What is Baseball?
Baseball is a sport that was founded in the US during the 1840s, and has been labeled ‘America’s pastime’. The sport consists of two teams – each with nine players (although the full roster consists of 26 players) –that take turns fielding and batting. Currently, the biggest baseball league in the world is the MLB (Major League Baseball), consisting of 30 teams (29 from the US and one from Canada). Baseball is played in several other countries around the world, including Korea, China, Japan, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
History of Baseball:
Baseball has taken some inspiration from the English game called ‘rounders’, and has been around since the American Civil War. Although the first baseball team was created in 1845, the sport did not gain much popularity until the late 19th century. Babe Ruth has often been called the ‘savior’ of baseball, as he revived interest in the sport by hitting more home runs than entire baseball teams. Another important landmark for baseball came about in 1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to take part in the MLB.
As mentioned, baseball comprises two teams, who each take their turns at bat and on the field. The aim of the batting team is to score as many runs as possible, while the fielding team works to restrict the batters for as few runs as possible. To score, you need to hit the ball with the bat, and then circle the four bases all the way up to the home plate. One game is broken down into multiple ‘innings’ – the team with the highest score at the end of nine innings is declared the winner. A baseball game does not have a time limit, and will go on until all the nine innings have been completed (this usually takes around three to four hours). If, at the end of the nine innings the teams are tied, the game goes into additional innings until there is a winner. The longest baseball game went on for 8 hours and six minutes, and consisted of 26 innings.
An innings is said to be over once the batting team gets three outs, and three strikes are counted as one out. This part is fairly simple, but it gets more complicated down the road.
As mentioned, three strikes are considered an out. However, there are other ways to get a batsman out as well. A force-out, for example, happens when a batsman is running towards the base and you manage to throw the ball towards the base before the batsman is able to reach there. A tag play happens when you use the ball to ‘tag’ the runner before they are able to reach the base.
The umpire of the game will decide a strike. According to the rulebook, a strike is any pitch that is over the home plate’s front, and is between the batter’s armpits and the top of their knees. If the batter fails to swing or connect the bat to this pitch, a strike is given.
A base-runner is allowed to advance once the ball is struck, as long as the ball connects with the ground. If one of the players from the fielding team catches the ball before it lands to the ground, the player will need to ‘tag-up’ at the base on which they were standing when the ball was hit, before they are allowed to move forward.
Roles and Positions:
There are many different positions involved in baseball, which are:
The pitcher pitches the ball and tries to get the batsman out. The pitcher is the most vital player on the entire field.
Catchers put in the most effort. They are required to remain in a squatted position for the entire time that they are fielding, and are tasked with catching the pitches.
The First Baseman stands right next to the first base. Their role is to catch the balls thrown by other infielders and try to get the batsman out on the first base.
The Second Baseman stands between the second and first bases. Their role is to field the grounded balls and cover the second base during steal attempts.
The Third Baseman stands the closest to the batsman, which is why this position is also referred to as the ‘hot corner’. They field the ground balls while covering the third base.
The shortstop is generally the infield captain, and usually stands between the second and third bases. They catch outfield relays, field the ground balls, and occasionally cover the second base.
Fielders standing on the left side of the field (between the second and third bases) are referred to as Left Fielders. These fielders are responsible for catching fly balls, and are the final line of defense.
The Center Fielder is the most important outfielder. Standing behind second base, these fielders are responsible for catching ground balls and fly balls.
Generally, the player with the strongest arm on the team serves as the Right Fielder. They usually stand between the second and third bases in the outfield.
If you want to play baseball as a hobby or for fun, the most basic equipment is a glove, a bat, and a ball.
However, players playing the game at a competitive or professional level will require the following items as well:
- Catcher’s gear
- Batting helmet
- Shin guard
- Elbow guard
- Batting gloves
- Grip tape
- Arm sleeve
Skills Required for Baseball:
Generally, a scout will look for the following five sets of skills when assessing young baseball players:
- Arm strength
Our Final Thoughts:
To sum up, baseball is one of the most interesting games in the world, and has a particularly large fan-base throughout the US. To learn more about the sport, please feel free to check out some of the other blogs on our website.