Rules of the Game

The Beaneaters play most of our games by the rules of 1886.  1886 baseball looks a lot like modern baseball, with some major rules and equipment differences.  The most obvious difference is the lack of large baseball gloves.  In 1886, baseball gloves were just starting to become popular with players in the National League, and they looked more like gardening gloves than baseball gloves.  Bats in the 1880s were a little heavier and had thicker handles and smaller barrels.  These photos give you an idea of what the gear looks like.

Typical 1880s era bats and glove.

Typical 1880s era bats and glove.

Aside from the equipment, here are the major rules differences between modern baseball and 1886 rules vintage baseball:


  • 7 balls for a walk
  • Foul balls aren’t strikes
  • Hit-by-pitch is just a ball
  • No infield fly rule
  • The pitcher can pitch anytime he’s in the pitcher’s box.  If a batter steps out, he will likely be “quick pitched” and strikes can be called while he’s not looking
  • There are no batting helmets, shin guards, sunglasses or other modern gear
  • Spitballs are legal


There are a few more differences, but these are the big ones.  Sound like fun?


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