We play most of our matches using the rules of base ball as of 1861 or 1864 but occasionally play using the rules of 1865. Below are the differences in the rules from the modern game. All apply to 1861 rules except where noted as applying to 1864 or 1865 rules.


  • No gloves!
  • Ball is 9.5 inches in circumference, 5.5 ounces in weight, and is made from a single piece of leather – a modern baseball is between 5 and 5.25 ounces, 9 to 9.25 inches in circumference and is made from two symmetrical pieces of leather
  • Bat can be no more than 2.5″ in diameter but there is no restriction on the length


  • Pitching “mound” is a line 45 feet from home plate, 12 feet wide
  • 1865 – A second line 48 feet from home plate defines the back of the pitcher’s location
  • Ball is pitched underhand (not jerked or thrown), must be released at the waist or below, speed is up to the pitcher, no foot over the pitcher’s line during the pitch
  • 1864 – Both of the pitchers feet must be on the ground at delivery of pitch


  • Umpire’s primary job is calling struck balls foul (no call for fair balls), calling strikes, tracking the score, declaring the winner
  • Umpire warns batter once for not swinging at a good pitch before he starts calling strikes – 3 strikes is an out
  • No walks
  • 1864 – Umpire warns pitcher once for a bad pitch before he starts calling balls – 3 balls results in a walk
  • The umpire willing only make a call on a play if there is a dispute between the players


  • A ball thrown between batters shoulders and 6″ off the ground and within reach with the bat is considered a good pitch for the batter to swing at
  • Foul balls are not strikes
  • A struck ball is fair once it hits the ground or player in fair territory – ball does not need to stay in fair territory past 1st or 3rd base to be fair
  • The first batter at the start of an inning is the batter following the last player put out in the previous inning (not the player who follows the last batter from the previous inning)

Base Running

  • Baserunner who leaves his base on a foul ball can be put out if he doesn’t get back to the base before the ball but the ball must go to the pitcher first before a play can be made on the base runner
  • No overrunning first base on a hit or you can be tagged out
  • Baserunner can take a gentleman’s two step lead off the base
  • Baserunner must wait for the pitch to be released before running
  • Baserunner who sees that the ball is going to be caught on the bound does not have to wait before running (i.e. no tagging up required on bounce outs)
  • Fielding

    • Catching the ball on one bounce is an out – this includes foul tips that are caught by the catcher on one bounce and muffed fly catches that only bounce once before being caught
    • 1865 – Fair balls must be caught in the air to make an out – Foul balls can still be caught on the bound

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