Rules and Customs
The VBBA Rules and Custom Committee shall conduct appropriate historical research into the way the game was played in the mid-nineteenth century and other historical eras and shall share its findings with the Association and member clubs in order to establish and improve historical authenticity. The scope of the committee shall include customs, uniforms, equipment, and conventions as well as the dissemination of and interpretation of rules. Feel free to email the committee with your questions and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One part of baseball history is not in doubt. The record of establishing codified and standard base-ball rules, and modifying them each year, has been retained. Prior to 1857, established mens’ clubs devoted to a bat and ball game were free to create and modify their own rules. Children also made up their own rules. But the New York Knickerbockers, who had been experimenting with a set of rules since 1845, led the way to establish the first national base ball convention, and create the first standard set of rules. This act resulted in the first national association, the NABBP. Players in Massachusetts did much the same with their old folk game of Town Ball shortly thereafter. Today, people who re-create old-style ball games embrace these old rules as the foundation for their modern games.
Below you will find links to the rules most commonly used by VBBA member clubs. Included are comments, interpretations and customs commonly found in vintage base ball games of that year, and locations where you can find re-created games under those rules.
- X Letters #1-14 Published In the Porter's Spirit of the Times
- Pacific Base Ball Guide 1867 - Amended Rules of Dec. 1866
- 1858 NABBP Rules Interpretations Introduction and Interpretation from the Rules & Customs Committee
- 1859 National Assoc of Base Ball Players Rules from the New York Sunday Mercury
- 1860 Beadles Rules with Introduction and Interpretation from the Rules & Customs Committee
- 1864 Beadles With Rules Interpretation from the Rules & Customs Committee
- 1867 Beadles With Rules Interpretation from the Rules & Customs Committee
- 1867 Beadles Dime Base-ball Player (Full Text)
- 1860 Beadles Dime Ball Player (Full Text)
- Beadles Dime Ball Player (Rules Only): 1860 | 1861 | 1862 | 1864 | 1865 | 1866 | 1867 | 1868 | 1869
- Knickerbocker Rules (New York): 1845 | 1854
- National Association of (Amateur) Base Ball Players (Rules Only): 1857 | 1858 | 1860
- National Association of Professional Base Ball Players: 1873
- Dewitt’s Umpire Guide 1875
- National League of Professional Base Ball Players: 1884 | 1886 | 1887
- American Association of Base Ball Clubs: 1884
- Reference Guide for Haney’s Base Ball Book of Reference: 1867
- Spalding's Base Ball Guide, Official League for 1886
- Constitution of the National League and American Association of Professional Base Ball Clubs, of 1895
- A nearly complete run of the NL's rulebooks from 1877 to 1910 can be found here: Professional (Major League) Baseball Rule Books - University Archives | UMD Libraries