1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Rounders
ROUNDERS, an English ball game, probably dating from the 18th -century, but not attaining to any popularity before 1800. It was the immediate ancestor of Baseball (q.v.). Up to the year 1889 no special code of rules existed, but the game was played on the green, the field being marked out in a regular pentagon by five bases about 15 or 20 yds. apart, called respectively home-base (at which the striker stood), 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and 4th base. The feeder, or bowler, stood in the middle of the pentagon and tossed the ball, which was softer than a cricket ball, to the striker, who with a round club, often a cricket stump, endeavoured to hit it as far out of the reach of the fielders as possible, a run being scored when the striker made the circuit of the bases without being put out. Almost any number of players could form a side, and the batsman would be retired when a batted ball was caught on the fly or first bounce, or when he was struck by having the ball thrown at him while running between bases. Rounders in its primitive form was more of a romp than a regular game, but it experienced a revival in Scotland and the north of England about the year 1889, when two governing bodies were formed, the National Rounders Association of Liverpool and Vicinity and the Scottish Rounders Association. These, with the later Gloucester Rounders Association, drew up the rules now recognized.
A hard ball similar to that used in baseball was adopted, and the rule by which a runner could be put out by hitting him with a thrown ball abandoned, The bat must not exceed 31⁄2 in. in diameter nor 35 in. in length. The game is similar to baseball, but there are several important differences, the most radical being that the ball may be hit in any direction, as at cricket. The original pentagon has been discarded in favour of an elongated diamond, the home-base being at one end and 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases at the other oints, while the 4th base is situated on the line of 3rd base towards home and 17 yds. from the former, the sides of the diamond being 22 yds. in length. The bowler stands in a space marked off in the centre of the diamond and tosses the ball to the batsman, who must hit at every “good” ball, i.e. one that is straight over the home-base and between head and knee. Two bad balls score one for the batsman. If the latter hits the ball he must run to 1st base and then 2nd, and so on round to home again, resting at any base; but he may be put out if the batted ball be caught on the fly or first bounce or the backstop (wicket-keeper in cricket) catch a ball struck at but not hit, or the batsman be touched with a ball while running between bases. Ten players constitute a side and three innings a piece are played, every player batting once in each innings. Each base made counts one. The backstop is placed directly behind the batsman, and behind the backstop are placed 1st cover (right), longstop (middle), and 4th cover (left). The 1st, 2nd and 3rd basemen are stationed at the bases, while behind them in the field are placed the 2nd cover (right), centre cover and 3rd cover (left). The bases are designated by light wooden posts. An umpire presides over the game. A variation of rounders is Fieldball, invented in 1888, a combination of rounders and cricket, a wicket being placed in front of the backstop, and the four bases arranged in a circle 25 yds. distant from each other. The bat and ball are similar to those used in baseball. Another variation is called Baseball Rounders, which was invented in 1889 and is practically the same as baseball.