Dartball is an American darts game that combines two sports, darts and baseball. Darts are thrown at a large wooden or homasote fibre wallboard, which is similar in composition to papier-mâché that resembles a baseball field. Coloured areas on the board which denote bases. The rules and scoring of for this game are based upon American Baseball.
The configuration of the wooden Dartball board can apparently vary from league to league, but generally, teams comprise either seven or nine players plus possible alternates. Dartball teams are usually formed by churches, often playing their games during autumn and winter months in church common areas or basement.
Like baseball, Dartball games can be very competitive. The opposing team and its supporters may attempt to distract the "batter" with banter as seen on the field of baseball.
Each match consists of three individual nine-inning games, with the exception of tie games in which extra-inning game is played. In leagues, in order for a team to record a win, they must win at least two out of the three individual games. In other leagues, each win or loss in an evening's match is counted in the team's season standings.
The first Dartball board was introduced by the Apex company in 1923. By early 1928, Dartball Leagues had been established (Mon Yough Church Dartball League). It is reported the President of Apex stated; "the sport of Dartball was spread around the country by Johnny Appleseed types, such as Lutheran ministers who would bring their dartboards and their bibles as they moved from one congregation to the next".
On the 31st March 1941, Life magazine ran a story on Dartball stating Philadelphia, Kansas City and Milwaukee as strongholds of the sport.
Unlike the tungsten metal darts used to play steel-tip and soft-tip darts, thee darts used for Dartball are made of wood with real feathers and metal tips. Similar to the darts used in the French game of “Flechettes”
The basic board consists of a four-base diamond: first, second, third, and home plate. Additional areas are marked as a strike, out, ball, error, sacrifice, double play, triple play and hit-by-pitch. The home run tends to be in the very centre of the board. The diamond is surrounded by a six-inch foul line border. The entire playing field is 42 inches squared which includes foul territory area.
Some boards are more complex and consist of out, single, ball, strike, double play, triple play, stolen base, runner off first, runner off base, sacrifice, balk, home run, and walk space(s) around the four-base diamond: first, second, third, and home plate. The home run again tends to be in the very centre of the board and is a circular space with a diameter of around two and a half inches. The home run is surrounded by three singles, two outs, two strikes, and one ball that form a square around the home run. This is where the player wants their dart to be hitting consistently unless they have skill enough to throw for the 2 baggers or 3 baggers!
There are many types of dartboards in regular darts, depending on the tournament and players. This is not the case for Dartball, as their official dartboard has not changed through its history.
The player throwing the darts is known as the "batter". Each dart thrown is the same as a pitch in baseball. Darts may be thrown overhanded, underhanded or both depending on league rules but most seem to use the underhanded throw.
Players throw darts towards the playing field from the pitcher's line at a distance of 25 feet. Where the dart lands on the board determine the outcome of each pitch. The batter continues to throw darts, or bat, until they are safe or out, just like in baseball.
A batter is considered safe if his or her dart lands on first, second, or third base or by any combination of plays that put him safely "on base."
A run is scored when a player advances safely around first, second and third base and returns safely to home plate. A player may score by hitting a home run or by any combination of plays after he is "on base" (first, second, or third base) by subsequent batters getting either base hits or home runs that brings him home.
A player who advances around all of the bases to score is credited with a run (R). While runs scored are considered an important batting statistic, it is regarded as less important than runs batted in (RBIs).
Once the player has concluded his or her turn at batting, the next players on the team follow suit until the team makes three outs. Then the other team has its turn up to bat.
The game concludes at the end of nine innings with the team scoring the most runs winning the game.
Another form of baseball, played on a standard London Clock / Standard dartboard, is called baseball darts. See Standard Dartboard Games
"Baseball Darts" is also the name of a game played on a different type of specialised dartboard of the same size as a standard dartboard.
Games are played with either two or four players. If it is between two players, they play head-to-head. If it is four, the teams of pairs play against each other. The baseball dartboard is designed just like a baseball diamond. There are several sections: Strike, Ball, Hit, Foul, Out, Sacrifice, Stolen Base, Single, Double and Triple. The centre red dot is an automatic three outs and the surrounding area is an automatic hit. Four balls mean a walk and three strikes means an out. The count is reset any time the dart lands on another area such as Hit, Double or Homerun. A player's turn is over if they make three outs. If a dart misses the board, it is considered a foul. Just like real baseball, fouls are considered strikes, but they cannot strike out a player. When playing with two players, each player gets to throw five darts or they get out, whichever comes first.