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Sandlot Baseball – When in New Hampshire, Keep Your Foot on the Bag…

June 30, 2010

Big O of Connecticut was kind enough to share some of his memories of playing sandlot baseball in New Hampshire during the early 1960s. In addition to describing how his gang tossed for teams, Olin discussed the dangerous “Indian Rubber Rules” employed by those “Live Free or Die” boys of summer. His memories:

“Though not exactly mirroring my early sixties, New Hampshire childhood, many of the observations that you have shared, have, on more than one occasion, invoked pleasant memories and tears of nostalgia. A memory that I’d like to share with you is one of “tossing” for teams,” a ritual performed by the two team captains. One would toss the bat, vertically, to the other who would catch it with one hand. Then they would alternate, one hand atop the other, until they reached the knob. Topsies was the unscrupulous act of trying to usurp the 1st pick by cupping the knob of the bat in your fingertips (palm-side down) on top of the 3-finger maneuver. This ploy usually got you punched in the arm for being a jerk-wad.”

“The person who ended with his hand closest to the knob end got to select the 1st player. Of course, during this selection process, when it got down to the last few players (the “sure” outs), negotiations would be made and one team always got stuck, resulting in many games being played with lop-sided teams such as 3 on 5 or 4 on 6.”

“Positions would be filled in this order:  pitcher, outfielder, infielder (ss), 1st base, 3rd base or 2nd outfielder …. There was never a catcher (no equipment)…. thus, no stealing.  Leading off the base was okay but was always subject to the dangers of the dreaded Indian Rubber Rules.”

“This perilous rule allowed the defensive player to throw the ball at the base-runner, rather than apply the tag. Often, the ‘dance’ between fielder and runner would mimic something akin to dodge-ball, and, on occasion, a runner would cower to the ground, allowing the fielder to simply run over and apply the tag (or get real close, before whipping the ball at him… depending as much  on, perhaps, how HARD you were tagged out the previous inning). Many times a hitter would be allowed to stretch a double into a triple, or even a home-run, just for the ‘privilege’ of having the opportunity to hit him with a real hard throw. Once, safely on-base, the runner could not be thrown at – unless, of course, his foot came off the bag…”

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  1. Nice work, Rich! Enjoy your blog. Keep up the great work!

  2. Thanks, Cooperstownincanada!

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