Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stoolball - the Ealdormere rules

Within the Society for Creative Anachronism (the reenactment group of which I am a part), the regional group which comprises the vast majority of Ontario has apparently revived Stoolball as a common part of their events. This is their reconstruction, which by necessity owes its rules to accounts of stoolball and other safe-haven games from well after the SCA's time period of study (which ends in 1600):
These are the rules as they have been played at events in Ealdormere. It is highly suggested that children and adults do not play stoolball in the same league. A youth only game is acceptable, but from experience on the field it is hard to ensure the safety of the youth while playing a game of stoolball, while stoolball is not a full contact sport, there is a fair amount of incidental contact which does come into play.

The object of the game is to score as many runs as possible. To do this the team at bat must hit the ball thrown by the fielding teams bowler, when they do so they can run from the batting line to the base stool(s) and then back to the home stool, the batter can then run back around the base stool(s) and back to home if they have not been called out (how to call out a batter will be covered in its own section below). The fielding teams objective is to get the batter out before they score runs. Fielders do NOT use baseball gloves. By tradition stoolball is a co-ed game, women and men play together.

Rule Debate
Before each game officially begins a Rule Debate will take place between team managers to agree upon the set rules the game will be played under. If the managers cannot come to an accord on any given rule then it shall be settled by a game of chance, this can be flip of a quarter, roll dice, rock paper scissors, whatever works. Once the Rule Debate has taken place the agreed upon rules can (should?) be announced by a Herald (or someone with a loud voice).

Each team must have at least three players present or they forfeit the game. A maximum of 10 players per team is recommended.
Each team must have at least three players each. Each team will only play as many players as the lowest number team, for example if one team has three players and the other has ten then both teams will only play three players per inning. The teams can agree upon a lower number of players so they can have alternates on the bench. This must be decided on between team managers during the Rule Debate.

Stoolball has three basic position, the fielding team consists of several fielders and a bowler. The defending team has only one batter on the field at a time.

Like modern baseball stoolball has innings. An inning lasts for an entire rotation through the roster. Each player gets a turn at bat during an inning. If there are alternates available on a team it would be acceptable to have some who only field and some who only bat, otherwise every player must take their turn at bat.

The Bowler must stand close to the base stool. The bowler must throw underhanded. All throws must at least make it to the batter line without touching the ground to be a valid bowl. The bowler's objective is to hit the home stool, if he does so the batter is out and the next batter approaches the batter's line, or if all batter's have been at bat the inning is over. Batter is out: To get a batter out the fielding team must get the ball and throw the ball at the home stool from the base side of the batters line. If they do so the batter is out. Optionally the managers can agree on the Soak 'em Rule, which will be covered later.

Batter must stand on the batting line. There are no balls, fowls, or strikes. The batter can take as many swings as they need to as long as the ball hasn't hit the home stool. Any contact of the bat with the ball is a valid hit, once the ball his hit the batter must run from the batter's line around the base stool(s) in the manner agreed upon by the managers during the Rules Debate.

Field Layout
This can be agreed upon by the managers during the Rules Debate. Any number of stools, but there can only be one home stool, and must at least be one base stool. Stoolball can be played with one, two, three, or more base stools.
Something must be used to mark the batters line, it can be some rope, or scrap cloth, anything that won't trip the runners but still clearly mark the line. The batters line should be 6 feet from the home stool. The rest of the stools can be laid out according to how the managers agree, but it is recommend that one stool be set 30 feet from the batters line in a straight line between the home stool and the batters line (so a total of at least 36 feet is required).

Common Period Optional Rules
- Soak 'em Rule, the fielding team may tag out the batter by hitting the batter with the ball, throwing it or tagging them. The fielder must be on the base stool side of the batters line.
- Retaliation Rule, when the team at bat takes the field, if the bowler picks up the ball before the fielding team has cleared the field the previous fielding team looses their turn at bat.
- Brave Batter Rule, batter must hit the ball with his bare hands instead of a bat - Stop Running Rule, Batters can stop at bases similar to baseball
Other rules can be invented on site, as long as the managers agree upon the rules.

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