Official Tournament Rules


The Hartford Vintage Base Ball Invitational will feature two era brackets of play,
1871 and 1886. This presentation offers spectators an opportunity to witness the
evolution of the game between a generation of time.
From no fielding gloves and underhand style pitching of 1871, to the game's widespread
introduction of overhand pitching, fielder gloves and catchers equipment by 1886.
In addition, many subtle rules or game strategies, not listed, also impacted games for each era.
The rules listed are the most significant to the casual observer.

EQUIPMENT: Each era of play does NOT permit sunglasses, batting gloves, batting
helmets or exposed protective gear. Bats and baseballs must be of 19th century standards.
Catcher's equipment and fielder gloves are only permitted in 1886 era games.

BASEBALLS: 1871 baseballs are 9.75 inches round and 5.75 oz weight with lemon peel
or "X" stitching. 1886 baseballs are 9.25" round and 5.25 oz weight with figure 8 stitching.

TIMEOUTS: In each era of play, 1871 and 1886, only umpire may call for time out to
suspend play. In 1886 era, timeout will be in effect only with pitcher holding ball within
pitchers box.

BASE COACH: In each era, only one appointed team Captain and Assistant Coach may
coach first or third base. Depending upon Captain/Coach situation of playing, batting, on
base, this will result in unique base coaching situational strategies, movement between first
and third base box, or even vacant coaching box. Base runners will sometimes be exposed
to base advancing disadvantages and making their own running decisions.

UMPIRING: 19th century baseball involved the use of one umpire per game. His positioning
of calling a game was generally within 10' to 15' of home plate, just outside the homeplate area
or several feet behind the catcher. Umpires maintained complete control over every aspect of
the game. Umpires can be vocal in calling balls/strikes, out/safe, but hand signal gestures were
not used. Umpires maintained complete control over every aspect of play, including calling of all timeouts. No player shall argue or contest any call made, unless requested by the umpire.
In event of call being questioned by umpire, each club Captain will be summoned to offer input.

BASES/PITCHERS BOX: Base distances for each era is 90'. Pitching mound in each era did not
exist and in place was a Pitchers Box, measuring 6' x 6'. 1871 front line distance from home plate
is 45'. 1886 front line distance from home plate is 50'. Pitcher is not required to remain within box
after ball is delivered but must begin delivery in front of line.

HOME TEAM: Home team shall be determined by coin flip by umpire between club
Captains prior to start of each game.

TIME OF GAMES: To accommodate number of teams and games required, time limits will be 1:45 (1871) and 2:15 (1886) era games. Innings in progress may be completed beyond time limit. No new inning can begin after allotted time. Umpire will oversee begin/end time throughout.


BATTING: Umpire will call "striker to the line". Batter shall stand within one stride of line extending midway through home plate. Batter will request high or low strike prior to entering box and strike zone will remain for duration of entire at-bat. Pitcher will then be required to throw pitch in desired area for strike call. "Low" strike is from below belt to knee. "High" strike is from above belt to shoulders. Any fouled ball that hits ground and bounces back to catcher and is caught by catcher on one bounce is an out.

- First pitch delivered is a "dead pitch". No ball or strike called. Striker has option to hit.
- Any subsequent pitch that enters in opposite strike zone of what batter requested, and is not swung at, is a no pitch.
- Ball count is recorded for any pitch outside "high/low" defined strike zone.
- Strike can only be recorded based on swinging and missing at any pitch or pitch within batter requested strike zone that is not swung at.
- Foul balls are not considered strikes. Any foul ball caught by catcher on one bounce is an out.
- Foul tip caught by catcher, regardless of count, is an out.

HIT BATSMAN: Batter not awarded first base. Pitch is a ball.

FAIR FOUL RULE: Any ball that is struck and first hits in fair territory shall be deemed a fair ball, regardless of whether it goes foul before reaching first and third base bags.

FOUL BOUND RULE: Any foul ball caught on one bounce, is an out.

PITCHING MOTION: Must be underhand delivery perpendicular to the ground with no bend of the elbow. No speed limit applies.

PITCHING: Pitchers box is set 45' from home plate. Box is 6' x 6' square. Pitcher must deliver ball within box but is permitted to land outside box after delivery. Delivery of ball outside of box, or delivery of pitch not conforming under Pitching Motion, is an automatic ball and balk call. There is no speed limit for pitches. Start of motion without delivering ball is a balk. In the event a delivered ball is to be called a balk by umpire and batter hits ball, play is dead and pitch is counted as ball/balk with runners advancing one base.

RUNNING: There is no infield fly rule. Tagging up is permitted. Sliding is permitted. Runners can lead from bases and may steal bases.

FOUL BALLS/RUNNING: Any foul ball is also considered a dead ball and is not "live" again until the pitcher touches the ball. All runners must return to their base and are subject to being out in the event that ball is returned to pitcher and pitcher throws to base before runner returns. Pitcher need not be in pitchers box for this play to develop.


BATTING: Batter will request to umpire high or low strike prior to entering the box and desired strike zone will remain for duration of entire at-bat. Pitcher will then be required to throw pitch in desired area for strike call. "Low" strike is from below belt to knee. "High" strike from above belt to shoulders.

HIT BATSMEN: Dead ball. Batter not awarded first base.

FOUL BALLS: Foul balls are not counted as strikes. Ball is dead.

FOUL TIPS: Any foul tip caught by the catcher, regardless of count, is an out.

DROPPED THIRD STRIKES: Any called or swung at third strike dropped by catcher is a live ball and in a force situation, ball is live and runners must advance accordingly or be subject to force out.

PITCHING: Pitching line is 50' from home plate. Pitching box is 6'x 6'. Pitcher must begin delivery from anywhere in front of box line and is not required to remain within box after delivery.

PITCHING MOTION: Unrestricted and can include overhand, three-quarter, sidearm and underhand. Breaking balls, changeups, and spitballs are permitted.

RUNNING: Stealing and leading off permitted. No infield fly rule. Tagging up permitted.

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