- Strikers straddle a line that extends from home plate and serves as the batter's box. Once the striker takes position at home base, (s)he cannot step out between pitches in an effort to slow the game. The game pace is decided by the pitcher, so if the striker steps out, the pitcher may pitch a hittable ball, which would be called strike even if the striker is not ready.
- Bunting was not a typical type of batting strategy in the 1860s and therefore is not generally acceptable. However, "swinging bunts" are okay (i.e., full swings that result in the ball going a very short distance).
Balls and Strikes
- Strikers are "dead," or out, after a "warning to the striker" and three strikes. Strikers take a free base after a "warning to the pitcher" and three unstrikeable balls.
- "Warning to the pitcher": The first ball, but it doesn't count as a ball. Three balls after this equals a walk.
- "Warning to the striker": The first looking strike. It doesn't count as a strike, but any looking strikes after that count. All swinging strikes count.
- Foul balls do not count as strikes
- If a pitch is too close to call, the umpire can rule "no call" and the pitch doesn't count as a ball or strike.
- If a striker is hit by a pitch, it just counts as a ball and they continue the at-bat.
- All pitches are thrown underhand. Pitching may be on an arc and relatively slow, or may be swift pitches low the ground with very little arcing motion.
- After the at-bat has begun, the pitcher may throw at any time and take as much or as little time between pitches as they like.
- Pickoff throws are allowed, but pitchers can also balk if they make a move after starting their pitching motion.
- Catching the ball on one bounce counts as an out.
- If the ball hits fair on its first bounce, it is a fair ball, no matter where it rolls afterwards.
- If a runner is far off base after a foul ball, you can tag them out, but you must give the ball to the pitcher first.
- Bases are 90 feet apart, as in the modern game.
- You cannot overrun first base.
- Stealing is allowed and highly encouraged.
- Foul balls are dead balls, but if the ball settles into the hands of the pitcher, he may send the ball to a runner's original base to put the runner out. Therefore, runners must return to their bases immediately after a foul or risk being thrown out by the opposing pitcher. The pitcher may also take the place of the baseman; if the pitcher holds the ball at the runner's original base before the runner finds his way back to that base, he is dead.
- If the final out is made by a runner on the bases and not necessarily the striker:
- The next inning begins with the person in the lineup AFTER the runner who made the out. So if the only runner is thrown out at second for the final out, the striker who hit the ball leads off the next inning.
- If a runner is at third, they can run home. If they score before the striker is put out at first base, the run will count.
- Games are played on open, grassy fields instead of diamonds with a dirt infield. This also means there is no outfield fence.
- The pitcher stands between 45 and 48 feet from home plate in a box marked by two white lines instead of a rubber or a mound.
- Home plate is literally an iron plate, and the batter's "box" is formed by two lines three feet in length extending in either direction across the home plate parallel to the pitcher's lines.
- Bases are white sand bags, 90 feet apart from each other.
Umpires and Coaches
- There are no first and third base coaches. Runners call their own signs.
- There is only one umpire, and they stand off to the first base side of home plate rather than behind it.
- Bats are always made of wood. They generally run between 28" and 35" long and 28 oz to 35 oz in weight, but the rules do not stipulate that they have to be in these ranges. Most are made of ash, maple, and hickory.
- "Lemon peel" balls are softer and slightly bigger than a modern baseball and have unique stitching (see image at right). It is one piece of leather cut into a star-shaped pattern, filled with an ~1.5 oz of rubber, and wound with cotton yarn. The leather is then folded up onto the core and stitched. Only one ball is used per game.
- No gloves were used in the 1860s. It takes some effort and courage, but catching a ball with two bare hands is actually not as frightening as it may sound.
- Uniforms vary from team to team. California base ball in the 1860s was very informal. Most of the time, players played in whatever they were wearing while farming that morning, such as coveralls, a black shirt, and a straw hat. Sometimes, as in the case of the Sacramento teams, uniforms were more formal with muslin shirts, baggy caps, and long pants.