Vintage Games - Rules and Terms

1860’s Vintage Base Ball

Vintage base ball is baseball played by rules and customs from an earlier period in the sport’s history.  The game’s name is typically written “base ball” rather than “baseball,” as that was the spelling used before the 1880s.  The ball of the 1860s was a bit larger, heavier and softer than the modern baseball. 

Below are the basic rules for Vintage baseball that we typically follow for the Shoeless - Ty games and some of its unique terminology.



(Subject to change at the Judge’s discretion before the game begins)

There shall be:

No bunting, sliding or running out of the base path;

No uncivil language, spitting, alcohol consumption, chewing of tobacco, wagering;

The ball is delivered underhand in a shallow arc to allow good striking.

Fielders play the following positions until the hurled ball has crossed home

1st ,2nd , and 3rd  basemen play on or within one foot of their respective bags;

Short scout (shortstop) can position himself anywhere on the playing field;

Behind (catcher) plays not more than 45 feet behind home base;

Left, middle and right scouts (outfielders) play in the middle of their respective outfields.

A striker (batter) is dead (out) when:

A batted ball is caught on the fly, fair or foul;

A batted ball is caught on one bound, fair or foul;

Three hurled balls are swung at and missed.

A base runner is dead (out) when:

Forced out at base;

Tagged out;

Runs three feet or more out of the base path.

Other rules:

Foul ticks (balls) are not considered strikes;

When fielding, the ball must be caught with the HANDS - gloves, hats, or other items may not be used;

Batters cannot wear cleats and catcher cannot wear protective equipment or use a mitt;

The Judge’s (umpire's) determination if a batted ball is fair or foul is made by where the ball first hits the ground;

A base runner may advance at his own risk when a batted ball is caught on one bound, but must return to base on those caught in the air;

All disputes are arbitrated by the team captains and the Judge (umpire).  A Judge's decision is final.  The Judge is always to be treated in a respectful manner.

Vintage terminology:

Huzzah!                        Hooray!

Club Nine                     Team

Match                          Game

Ballist                           Player

Cranks                         Fans/spectators

Judge                           Umpire

Pitcher                          Pitcher

Catcher                        Behind

Scorekeeper                 Tallykeeper

Horsehide, onion          Ball

Willow                         Bat

Striker                          Hitter

Striker to the line          Batter up

Dish                             Home plate

Four baser                    Homerun

Aces/Tallys                   Run

Hurl                              Throw/pitch

Foul tick                       Foul ball

Player dead                  Out

Muff                             Error

Leg it                            Run to base

Show a little ginger        Play harder

Stir your stumps            Run fast/hustle


Also click on the following links for more details:

Note the following sites have Vintage rules a bit different from the local rules above we follow with the Shoeless - Ty games but provide some further info on how other locales do Vintage Base Ball:

Vintage Base Ball Rules and Terminology

VBBF - Rules - from the Vintage Base Ball Factory website

VBBF - FAQs- from the Vintage Base Ball Factory website