The written and unwritten rules of “Five Dollar Baseball”

By Joel Penhorwood, Ohio Ag Net

Playing sports with family seems to be an undervalued commodity in the marketplace of life these days. Athletics themselves — their competitiveness, sweat equity, failure, success — create a bond among contenders found few other places.

Today, we look at a fun backyard game my family and I recently found ourselves playing while celebrating Easter — part baseball, part football, and all fun. Not sure if it has an official name, but we know it simply as “Five Dollar.”

Growing up as farm kids, we’ve found an open pasture or open farm field seem to be the best places to play such a game. You might remember a similar game played amongst your own family in years gone by.

Note: Five Dollar Baseball is not an illegal action Pete Rose was accused of in the  80s.

Equipment needed:

  • 3+ people
  • Baseball
  • Baseball bat
  • Baseball gloves
  • Courage
  • Skill (optional)
  • Brass knuckles (just kidding)

IMG_9158Official rules:

The game consists of one batter and a varying number of catchers in field. The batter is decided by who ate too much at dinner and is able to move the least at the onset of the competition.

The goal of each round is to arrive at the score of five dollars (hence the name) and be promoted to official batter, rotating until the sun goes down or so many players have been hurt that further play is impossible.

The batter hits the ball in whatever manner they like towards the fielders. The catchers, as their names imply, attempt to catch the ball. Each catch has a dollar value and the first to five dollars “wins” the round. AKA, they get to become the next person at bat. It should be noted that though the game uses dollars as the basis of its point system, no actual currency is exchanged.

IMG_9233Unlike the popular game of Jackpot, the value of each catch does not vary by what the batter announces. With that said, the value of each ball does differ by when it is caught. If the ball is caught before hitting the ground, the catcher receives a dollar. If the ball bounces on the ground once before it is caught, the value drops to 75 cents. If the ball bounces twice, the value drops to 50 cents. And if the ball is caught after bouncing three or more times, or if the ball is rolling quickly, the value is at 25 cents to the catcher.

At which point the ball comes to a slow roll or stops completely before being picked up in the glove of a catcher, the ball is referred to as dead and has no monetary value. The person who runs out to get said ball has no gain whatsoever and is subsequently referred to as a goober and laughed at.

Quality of play is also a factor in the game. Each time a catch of a fly ball (that hasn’t hit the ground yet) is attempted, and the ball makes contact with the glove of a catcher but isn’t actually caught, the player is deducted one dollar from their ‘account.’ This would be another instance in which laughter by opponents would be acceptable.

And now for the unofficial rules:

IMG_9165This is a full contact sport. One should not enter the playing field if they have reservations against a possible visit to the hospital. Broken arms, noses, open wounds, etc. have been known to happen.

It is acceptable to disrupt an opponent attempting to catch the ball. In fact, the action is encouraged. This can be done with audio cues such as screaming nonsensical jargon, or yelling “got it” when you’re in fact on the other side of the field. Disruption can also happen physically through an elbow to the face, a glove to the groin, or using your opponent as a pushing off point to get above their heads and to the ball first.

The field of play is often recommended to be an open lawn with well-cut grass. This can be substituted with a dangerous tall grassy field or even a gravel driveway, though they aren’t recommended.

The biggest rule:

Competitors must have fun at all times. This is a silly game called Five Dollar Baseball, not the World Series.

(Photos courtesy of Terri Penhorwood)

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One comment

  1. Back in the 1960’s in Richmond Heights OH we played 3-Dollars. Pretty much the same rules as 5-Dollars but maybe gave more people the chance to be the batter. It was a great game that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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