For over a hundred years, the prevailing myth about the inception of the game of baseball was just that, a myth. And the man that hatched this myth was Albert Spalding, a former baseball player, sporting goods manufacturer and sporting news publisher. In 1903, Henry Chadwick, a writer for one of Spalding's own publications wrote an article stating that baseball had developed out of the English school boys' game of "Rounders". Spalding was upset by the claim. To Spalding, baseball had to be a completely American invention. He felt so strongly about this, that he formed a commission in 1905 to prove it. By the way, the "commission" was hand picked by Spalding and James Sullivan, who did most of the research, was employed by Spalding at one of his newspapers.
Based Primarily on the accounts of a letter received by the commission from Abner Graves, a retired Denver miner in his eighties, who had lived in Cooperstown, New York, as a youth. I his letter, Graves said Abner Doubleday had invented baseball in 1839, as a student Green's Select School in Cooperstown. This pleased Spalding no end. What could be more perfect than proof that Major Abner Doubleday, the man who fired the first shot of the Civil War from Fort Sumter also invented the thoroughly American game of baseball.
And that's just what the commission and Spalding published in 1907. There are just a few problems with this line of thinking however. There's nothing to prove Doubleday ever set foot in Cooperstown, First, there's no evidence that Doubleday ever even set foot in Cooperstown. In fact, Abner lived in Ballston Spa, New York and attended school in Auburn. In 183, he couldn't have been in Cooperstown inventing baseball because he was attending West Point. Finally, Doubleday left behind diaries and numerous other writings and didn't once mention baseball.
Actually, a game called baseball predated 1839 by over 100 years and had it's origins, as Henry Chadwick claimed, in English rounders. Several versions of rounders was played in America from before the Revolutionary War. In 1845, spearheaded by Alexander Cartwright, a social club called the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club was founded. A committee of four men was appointed to draw up the clubs rules and by-laws. Two of the four committee members, Cartwright and Daniel "Doc" Adams, evidently did most of the work. Of these two, it has been determined that Cartwright did the lion's share. There were twenty rules which made up the constitution and by-laws for the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. Seven of the rules had to do with internal functions of the club and 13 related to the game specifically. These thirteen rules became the first codified rules for what we recognize as baseball.
The current official rules for baseball dwarf these original set of precepts for the game, but it's interesting to look at the original rules next to related modern day rules.
1. The bases shall be from "home" to second base, forty-two paces; from
first to third base, forty-two paces, equidistant.
2. The game to consist of twenty-one counts, or aces, but at the conclusion an
equal number of hands must be played.
1.04 THE PLAYING FIELD "…A 'pace" is generally accepted to be approx. 3
feet making forty-two paces about 105 feet. Modern baseball rules state the
distance from Home to second and between first and third shall be 127' 3 3/8"... "
3. The ball must be pitched, and not thrown, for the bat. (Pitching referred to
tossing the ball underhand instead of overhand throwing we're used to
4.01 (a) "A regulation game consists of nine innings, unless extended
because of a tie score, or shortened (1) because the home team needs none
of its half of the ninth inning or only a fraction of it, or (2) because the umpire
calls the game. EXCEPTION: National Association leagues may adopt a rule
providing that one or both games of a doubleheader shall be seven innings
in length. In such games, any of these rules applying to the ninth inning shall
apply to the seventh inning…"
4. A ball knocked out of the field, or outside the range of the first or third base is
5.03 The pitcher shall deliver the pitch to the batter who may elect to strike
the ball, or who may not offer at it, as he chooses.
8.01 Legal pitching delivery. There are two legal pitching positions, the
Windup Position and the Set Position, and either position may be used at any
time. Pitchers shall take signs from the catcher while standing on the rubber.
Pitchers may disengage the rubber after taking their signs but may not step
quickly onto the rubber and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the
umpire. When the pitcher disengages the rubber, he must drop his hands to his
sides. Pitchers will not be allowed to disengage the rubber after taking each
5. Three balls being struck at and missed and the last one caught is a hand out; if not
caught is considered fair, and the striker bound to run.
2.00 Definitions of Terms. (All definitions in Rule 2.00 are listed alphabetically.)
A FOUL BALL is a batted ball that settles on foul territory between home
and first base, or between home and third base, or that bounds past first or
third base on or over foul territory, or that first falls on foul territory beyond
first or third base, or that, while on or over foul territory, touches the person of
an umpire or player, or any object foreign to the natural ground. A foul fly
shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line,
including the foul pole, and not as to whether the infielder is on foul or fair
territory at the time he touches the ball. A batted ball not touched by a fielder,
which hits the pitcher's rubber and rebounds into foul territory, between home
and first, or between home and third base is a foul ball.
FOUL TERRITORY is that part of the playing field outside the first and
third base lines extended to the fence and perpendicularly upwards.
6. A ball being struck or tipped and caught either flying or on the first bound out of
2.00 Definitions of Terms. (All definitions in Rule 2.00 are listed alphabetically.)
A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which_
(a) Is struck at by the batter and is missed;
6.05 A batter is out when_
(b) Is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the
(c) Is fouled by the batter when he has less than two strikes;
(d) Is bunted foul;
(e) Touches the batter as he strikes at it;
(f) Touches the batter in flight in the strike zone; or
(g) Becomes a foul tip.
a) His fair or foul fly ball (other than a foul tip) is legally caught by a
b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher; "Legally caught" means
in the catcher's glove before the ball touches the ground. It is not legal if the
ball lodges in his clothing or paraphernalia; or if it touches the umpire and is
caught by the catcher on the rebound. If a foul tip first strikes the catcher's
glove and then goes on through and is caught by both hands against his body
or protector, before the ball touches the ground, it is a strike, and if third strike,
batter is out. If smothered against his body or protector, it is a catch provided
the ball struck the catcher's glove or hand first.
c) A third strike is not caught by the catcher when first base is occupied
before two are out;
7. A player running the bases shall be out, if the ball is in the hands of an adversary
on the base, or the runner is touched with it before he makes the base; it being
understood, however that no instance is a ball to be thrown at him.
The rules for point 5 apply.
8. A player running who shall prevent an adversary from catching or getting
the ball before making base, is a hand out.
Basically holds true. The current rules outline what constitutes an out as it relates
to, base running, Fielder's Choice, Fly Balls, Fouls Balls etc.
10.10 A putout shall be credited to each fielder who (1) catches a fly ball or a
line drive, whether fair or foul; (2) catches a thrown ball which puts out a
batter or runner, or (3) tags a runner when the runner is off the base to which
he legally is entitled.
(a) Automatic putouts shall be credited to the catcher as follows:
(1) When the batter is called out for an illegally batted ball;
(b) Other automatic putouts shall be credited as follows (Credit no assists
on these plays except as specified):
(2) When the batter is called out for bunting foul for his third strike;
(Note exception in 10.17 (a) (4)).
(3) When the batter is called out for being touched by his own batted
(4) When the batter is called out for interfering with the catcher.
(5) When the batter is called out for failing to bat in his proper turn;
(See 10.03 (d)).
(6) When the batter is called out for refusing to touch first base after
receiving a base on balls;
(7) When a runner is called out for refusing to advance from third
base to home with the winning run.
(1) When the batter is called out on an Infield Fly which is not caught,
credit the putout to the fielder who the scorer believes could have made
(2) When a runner is called out for being touched by a fair ball
(including an Infield Fly), credit the putout to the fielder nearest the ball;
(3) When a runner is called out for running out of line to avoid being
tagged, credit the putout to the fielder whom the runner avoided;
(4) When a runner is called out for passing another runner, credit the
putout to the fielder nearest the point of passing;
(5) When a runner is called out for running the bases in reverse
order, credit the putout to the fielder covering the base he left in starting
his reverse run;
(6) When a runner is called out for having interfered with a fielder,
credit the putout to the fielder with whom the runner interfered, unless the
fielder was in the act of throwing the ball when the interference occurred,
in which case credit the putout to the fielder for whom the throw was
intended, and credit an assist to the fielder whose throw was interfered
(7) When the batter runner is called out because of interference by a
preceding runner, as provided in Playing Rule 6.05 (m), credit the putout
to the first baseman. If the fielder interfered with was in the act of throwing
the ball, credit him with an assist, but credit only one assist on any one
play under the provisions of 10.10 (b) (6) and (7).
9. Three Hands out, all out.
6.05 (m)A preceding runner shall, in the umpire's judgment, intentionally
interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a
ball in an attempt to complete any play: The objective of this rule is to penalize
the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the
runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot
man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an
umpire's judgment play.
10. Players must take their strike in regular turn.
The same applies. Once the team on offense commits three outs in an inning the
entire squad is out for that inning and must take the field to defend against the
11. All disputes and differences relative to the game, to be determined by the Umpire,
from which there is no appeal.
4.04 The batting order shall be followed throughout the game unless a player is
substituted for another. In that case the substitute shall take the place of the
replaced player in the batting order.
WHEN PLAYER BATS OUT OF TURN
(d) When a player bats out of turn, and is put out, and the proper batter is
called out before the ball is pitched to the next batter, charge the proper batter
with a time at bat and score the putout and any assists the same as if the
correct batting order had been followed. If an improper batter becomes a
runner and the proper batter is called out for having missed his turn at bat,
charge the proper batter with a time at bat, credit the putout to the catcher,
and ignore everything entering into the improper batter's safe arrival on base.
If more than one batter bats out of turn in succession score all plays just as
they occur, skipping the turn at bat of the player or players who first missed
batting in the proper order.
12. No ace or base can be made on a foul strike.
There are many pages of rules outlining the Umpire's authority on the field
covering almost every aspect of the game. The Umpire's authority is absolute.
However, modern rules allow for an appeals process.
4.19 PROTESTING GAMES. Each league shall adopt rules governing
procedure for protesting a game, when a manager claims that an umpire's
decision is in violation of these rules. No protest shall ever be permitted on
judgment decisions by the umpire. In all protested games, the decision of the
League President shall be final. Even if it is held that the protested decision
violated the rules, no replay of the game will be ordered unless in the opinion
of the League President the violation adversely affected the protesting team's
chances of winning the game. Whenever a manager protests a game because
of alleged misapplication of the rules the protest will not be recognized unless
the umpires are notified at the time the play under protest occurs and before
the next pitch is made or a runner is retired. A protest arising on a game
ending play may be filed until 12 noon the following day with the League
13. A runner cannot be put out in making one base, when a balk is made by the
5.09 The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their
bases, without liability to be put out, when…
… (e) A foul ball is not caught; runners return. The umpire shall not put the
ball in play until all runners have retouched their bases;
14. But one base allowed when a ball bounds out of the field when struck.
(2) No error shall be charged when a runner or runners advance as
the result of a passed ball, a wild pitch or a balk.
5.09 (c) A balk is committed; runners advance; (See Penalty 8.05).
8.01 (c) At any time during the pitcher's preliminary movements and until his
natural pitching motion commits him to the pitch, he may throw to any base
provided he steps directly toward such base before making the throw. The
pitcher shall step "ahead of the throw." A snap throw followed by the step
directly toward the base is a balk.
(d) If the pitcher makes an illegal pitch with the bases unoccupied, it shall
be called a ball unless the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on
balls, a hit batter or otherwise. A ball which slips out of a pitcher's hand and
crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch.
The rules haven't gone through tremendous change over the last 150 years so much as they've been expanded and clarified. This is a process that continues. When an umpiring crew is forced to make a call in a situation that has never come up before, their judgment stands for that game. The situation and the ruling are reviewed and it is added to the rule book.
6.09 (d) A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from
home base of 250 feet or more. Such hit entitles the batter to a home run
when he shall have touched all bases legally. A fair fly ball that passes out of
the playing field at a point less than 250 feet from home base shall entitle the
batter to advance to second base only;
(e) A fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands, or passes
through, over or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through
or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, in which case the batter and the
runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;
(f) Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes
through or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any
opening in the fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on
the fence, or which sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter
and the runners shall be entitled to two bases;
(g) Any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or
over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all
runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;
(h) Any fair fly ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over the
fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to
second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory,
the batter shall be entitled to a home run. However, should such a fair fly be
deflected at a point less than 250 feet from home plate, the batter shall be
entitled to two bases only.
If you don't think an umpire's job is tough, just lug an official rule book around for awhile.