Make your own free website on

Rules of the Massachusetts Game of TOWNBALL

Or, How Baseball was played in 1850s Massachusetts


Although the 21 rules (below) adopted for the Massachusetts Game were not codified until 1858, this form of baseball can be dated back into the early 1800's.

1. The ball must weigh not less than two, nor more than two and three-quarter ounces, avoirdupois. It must measure not less than six and a half, nor more than eight and a half inches in circumference, and must be covered with leather.

2. The Bat must be round, and must not exceed two and a half inches in diameter at the thickest part. It must be made of wood, and may be of any length to suit the striker.

3. Four Bases or Bounds shall constitute a round; the distance from each base shall be sixty feet.

4. The bases shall be wooden stakes, projecting four feet from the ground. Sliding into the stakes is not permitted. If this occurs, the player will be called out, and sides will change.

5. The Striker shall stand inside of a space four feet in diameter, at equal distance from the first and fourth stakes.

6. The Thrower shall stand 35 feet from, and on a parallel line with, the striker.

7. The Catcher shall not enter within the space occupied by the Striker, and must remain upon his feet in all cases while catching the ball.

8. The Ball must be thrown - not pitched or tossed - to the Bat, on the side preferred by the Striker, and within reach of his bat.

9. The Ball must be caught flying in all cases.

10. Players must take their knocks in the order in which they are numbered; and after the first inning is played, the turn will commence with the player succeeding the one who lost on the previous inning.

11 The Striker shall be allowed as many attempts at knocking the ball as needed. If the Ball be ticked or knocked, and caught by the opposite side, the Striker shall be considered out.

12. Should the Striker stand at the bat without striking at good balls thrown repeatedly at him, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or of giving advantage to the players, the referees, after warning him, shall call one strike; if he persists in such action, two and three strikes. When three strikes are called, he shall be called out if he repeats the offense for another, i.e. a fourth, time.

13. A player, having possession of the first base, must vacate the base when the Ball is struck by the succeeding player, even at the risk of being put out. If two players get on one base, the player who arrived last is entitled to the base.

14. If a player is running the bases and is hit by the Ball thrown by one of the opposite side before he has touched the home Stake, and while he is off a stake, he is considered out.

15. A player, after running all the bases, and on making the home bound, shall be entitled to one tally for his team.

16. In playing all match games, when one is out, the side shall be considered out.

17 . In playing all match games, one hundred tallies shall constitute a game. The team scoring ONE HUNDRED tallies shall be declared the winner.

18. Not less than ten or more than fourteen players from each Club, shall constitute a match in all games.

19. A person engaged on either team shall not withdraw during the progress of the match, unless he is disabled, or by consent of the other party.

20. The Referees shall be chosen as follows: One from each Club, who shall agree upon a third made from some Club belonging to their Association, if possible. Their decision is to be final, and binding upon both parties.

21. The Tallymen, or scorekeepers, shall be chosen in the same manner as the referees.

Back to "How Cricket Developed from Baseball"