the rules of play came when Doc Adam's penned the "Laws of Base Ball" in 1857. Doc was baseball's first shortstop, a position he created in 1850. Among the rules adopted during his time presiding over the rules committee (1858-1862) were nine-inning games, the bases set at 90-feet apart, no wagering among players and the 'fly' game, where the ball must be caught in the air (formally adopted in 1865). 

Image appears courtesy of docadamsbaseball.org.

Most Common Eras Played by the M.A.C.

& Their Major Rule Differences from Modern Baseball

Facts about 1895 base ball

  • The last year that "base ball" appeared in print more frequently as two words.

  • Home base was usually round or square, not five-sided and didn't become so until 1900/1901.

  • The pitcher's mound was introduced in 1893, but still not used much outside of professional baseball until the 1900's.

  • Spectators were called "cranks."

1895 (M.A.C. era of choice)
  • A batted ball is only counted as a strike against the batter if the ball is tipped and held onto by the catcher (i.e. "foul tip")​ or the ball is hit into foul territory while attempting to bunt (i.e. "foul strike").

  • The pitcher is only permitted one step in delivering the ball to the plate.

  • On a balk, the base runners advance one base and the batter advances to first base.

  • Size of the pitcher's plate increased to 24" long x 6" wide (current size).

  • Maximum bat barrel diameter increased to 2 and 3/4" (current size).

1895 A.G. Spalding & Bros. Equipment Catalog

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