Baseball Rules 1857

Baseball Rules 1857

This article was NOT written by me but is from John Thorn who is the Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball. Check out his website called OUR GAME





The New York Clipper, first published in 1853, did not offer an illustration of baseball until 1857; until then, and for another decade, the game for the sporting set was cricket. These instructions for how novices might become “proficients” in the new game of baseball appeared in the Clipper of December 13, 1856, a few months before the thoroughgoing revision of the rules in the convention of February 1857.

The game of Base Ball is generally considered the national game amongst Americans, and right well does it deserve that appellation; not only for the healthful exercise with which it is connected, but also for the skill that is required in playing it, which has been made still more necessary by the latest rules and improvements that are now in vogue, causing it to rank, and, we think, very properly, among those games usually termed scientifically. Base Ball can be played by any number from five upwards; nine, however, is the usual number on each side. When there are five on a side, the fieldsmen are placed on the bases or goals, according to the diagram below, directions for the laying out of which are given in the rules, also appended. After tossing for the choice of innings, the party who has the choice send, through their general or leader, one of their number to the Home Base, №6. The Pitcher then pitches the ball to him, which, if he thinks he can, he strikes as far into the field as possible; be then runs as fast as he is able to Base №3. A second striker is then sent to the Home Base, who serves the ball the same as his predecessor, when the one that struck first runs from Base 3 to Base 4, whilst he (the present striker) runs to Base 3; another striker is then sent in, and so on until all the batsmen have taken their turn, when the one who struck first commences again.

As each one returns to the Home Base, after having been all around, namely, to Bases 3, 4, 5 and 6, one count is added to the score, and whichever side makes 21 of these counts with the least number of hands, or strikers, out, wins the game.

The duty of the fieldsman is when a ball is struck to run after it, and, if possible, to reach the base to which the striker is running, before him, so that he may be able to touch any part of his (the striker’s) person before he has arrived at, or whilst he is off, the base; or, if the ball is struck in the air, he should endeavor to catch it at the first bound or before it touches the ground; in either case, the batsman or striker would be out. When three strikers are put out by any of these means, the whole side is out; they then exchange places with their opponents, each taking an innings alternately until the number of counts (21) necessary to complete the game is made. The duty of the Pitcher is to pitch the ball to the striker, and also to pick up the ball when struck, if nearest to him; and, in fact, to perform the same duties in all respects like the other fieldsmen. We think that these instructions, in connection with the following rules and diagram, will enable those who wish to learn the game, to do so; until, by practice, they become proficients; when that desirable end is accomplished, we have no doubt but they will continue to follow it, both for exercise and amusement.

Rule 1. The bases shall be from Home to second base 42 paces; and from first to third base 42 paces, equidistant; and from Home to pitcher not less than 15 paces; i.e. 21 paces from the center of the field to each base.

2. The game to consist of 21 counts or aces, but at the conclusion, an equal number of hands must be played.

3. The ball must be pitched, not thrown for the bat

4. A ball knocked outside the range of the first or third base is foul. (Range from Home, i.e., the ball must be knocked down the field and not sideways. The striker’s stand is at the Home Base.)

5. Three balls being struck at and missed, and the last one caught, is a hand out; if not caught, it is considered fair, and the striker bound to run. Tips and foul balls do not count.

6. A ball being struck or tipped, and caught either flying or on the first bound, is a handout.

By September 19, 1857 baseball was featured on the cover, even if the Clipper’s masthead had not yet changed to reflect America’s new favored sport
7. A player must make his first base after striking a fair ball, but should the ball be in the hands of an adversary on the first base before the runner reaches that base, it is a hand out; the ball must be fairly in hand, and the base touched.

8. Players must make the bases in their order of striking, and when a fair ball is struck and the striker is not put out, the first base must be vacant, as well as the next base or bases, if similarly occupied. Players must be put out under these circumstances in the same manner as when running to the first base.

9. A player shall be out if at any time when off a base he shall be touched by the ball in the hands of an adversary. The ball must be held after the man is touched; if the ball drops it is not a handout.

10. A player who shall intentionally prevent an adversary from catching or getting a ball is a handout.

11. If two hands are already out, a player running home at the time a ball is struck cannot make an ace if the striker is caught out.

12. Three hands out, all out,

13. Players must take their strike in regular rotation, and after the first round is played, the turn commences at the player who stands on the list next to the one who lost the third hand.

14. No ace or base can be made on a foul strike.

15. A runner cannot be put out in making one base when a balk [1856 typo fixed — jt] is made by the pitcher.

16. But one base allowed if the ball when struck bounds out of the field.

17. The ball shall weigh from 5–1/2 to 6 ounces, and be from 2–3/4 to 3–1/4 inches in diameter.

There is an Umpire appointed to keep the game and to decide all disputes and differences relative to the game, from whose decision there is no appeal. (In case the Umpire cannot decide, all plays should be considered fair for the hand in; the opinion of the players on a doubtful play should never be asked.)



Born in Jacksonville- Harry Staley

Born in Jacksonville- Harry Staley

Central Illinois has had many major league baseball players in history. Let’s look at them from the 12 counties that we have selected to become Central Illinois. (Logan, McLean, DeWitt, Woodford, Fulton, Peoria, Mason, Tazewell, Cass, Morgan, Menard, Sangamon)

Allyn Stout (Peoria)

Allan Simpson (Springfield)

Fred Beck (Havana)

Carl Vandagrift (Cantrall)

Emmitt Seery (Princeville)

George Radbourn (Bloomington)


Harry Staley

Major League Debut June 23, 1888


Harry Eli Staley was born on November 3, 1866, in Jacksonville, Illinois and went on to become a major league baseball player. He made his debut on June 23, 1888, with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. His first few years, he started slow. In 1889, he led the league in pitching losses with a 21-26 record and led with 30 wild pitches.

He went on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates and later the Boston Beaneaters where he had good success. In his last year in baseball, He played for the St. Louis Browns in 1895. His last game was on June 30, 1895. He finished with a career record of 136 wins and 119 losses along with a 3.89 ERA. He was a known strikeout pitcher an finished with 746.

His one real claim to fame came on June 1, 1893, when he drove in nine runs batted in off his bat, a record for most RBIs in a game by a pitcher that stood for over 70 years until equaled by Atlanta Braves pitcher Tony Cloninger in 1966.

Staley died on January 12, 1910, in Battle Creek, MI.



Born in Lincoln- Dick Reichle- Professional Baseball and Football Player

Born in Lincoln- Dick Reichle- Professional Baseball and Football Player

Central Illinois has had many major league baseball players in history. Let’s look at them from the 12 counties that we have selected to become Central Illinois. (Logan, McLean, DeWitt, Woodford, Fulton, Peoria, Mason, Tazewell, Cass, Morgan, Menard, Sangamon)

NOTE: This is posted on June 13th, 52 years after his death. 


Richard Wendell Reichle was born in Lincoln, Illinois, on November 23, 1896, to George and Anna. His family resided on a farm in Logan County in Illinois after immigrating over from Germany. He had three sisters and a brother that all worked on the farm along with a servant named Samuel.

Dick graduated from Lincoln High and went on to the University of Illinois where he played baseball and football. He was part of the 1921 championship baseball team in 1921. He did have some time away and he served in World War I. After his graduation from college, it didn’t take long before his baseball talent was discovered and signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 7th.

He began in the lower levels by playing first base in the Three-I League (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana) and hit .337 with six homers and 11 stolen bases in 93 games. He was brought up, thanks to scout Mike Donlin’s insistence, to the Brooklyn team on August 17th. He made his major league debut on September 19th in the first game of a doubleheader.

He went 0-for-4 in the contest but got two hits the next day and a double the game following. He batted .250 in six games before the season ended. He had no errors in those games. In 1923, he became the regular center fielder and on May 18th drove in three runs with a triple and a double. He had another game where he was 4-for-5 and knocked in two runs.

During the offseason, he played in the National Football League in six contests at the end position (he was named 2nd team all NFL pros by Colliers Magazine) and in 1924 he played for the San Antonio Bears. However, he broke his leg at Spring Training and it appeared to heal quickly but his baseball abilities appeared to diminish. He retired in 1925.

Not content to lie around during the winter reflecting on a good first season of major-league baseball, Reichle trained with the Milwaukee Badgers of the National Football League and played as an end in six of the team’s games, one of the few men to play both baseball and football at the highest level of play.

Reichle lived his retirement years in the St. Louis area with his wife and three children until his death on June 13, 1967.


Check out more Central Illinois biographies HERE.



Eliza Green – First Female MLB Official Scorer – Hired by the Cubs, But it Was a Secret

Eliza Green – First Female MLB Official Scorer – Hired by the Cubs, But it Was a Secret

Who Was Eliza Green?

Note: The Chicago White Stockings in this biography eventually became what is known today as the Chicago Cubs. 





  Eliza Green was born in 1852 in Rochester, New York to parents that migrated to the United States from Nottinghamshire, England which is the home of Robin Hood. On her street in Rochester was the Anthony family where she was taught by the youngest sister of the group Mary (she went on to be a headmistress at several schools). Eliza became close friends with Mary’s sister Susan B. Anthony. Later in life, Susan B. Anthony would become a leader of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. It is documented through newspaper articles that Eliza was a frequent visitor at the Anthony home and quite possibly had some pointers on women’s rights.


In 1869, Eliza married Silas Grover Williams who was a decorated Civil War veteran as he served with General William Sherman and was part of the “March to the Sea” led by the general. After the war, they moved to Chicago, Illinois and purchased a house that was directly across from the baseball field where the Chicago White Stockings played baseball. They had two children, Charles Green Williams in 1871 and Sarah Estella in 1876. “Stella”, as she was called, died in her youth. Charles would become treasurer of the ball club in his later years.

Eliza loved baseball and would attend as many games as she could. She would always strike up conversations with people and they would debate whether plays were to be deemed a hit or an error. These people were known as “kickers.” She was so knowledgeable about the game that Eliza was on a first name basis with owner Albert Spalding. He noticed that even the players that were complaining would seek out Eliza and ask her thoughts on the scoring of certain plays. Spalding had the idea that maybe he should name her the official scorekeeper of the team. There had never been a female in the role in the major leagues. The issue for Spalding was that Eliza was a female and fans, news reporters and the entire world would ridicule him if he hired her to be their scorekeeper. So they concocted a plan that would allow her to do the job without anyone else knowing it. Eliza became the official scorekeeper for the Chicago Cubs and she filed her scorebook as E.G. Green (no one seemed to know that Green was her maiden name).

Cap Anson, the manager of the team, was not given the details of who the scorekeeper was and Eliza would sit at most games with Cap’s wife, Virginia, and discuss the game without any notice of her doing the job. She always kept the score even before being hired. After the games and when she went home, she would have her son take an envelope to be mailed and it went back to the stadium as the official scorekeeper’s decision. He didn’t know until years later that his mom was doing the job. She did the job from 1882 through 1891. During that time, many players would still seek her out to see if she agreed with the scorekeeping decisions being made. She would give her rationale and the players went away satisfied. They had no clue that they were talking to the actual scorekeeper of the team.

Eliza’s husband died in 1895 and she married John Albert Cole Brown in 1896. He was Secretary-Treasure of the team at the time of her marriage. He died two years later and her son, Charlie, had the fortune of being Secretary-Treasure for the Chicago Cubs when they won the World Series in 1908.

She married Homer M. Daggett in 1903 who came from a prominent political family in Massachusetts. Eliza had always had a keen interest in politics and was National Secretary of the Women’s Relief Corps for seven terms and was its president in 1918-1919. She became an alternate delegate to the 1920 Republican Convention which was being held in Chicago and was selected to be part of the committee to inform Warren G. Harding he had the nomination for President of the United States. Women received the right to vote on August 26, 1920.


Following the teachings of her best friend Susan Anthony, she became the first woman to run for mayor in Massachusetts but lost. She has been photographed in front of the White House with President Coolidge. Her husband died in 1925 and she continued her cause for women until she died in 1926 of breast cancer. She is buried in Chicago, Illinois.



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