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Early 'Base-ball' Terminology

By Patrick Mondout

While reading contemporary accounts of games from the mid 1850s can make the game that was played then seem more like the one we play today than it actually was, such accounts usually contain terms that are very unfamiliar to us today. To make matters worse, statistics that a modern fan can appreciate, such as batting average, earned run average, and OPS, simply do not exist for teams/players prior to 1871.

See also: National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, "Deadball Era" Baseball Terminology

This era is far too interesting for any real fan of the sport to allow such obstacles to keep them from enjoying this neglected era; this page is an attempt to provide definitions for these terms and and to provide an explanation for what statistics were kept from 1857-1870 and what they mean. I have added Henry Chadwick's "Technical Terms" from his 1868 book on baseball and some more from his 1871 book.

If you have any questions about any of the material presented here or wish to add to the list, use the Contact link at the top-right of this page.

19th Century Base Ball Terms

ACE—A run, as in scoring a run. The objective of the pre-1857 Knickerbocker Rules game was to score 21 "aces."

AMATEUR PLAYERS—Amateurs are divided into two classes of players in base ball, the first class of amateurs being players who play in matches for exercise and amusement only, and who are "amateurs" merely in contradistinction to "professionals." The second class of amateur players are those unskilled in playing the game, but who know more of it than the "Muffins" do. This class of players rank between muffins and second nine players. See also: Professionals.

ASSISTING—This term is applied to the play of those of a nine who assist other players in putting au opponent out. Thus, if a ball be hit to the short-stop, and it be stopped by him and thrown to the first base player, he is credited with assisting the base player to put a hand out. The last man to hold a ball, when an opponent is put out, is the player credited with the fielding. In many instances the assistant does the most difficult fielding.

ARTISTS—The most experienced players of a nine come under this head, viz., such as are not only physically active and expert, but mentally quick, and shrewd in judgment of the "points" in the game.

BALK—A balk is committed when the pitcher fails to deliver a bail after making any of the preliminary movements to deliver it. Or, if he steps outside the lines of his position, before the ball leaves his hand, when in the act of pitching. Or, if he jerks or throws the ball to the batsman.

BALL-CLUB—A club (of any ball sport) comprised of members who may or may not play (see playing member and non-playing member). If you go back early enough, the term actually refers to the bat used in bat and ball games. The following example of the latter usage is from an 1835 book called The Memoir of Rev. Alvan Hyde: "I hope you will not be seen with the ball-club in your hand this summer. Find your pleasure and amusement in your books."

BASE LINES—The base lines are the lines running from base to base, intersecting at the center of each base when the bases are in position.

BASE PLAYERS—The three fielders who attend to the first, second, and third bases.

BASE RUNNER—The player on the batting side running the bases.

BASEMENThese are the players who occupy the positions of first, second, and third basemen.

BASES ON ERRORS—When a base is made by a muffed or dropped ball, or by an overthrow, the batsman is not entitled to the credit of a base on a hit.

BASES ON HITS—A base is made on a hit when the batsman hits a ball that cannot be fielded in time to the first base to put him out.

BATSMAN—The striker at the bat.

BLANK SCORE—A blank score is made in a match when no runs are scored in an inning; and the batsman makes a blank score when he fails to scores a run in a match.

BLINDER—A "blind" is the provincial term in the Middle States for a blank score in a game.

BOUNDER—This is the technical term for a bounding ball from the bat which strikes the ground within the lines of the in-field.

BOWLED BALLS—A ball cannot be bowled in base ball. If a ball be bowled—that is, rolled along the ground, or tossed in so as to touch the ground before reaching the base—the umpire is empowered to call balls on the pitcher every time a ball is so bowled. (By 1871 the umpire could call a balk on bowled balls.)

CALLED BALLS—A called ball is the penalty inflicted on the pitcher for unfair delivery. Three called balls give a base.

CAT—An early ball game similar to baseball. See also: Town Ball.

CAUGHT NAPPING—A player is said to be caught napping when he is touched with the ball when off a base he was previously standing upon; or, when caught between two bases obliging him to run backward and forward to escape being touched. He is regarded, too, as being caught napping when he is outwitted in a point of play by his opponent.

CHANCES—The "chances," in base ball, are the opportunities offered by the pitching, for putting players out in the field. That pitching is the most effective Which affords the most chances for catches or for putting players out at first base.

CHANGE (pitcher)—What would today simply be called a relief pitcher. Example usage: "The Baltimore Club has a one-armed pitcher, and he was batted so severely by the Troys that big Brouthers had to go in as change."

CHICAGOED—A team that fails to score a run is said to have been "Chicagoed." (On July 23, 1870, the White Stockings of Chicago were shutout by the Mutuals of New York 9-0. It was one of the first shutouts (though the White Stockings had blanked the Atlantics of Algiers, Louisiana 51-0 in May) and thus became well-known. For many years teams that were shut-out or even just held to a few runs were said to have been "Chicagoed" in honor of the Mutuals' accomplishment.) See also: Whitewashed.

CLEAN HOME RUNS—A home run is made, in a literal sense, when the batsman—after hitting a fair ball—runs around the bases without stopping and touches the home base before being put out. Bat a "clean home run" is only made when the batsman hits a ball far enough out of the reach of the out-fielders as to enable him to run round to home base before the bail can be returned in quick enough to put him out. None other should be scored on the record as home runs.

CRANKS—The term "fan" was not invented until well after the demise of the NABBP. Those who followed the sport with interest were known as cranks or kranks.

DAISY CUTTERS—This is the term applied to a low pitched ball, hit sharply along the surface of the ground, through the grass, without rebounding to any extent. It is a hit ball very difficult to field, and, consequently, shows good batting.

DEAD BALLS—A ball is said to be "dead" when no player can be legally put out by a fielder, as in the case of a called or balked ball hit by the batsman, or when a ball is stopped by outsiders.

DOUBLE PLAY—A double play is made when two players, after the ball is hit, are put out in succession before it is again pitched to the bat.

DRAWN GAME—When the score is equal in a match, and five even innings have been played, and there is no opportunity to play the game to a close, it becomes a drawn game. And when a match of best two out of three games, is agreed upon, and the season closes with each club credited with one game won, the match is drawn.

DROPPED BALLS —A ball is called a dropped ball when it Is handled by a fielder, but not held long enough to constitute a catch.

DROPPING THE PACEThis term is applied when the pitcher lessens the speed of his delivery, and substitutes a medium-paced ball for a swift one. It is very effective in some cases.

EVEN INNINGS—When even innings have been played, each party have played an equal number of innings. When a game is called, on account of darkness or rain, the victory is decided by the score of the last "even innings" played, provided five on each side have been completed.

FACING FOR A HIT—This is done when the batsman takes his stand, facing the position in the field he desires to send the ball. Thus, if he intends hitting a ball to third base, he faces the shortstop; if to the center field, he faces the pitcher, and if to the right field he faces the first base man.

FAIR BALLS—A fair ball is one sent from the bat and striking the ground forward of the lines of the bases.

FIRST NINE—Refers to the starters of a particular club. See also: Second Nine.

FLY CATCHING—A ball player, in order to learn to catch a ball well, should study the theory of catching, as well as avail himself of constant practice. The theory of catching is as follows : A ball hit up into the air by a bat, or thrown up by the hand, falls to the ground with the same speed it left the bat or the hand. Taking this fact into consideration, therefore, it will be seen that in attempting to catch a ball falling swiftly to the ground, to stop its progress with the hands abruptly results either in its rebound from the hand, or, if held, in its causing injury or pain to the hands. But a ball so falling can be stopped without pain and held firmly, by so timing the movement of the hands as to grasp it as it falls, and allowing the hands to check its progress gradually instead of abruptly. Toss a ball up, by way of trial, and, as it falls, bring your hands together horizontally, and time the movement so that your hands will close on the ball at a right angle to the line of its fall, and the moment the ball is grasped let your hands fall with a spring-like movement, and if this be done properly the progress of the swiftest ball can be checked without any pain or injury to the hand. But if the hands are placed in such manner, when about to catch the ball, as simply to resist its progress abruptly, then all the force of the blow of the ball is imparted to the hands. The only way to catch a swiftly batted or thrown ball without risk of severe pain or injury from the catch, is to grasp the ball in such a manner as to yield to its progress and to check it gradually and not abruptly.

FLY GAME—Up until the NABBP Convention of 1864, the rules stated that balls which were caught on one bounce were considered outs. Any games prior to this that were played by agreement with an out only counting on the fly were called "fly games." Such games do not count as official NABBP games as they were not played by official NABBP rules.

FLY TIP—This is a foul ball, just tipped by the bat, and held by the catcher sharp from the bat.

FOUL BALLS—A foul ball is one sent from the bat so as to hit the ground back of the lines of the bases.

FOUL FLY—This is a high foul ball caught on the fly.

FORCED FROM THE BASES—Players running bases can only be forced to leave them when all are occupied, and a fair ball is struck, or, when the first. base is occupied and a fair ball is hit. If the first and third bases be occupied under these circumstances, only the player at first base is forced to leave. If the first base is not occupied, and the second and third are, then neither base runner is obliged to leave his base when a ball is bit. When a third called ball is called, then each player on a base has to take the next.

FORCED OFF—A player is "forced off" a base when he is obliged to leave the base he occupies, owing to the striker's
being obliged to run to first base.

FRIENDLY MATCH—Refers to a match between two clubs which is not of consequence for any championship or as part of a series.

FUNGOES—This is simply a method of affording the fielders exercise in catching the ball. The batsman tosses the ball up and tries to send it to the outer field, and the player catching it on the fly takes the bat. Of course it is of no benefit as practice at the bat, as the ball does not come to the bat as it does when delivered by a pitcher, but falls perpendicularly to the bat, hitting it as it falls.

GROUNDER—When a ball is sent sharply from the bat and pretty close to the ground, it is called a ground hit or a "grounder." It is an effective style of batting, as most ground balls are difficult to field, and, of course, cannot be caught flying.

HANDS LOST—This is the old way of recording the outs in a match. Whenever a player is put out, a "hand is lost," and an "out" is recorded in the score books. (Alternate definition: This is the old term applicable to the " outs " in a game. For instance, the moment a player is put out, the batting side "lose a hand.")

HEAD-WORK—This is a term specially applied to the pitcher who is noted for his tact and judgment in bothering his batting opponents by his pitching. A pitcher who simply trusts to pace, in his delivery, for effect will never succeed with skillful batsmen opposed to him. A pitcher, however, who uses head-work in pitching tries to discover his adversary's weak points, and to tempt him to hit at balls, either out of his reach or pitched purposely for him to hit to a particular part of the field. Pitchers, in general, have greatly improved in this respect within the past few years.

HIGH BALLS—The term, "a high one," refers to balls hit high in the air and favorable for a fielder to catch. Long high balls are thought a great deal of by the spectators at a match, but with a good captain and sharp fielders every such ball ought to be caught.

HIPPODROMING—Playing the game for gambling interests. That is, playing the game to an outcome in order to satisfy gamblers and/or betting rings. This usually meant throwing a game.

HOME RUNS—Home runs are made when a call is hit out of the reach of the out-fielders, and the home base is reached before the player is put out, provided he runs around the bases without stopping. (See Clean Home Run.)

HOT BALLS—This term is applied to halls sent very swiftly to the hands from the bat, or thrown in swiftly.

IN-FIELDERS—There are six in-fielders in a nine of a match, viz., catcher, pitcher, first, second, and third base men, and shortstop.

INNINGS—An innings, in base ball, is played when three men on the batting side have been put out. The moment the third hand is out the innings terminates.

JUNIOR CLUB—These clubs were quite logically made up of younger players and, as a rule, were denied membership in the NABBP (21 and older for delegates to the national convention), though a few did gain admittance and those that didn't have their own Junior NABBP.

KICKING—A phrase used to describe excessive arguing. Until late in the 19th Century, the rules were inadequate to prevent "kicking" and it was sometimes used as a tactic by the team in the lead to delay a game until it was too dark to continue play.

KNEE HIGH—This is one of the terms used by the batsman, when he is requested to show the pitcher where he wants a ball delivered. "Knee high," "waist high," and "shoulder high," are the three points to which pitchers are most generally asked to deliver the ball.

KNICKERBOCKER RULES—The rules of baseball as first published by the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club (to its members) in 1845. A complete list of all 20 is here.

LEFT ON BASES—Players arc frequently left on the bases when the innings terminates, and, when this is the case, they should be credited with it on the score book. Being left on a base generally shows poor batting on the part of one or other of the batsmen succeeding a base runner. But it also is a result of poor base running.

LINE BALLA "line ball" or "liner " is a ball sent swiftly from the bat to the field almost on a horizontal line. A catch from such a ball looks handsome ; but it is not so difficult a ball to hold as high foul balls, as the latter have a great bias given to them by the bat.

LINES OF POSITION—There are three lines of position on the base ball field, viz., the line of the home base, six feet in length, and parallel to the line from third to first base; and the two lines of the pitcher's position, the same length and similarly parallel, the first of these two lines being forty-five from the home base, and the second forty-nine.

LONG BALLS—This is the name of balls hit to the outer field. When they are sent bounding along the ground they are telling hits, but when sent high they ought to be caught, and are not, therefore, included as good hits.

LOW BALLS—This is the term applied to balls pitched low over the home base and below the knee of the batsman. TV striker has no right to demand a ball lower than a foot high from the ground, as balls lower than this cannot be delivered by the pitcher without his continually running the risk of sending in bowled balls.

MASSACHUSETTS GAME—A game similar to "New York" baseball, but favored in New England until the early 1860s. Some of the notable features of this version of the game include the ability to pitch overhand, a square field (instead of a diamond), no foul territory, one out retires the side, and the first team to 100 runs wins. The rules were closer to the New England game of town ball than the modern game of baseball. Also known as: The "round game" and the "New England game." You can read more about this version of baseball here. See also: New York Game.

MUFFED BALLS—A fielder is said to "muff" a ball when he fails to pick it up neatly, or to hold it long enough to make it a fair catch. Muffed balls are rated as errors of fielding and count against a batsman when he makes bases on them.

MUFFINS—This is the title of a class of ball players who are both practically and theoretically unacquainted with the game. Some "muffins," however, know something about how the game should be played, but cannot practically exemplify their theory. "Muffins" rank the lowest in the grade of the nines of a club, the list including first and second nine players, amateurs, and, lastly, "muffins."

(Note: By 1871 Chadwick modified the definition of "muffin" to this: This is a term applied to the poorest class of fielders. A player may be able to hit long balls, and to make home runs, and yet for all that be a veritable muffin, from the simple fact that he cannot field, catch, or throw a ball decently.)

NEW YORK GAME—This term refers to either the "New York" version of baseball such as it was before the Knickerbockers published their rules. It also refers to the game as transformed by the rules of the Knickerbockers. Also known as the "Brooklyn Game." See also: Massachusetts Game.

NINES—In the early days, club played games without substitutes and were often called "nines" for the number of players. Because they often had a lot more than 9 members, the starters were referred to as the first nine. The second nine would sometimes play games against other "second nines," or against the first nine of a lesser club.

NON-PLAYING MEMBER—A member of a club who does not play in matches. Usually such members are either not talented enough, do not have the time to devote to the sport, or merely want to be associated with the club for its social aspects. See also: Playing Member.

ONE, TWO, THREE—This term has a double meaning. It refers to a practice game when less than six fielders on a side are present, and also to the order of going out, when the first three batsmen in an inning retire in succession, in which case they are said to be put out in "one, two, three" order. The game of "One, two, three" is played as follows: The field side take their positions and a player takes the bat. When the batsman is put out—unless the ball is caught on the fly, in which case the fielder catching it changes places with the batsman—he takes his position at right field, the catcher takes the bat, the pitcher goes in to catch, and the first baseman takes the pitcher's position, and each of the other fielders advance one step towards the in-field positions. There should be at least four players on the batting side.

ORDER OF POSITION—The regular order of positions of a base ball nine is as follows: Catcher, Pitcher, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, Short-stop, and Left, Center, and Right Fields.

OUT-FIELDERS—There are three out-fielders in a club nine, viz.: the left, center, and right fielders.

OUTS—The score of outs refers to players put out by the fieldsmen, and the figures to the number of times each player is put out in a match.

OVER-THROWS—An over-thrown ball is rated as an error of fielding, and, of course, detracts from a batsman's score of bases on hits. Better hold a ball than over-throw it to a base.

OVER-PITCH—The pitcher commits this error whenever lie pitches a ball over the heads of the batsman and catchier. It is a mark of wild pitching resulting from too great an effort to pitch swiftly.

PACE—This is a term applied to the speed of a pitcher's delivery. Pitchers are divided into three classes, viz., swift pitchers, medium-paced, and slow. Creighton was the model pitcher as regards speed, and Martin is the best medium-paced pitcher. Slow pitching is merely tossing the ball to the bat in order that it may be hit high for a catch, and is only effective against very poor batsmen, except, perhaps, when a change from swift to slow pitching is made, when it sometimes proves serviceable.

PASSED BALLS—Any ball "muffed" by the catcher, or passing him while within his legitimate reach, is recorded as a passed ball, provided a base is made on it by the base runner.

PICKED NINE—An ad hoc team usually assembled for a single game. The first recorded game of the Knickbockers was against a "picked nine"

PITCHER'S POINTS—These are the two iron quoits placed on the two lines of the pitcher's position on a line from home to second base.

PLAYING MEMBER—A member of the club who actually plays in matches. See also: Non-Playing Member.

PLAYERS RUNNING BASES—The moment the striker has hit a fair ball he ceases to be "the striker" and becomes "a player running the bases."

POINTS—The term "points" in base ball refers to special points of play in the game which occur most generally in first class matches. Thus, if there be base runners on the first and second bases, and a ball be hit to the short-stop, though the short-stop's chance of putting the striker out at first base was an easy one, and that of heading off the player forced from second base to third doubtful, the best point for him to play is, to hold the ball on the third base, or to pass it in time to the third base man to hold it, thereby putting the player out who is nearest home. Another illustration of a "point" of play is this : When a base runner is on the first base and a fair ball is hit to shortstop, and the latter, seeing the base runner hold the first base, passes the ball to the first base player quickly, the point of play, for the base player, is to first touch the base runner on the base and then to hold the ball on the base. By playing this point he puts two men out, inasmuch as the base runner, even though standing on the base when touched, is out, in consequence of being obliged to vacate the base, owing to the fart of the striker not being put out; he Is, therefore, not entitled to the base, and, after he has been touched, the striker can very easily be put out.

POPPING ONE UP—This is done when a ball is hit high into the air and so as to fall into one of the in-fielder's hands. It is as poor a hit as can well be made.

PUNISHING THE PITCHER—The pitcher is said to be "punished," when the batsmen find no difficulty in hitting away the balls he delivers to them. It does not follow, however, that because the balls sent in are easily hit into the field that the pitching is thereby punished, but only when the strikers make their buses easily on their hits. We have seen ball after ball sent in by pitchers and hit into the outer field with ease, but, unluckily for the batsman, every one was caught. A pitcher is not " punished" unless bases are made on the hits, neither is the pitching punished if chances are offered to the fielders off the pitching and not accepted. It is only when the balls pitched are so hit as to give the batsmen their bases easily that the pitching is said to be punished.

PROFESSIONALS—This is the term applied to all ball players who play base ball for money, or as a means of livelihood. The rules prohibit players from receiving compensation for their services in a match, but there is scarcely a club of note that has not infringed the rule, or that does not nullify it now in some form or other. If professionals would all act an honest part in their position much of the objection against them would be removed. But, as long as they are found to be, in a majority of cases, the mere tools of "rings," or the servants of the gamblers who too frequently influence leading contests, the prejudice against professionals will naturally exist. There is no just reason except this, against a man's earning his living by base ball service. [Note: the rules prohibiting pros was changed after Chadwick wrote this definition. His 1871 definition was simply: "Any ball player is a professional player who receives compensation for his services as a player, either by money, place, or emolument."] See also: amateurs.

RETURN MATCH—A pair of clubs would often play a pair of games with one at each club's home grounds (we might today refer to it as "home and away" series). The second game was referred to as the "return match."

REVOLVERS—Players for hire. Players who play for the highest bidder and who change teams every season - or even during the season.

RIGHT SHORT—This is the position in the field occupied by the tenth man in a match, as in games on ice, his position being opposite to that of the regular short-stop and between the first and second bases. When a game begins, and no man is running the bases, the second baseman plays well into the field as right short, and the short-stop covers second base, the third baseman playing nearer short-stop's position.

RINGS—A "ring" is made when a party of men conspire together to effect their object in a dishonorable manner. Thus, when a set of men connected with a club join together and bribe players to sell games in order to win bets, they are said to make up a "betting ring." These " rings" are the worst evil that the game is troubled with, as from them has sprung all the swindling and fraud which has made base ball disreputable in the opinion of so many people who class good and bad together, without any discrimination.

RUN OUT—A player is said to be run out when he is touched between the bases in trying to get back to the base he left. In such cases, the fielder who touches him with the ball has the credit of putting him out.

RUNNING CATCH—A running catch is made when the ball is caught on the fly while the fielder is on the run.

RUNS—A run is scored the moment the player touches the home base without being put out, or without his being obliged to return to the base he left. When two hands are out, however, a run does not count, even if the player running home is not put out and touches the base, if the striker of the ball—not the "striker" in the meaning of the rules—be put out, or, if the player fails to touch the home base before the close of the innings.

SAFE HIT—A "safe hit" is made when the ball is either sent hounding out of reach of the in-fielders or sent similarly over their heads and yet not far enough out to be caught by the outfielders. A ball hit over the heads of the in-fielders, when the out-fielders are standing out a good distance, is sure to give a base.

SCORE—The score of a game is the simple record of outs and runs, either of the game or of a player.

SEASON—The baseball season ran from spring (whenever it was warm enough to begin playing, though traditionally May 1st) until Thanksgiving, when the grounds were often frozen.1

SECOND NINE—Baseball clubs of the middle 19th Century sometimes had hundreds of members. The "first nine" were presumably the best players and represented the club in important games. The "second nine" were presumably of lesser skills and played against less important clubs or against their own "first nine." In case you are wondering, there really were rarely discussed "third nines," and since club membership sometimes numbered in the hundreds, beyond the third as well.  See also: First Nine.

SENIOR CLUB—Simply refers to a club with experienced players. It does not indicate a club made of what would today be called senior citizens. See also: Junior Club.

SHOULDER BALL—This is a ball sent to the batsman shoulder high and is a difficult ball to hit. But sonic batsmen send shoulder balls a good distance into the field, and, when hit well, they are generally difficult balls to be caught by the out-fielders.

SIDE—Either of the nines in a match game, or of the contesting parties in a scrub match, constitutes the "side" in a game.

SILVER BALL—A silver ball is a baseball that has been covered in silver as a trophy. In context, it often refers to a match where such a ball is the prize. It was quite common in the early days to have the game ball and dinner awarded to the winner. As the practice evolved, the balls were covered in silver with an inscription showing the date and score of the game. Sometimes a local group would either ask two teams to compete for a silver ball or to even open up a tournament to battle for such a ball.

SKUNKED—This is a slang term for a blank score. In New York a blank score is called a "skunk," in the West it is called " whitewashing," and iu the East a "blinder." The Western phrase is the best of the three, but "a blank score" is the correct term.

SLOWS—This is the technical term for the balls delivered by a slow pitcher. Slows are tossed balls, sent in to the bat with a great curve to the line of delivery. Slows, to be well punished, require to be waited for and judged well, with a timely swing of the bat.

SOAKING THE RUNNER—The rules of baseball-related games prior to the Knickerbocker rules called for getting runners on base out by hitting them with the ball while they were between bases. This was called "soaking" the runner and apparently brought much joy to the thrower, though perhaps less to the target. (Read such an account here.)

STRIKER—The batsman is considered the "striker" until he has hit a fair ball, when he becomes a player "running the bases."

STRIKING OUT—Whenever the batsman is put out, after having failed to hit the ball fair three times in succession, he is to be recorded on the score book as having struck out, no matter whether put out on the catch or by the throw to the base.

TALLY—This term applies to the total score of the single innings played, or of the even innings, or of the totals at the close of the match.

TIE GAME—A tie game occurs whenever the score is even at the close of the even innings played. A tie game becomes a drawn game whenever the score is a tie—after five innings have been played—and the game be called or terminated either from rain, or the approach of darkness, or from a mutual agreement to call it a drawn game.

TIMING A BALL—To time a ball well is to cause your bat to meet it in such manner as to hit the ball well in the center and in the very direction you intended to send it.

TOWN BALL—An early bat and ball game similar to baseball. It is similar too, but not the same as, the Massachusetts game. Philadelphia embraced it up until 1860.  See also: Cat.

TREBLE PLAY—A "treble play" is made when three players are put out after the ball is hit, before it is pitched to the bat again. Thus, suppose there be three players on the bases and a short ball be hit to the pitcher, and he passes it to the catcher, and the latter holds it on the home base before the player reaches it, and then passes it to the third base player, and he similarly holds it, and, passing it on to second base, it be similarly held there, the result would be that three players would be put out by the one ball pitched, and a treble play thereby made.

This was Henry Chadwick's 1868 definition. A few years later it became the more familiar:

TRIPLE PLAY— Whenever three players are put out by the fielders, after a ball has been pitched to the bat, and before it is again sent to the bat a, triple play is said to be made.

UMPIRE—The umpire in a match is a referee, and sole judge of fair and unfair play when not expressly defined by the rules. There is no appeal from his decision, except through express charges brought before the Judiciary Committee of the State Association.

VACATING BASES—Players are obliged to vacate their bases—that is, they cease to have any right to hold them—the moment a fair ball is struck and all the bases arc occupied. When the first base is occupied and a fair ball is struck, the base runner must leave the first base, and he can be put out anywhere—even when standing on the first base—until lie touches the second, unless the striker is put out, in which case he ceases to be obliged to vacate his base and can try and return to it, and must be touched by the ball, when off the base, before he can be put out.

WHIP PENNANT—A "whip-pennant" is what they called the flag that was awarded by the National Association and flown (or simply displayed) by the winner. This was shortened to "pennant" in later years.

WHITEWASHED—A nine is said to he "whitewashed" when they are put out in an inning without being able to score a single run. See also: Chicagoed.

WILD THROWS—A ball thrown beyond the reach of a fielder or base player, either to the right or left of him, or over his head, is counted as a wild throw.

 

NOTES:
1.MLB recently announced the the final scheduled games of the 2007 postseason are scheduled for early November (who will be the first "Mr. November"?). If Bud Selig keeps it up, they too will soon be ending their season around Turkey Day.

National Association sources/bibliography:
Baseball: The Early Years by Harold Seymour.
Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search For The Roots Of The Game by David Block.
Baseball in Blue and Gray: The National Pastime during the Civil War by George B. Kirsch.
Blackguards and Red Stockings by William J. Ryczek
The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870 by Marshall D. Wright.
Playing for Keeps: A History of Early Baseball by Warren Goldstein.
When Johnny Came Sliding Home: The Post-Civil War Baseball Boom, 1865-1870 by William J. Ryczek

David Nemec, the tireless 19th Century Baseball researcher, has also written a novel called Early Dreams, which takes place during this era and features real-life characters such as Cap Anson, George Wright, and Henry Lucas.

General Baseball History sources/bibliography:
Baseball: A History of America's Game
by Benjamin G. Rader.
Baseball: A Film By Ken Burns (PBS DVD)
The Formation, Sometimes Absorption and Mostly Inevitable Demise of 18 Professional Baseball Organizations, 1871 to Present by David Pietrusza.
The Great 19th Century Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, 2nd Edition by David Nemec.
Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 by Dean A. Sullivan.
Middle Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1900-1948 by Dean A. Sullivan.
Late Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball 1945-1972 by Dean A. Sullivan
Past Time: Baseball as History by Jules Tygiel
America's National Game: Historic Facts Concerning the Beginning, Evolution, Development and Popularity of Baseball by Albert Spalding
Total Baseball: The Ultimate Baseball Encyclopedia by John Thorn, et al.

 



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