What is Baseball?

baseball

Baseball is a sport founded in the US that is called "America's Pastime." The sport was created around the 1840's and has been around ever since. The sport is played with two teams of nine players who take turns batting and fielding. Today, the highest baseball league in the world is Major League Baseball (MLB) which has 30 teams total, 1 in Canada and 29 in the US. Baseball is also played in Japan, China, Korea, the Domincan Republic, and other countries. The sport has been in and out of the Olympics but is supposed to return in 2021.


History

baseball history

Baseball has been around since the American Civil War. It's loosely based on the British game "rounders." The first known baseball team was started in 1845 but it didn't start to grow in popularity until the late 19th century. Baseball really started to bloom in the early 1900s. Babe Ruth "saved" baseball in 1920 when he came in and started hitting more home runs as an individual than entire teams were. Another significant piece of history came in in 1947 when Jackie Robinson became the first African American person to play in the MLB.

Playing Surface

Baseball Field

Baseball is a unique sport because the dimensions of the field change from stadium to stadium. There are some measurements that are standardized though. In the MLB the distance between the four bases has to be 90 feet. The pitcher's rubber has to be 60 feet 6 inches from the front of home plate. The size of the mound, bases, infield, home plate circle are also standardized. However, the outfield and foul territory depend on the stadium. This can help, or hurt, the home team. Yankee Stadium is famously a "hitters ballpark" because of shallow outfield walls, especially in right field. No A's player has won a batting title, partially because of the big foul territory at the Oakland Coliseum.

Equipment

Baseball Equipment List

The most simple baseball equipment is a ball, a bat, and a glove. That's all you need to play basic baseball with your friends.

If you want to play baseball competitively, you will need some other equipment as well. This includes:

  • Batting Helmet
  • Catcher's gear
  • Elbow guard
  • Shin guard
  • Hat
  • Uniform
  • Spikes
  • Arm sleeve
  • Sunglasses
  • Grip tape
  • Batting gloves

Gameplay

The basic idea of baseball is that there are two teams who take turns batting and playing the field. The hitting team's goal is to score runs and the defense is trying to stop the other team from scoring. The way you score is to hit the ball and circle four bases all the way to home plate. The game is broken up into "innings." One inning is done after each team hits. The team that has the most runs scored after nine innings wins.

Positions and Roles

Baseball Positions

There are many different positions a player can hold. These positions are needed when a team is fielding, as when they are hitting, all but one player will be in the dugout. These fielding positions are:

Pitcher: The pitcher is the most important player on the field. They pitch and try to get the batter out.

Catcher: Catchers are the hardest workers on the field. They have to squat for the entire time they are on defense and catch the pitcher's pitches.

First Baseman: This position is right next to first base. Their job is to catch balls thrown to them by other infielders to get people out at first.

Second Baseman: This player stands between first and second base. They field ground balls and cover second base on steal attempts.

Third Baseman: This position is called the "hot corner" because they stand the closest to the batter. Third basemen cover third base and field ground balls.

Shortstop: The shortstop is usually the captain of the infield. They stand between second and third base usually. They field ground balls, catch relays from the outfield and sometimes cover second base.

Left Field: Left fielders stand in left field, in the outfield between second and third base. They catch fly balls and are the last line of defense.

Center Field: They stand in the center and are the most important outfielder. They stand behind second base and catch fly balls and ground balls.

Right Field: Usually the right fielder has the strongest arm in the outfield. They stand between first and second base usually, in the outfield.

Rules And Regulations

baseball rules and regulations

The basics of baseball are simple. Three outs and an inning is over. Three strikes is an out. From there it gets more complicated.

Outs

There are three kinds of ways to make an out. A force out is when a runner is going to a base and you throw the ball to that base before they get there. A tag play is when you tag the runner with the ball before they get to the base. You can also get a player out by throwing three strikes.

Strikes

A strike is determined by the umpire. The rulebook says that a strike is a pitch that is over the front of the home plate between the top of the batter's knees and their armpits. If the batter misses or doesn't swing at this pitch, they get a strike. Foul balls can also account for a strike up until the third strike.

Baserunning

Baserunners can advance when the ball is hit, as long as that ball hits the ground. If the ball is caught before hitting the ground, the player must "tag-up" at the base they were on when the ball is hit before moving forward.

Referees and Officials

baseball referees and officials

Baseball referees are called umpires. In the MLB there are four umpires, one per each base. For other leagues there might be only two or three umpires. The most important umpire is the home plate umpire. They stand behind home plate and call balls and strikes. Field umpires, depending on how many there are, determine if runners are out or safe, call balls fair or foul, and deal with other situations on the basepaths. In the MLB the four umpires travel as a unit, taking turns as to who will be the home plate umpire. All umpires go to umpire school and spend years in lower leagues and in the minor leagues.

Lingo And Terminology

baseball lingo and terminology

Here are some other words for a home run that you might hear during a game:

  • Dinger
  • Homer
  • Big fly
  • Knock
  • Bomb

You might also hear a strikeout being called a "K" or a "punch-out." A hit ball can also be called a "base knock." Strikes can be called "paints" or "corners."

Lastly, fastballs, or quick moving pitches, can be referred to as the following:

  • Heater
  • Fire
  • Cheese

Coaching

Baseball Coaching

In the MLB, baseball head coaches are called managers. Their biggest job is to set lineups and decide when there are pitching changes. MLB teams will then have a third and first base coach, a hitting coach, pitching coach, fielding coach, and more. For youth baseball, often your first coach will be a family member of a player on the team. Little League coaches will teach you to hit, throw, pitch, run the bases etc. MLB managers today include Joe Girardi, Aaron Boone and Joe Madden.

Types of Coaches

There is a range of coaches needed for a baseball team to be successful. These coaches include:

  • Manager
  • First Base Coach
  • Third Base Coach
  • Hitting Coach
  • Pitching Coach
  • Fielding Coach

Skills and Techniques

baseball skills and techniques

When scouts look at young baseball players they break their skills into the five tools.

  1. Speed: Baserunning and the ability to run in the field
  2. Power: Hitting power, homerun numbers and exit velocity.
  3. Hitting for average: contact hitting, how little they strike out
  4. Fielding: How well they play their position
  5. Arm strength: How hard they can throw no matter their position

Strategy

baseball strategy

Strategy in baseball is mostly up to the manager or coach. The most important strategy is about who to put into the game to pitch. Traditionally, a starting pitcher goes until they cannot anymore, then a relief pitcher comes in. In recent years, some coaches have adopted an "opener," to pitch one or two innings before putting their starter in later. This is based on analysis of when players succeed and it's gotten a lot more advanced with technology.

Drills

Baseball Drills

Baseball is a very highly skilled sport. If you want to get better you are going to have to do a lot of baseball drills. The most simple and popular baseball drill is catch. All you need for catch are two people, a ball and gloves. You and a friend just throw the ball back and forth, improving your catching and throwing. Older players can play long-toss, where you backup every throw and make your arm stronger by throwing the ball as hard as possible. The goal of any baseball drill is to improve your skills and make you better prepared for in game actions.

List of Baseball Drills

Olympic Baseball

olympic baseball

Baseball was a demonstration sport in the Olympics, going back all the way to 1912. In 1992, baseball finally became an official Olympic sport. After this, baseball was an Olympic sport until 2008. Then, it was removed by the International Olympic Committee and was not a part of the games in 2012 or 2016. Baseball is supposed to come back for the Tokyo 2020 games, which are going to be played in 2021. Baseball in the Olympics is not as competitive as it should be because the MLB doesn't let its players leave in the middle of the season to play for their country, so the teams are not made up of the same professionals you see on TV.

Baseball Players

baseball players

The first official baseball team was the New York Knickerbocker club in 1845. Soon after, other teams of athletes and players started to grow. Today, there are hundreds of MLB baseball players, and millions of people playing baseball across the world. Professional baseball athletes are drafted by teams out of high school or college, and go into the Minor Leagues where they train and get ready. Big name athletes are in the MLB, guys like Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Javier Baez and Christian Yelich.

Baseball Leagues

baseball leagues

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the biggest and most popular baseball league in the world. Under the MLB are the Minor Leagues (MiLB), which are basically the training grounds for the Major Leagues. The NCAA has baseball leagues, from Division III up to Division I. There are baseball leagues for professionals across the world. China, South Korea, Mexico, Japan, and many other countries have their own professional baseball leagues. If you're a youth player, you will probably end up playing in Little League, hoping to make it into the Little League World Series.

Baseball Teams

baseball teams

The first baseball club was the New York Knickerbockers. The Cincinnati Red Stockings are credited as the first professional baseball team. Today there are 30 MLB teams, 15 in the American League and 15 in the National League. The winners of each of these leagues play in the World Series. There are other professional teams in Japan, Mexico, China, South Korea, Venezuela and more. Clubs exist across the entire world. There are little league teams, high school teams, college teams and many more.

Baseball Events

baseball events

Every MLB team plays 182 games per year. Then there are three rounds of playoffs before the World Series. Outside of the MLB there is the World Baseball Classic, where players represent their country instead of their team. That tournament is once every four years. The last WBC was in 2017. Baseball also has been in and out of the Olympics. The sport is supposed to return to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (in 2021). The last time baseball was a part of the Olympics was 2008. In college there is the NCAA College World Series, which is played every year in Omaha Nebraska.

Baseball Tournaments

Baseball Tournaments

Baseball tournaments start when you're just a youth player and continue all the way to professional baseball.

Youth Tournaments

Little League World Series: This is the most well-known youth tournament in the world. Teams of 12 and 13 year olds from across the US and the world compete every summer to make it to the tournament in August.

Cal Ripken: This tournament spans different age groups and is known for more advanced play than the Little League World Series, though less popular.

Prospect Tournaments

Perfect Game: Perfect Game hosts multiple tournaments but is most known for bringing some of baseball's top prospects to Florida to compete against each other. Perfect Game also will have the All-American tournament where High School seniors are split into two teams to show off and play each other.

NCAA College World Series: This is a tournament for college teams in Omaha, Nebraska for top Division 1 teams. The tournament is double elimination until a champion emerges.

Professional Tournaments

World Baseball Classic: The WBC goes on every four years and has professional baseball players representing their country. In 2017 the USA won its first ever WBC. The tournament is scheduled to be played next in the late winter of 2021.

Olympics: The Olympics are another four year event, famous for a lot more than baseball. Baseball is played in the Olympics though, at least starting in 2021.

Baseball Books

Baseball Books

There are a lot of baseball books that you can buy. The book Watching Baseball Smarter by Zach Hample is an awesome book to learn about the basics of baseball as a fan. Other books like Moneyball by Michael Lewis gives you an insider look at the business of baseball. There are tons of history books about baseball. Another popular category are baseball biographies. From Jackie Robinson to Omar Visquel there are lots of books to learn about your favorite players.

Baseball Websites

Baseball Websites
  • Mlb.com: Official website of the MLB. Good place for scores, stats, highlights, and official MLB news
  • Baseball Reference.com: This is the best website for statistics and history. You can look up players, teams, coaches and more from almost any year and find specific statistics.
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: The official site of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. This is a lot of history and facts about the history of baseball and its best players.
  • Little League.org: This is the official website of little league baseball if you're a youth player.
  • Baseball America.com: This is an awesome website for looking at baseball development. From high school to college, to the minors this is a good website to look at for players and teams.

FAQ

What is baseball?

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams who take turns between batting and fielding a baseball. The game is played across nine innings which are made up of two half-innings each. During the top half-inning, the home team fields while the away team bats, and vice-versa in the bottom half-inning. A half-inning is over when the fielding team records three outs on the batting team. The objective of the game is to score runs by circling the four bases of the baseball diamond while batting. The team with the most runs at the end of the ninth inning wins the game. If it is tied, the game continues into extra-innings until a winner is determined.

How is baseball played?

The basic idea of baseball is that there are two teams who take turns batting and playing the field. The hitting team's goal is to score runs and the defense is trying to stop the other team from scoring. The way you score is to hit the ball and circle four bases all the way to home plate. The game is broken up into "innings." One inning is done after each team hits. The team that has the most runs scored after nine innings wins.

The biggest, most successful, and most popular baseball league in the world is Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America. Other popular baseball leagues include Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan and the KBO League in South Korea. The World Baseball Classic takes place every four years between teams from all around the globe representing their respective nations. The most recent champion is Team USA, who won their first title in 2017.

How long is a baseball game?

Baseball doesn't have a time limit. Games typically last nine innings, which takes about 3 hours on average. If the two teams are tied, the game goes into extra innings until one team wins. The longest game ever took 26 innings and lasted 8 hours and 6 minutes.

Who is the best baseball player?

Right now, Mike Trout is ranked as the number one player in baseball. The best player of all time is more debated. Players that people debate between are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Pete Rose.

What are the minor leagues in baseball?

The minor leagues are training programs that MLB teams have for younger players. There are three levels to the minor leagues, A, AA, and AAA. Some players sadly never make it out of the minor leagues. Good players are moved up until they reach the Major Leagues.

How many players are on a baseball team?

Each team only has nine players on their game lineup. However, the full roster is up to 26 players. During certain times of the season teams are allowed expanded rosters but then they have to cut back down to 26.