1860 NABBP Convention
The Rules Committee, chaired by Dr. Daniel Adams of the Knickerbockers, had met in February to make recommendations to the convention on rule
changes, and Adams reported that the committee was unanimously in favor of the fly game. A debate then ensued, with Judge Van Cott supporting the bound version and Dakin and Frank Pidgeon of the Eckfords arguing in favor of the fly game. Thirty-seven delegates voted for the fly game while 55 voted against it. For another year, at least as far as the official rules were concerned, the bound game would be the game of National Association clubs.
There was much dissatisfaction with the result. The press was surprised, for they, particularly Chadwick, considered the fly game superior, “manly” versus the “childish” bound version.4 “That it will ultimately be the rule of the game,” Chadwick wrote afterward, “we have not the slightest doubt, for the poor players cannot always be in the majority in the Convention.”
Adams, a staunch champion of the fly game, was disappointed. One of the chief complaints of Adams and others was that the delegates who voted
on the rules were not representative of the men who actually played the game. “One of our best ball players remarked,” reported the Spirit of the Times, “that if the clubs would send players to the convention instead the rules of the game would be made more satisfactory to the members of the Base Ball fraternity.”
The battle over the fly game would rage for several years, as more and more clubs played it unofficially. The NA ruled by majority vote, and most of the delegates represented clubs that were not that skilled. They preferred the bound game, which was easier to play. If baseball was to become a more serious endeavor, however, its rules needed to require greater skill, and an
organization consisting primarily of clubs that played for recreation was not going to bring the game to that level. It was not until 1865 that the fly game became the official standard for all NA clubs.
“Baseball’s 19th Century ‘Winter’ Meetings, 1857-1900, SABR, 2018
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