1860s Style Base Ball
Believe it or not there is a Vintage Base Ball Association that plays base ball games (and the name of the game was two words “base ball”) as they were played in the 19th century. I saw a game between the Flemington Neshanock (NJ) and the Elkton (MD) Eclipse played on a farm pasture and using 1863 rules and equipment. The ball is the size of a modern baseball but feels like a softball. The pitcher threw underhand until the 1880s when the rules changed to allow overhand pitching. They played 3 balls and 3 strikes. The umpire (the guy in the top hat in a couple of photos) could decide not to call either (really) and the first ball or strike was a warning and didn’t count. There was only one umpire and he stayed by home plate.
The fielders did not wear gloves (that didn’t start until the 1880s). Needless to say there were a lot of fielding errors, but they did not count that statistic. A batted ball caught on the fly or on one bounce was automatically out. In one picture you will see the runner sliding into first base. That is because he was not allowed to overrun the base as he may today. He either had to round the base or stop.
The rules changed in 1873 to eliminate the warning to the pitcher or batter and to only have a ball caught on a fly as an automatic out. Also, the runner was allowed to overrun first base.
In one picture there is a guy swinging a sledge hammer. He is on deck and is the next batter, or striker as he was called back then.
To see a full screen slide show click on any image.