This is a most excellent game, and very popular in some of our English counties. It is played with a moderate-sized ball and a hand-bat, i.e. a bat that can be held in one hand, and which is about two feet in length, smooth, and round.
Two parties play at the game, and there ought not to be less than five on a side; and the first innings is decided by throwing up the ball, the party catching it being allowed to go in first.
Rounders playing field
In playing the game, five stones, or stakes (called bases), or, if these be not convenient, as many holes may be made, at about sixteen yards apart, forming the five parts of a pentagon, as in the diagram. At the centre of this figure is a station called the feeder’s place, being the spot at which one of the out party stands to give the ball to the batsman, or to “feed” him, as it is technically termed.
The out party are distributed over the field, except the feeder, who takes his station at F to deliver the balls, while one of the in party takes the bat and places himself at Fig. 1, which is enclosed within a circle, and called the Home, and where all the rest of the in party stand.
The feeder then says “Play,” and delivers his ball to the batsman, who immediately strikes it as far as he can. As soon as he has done so, he drops his bat, and runs to as many of the stations as he can; but he must touch at all, or he will be out. If while he is running to the second, or between any of the bases, the returned ball is sent up and strikes him, he is out, and the next of the in party takes up the bat.
If he is not struck while he runs, as soon as he reaches one of the stations the next of the in party takes up the bat, another ball is given by the feeder, and he runs to the first, or as many other of the stations as he can; the first batsman does the same, so as to go the whole round of the bases to the home at No. 1.
The in player is also out if he tips the ball behind him, or if he misses striking it when delivered. The in players as they arrive at home take the bat again, till they are got out, according to the rules of the game just given. When it happens that all are out but two, the best of the two may, with the consent of the other, call for “three fair hits for the rounder.”
Standing at the home, the feeder then gives him in succession three balls. He may decline as many balls as he pleases, if they do not suit him; but if he strikes at the ball, he is only allowed to do so twice without running. On the delivery of the third ball, he must run the entire course, touching with his bat at every one of the five points.
If, during his progress, he be touched by the ball, or it be grounded at the home while he is absent, he is declared out, and the opposite side go in and take their places. If, on the contrary, he reaches home without being struck or the ball grounded, his side go in again, and continue the game as before.
Should he miss the ball when striking at it the third time, the rounder is lost. In the play the feeder is allowed to make feint or pretence of throwing the ball, in order to tempt a player to run from his base, so as to get a chance of hitting him. It is usual also for the out party to place a player behind the home, so that when a batsman makes a tip on the side of the home, he may seize the ball and strike him out before he reaches the first base.
Excerpt from the book:
EVERY BOY’S BOOK: A COMPLETE ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS.
EDITED BY EDMUND ROUTLEDGE.
With more than Six Hundred Illustrations
FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS.
LONDON: GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE.
NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET.