The Durand Rules are a set of rules that all professional and semi-professional Baseball competitions adhere to throughout the Southern Union. The rules differ slightly from Major League Baseball in the United States, but in general share the same basic game play.
Professional leagues in the Southern Union had wildly varying rules, with many competitions changing rules from year-to-year which caused great unrest amongst players, fans and especially team owners.
By 1901, all competitions in Koana Islands and Ianoia attempted to follow the National League and American League rulebooks in the United States, whilst Günsovölk and Houtmansland refused and stuck with their own rulebooks. Team owners from all countries voiced their concerns about various rules, with a push for a united rule book to be used by all leagues throughout the Southern Union.
In early-1903, Albaland business owner Tadd Steward proposed a tournament amongst the 8 nations of the Southern Union with players representing their country with the first tournament to be held in November of the same year. His idea of running a competition during the off-season had a lukewarm reaction from club owners who felt until one rulebook was decided upon, an international tournament would not be viable. Steward set about travelling between all four professional leagues of the time – the Super Ligan, Baseball Meisterschaft, I-League and Topklasse Divise – sampling the differences in the rule books being used and forming his own rule book by cherry picking his favourite rules from each.
On the 23rd July 1903, Steward organised a meeting for all team owners of every professional club to attend his house in Rigside, Albaland, to debate a united set of rules and potentially implement an international tournament. Of the 54 clubs invited, 50 attended the meeting.
Steward’s first draft of the rulebook was negatively received; containing many features that were not used in any professional competition such as draws/ties after 9 innings which caused acrimonious division between the “draws” and “no draws” clubs. The meeting was dominated by the “no draws” clubs and afterwards many publicly accused Steward of managing the meeting improperly to prevent the “no draws” rules being adopted.
With the meeting resolving very little, Steward once again set about another meeting, this time on the 12th of October 1903 at the Durand Insurance Building in Sandwick, Albaland to settle the rules once and for all. He even made travel arrangements for all club owners out of his own pocket.
By a narrow margin, the “draws” clubs were successful after BV Küstestadt owner Nico Segrt spoke passionately about the frustration of Sunday games continuing on Monday after bad light stopped play, leaving spectators disappointed at not getting a result.
Whilst some “no draws” clubs remained vehemently opposed to the change, the Durand Rules were officially adopted for the 1904 season onwards.
Since then, rules added or amended tended to follow professional baseball in the United States, with rules like the foul strike rule being adopted in 1906. In 1909 the sacrifice fly rule was adopted, and in 1911 cork centres were added to balls. In 1969, the pitcher’s mound dropped five inches and the strike zone reduced: from the armpits to the top of the knees.
Some rules that were never added included the designated hitter rule and a ball that bounced over the outfield fence in fair territory remained a home run, not a double.
The sport within the Southern Union differs in a number of ways from the internationally known game of North American baseball.
- If a home run is scored hitting the ball over the outfield fence, neither the batter or any baserunners need to touch the bases. This is the most obvious difference when watching a game as players tend to celebrate akin to scoring a goal in association football.
- A ball bouncing over the outfield fence is a home run.
- Games can end in a draw after 9 innings. If the home team (batting last) is winning the game in the middle of the 9th, they will still bat, as run differential is used to rank the teams in the standings. In the event the game cannot finish as a draw for tournament purposes, a half inning will be played until the losing team fails to tie the score or take the lead themselves.
- Players can receive yellow or red cards for rule infringements. These include but are not limited to: deliberately throwing at the batter or base-runner, fighting, aggressive base running and taunting.
- Teams may use up to 12 field position players in the batting line-up, but each batter must wait at least 8 at-bats before they can bat again. Players who pitch during the game are not included in the 12.
- Games still take place in rain, and following the invention of the pink ball in 1979, snow.
- Teams can only have one uniform in their teams colours. Prior to 1974, teams wearing near identical uniforms would wear a black or white bib over the jersey to help distinguish the teams, with the home team wearing the white bib. When sponsorship started to appear on jerseys in 1975, a rule change was made that teams must have two alternates, an all black and an all white uniform. By 1992, teams were allowed to place logos and sponsorship on the alternates, but only in black or white.