Ah, you've got the idea! What next?
Dividing the deck
Taking the Field
Sample Half-Inning
Special Rules
Optional Rules
Rules Without a Home
Why Did I Lose?


The first thing to do is to divide the deck into two parts: a defensive deck and an offensive deck. The defensive deck consists of these 22 cards:

The Fan
The Base Stealer
The Official Scorer
The Owner
The Manager
The Commissioner
Spring Training
The All-Star Break
The World Series
The Winter Meetings
The Round Tripper
The Force Out
The Suspension
The Showers
The Bullpen
The Bleachers
The On-Deck Batter
The Night Game
The Doubleheader
The Umpire
The Ball Girl
   (Rollover card names to see each defensive card.)

The remaining 56 cards make up the offensive deck. The offensive cards consist of 4 different suits (Bats, Balls, Gloves and Bases) with 13 cards in each suit (Ace-10, Rookie, Veteran, All-Star). In addition, there are 4 special wildcards: The Whiff, The Beanball, The Pickoff and The Circus Catch.

Once the cards have been divided into a Defensive and Offensive deck, each part should be briskly shuffled. Shuffling is an important aspect of this game, and should be done only when called for by the rules.

To begin a game, each player must draw a card from the Defensive deck. The player drawing the card with a higher value will be the Home team, and his/her opponent is the Visiting team.

The Home player takes the shuffled Offensive deck and deals it out face-down, giving a card to the Visitor and then to him/herself, alternately, until all 56 cards are distributed.

At this point, there should be three different piles of cards: one 22 card pile for the Defense (which will be used by both teams) and two, separate 28 card piles. These latter two constitute the Offensive decks for each team for the duration of the game. At no time will the teams trade cards, and at no time may the players review the cards in their decks! This would eliminate the element of suspense from the game and greatly detract from the excitement.

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The game should be played on a relatively large, flat surface, with the players sitting side by side. A game is begun with the Home team taking the field. To do this, the Home team takes the Defensive deck (22 cards) and, after shuffling, places 9 cards face-up on the playing surface in the following formation and in the following order:

Imagine the defensive deck being laid out over a playing field. Turn over the first card and place it face-up at the pitcher's position. Then do the same for the catcher, the first baseman, and so on, until all nine defensive cards have taken the field.

It is imperative that the cards be placed by the player in the field in the specific order described in the illustration above. Any deviation from this order would constitute a forfeit of the game.

The view of the defensive alignment (above) for both players should be similar to that seen from two adjoining seats high behind home plate.

Once these 9 defensive cards are positioned, the remaining 13 should be placed face-down near the defensive team's side of the field (the dugout). These 13 cards should not be shuffled, as some of them may yet be used in the inning.

Now the Visiting team comes to bat, taking his/her shuffled Offensive deck face-down and turning over the top card next to the catcher card. Every card that the batting player turns over will result in some kind of an at-bat; a hit or an out, with very few exceptions noted later. The Offensive Card Hitting Chart can be used as a guide to the result of each at-bat, but after a few games these results are easily memorized.

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(Interpreting the meaning of each Offensive Card)

Certain cards, when they come up as an at-bat, have unalterable results. These are the Ace, Deuce, Three and Four of each suit, and the four special wildcards: The Whiff, The Beanball, The Pickoff and The Circus Catch. For instance, The Four of Bases always indicates a home run, while The Whiff always means a strikeout (with one exception, see The Fan as pitcher).

The remaining cards in each Offensive deck may result in fabulous hits or cheap outs, depending on their strength and direction. Both of these qualities are derived from the numeric value of the drawn offensive card (5-10, Rookie = 11, Veteran = 12, All Star =13).

As you read this section, notice that in this game, a tie goes to the fielder.

If a 5 of any suit comes up as the card at-bat, this indicates a ball hit to the pitcher. It will result in a single if the defensive card at the pitcher's position has a value lower than 5.

Similarly, a 6 means a ball hit to the catcher, a 7 goes to first base, an 8 to second, a 9 to third and a 10 to the shortstop. In each case, if the offensive card's value is greater than the value of the defensive card at that position, then the result is a base hit (see Base Cards about hits past the first or third baseman).

If the offensive and defensive cards involved are of equal value, or the defensive card's value is higher than that of the offensive card, the result is an out (see The Fan with regard to this).

A picture card (a Rookie, Veteran or All Star) of any suit indicates a ball hit to the outfield. A Rookie (value 11) means a ball hit to left field. If the defensive card in left has a value lower than 11, then the result is a single (see Base Cards/Rookie of Bases, however). If the defensive card's value is 11 or higher, then the result is a fly out.

A Veteran (value 12) means a ball hit to center field. If the defensive card in center is lower than 12, then the result is a double (see Base Cards/Veteran of Bases).If the defensive card's value is 12 or higher, then the result is a fly out.

An All Star (value 13) means a ball hit to right field. If the defensive card in right is lower than 13, then the result is a home run. (When the All Star of Bases is the card at bat in this situation, it's considered an inside-the-park home run, and the team at bat will probably choose to whoop it up a bit.) If the defensive card's value is 13 or higher, then the result is a fly out.

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We will now run through a sample half-inning of play to show how the offense and the defense work in different situations.

The inning is begun by having one player take the field, laying out nine cards from the shuffled defensive deck in the manner described above. And here's what Fate decreed:

Well-protected at the corners, but some weaknesses up the middle. The pitcher card's value of 3 won't stop a hit back through the box. The catcher, shortstop and the centerfielder are all also too weak to prevent hits. It's moderately porous.

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First Batter

The offensive player turns over the top card of his/her shuffled offensive deck and places it next to the catcher. It is the Six of Balls.

The Offensive Card Hitting Chart is now consulted and it is seen that a Six of any suit goes to the catcher.

The value of the catcher card is compared with the Six. The card at the catcher's position is the #5 card, The Commissioner:

Since 6 is greater than 5, the result is a hit. If the catcher card had a value of 6 or higher, the result would have been an out. This was probably a bunt, or at least a weakly hit ball, since the catcher is doing the fielding.

The Six of Balls, having squibbed a single, is moved to first base.

At this point, an exclamation of delight may escape from the offensive team, and the defensive team may well mutter vile oaths. Game-long chatter is unavoidable, with much cheering and groaning to accompany certain events.

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Continuing the example...


Since a runner has reached base in this inning, a switch of any two cards in the field and one replacement from the 13 defensive cards in the dugout are allowed. This switching and subbing is done in an attempt to fix any weaknesses in the defense. As the rules become familiar, the strategies involved in strengthening the defense become better understood.

Two defensive cards are switched in the field for better defense.

In our example, the #9 card (The Winter Meetings) is moved from centerfield to 3rd base, trading places with the #14 card (Beer). This protects the centerfield position against the possible appearance of a Veteran (value of 12) in the inning, while keeping the value of the third baseman high enough to prevent any hits there (a Nine of any suit means a ball hit to third, and a tie in value goes to the fielder). No further switches will be allowed this inning, but one substitution may still be made.

To sub, the team in the field first declares which card in the field will be replaced. Then the top card from the 13 remaining defensive cards is taken from the dugout and turned over on top of the card to be replaced.

The top card from the dugout is taken and turned over atop the card being replaced.

In the example, the team in the field subs for the #4 card (The Manager) at the shortstop position. The substitute turns out to be the #21 card (The Ball Girl), which would strengthen any postion (a Ten of any suit means a ball hit to short, and 21 is higher than 10). Once a substitution is declared, it must be made, even if a weaker card turns up as the sub.

NEW! October, 2015 -- This is an alternative rule suggested to us at The National Baseball Hall of Fame by a young man named PJ (PJ -- if you're out there and would like to be fully identified, contact us and let us know!): The value of the substitute card is added to the value of the card already at that position. In this example, there's no effect, since the Ball Girl card's value is already so high. Imagine instead that the World Series (the #8 card) came up as the substitution. The value of the shortstop position would have been 4+8, or 12, which would protect against any ball hit to short, whereas the 8 would not have offered any better protection than the 4. This is clearly an advantage for the defensive team. When you play, it should be agreed up front whether or not PJ's rule is in effect for the game.

Now that one switch and one substitution have been made, no further switching or subbing may be done in this inning. The subbing may be also be done before the switching, or either may be done alone. If the defensive player forgets to do either (woeful blunder), he/she may do them after any subsequent batter in the inning (see The Fan)

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Second Batter

Now with no outs and a runner at first base, the second batter comes up. The team at bat turns over the next offensive card, which in this case is the Ace of Bats. The chart shows that the Ace of Bats is always a sacrifice.

Here, with a runner on first, it is a sacrifice bunt. With a runner on third, it would have counted as a sacrifice fly, and a run would have scored. Had there been no runner, it would have been an infield out.

The next card from the top of the batting team's offensive deck is turned over as the second batter of the inning. (It doesn't matter whether the card at bat is placed to the left or the right of the catcher. Feel free to mix it up, if you deal that way.)

The Six of Balls is moved to second base and the Ace of Bats is retired. A card that has been retired is placed face-down near the third or first base side, whichever is closer to the player currently at bat. In this way, the number of outs in an inning can be seen at any point.

Likewise, any runs that score are placed face-up near the outs stack. In this way, the number of runs that have already scored in an inning can also be seen.

The Six of Balls is at second; the Ace of Bats is retired.

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Third Batter

The third card turned over in this example is the Veteran of Gloves. The chart shows that a Veteran has a value of 12 and indicates a ball hit to centerfield.

The Veteran of Gloves hits a fly ball to center (he always does)... and in this case, is retired for the second out.

Because of the switch made earlier by the defensive team, the centerfielder has a value of 14, and the Veteran is retired on a long fly to center. The Six of Balls remains at second, there are now two outs, and the defensive player can allow him/herself a managerial spit of satisfaction.

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Fourth Batter

The batting team now turns over the fourth card of the inning. It is the Deuce or Two of Bases. The Deuce of Bases always indicates a double, as can be seen on the chart.

Any runners on base advance as many bases as the hitter (see Base Cards).

The Deuce of Bases is always a double, regardless of the defensive cards in the field.

With the two-base hit, the runner on second also takes two bases and scores. The Deuce of Bases slides into second and stands up, calmly dusting off its uniform.

The Six of Balls is laid face-up near the field, to show that a run has scored this inning.

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Fifth Batter

The next offensive card is turned over. It is the Nine of Gloves. The chart shows that a Nine of any suit means a ball hit to third. The defensive card at third base is #9 (The Winter Meetings), put there by the switch earlier in the inning.

Both offensive and defensive card values are 9, and since a tie goes to the fielder in this game, the Nine of Gloves is retired, third to first.

The Nine of Gloves grounds out to third. (It could as well have been a line out or pop out - the defensive player may decide.)

End of Inning

Once the side is retired, the retired team gathers all the cards left on base, the cards in the outs stack and any cards in the runs stack. These are combined with the rest of the team's offensive cards and reshuffled thoroughly. The same player then gathers all of the used and unused defensive cards from this inning, shuffles them and takes the field.


The game then continues in this manner for nine innings, or more if the teams are tied at that point, as in major league play.


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The Fan

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Base Cards (Fast Runners)

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These optional rules may be used by more experienced, baseball-savvy players.

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