Henry Chadwick’s Notes on Setting Up a Base  
Ball Field

On Selection of a Ground

In selecting a suitable ground, there are many points to be taken into
consideration. The ground should be level, and the surface free from all
irregularities, and, if possible, covered with fine turf; if the latter can not be
done, and the soil is gravelly, a loamy soil should be laid down around the
bases, and all the gravel removed therefrom, because, at the bases falls
frequently occur, and on gravelly soil injury, in such cases, will surely result to
both the clothes and body of the player, in the shape of scraped heads, arms,
knees. etc.

The ground should be well rolled, as it adds greatly to the pleasure of playing
to have the whole field smooth and in good order; it will be found that such a
course will fully compensate for the trouble and expense attending it.

The proper size for a ground is about six hundred feet in length, by four
hundred in breadth, although a smaller field will answer. The home base must
be full seventy feet from the head of the field. The space of ground immediately
behind the home base, and occupied by the catcher, should be not only be free
from turf, but the ground should be packed hard and smooth, and free from
gravel. To mark the position for the bases, square blocks of wood or stone
should be placed in the ground, low enough to be level with the surface, at the
base points, to each of which a strong iron staple should be attached. If the
blocks are of stone, have the staples inserted with lead; and if made of wood,
let the staples be screwed in, not driven, for in the latter case they will either
become loose, or ultimately driven into the wood altogether; in either case,
becoming entirely useless.

Measuring the Ground

There are several methods by which the ground may be correctly measured;
the following is as simple as any. Having determined on the point of the home
base, measure from that point, down the field, one hundred and twenty-seven
feet four inches, and the end will indicate the position of the second base; then
take a cord one hundred and eighty feet long, fasten one end at the home base,
and the other at he second, and then grasp it in the center and extend it first
to the right side, which will give the point of the first base, and then to the left,
which will indicate the position of the third; this will give the exact
measurement, as the string will thus form the sides of a square whose side is
ninety feet.

On a line from the home to the second base, and distant from the former forty-
five feet, is the pitcher's point. The foul ball posts are placed on a line with the
home and first base, and home and third, and should be at least one hundred
feet from the bases. As these posts are intended solely to assist the umpire in
his decisions in reference to foul balls, they should be high enough from the
ground, and painted, so as to be distinctly seen from the umpire's position.

The Bases

The bases should be made of the best heavy canvas, and of double thickness,
as there will be much jumping on them with spiked shoes, and if the best
material be not used, it soon wears out. Cotton or sawdust will be the most
suitable filling for the bases, as they will be lighter than if filled with sand, and
consequently easier to carry to and from the field.

The proper size of a base is about fourteen inches by seventeen; but as long as
it covers one square foot of ground, when secured to the base post, the
requirements of the rules will be fulfilled.

The straps with which the bases are held in position, should be made of
harness leather, about one and a half inches wide. They must pass entirely
around the bases, and securely fastened to them. New bases filled with hair
and with patent fastenings have recently been introduced.

Pitcher's Point and Home Base

The location of the pitcher's point and the home base are indicated by means of
iron quoits painted white, and not less than nine inches in diameter. They
should be cast with iron spikes running from the under side to keep them in
place. The line of the pitcher's position should be marked by the insertion in
the ground of a piece of hard wood, six feet long, about two inches wide, and
from six to eight deep. It should be inserted so as the umpire can see it.


By the way, those familiar with the Greek mathematician Pythagoras might
recognize the use of his famous theorem regarding a right triangle.  The 90'
foot base paths between home and first and first and second represent the
sides, and the 127' 4" line between home and second base is the hypotenuse.  
So in a way, we could say that baseball can trace some of its roots to around
500 BC!        
I've taken a few (digital) liberties with this classic Currier and Ives print to
illustrate the method that Mr. Chadwick suggested.  To the final picture,
I've also added base lines, the three foot line at home plate and the twelve
foot line at the pitching point, even though those were not in common use
in the mid 1850s when this image was painted.