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SEPT. 23 (1845) - Rules*
By Bill Grimes
Sep 23, 2007 - 12:47 PM

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Base Ball is born

NEW YORK CITY , NEW YORK , SEPTEMBER 23, 1845 On this date in 1845 t he Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York
knicker0.gif
published the first known set of rules for the game of “base ball.” The Club’s goal, under the leadership of
Alexander Cartwright was to codify and differentiate “base ball” from similar games, such as “rounders,” “townball and “The New York Game.” Serious baseball historians, such as Leonard Koppett , author of the excellent book, Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, give far more credit to Cartwright for establishing the game of baseball than Abner Doubleday.

 

It’s amazing how many rules laid down more than 150 years ago remain with the game today. Here are some of the similarities:

  • Four bases laid out in a diamond.
  • Bases are approximately 90 feet apart.
  • Balls hit outside of first or 3rd base are foul.
  • Three "hand" outs per inning.
  • Teams play an equal number of "hands," or innings.
  • The striker (batter) must swing and miss three times to strike out.
  • On the third swinging strike, the "striker" (batter) may run to first if the catcher does not catch the ball before it hits the ground.
  • Runners may be put out by being tagged or forced.
    • A runner cannot be put out by "soaking" (hitting them with a thrown ball).
    • Throwing at a runner is prohibited.

Here are some differences between the Knickerbocker rules and today’s:

  • Foul balls were not considered strikes.
  • The game continues until one team scores 21 "aces" (runs), (but only ends after an equal number of hands (innings) have been played.)
  • The ball must be pitched underhand.
  • A "striker" (batter) is out if a fair or foul ball is caught on the fly or the first bounce. All base runners may advance on a fair ball caught on the first bounce.
  • There are no called strikes.  

1859KnickerbockerandExcelsior.jpg
Kickerbocker Club members, 1859

Contributing sources:

Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball , by Leonard Koppett, 1998, Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Cartwright#The_.22Knickerbocker_Rules.22

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Knickerbockers

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-30432/baseball

 

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