Edition 27 contains an article in Typescript which in parts is difficult to read. Read it here or click the Header above to read the whole Issue.
THE E.B.A. GAME.
Several people have asked me questions concerning ‘Welsh’ baseball. As far as I am concerned this is an incorrect description which has even crept into reputable books of reference. I describe it as English baseball. I give a brief account of its origin below.
In the mid-1800’s, a body, the National Physical Recreation Society, which encouraged sport in general approved a codification of the rules of rounders which was being fairly widely played by men. The leading centre . Liverpool, and a group there drew up a new code and formed The National Rounders Association, this was in 1885.
In March 1889, the Spalding baseball Tourists played in Liverpool, they also played basebal1 versus the Liverpool rounders people, and played rounders versus Liverpool. The famous A.G. Spalding, actually bowled in the rounders match. Later that year a group of American College Players also played in Liverpool. Arising from these contacts, The National Rounders Association decided after the 1889 season to adopt several ideas from the American game.
The rules changes were to adopt double—handed batting, to adopt the junior baseball(the rounders ball had been smaller and softer), to abolish the rule whereby a base-runner could be put out by being hit by a thrown ball. The bowler was moved back to 50 feet from the batting crease (the pitching distance in the American game was 50 feet at that time). Base-runners were to be put out by being touched with the ball held in the fielder’s hand. Under certain conditions the base could also be touched. These rules were adopted for the 1890 season, and were adopted by the Gloucester Rounders Association, the South Wales Rounders Association, and the Scottish rounders Association also.
The N.R.A. held its A.C.M. for 1892, in April In Liverpool. It was decided that as these new rules had transformed the former game, the name rounders was misleading, so the organisation decided to change its name to the English Baseball Association and the game was to be called ‘English Baseball’ the other associations followed this decision to change their titles. Over the years the game has become stronger in South Wales than in Liverpool, so we now have the position when people actually believe that it began in South Wales and spread to Liverpool.
The game in played on a diamond, the distance from the batting crease to 2nd. base is 100ft., from 1st. base across to 3rd. base 88ft. Distance between bases, which are wooden or metal posts, is 66 feet, except 3rd. to 4th, base which is 51ft. The bat is 36 Inches long, and is made like a cricket bat, except that it tapers from 2 ½” at the handle end to 3 ½” at the other end. This flat blade gives a batter much more control over the ball than is allowed by the American bat. The batter is also allowed to hit the ball in any direction. Although there are eleven fielders, as they have to cover an area about four times as large as the fielders in the American game, the batters are very definitely In “the driver’s seat”. A run is scored for each base reached by a batter before he comes to a halt; and a four run hit is quite common.
The bowler has to deliver the ball with a smooth underarm action. If the delivery crosses the batting crease between the chin and the front knee of the batter, the referee cells ‘good’; two ‘goods’ not struck at puts the batter out. If the batter strikes and misses, he has to run to 1st. base, if he manages to reach it safely, his team scores a ‘bye’, which is one run. However, if the bowler’s delivery is outside the area described, then the referee calls ‘bad’, a second ‘bad’ makes and extra; this is one run to the batting side. The batter may stand and get several ‘extras’.
From my observations, in most games most put-outs occur as a result s a bowler gets an inspired spell, and batters may just not be able to hit his deliveries; in this case the back-stop just catches the ball, moves after the batter—baserunner, and touches him with the ball to make the put-out. Every batter on the team has to be put-out to terminate an Innings.
The clothing worn is as for soccer, no gloves are used except by the backstop who uses a pair of padded gloves of a distinctive type, they just come to the wrist, not like cricket wicket –keepers gloves. The backstop may also wear a mask.
The fielding positions are bowler, backstop, longstop (he fields 30 to 45 feet behind the backstop, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd basemen. 1st, 2nd, covers, 3rd and 4th covers. In relation to the American game, the covers could be described as outfielders. Each team usually has two innings, although there is a follow-on rule. The team which bats second can be compelled to take its second innings if it has a score more than 30 runs behind its rival’s first innings. Scores can vary enormously, from a few per innings up to over 200 in an innings but the average game would be around 40 to 70 in an innings. The international series, England versus Wales began in 1908; of about 55 games played to date, Wales have won about two thirds. The game’s greatest handicap is the huge area needed to play it.