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   Changing the Rules
   Chronology of Changes to Major League Baseball Official Rules

Table E: Rule Changes 1845-1869

Table E. Rule Changes 1845-1869
1845 Although some sources say that the first written "baseball rules" date from 1834 or 1842, a more commonly cited year of origin is 1845, when the New York Knickerbockers created a formal code of playing rules. The rules limited each team to nine players, laid out the field in what designer Alexander Cartwright termed his "baseball square" (with ninety-foot sides), and established that the winner was the team who scored twenty-one aces, given that each team had an equal number of turns at bat.  
1845 There are no restrictions on bat size or shape. 1.1
1845 The ball weighs three ounces. 1.09
1845 The pitching distance is forty-five feet. 1.07
1845 Provisions are made for an umpire. 9.01A
1846 The first recorded argument between a player and an umpire. The umpire wins  
1848 A rule is introduced requiring that a baseman must hold the ball in order to put out a runner. (Before this the base runner was out if the ball hit him.) 7.08
1848 Only the batter-runner making for first may be retired on a force. (Before this any runner could be retired on a force.) 7.08
1849 The New York Knickerbockers introduced the first uniforms, blue and white cricket outfits. 1.17
1854 The ball weighs from 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 ounces and is from 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. 1.09
1857 The nine-inning game is introduced. 4.1
1858 Balls caught on one hop are no longer outs. 6.05
1858 The called strike is introduced. 6.05
1858 One umpire, chosen by the home team, is in charge of a game 9.03A
1858 The pitcher is allowed to make a short run in his delivery. 8.01
1859 The bat is limited to 2 1/2 inches in diameter (before this a bat like that used in cricket with a 4-inch-wide flat face had been commonplace). 1.1
1860 Whitewash is used to mark the foul lines. 1.04
1860 The umpire of a game is selected by the captain of each team. He is given the authority to suspend play, and he must make a call when a ball is foul. 9.04
1861 At the end of a game an umpire must declare the winning club and record his decision in the scorebook of each team before he leaves the field. 9.04
1863 The pitcher is not permitted to take even a step in his delivery. Both feet must be on the ground when he releases the ball. 8.01
1863 The bat must be round and of wood. Its width is still limited to 2 1/2 inches, but its length is not restricted. 1.1
1864 When a runner circles the bases, he must touch each one. 7.02
1865 The first sliding steal of a base, by Eddie Cuthbert of the Philadelphia Keystones 10.08
1865 The first batting averages are computed. 10.22
1865 The pitcher's box-twelve feet by three feet-replaces the twelve-foot line. 1.07
1865 The umpire must also record the results of a game in the scorer's book. 9.04
1866 The pitcher's box is enlarged to a four- by twelve-foot rectangle. 1.07
1867 The pitcher's box is six feet by six feet. 1.07
1867 Pitchers are allowed to take as many steps as they like in their delivery. 8.01
1868 The pitcher's box shrinks to a four- by six-foot box. 1.07
1868 The Cincinnati Red Stockings introduce knickerbocker trousers. 1.17
1868 The bat is to be no more than forty-two inches long. 1.1
1869 The pitcher's box is a six-foot square. 1.07

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JCBA Vol. 20. Rule Changes (1845-1869)
Published: December 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 by the Cosmic Baseball Association