Baseball is known as America's game, but it is growing rapidly and gaining popularity in countries all over the world. Baseball is popular in Japan, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and many more. If you are going to your first baseball game, you'll want to read up on these basic 101 rules for how the game works. We tried to keep it as short as possible, so you can understand the basics of the game.
Baseball games consist of innings. An inning has both a top-half and bottom-half where teams switch off from playing defense (fielding) and offense (batting). In Major League Baseball, the games last nine innings. The team with the most runs at the end of the ninth inning is the winner. If the score is tied, additional innings can be played called extra innings. The pace of baseball game is often said to be slower than other sports. The reason being is that there are no clocks that keep track of time. In fact, baseball games can technically last forever if the score remains tied at the end of nine innings.
Each half-inning ends and the teams switch from offense to defense (and vice versa) when three outs are made. An out is a concept in baseball where the Umpire will remove a batter or base runner from the field if they get "out". So, what are the ways to get out in baseball? There are lots of ways to get out in baseball.
A base runner is tagged with the ball.
A base runner illegally runs past another base runner out of order.
A base runner fails to tag up.
There are nine positions in baseball called the pitcher, catcher, 1st baseman, 2nd baseman, 3rd baseman, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder. Each player is responsible for fielding a different area of the field. For example, the outfielders are stationed in the outfield, while the infielders are positioned in the infield. The most important players you should know are called the pitcher and catcher. The pitcher is responsible for throwing pitches the catcher that players on offense, called batters, try to hit with a bat. The catcher will attempt to catch any pitch that the batters fail to hit.
There isn't a lot of equipment needed to play baseball. Technically, you only need a field, the ball, a bat, and gloves for the fielders. However, in Major League Baseball, teams have every advantage. The sport's claim to faim has to be the baseball cap. Every player wears one when they get on the field. It's such a big part of the game, that fans line up at concessions to get their favorite team's hat. Jerseys are also a big part of the identity of a team. Every team in the MLB has their own jersey and uniform that features a logo and specific colors. One of the coolest things about baseball is that you don't need a lot of equipment to play the game.
Fielding is one of the most important parts of the game. The team on defense is standing at various parts of field. For example, the baseman stands near first base, second base, and third base. The outfielders stand in the center field, right field, and left field. Every fielder is equipped with a glove and uses it to catch any flyball that lands in their part of the field. Anytime a fielder catches the ball out of the air before it touches the ground, an out is recorded by the Umpire. After three outs, the half-inning is over.
We already discussed the pitcher. The pitcher is a fielder who throws the ball to the catcher in hopes of getting the batter out. The act of throwing the ball is called pitching. There are rules in baseball for how the pitcher can pitch. For example, pitchers must use one of two legal throwing motions called the set position and windup position. Any time a pitcher illegally throws a pitch it is called a balk.
On every pitch, the batter either gets a strike or a ball, which is recorded by the umpire based on the strike zone. The number of balls and strikes for the current batter is called the count. The count resets after every at-bat.
The pitcher holds the ball, picks a type of pitch and delivers it to the batter up at-bat. The defense wants to make an out. They only need three to end the half inning and switch the roles on the field.
The team that is one offense is at-bat, often called batting. Based on a lineup card, the order in which the players bat, one person at a time steps up to the plate with the goal of hitting the pitch. Batters stand in the batter's box, an area of the field directly outside of home plate. The Umpire stands behind him and will call pitches that the batter chooses not to hit as strikes and balls based on something called the strike zone. If the batter gets three strikes during his at-bat, he will be called out of the game. If the batter is successful at hitting a pitch into fair territory, he becomes a base runner and must get to first base to be called safe. At any point, the batter can be tagged out by a fielder with the ball.
When a batter steps into the batters' box his goal is to earn runs for his team. He wants to hit the ball out of the park for a home run, arrive safely on base, or bring a runner that's already on base back to home for a run.
Getting on base requires a batter to successfully hit the ball pitched to him by the pitcher. Armed with a wooden bat, the batter can either be walked, get a single, double, triple, or a home run. A walk is when a batter earns the right to an automatic base. Walks happen when a player is either hit with the ball while at bat or if he earns four balls. A single is a hit that earns the batter first base. A double is a hit that earns that batter second base. A triple is a hit that earns the batter third base. Finally, a home run is a hit that earns the batter an instant run.
Base Running and Scoring
The objective of the game of baseball is to score runs. A run is worth one point and requires a base runner on offense to run and tag each base with his foot in order. A base runner does not score a run if they miss a base or they run the bases out-of-order. The order must be first base, second base, third base, home plate. Batters become base runners when they hit the ball or are walked.
The offense has to have its batter become a runner and that runner must advance the bases. Players begin at home base where their time at bat determines whether or not they become a runner. Believe it or not, there are strict rules in the MLB rulebook that dictate how a player runs the bases.
There are a few penalties you should know that may happen during a game. First and foremost, fighting is not allowed in baseball. If players join a brawl and fight each other, they will be ejected from the game. A classic example is when a batter is deliberately hit with a pitch thrown by the pitcher. Sometimes, the batter, in the heat of the moment, may charge the mound and attempt to fight the pitcher. Charging the mound may lead to a brawl between players on both teams.
Another penalty in baseball is called interference. There are lots of types of interference. For example, the catcher can not interfere with the batters ability to hit a ball. Likewise, a fielder can not interfere with a base runners attempt to advance the bases. If interference is called by the Umpire, anything that happens in the play as a result of that interference will be discounted.
Baseball 101 Tutorials
If you'd like to learn more about baseball, we've created a set of tutorials that will explain each topic in more detail. You can also access the full list of tutorials on the sidebar.
- The Field
- Field Lines
- Field Dimensions
- Field Components
- Equipment List
- First Baseman
- Second Baseman
- Third Baseman
- Left Fielders
- Center Fielders
- Right Fielders
- Batting Stances
- Home Runs
- Hitter Types
- Hit Types
- Ground Balls
- Relief Pitchers
- Pitch Types
- Common Penalties