By Dan Beard
How to Play Town Ball
Game of Town-Ball.
It is almost a waste of space to describe in detail any of the National
popular games, such as baseball, as the rules which govern them for one year
will not answer for the next. And, furthermore, there is possibly not a reader
of this book that does not keep himself thoroughly posted upon such games. But
there is the "father" of baseball, which is a first-rate game, and not
played enough to be constantly changing its form and rules. In England, this
game, or its immediate ancestor, is called Rounders, and possibly it may go by
this name in some parts of the United States, but in the West it was formerly
The ball and bat used in Town-Ball are both different from those used in
baseball. In place of bases there are corners, in place of a pitcher there is a
giver, and the fielders are of any number, with no distinctive names.
is sometimes a small rubber ball, such as can be found at most toy
stores--not those of solid rubber, which are generally black in color and too
heavy, but the hollow ones. The real town-ball, however, is a home made affair,
consisting of a small ball of tightly wound yarn, usually unraveled by the boys
from old yarn clothes, and wound up into a spherical form. This is covered with
leather that is cut in the form of a three-leaved clover, or maybe you will
understand better if it is likened to an orange-peel when you make three cuts in
the orange-skin and then take the rind off without breaking it (Fig. 275). This
leather covering is sewed on the ball with shoemaker's thread by means of an awl
and a waxed-end, and should fit tightly and evenly without wrinkles. A well-made
ball is a work of art that boys are proud of exhibiting and talking about.
Showing How it is Made.
is either very short, resembling a dwarf base-ball bat (Fig. 277), and is
called a "delill," or it is broad and flat after the fashon of a
cricket-bat (Fig. 278).
are usually three in number, with a home-base, making four, but this varies
according to the whim of the players or the locality where the game is played.
0rdinarily with three corners the distance is about the same as between the
bases in baseball. In place of home-base there is a rectangle marked on the
ground where the striker and catcher stand.
stands in the same position that the pitcher occupies in a game of baseball;
but in place of pitching or making the underhand throw, he throws overhand and
"gives" the ball to the catcher over the right shoulder of the batter
stands at the front line of the home-base and holds his bat above his
shoulder and strikes from that position, with both hands grasping the handle of
the but, if he is using a flat bat. But if be is using a "delill" he
holds it with one hand and allows the swiftly thrown ball to strike his club and
glance off at an angle to a part of the grounds where no fielders are on the
outlook for it. Every time the ball touches the bat it is considered a fair hit,
and the batter must run for his first corner and reach it, if possible, before
some fielder, the catcher, or giver secures the ball and "burns" or
"stings" him, as they call it when they hit a player with the ball. No
one stands on guard at the bases to catch the batter out, and the ball, in place
of being thrown to the base, is thrown at the man running the corners. When one
batter makes a hit or is put out the next batter takes his place, as in
stands behind the bat and without gloves, and with no protection for his face
or body he catches the "hot" balls the giver sends to him. The balls
are not heavy enough to be dangerous.
scatter themselves over the field, according to the directions of the
captain, and try to catch or stop all balls from the bat, or those that are
thrown at and miss the runners between corners.
When a man is out he is out until the next inning, and the game proceeds
without him. If a striker sends a ball in the air and it is caught before it
touches the ground by the giver, the catcher, or any one of the fielders, the
batter is out. If the ball touches his bat it is counted a hit, and if it is
caught by any one of the opposite side he is out.
If any one of the fielders, the catcher, or giver make a successful throw at
a man running the corners and strikes him with the ball when he is not touching
his corner, he is out.
If the batter misses a ball that he strikes at, and the catcher catches the
ball before it strikes the ground, the batter is out.
When a man is put out, he is out for that inning, and cannot strike again
until the next inning for his side. When all are out but one, that one has a
very difficult task to make a score, unless he can make a home-run strike. There
are no other batters to help him by sending a "sky-scraper" over the
fielders' heads; but he must run his corners while the giver and catcher,
standing in their regular position, pass the ball between them.
produces a great deal of excitement and sport, as all the batter's side coach
him, and if he succeeds in stealing a corner or successfully dodges the ball
thrown at him, he is greeted by wild cheers from his own side.
Should he at last succeed in reaching home-base untouched, he has the
privilege of "putting in" the best batter on his side, and there are
then two men in and a better chance to score.
Any number of boys may play in one game, and since all the really necessary
properties consist of a ball and a bat, both homemade, it makes a game much
better suited to boys than base-ball, with all its array of expensive balls,
bats, bases, home plate, armor, wire masks, sliding gauntlets, and gloves. As
far as skill is concerned, no good town-ball player need hang his head in the
presence of the best of base-ball players.
Game of Town-Ball.
Fig. 279 shows the proper method of laying out the field. In this case,
wands, with colored flags on them, are stuck into the ground for corners. These
are strong enough, for the runner only touches them with his hand and does not
fall all over slide to them, as in baseball. The distances between bases are
regulated according to circumstances and the dimensions of the play-ground.