Who Was the First to Establish the Rules of Baseball?

In the 19th century, a group of men in New York began to draft their own rules for a game that would eventually become known as baseball. Alexander Joy Cartwright, a volunteer firefighter and bank employee, was one of them and he would go on to codify a set of rules that would form the basis of modern baseball. This set of rules included a diamond-shaped infield, foul lines, and the three-strike rule. The reform campaign that was started by this group of men gained the support of the press, but it failed to pass in conventions on the regulations of the Association.

An important rule, Rule 13, stated that a player could not be sent off because he was hit by a thrown ball. John Newbery's A Little Pretty Pocket-Book (1744) contained an xylography of a game similar to baseball, and this drew attention from the New York Public Library. It was discovered that English boys and girls had been playing a game called baseball for some time, regardless of its rules. In June 1846, the Knickerbocker Club played against the New York Nine in the first baseball game played between clubs according to codified rules.

This game was based on the Knickerbocker Rules, which were outlined by a group of men from the rules committee. These rules established foul lines, the rhythms between bases, and a three-out limit. They also eliminated the dodgeball-style rule that allowed players to get runners out by hitting them with thrown balls. In December 1864, the fly rule for fair hits was approved as an experiment for 1865 that was maintained.

The Knickerbocker Rules did not cover some basic elements of the game, such as college football. William Clarke's The Boy's Own Book (1828) included rules for rounders and was the first printed description in English of a grassroots racing game with bat and ball played with a diamond. This game is still played today according to the rules from 1845, 1858 or later (up to about 1888). The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York is credited with making the first real effort to establish rules for baseball.

Wheaton, one of its founding members in 1837 and first vice-president, co-authored these rules eight years later.

Rosanne Fajardo
Rosanne Fajardo

Lifelong bacon evangelist. Professional pop culture expert. Extreme social media evangelist. Total food guru. Hardcore travel junkie. Extreme reader.

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