Baseball Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Baseball, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

How to Play Baseball

Baseball, a bat-and-ball sport, is considered America's national pastime. The object of the game is to score runs by hitting a ball with a bat and running around a series of four bases.

Baseball History

Baseball originated from older bat-and-ball games played in England in the mid-18th century. British and Irish immigrants brought the game to America, where the modern version of baseball was developed. By the late 19th century baseball was recognized as the America's national sport. Today, baseball is popular at the professional, amateur, and youth levels in North America, parts of Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia.

There are many professional leagues, with Major League Baseball (MLB) being the most popular in the United States and around the world.

Baseball Rules

Baseball is played between two teams, with nine players to a side. Each player plays a specific defensive position in the field. The field is bordered by two foul lines that extend forward from home plate at 45 degree angles. The 90 degree area within the foul lines is fair territory, and the 270 degrees area outside the foul lines is foul territory. The area between the four series of bases, arranged at the corners of a 90 ft diamond, is considered the infield. The fair territory inside of the foul lines and outside of the infield is called the outfield. Defensive fielding positions include: First baseman, second baseman, third baseman, catcher (to cover home plate), pitcher, shortstop (covers the area between second and third base), and three outfielders.

Baseball consists of nine innings. An inning is composed of both teams coming up to bat. A team remains at bat until they get three outs. A team acquires outs by 1) A strikeout: the player up to bat gets three strikes by hitting the ball foul (a player cannot get a third strike on a foul ball), swinging and missing the ball, or having the ball thrown past them in the strike zone (The strike zone is the area over home plate in between the batters knees and shoulders). 2) A fly out: a player hits the ball, and it is caught in the air by the defense (a fielder can record a fly out in fair or foul territory). 3) A tag out: a player is caught off the base and tagged with the ball. 4) A force out: the fielding team gets the ball to a base before the runner (this occurs when the runner cannot return to the previous base because it is occupied by another runner, or they are running to first base).

The team with the most runs at the end of nine innings wins. In the event of a tie, extra innings are played until the tie is broken. A team scores runs by having a player touch all four bases in order. An offensive player reaches base by successfully hitting the ball into play, or by getting walked. A player is walked when they are up to bat and they receive four balls (pitches outside of their strike zone), or the pitcher hits them with the ball.

After a player hits the ball they run to a base. A runner can choose to stay on that base or advance to the next base if unoccupied. Once the play is stopped the runner can only advance to the next base when their teammate puts the ball into play or by stealing a base. A runner can steal a base, run to the next base, when the opposing pitcher has the ball. If a teammate flies out the runner must return to the base they started at. However, the runner has the option of tagging up, waiting for the ball to be caught, and then tagging the previous base and advancing to the next base.

Baseball Tips

Baseball players should spend equal time working on their hitting in the batting cage, and their defense in the field. Batting cages are a great way to practice without a partner, because a machine pitches the ball. In the field, players should work with a partner on throwing and fielding the ball. Players can work on getting their bodies in front of ground balls, and getting under fly balls.

Baseball Equipment

Baseball requires a bat, a ball, four bases, and each player to have a leather glove. Bats are traditionally made out of wood, but metal bats are used at lower levels. A baseball is around nine cm in circumference. It has a rubber cork center, wound in yarn and covered in white cowhide, with red stitching. Hitters must wear protective batting helmets. Most hitters also choose to wear batting gloves. Catchers need a face mask and a chest protector.

Popular baseball equipment manufacturers include Mizuno, Easton and Rawlings.