Baseball started off as a traditional bat and ball sport since the dawn of sporting. Precise data has not yet been uncovered as to its origins and it seems that the primitive form of this game was not confined to any particular land or civilization. Although, the earliest form, ‘modern day baseball’ was being played in England by the 18th century and was brought to the shores of America along with European immigrants. By the 19th century, there was a widespread use and play of such terms and their individual sports, such as “town ball” and “round ball.”
Under The Knickerbockers Club, a set of baseball rules were set up and the game evolved until the mid-nineteenth century, when it turned professional. Afterwards, the game, its rules and its fame progressed until to what we have today.
Baseball is a two team outdoor sport played with the bat and ball concept on a field under the authority and supervision of more than one official called umpires. Each team consists of nine players.
FIELD AND PITCH
The Baseball field or the Baseball diamond is a grass and dirt pitch generally consisting of the infield, the outfield and the foul area.
It is a 90 foot square area called the diamond with four bases on its perimeter corners. They are called the first, second, third and fourth base (home plate) respectively in counter-clockwise orientation. In the middle of the diamond is the raised pitcher’s dirt mound with a rubber center. It also comprises of the home plate, batter’s and catchers box.
It is a grassed off area 250 ft away from the home plate, 325 ft away along the foul lines and up to 435 ft away from the centre field. It is walled off and the whole area between the 90 degree angle of the foul lines is the scoring area.
The Foul Area
The 270 degree angle outside the foul lines is the no score territory flanked by the third and first base. If a ball falls in fair territory and then rolls beyond the foul lines it is foul. If it hits any of the said bases then crosses into foul territory it is fair.
Strikeout: When the batter misses or doesn’t strike three consecutive pitches passing through the strike zone (i.e. from point between shoulder blades down to the hollow of the knee) that are respectively caught by the pitcher.
Fly Out: A ball caught by a fielder directly after it has made contact with the batters bat and before it makes contact with the ground. This is possible in both foul and fair territory.
Ground Out: when a batter pulls off a shot and runs towards the first base he is ground ousted if before reaching it, the ball is retrieved by a fielder who while holding touches the first base or who passes it on to another fielder who gets in contact with the first base.
Force Out: When a runner is on first base he has to advance once the batter plays the ball in fair territory and in the process if he gets ousted before he reaches the second base, it said to be a forced out. Runners on second or third bases can only be forced out if they are preceded directly by another runner who has to advance onto their bases once a fair ball is played.
Tag Out: It is when an advancing runner is touched by a fielder with the ball before the runner comes into contact with the base.
Baseball is played between two teams of nine players with either team playing on the batting side while the other on the pitching side. The pitching squad consists of two players with fixed positions who are the pitcher and the catcher simultaneously and the remaining seven spread out on the infield and outfield as fielders.
The role of the pitcher is to deliver the baseball towards the batter of the opposing team and to try to get him out. This is achieved through a number of ways. The pitcher stands on a raised mound in the centre of the diamond field and starts off with one foot on the rubber pushing off to increase velocity then leans forward and hurls the ball forward finishing off standing on the other foot.
His role is to catch a missed ball and a ball thrown by a fielder. He also signals the pitcher to start the game or call on him to step up different kinds of delivery. He is usually considered captain of the team.
The batter representing the offensive team is always on the team opposing that of the pitcher’s (defensive team). His role is to score runs, avoid getting out, and being the base runner or home runner.
The defensive squad in the field are the fielders and they try to prevent the offensive team from scoring. They are sub divided further into two groups; the infielders and the outfielders.
Infielders comprise of the first baseman, second baseman, third baseman and the shortstop.
First, Second and Third Baseman: They stay close to their individual bases and their primary role is to run out, force out, ground out or tag out the base runners. (refer to chapter basic rules)
The Shortstop: He is to cover the critical positions between the third and second base. He watches out for ground balls within the infield and throws it to the basemen. He is cut-off for the outfield. He can also perform fly outs.
Outfielders comprise of the Left Fielder, Right Fielder and Center Fielder. They are to perform fly outs and throw a played ball to the basemen.
The main concept of the baseball is a delivery by the pitcher wanting to oust the batter, and similarly the batter attempting a hit to score runs and avoid getting out. Batters can score by running through the four bases by their shots or through the shots of their teammates. The fielding team switches sides with the batting team when they pull off three outs from the bating team. Each turn at the bat for both teams is an inning.
Scoring and Running
Runs are performed by batter when he hits the ball into fair territory, drops the bat and advances towards first base. To score a run a runner must touch home base before the third out is made. There are home runs where a hitter-runner starts of the home plate, runs in counter-clockwise order touching all three bases and finally returning to the home base earning the team 4 points. Other runs include singles (advances to first base), doubles (advances to second base) and triples (advances to third base).
The three basic tools of baseball are:
The Ball which is about the size of an adults fist is 9 inches (23 centimeters) in diameter consisting of a cork or rubber core wound with yarn and draped in cowhide with red stitching.
The Mitt or the glove is a fielding tool for catching or holding the ball. It is made of padded leather and sports webbing between the fingers. It is worn by all pitchers, fielders and catchers.
The Bat is the hitting tool traditionally constructed out of a single log of wood. But other materials are widely used. It is hard rounded and not longer than 42 inches (106 centimeters) and not shorter than 38 inches (86 centimeters) with a 2.5 inch (6.4 centimeters) wide hitting end that slims off towards the holding end that finishes into a knob.
Protective Helmets are also conventional gear for batters, catchers and the home plate Umpire.
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