Baseball


Baseball :
The game is played with a hard ball and bat between two teams of nine players each. Baseball is often called the national pastime of the United States, because of its strong tradition and great popularity. It is also played throughout the world.
Basic Rules :
A baseball game is divided into nine innings, each of which is divided into two halves, referred to as the top and bottom of the inning. If the game is tied after nine innings, the teams continue to play until one has scored more runs at the end of an extra inning.
The field is divided into the infield and the outfield. The infield is a square (called the diamond) that measures 90 ft (27 m) on each side. One corner of the diamond is marked by a five-sided piece of rubber called home plate. Batters hit the ball while standing on either side of home plate. At the three other corners of the infield-moving anticlockwise from home plate-are first base, second base, and third base. The pitcher's mound is located near the centre of the infield, 60.5 ft (18 m) from home plate. Base lines extend from home plate to first base and from home plate to third base. Extensions of these lines, called foul lines, run along the edges of the outfield, separating foul and fair territory.
A team fields nine players. The pitcher puts the ball into play by throwing it towards home plate. The catcher receives the ball and returns it to the pitcher unless the batter hits the ball. The first baseman, second baseman, and third baseman are each stationed at or near a base. The shortstop stands between second and third base. Three outfielders are stationed individually in right field, centre field, and left field. One team is designated the home team, and the other is the visiting team. The visiting team always bats at the top of the inning. Teams score runs when their players reach base and then continue around the bases and cross home plate. A team in the field tries to put opposing players out before they can circle the bases. A batting team gets three outs in each inning. Pitchers attempt to throw the ball into the strike zone, an area directly over home plate and roughly between the batter's armpits and knees. A pitch thrown into this area that the batter does not hit is called a strike. Strikes also include pitches that the batter swings at but misses, as well as the first two times that a batter hits the ball into foul territory. After three strikes, a batter is out. Pitches outside of the strike zone that the batter does not swing at are called balls. If a pitcher throws four balls, the batter is awarded first base. This is called a walk.
A batter who hits the ball so that fielders cannot successfully field it records a base hit. Players try to reach the furthest base possible on a hit, resulting in a single, double, triple, or home run, depending on whether they reach first, second, third base, or home plate. A home run usually occurs when a batter hits the ball over the outfield fence. Batters can also reach first base in other ways, including being hit by a pitched ball, and on a fielder's error within fair territory.
A batter is ruled out if a fielder catches a batted ball before it hits the ground. A batter is also out if a fielder holding the ball tags the batter, or gets the ball to first base before the batter can reach it. If a runner occupies a base to which a subsequent batter or runner must advance, runners are forced to move to the next base. In a force, fielders can put out the runner by tagging the base before the runner reaches it.
Organized Baseball :
Baseball is played in organized professional and amateur leagues throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and many other countries. Major league baseball is divided into the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), each of which has 14 teams. The season lasts from April to October and is followed by the playoffs and the World Series. Each league holds separate playoff series to determine which team wins the pennant, or championship, of the league. The two pennant winners meet in the World Series. All major league baseball clubs own or operate minor league teams, known as farm teams. They use these teams to give players the opportunity to develop their skills. Amateur leagues such as Little League and high school baseball are organized for young people.
The History of Baseball :
The origin of baseball is difficult to determine. By the early 1800s, a variety of stick-and-ball games had become popular in North America. An English game called rounders most resembled modern baseball. In 1842 the first organized club, called the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, was formed in New York, and in 1845 the Knickerbockers published a set of rules that became the foundation of modern baseball. The first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, began play in 1869, and in 1876 representatives of eight baseball clubs created the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, known as the National League. In 1901 the American League formed, and two years later the championship teams from the National and American leagues met in the first World Series.
Despite conflicts between players and team owners over economics, major league baseball grew during the early 1900s. In 1920, however, a scandal damaged baseball's public image. Seven Chicago White Sox players were banned from baseball for intentionally losing the 1919 World Series in exchange for bribes from professional gamblers. An eighth player was banned because he knew of the plan but did not report it.
Baseball's reputation recovered during the 1920s under the leadership of its first commissioner, a federal judge named Kenesaw Mountain Landis. A livelier ball led to an increase in home-run hitting, and Babe Ruth became one of the greatest home-run hitters of all time. The growth of baseball continued into the 1930s, when radio broadcasts of games became common. The first major league night games were also held during the 1930s.
From the mid-1880s until the mid-1940s, black players were not allowed to compete in the major leagues. Instead, they joined teams made up entirely of black players, and many of these teams formed leagues called Negro leagues. In 1947 Jackie Robinson, one of the greatest Negro league players, became the first black player in the modern major leagues when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.
After World War II, baseball continued to grow. The first television broadcast of a major league game occurred in 1946. During the 1960s each league added four new teams, making a total of 12 in each league. In the 1970s restrictions on the freedom of players to switch teams were relaxed, but relations with owners were strained. Players went on strike in 1972 and again in 1981. By 1994 each league had 14 teams grouped into 3 divisions. In 1994 no post-season play was held because major league players went on a season-ending strike in August. The strike ended in April 1995.

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