HISTORY AND RULES OF CHAIR BASEBALL

Chair baseball has been played at Corklestick Park in Robinson, Illinois for nearly 10 years now, however, in the past six  years it has seen enormous growth and popularity. In the summer of 1998, Commissioner Patrick Cork decided it was time to take chair baseball to the next level. With the help of several loyal followers, the league has jumped onto the national scene as one of the top baseball leagues in America. With the emergence of chair baseball's popularity, the league was forced to begin keeping statistics for each individual that plays so the fans could get accurate readings on their favorite players. The Chair Baseball front offices are currently working on a database that will list each player's year-by-year statistics. So far the league has several player profiles for the veterans that can be found by clicking here. The league is also looking to begin a fantasy league of their own that should appear on yahoo sports, cbs.sportsline, and espn.sportszone in the near future.

The rules are very similar to regular baseball, but no base running is involved. Tennis balls are used instead of baseballs, and each team is made up of three players (one pitcher and two outfielders). The strike zone is a square board that is placed on the handles of a lawn chair. The field is divided into different sections with the farther sections being worth more bases (single, double, triple, homerun - click here for the dimensions). Any ball that is caught in the air is an out. However, if the ball is not caught, wherever the ball hits the ground first determines the number of bases the hitter is awarded. The defense does have a chance on every play to get the batter out. If they are able to throw the ball from the spot of first contact with the ground and hit any part of the chair (bounces included), the batter is out. This means it is possible for a batter to hit a ball past the homerun line and still be thrown out. Each team receives three outs per inning and all games are 9 innings long (doubleheaders are a very common occurrence). Another interesting feature in chair baseball is that every player must hit because there are no walks. Instead of 4 balls equaling a walk, 6 balls thrown takes off a strike. For example, if the count is 5-1 and a ball is thrown, the new count becomes 0-0 (the balls reset to 0 and one strike is taken away). This encourages every player to be a hitter. A couple of defensive rules are also used. There has to be one player on each side of the pitcher's mound when the ball is pitched, however once the ball is thrown a player can move anywhere on the field with one exception. An outfielder may not enter the road to catch a homerun ball at any time. If his momentum carries him into the road after a catch, the catch is disallowed and he must try to throw the batter out. Also, all outfielders must start no farther back than the triple line (the middle one). In right field, a player may not start inside of the dog's pen, however, once the ball is hit the player may enter the pen to make a catch.

The evolution of the Chair Baseball chair reached a new high on June 15, 2003 when the first custom-built chair, built by Gary Crampton, made it's debut in a game.  The new chair provides a more accurate strike zone of 30 inches in height and 24 inches in width.  Prior to the new chair, officials estimated that the league had gone through between 3 and 5 chairs over the past 6 years.  Shown below is a timeline of some of chair baseball's past chairs.

This chair was in use for Chair Baseball's first official season and lasted from 1998 until 2000 (over 100 games) when it was stolen from the field.  It was never recovered.  It measured 22 inches in height and 24 inches in width. This chair was used at the end of the 2000 season through the 2002 season and measured 24x24 (just 20 inches wide at the bottom because of the handles).  It's left arm rest was shattered by Ryan Tomlinson in it's first season, but still managed to last through 50+ games.  It saw Opening Day in 2003 before being retired. The new, custom-built chair.  The new chair measures 30 inches in height and 24 inches in width.  The height can be adjusted up to 3 inches by moving the clamps in the four corners.  With a steel frame and thick wood, the chair is virtually indestructible.  The new chair made it's debut on June 15, 2003.

**For all your woodworking needs, contact Gary Crampton in Robinson, Illinois!

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