1800s Baseball: The Rules

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IJuly 7, 2009

To understand how great baseball is today, we must appreciate the evolution of the game from its most ancient phase. I always knew that the baseball rules adapted gradually over time, but I had no idea just how different baseball was back in the 1860s. Hell, you can make the case it was a completely different game.

Take a look:
-A walk was six balls, not four.
-A "bamboozle" is when a foul ball is caught after the first bounce and results in the batter being out.
-If a batter is hit by a pitched ball, it only counts as a ball.
-There is no infield fly rule.
-No gloves.
-Pitchers were called hurlers.
-Catchers were known as "the behind"
-Fans were called cranks.
-Hurlers threw underhand (they did not throw overhand until 1880).
-No spitting, swearing, or acting in a manner that is unacceptable to a lady.
-If a batter did not swing at five or more hittable pitches, he got a warning.
-If a pitcher failed to throw enough strikes, he got a warning, and then the umpire would begin to call balls.

Strangely enough, I would love to see two major league teams play by these rules for a game. Maybe then they could fully appreciate the value of taking first base after being hit by a pitch!

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