Ludington Mariners Old Time Base Ball
1860 Rules and Interpretation
Ludington Mariners Old Time Base Ball is 50% historical reenactment, and 50% real competition. We play according to 1860's rules, and it turns out that this provides a very lively and enjoyable sporting game.
Here are some of the ways in which the game differs from modern baseball:
The fielders do not use gloves.
A fly ball caught on the first bounce is an out.
It is the duty of the Hurler (pitcher) to throw the ball so that the Striker (batter) may hit it.
The umpire does not call balls and strikes.
Because pitching is de-emphasized, nearly every "Striker" puts the ball in play, and outs are made only by fielding. This provides a fast moving game, with lots of action.
When baseball was developing in the 1850's & 60's, every locality had its own rules. In West Michigan, we attempt to play the "New York Game", which uses a playing field similar to the modern diamond. It is 90 feet from home to first base, but only 45 feet from home to the Hurler’s position. In addition to the nine hands on each club, the game features one umpire, and a score keeper to record the Aces (runs).
Our first uniforms were modeled after the outfits worn by the original Ludington Mariners**, a professional minor league team that flourished in 1912-1926. Their games were played in Culver Park, a stadium located on the site of the present Ludington Marina.
Base running: Leading off or sliding is not allowed. If a struck ball is caught on the fly, the runners must return. If the struck ball is caught on the bounce, the runners may continue. There is no "doubling up" after a caught ball.
Hurler: The hurler must begin with the leg opposite the throwing hand crossed in front, and the ball must be held up in front, visible to the Striker. The ball is drawn back and thrown underhand, without deception or spins. The striker may indicate where the ball is to be thrown.
Behind: The behind plays behind the home plate, at whatever position he chooses. Crouching is not necessary. A foul ball may be caught on the first bounce for an out.
Fielders: All fielders must start each pitch playing "straight away", with the infielders standing on their base. However, the shortstop may begin the play at any position on the field. The fielders may move once the Hurler throws the ball.
Terminology used: Match means game; Thrower/Hurler is the pitcher; Striker means batter; Behind is the catcher; Foul Tick means any ball hit foul; “Well Struck” is an animated verbal recognition of a good hit; Cranks are fans; “Leg It” is an exhortation used to encourage baserunners; Aces/Tallies are runs; Hands mean players; “Striker is Dead” infers a batter makes an out; and “Huzzah” is a vigorous cheer, delivered by Cranks and Hands alike: usually in response to a well struck ball, a brilliant fielding play or the tally of an ace.
** Additional information on the history of Ludington Mariners Base Ball may be found in the book, The Ludington Mariners, by William M. Anderson, copyright 1992 by the
Ludington Daily News, Inc.