All About Baseball

Japanese Baseball

Koshien Stadium (in 1992)
Koshien Stadium (in 1992)

Baseball has been a popular sport in Japan for over a century since its introduction in 1872. It is called 野球 (やきゅう; yakyū) in Japanese, combining the characters for field and ball. It is played at all age levels but most widely in junior high schools and senior high schools. Two tournaments are held in March and August for senior high school teams that win a prefectural tournament. The location of the tournaments is Koshien Stadium.

The highest level of competition is the professional league, started in 1920. It is called Puro Yakyū (プロ野球), meaning Professional Baseball.

Players from the Japanese leagues who have gone on to success in Major League Baseball in the United States include Hideo Nomo, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Ichiro Suzuki, Tadahito Iguchi and Hideki Matsui.


  • 1 Professional baseball
    • 1.1 Problems of professional baseball
  • 2 History
  • 3 Current Japanese baseball teams
  • 4 Defunct Japanese baseball teams
  • 5 Records
  • 6 See also
  • 7 External links


Professional baseball

Japanese professional baseball consists of two leagues, the Central League and the Pacific League. There are also two secondary-level professional minor leagues, the Eastern League and the Western League, that play shorter schedules.

The professional season starts in late March or early April and ends in October with two or three all star games in July. In recent decades, the two leagues each scheduled 130, 135 or 140 regular season games with the best teams from each league going on to play in the "Nihon Series" or Japan Series. Prior to 1950 there was just one league, called the Japanese Baseball League. From 1973 to 1982, the Pacific League employed a split season with the first half winner playing against the second half winner in a mini-playoff to determine its champion. Then in 2004, the Pacific League played five fewer games than the Central League teams during the regular season and used a new playoff format to determine its champion. The teams in third and second place played in a best two of three series (all at the second place team's home ground) with the winner of that series going on to play the first place team in a best 3 of 5 format at its home ground. In the end, the Seibu Lions finished in second place, defeated Nippon Ham 2 games to 1, went on to take 3 of 5 games in Fukuoka against the Daiei Hawks and then defeated the Chunichi Dragons in the Japan Series, 4 games to 3, capping off their grueling playoff drive with a well-earned championship.

The two leagues began interleague play in 2005, with each team playing two 3-game series (one home, one away) against each of the six teams in the other league. All interleague play games are played in a 7-week span near the middle of the season.

Play in the Pacific League is similar to that of American League baseball, with the use of designated hitters, unlike the Central League. Unlike North American baseball, however, Japanese baseball games may end in a tie. If the score is tied after 9 innings of play, up to 3 additional innings will be played. If there is no leader after 12 innings, the game is declared a draw. Other differences from its American counterpart is that the general play is less aggressive, there are fewer home runs, the strike zone is larger near the batter but smaller away from the batter, and the ball is slightly smaller and wound tighter.

Unlike American pro teams, Japanese professional baseball teams are usually named after their corporate owners/sponsors rather than the cities in which they play.


Problems of professional baseball

Financial problems hinder the league as a whole, but the problem is not a simple one to solve. It is believed that except for the Yomiuri Giants and the Hanshin Tigers, all teams are operating with considerable subsidies, often as much as ¥6 billion or about US$50 million, from their parent companies. A rise in the salaries of players is often blamed, but, from the start of the professional league, parent companies paid the difference as an advertisement. Most teams have never tried to improve their finances through constructive marketing. Until Nippon Ham Fighters moved to Hokkaidō, there were six teams in Tokyo and its surrounding area and three teams in the Ōsaka–Kōbe region. The market was flooded, but this was considered all right, as there was no competitor that tried to challenge baseball's popularity.

Eventually, however, J. League professional football league challenged that, winning over many people who used to spend their money and time on baseball. Instead of teams clustered in metropolitan areas, J. League aimed to create teams in the major city of every prefecture, much like professional football leagues in Europe.

On September 18, 2004, professional baseball players went on a two-day strike, the first strike in the history of the league, to protest the proposed merger between the Orix BlueWave and the Ōsaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the failure of the owners to agree to create a new team to fill the void resulting from the merger. The strike was settled on September 23, 2004, when the owners agreed to grant a new franchise in the Pacific League and to continue the two-league, 12-team system. The new team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles began play in the 2005 season.



Baseball was introduced to Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, and its first formal team was established in 1878. For almost 30 years, until 1906, a game could be viewed freely, as it was considered shameful to take money for doing something the players liked. In 1907, the first game was held that had a fee to watch. From 1908, several U.S. professional teams made their tours and had a match against amateur teams made up mostly by university students. Realizing that a professional league was necessary to improve, two professional teams were established in 1920. In the same year, teams held exhibition tours in Korea and Manchuria to spread baseball. This first professional league disintegrated in 1923 for financial reasons, and after repeated attempts to revive a professional league, it formally disbanded in 1929.

In 1934, Dai-nippon Tokyo Yakyū Club (literally Tokyo, Japan Baseball Club) was established, reviving professional baseball. A second team, Ōsaka Yakyū Club (literally Ōsaka Baseball Club) was established in following year. The former became Yomiuri Giants and the latter became Hanshin Tigers. In 1936, five other teams also formed, and the Nippon Professional Baseball League was started. Briefly forced to stop playing for a year beginning in 1944, it restarted on November 6, 1945, and a full season was played the next year. In 1950, the league split into the Central and Pacific Leagues.

Starting in 1992 and continuing intermittently, several Major League Baseball (MLB) teams have played exhibition games against Japanese teams. American teams popular in Japan include the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees at least in part due to Japanese players on those teams. Although the Minnesota Twins lack any Japanese players on their squad, they are quite popular in Japan, seen as playing baseball more like a Japanese team than the stereotypical home run hitting American clubs. Since 1986, a team of MLB All-Stars has made an end-of-the-season biennial tour of Japan, playing exhibitions games against a mix of NPB teams and all-star teams; the MLB squad has won each of these series.

In 2005 the Japan Samurai Bears began play in the Golden Baseball League, becoming the first Japanese team in an American professional baseball league.


Current Japanese baseball teams

Current Japanese professional baseball teams
Central League
Yomiuri Giants
Tokyo Yakult
Yokohama BayStars
Chunichi Dragons
Hanshin Tigers
Hiroshima Toyo
Pacific League
Hokkaido Nippon
Ham Fighters
Tohoku Rakuten
Golden Eagles
Seibu Lions
Chiba Lotte Marines
Orix Buffaloes
Fukuoka SoftBank
edit table
  • The Central League
    • Yomiuri Giants (Tokyo)
    • Tokyo Yakult Swallows (Tokyo)
    • Yokohama BayStars (Yokohama)
    • Chunichi Dragons (Nagoya)
    • Hanshin Tigers (Nishinomiya)
    • Hiroshima Toyo Carp (Hiroshima)
  • The Pacific League
    • Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (Sapporo)
    • Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (Sendai)
    • Seibu Lions (Tokorozawa)
    • Chiba Lotte Marines (Chiba)
    • Orix Buffaloes (Ōsaka and Kōbe)
    • Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (Fukuoka)

Defunct Japanese baseball teams

Former Japanese Baseball League teams:

  • Nagoya Golden Dolphins (merged with Tsubasa in 1940, Tsubasa later became Nishitetsu.)
  • Nishitetsu (dissolved in 1943.)
  • Yamato (dissolved in 1944.)

Former Central League teams:

  • Nishi Nihon Pirates (merged with the Nishitetsu Clippers in 1951, now the Seibu Lions.)
  • Shochiku Robins (merged with Taiyo Whales 1952, now the Yokohama BayStars.)

Former Pacific League teams:

  • Daiei Unions (merged with Mainichi Orions 1957, now the Chiba Lotte Marines.)
  • Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (merged with the Orix BlueWave after the 2004 season to form the Orix Buffaloes.)
  • Orix BlueWave (merged with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes after the 2004 season to form the Orix Buffaloes)
  • Takahashi Unions (merged with the Daiei Stars in 1956, the Stars later became the Daiei Unions.)




  • Batting Average
    • Randy Bass .389 (1986)
    • Ichiro Suzuki .387 (2000)
    • Ichiro Suzuki .385 (1994)
  • HR
    • Sadaharu Oh 55 (1964)
    • Alex Cabrera 55 (2001)
    • Tuffy Rhodes 55 (2002)
    • Randy Bass 54 (1985)
  • RBI
    • Makoto Kozuru 161 (1950)
    • Robert Rose 153 (1999)
  • SB
    • Yutaka Fukumoto 106 (1972)
  • SO
    • Ralph Bryant 204 (1993)
    • Ralph Bryant 198 (1990)
    • Ralph Bryant 187 (1989)
    • Ralph Bryant 176 (1992)
    • Orestes Destrade 165 (1990)


  • ERA
    • Hideo Fujimoto 0.73 (1943)
    • Masaru Kageura 0.79 (1936 fall)
    • Eiji Sawamura 0.81 (1937 spring)
  • Wins
    • Victor Starffin 42 (1942)
    • Kazuhisa Inao 42 (1961)
    • Jiro Noguchi 40 (1942)
  • SO
    • Yutaka Enatsu 401 (1968)
    • Kazuhisa Inao 353 (1961)


  • BA
    • Leron Lee .320 (1977–1987)
    • Tsutomu Wakamatsu .31918 (1971–1989)
    • Isao Harimoto .31915 (1959–1981)
      • Ichiro Suzuki hit .353 for his Japanese career (1993–2000), but did not have enough at-bats to qualify for career leadership.
  • HR
    • Sadaharu Oh 868 (1959–1980)
  • RBI
    • Sadaharu Oh 2170
  • SB
    • Yutaka Fukumoto 1065 (1969–1988)
  • SO
    • Kouji Akiyama 1712
  • ERA
    • Hideo Fujimoto 1.90 (1942–1955)
  • Wins
    • Masaichi Kaneda 400 (1950–1969)
    • Tetsuya Yoneda 350 (1956–1977)
    • Masaaki Koyama 320 (1953–1973)
    • Keishi Suzuki 317 (1966–1985)
    • Takehiko Bessho 310 (1942–1960)
    • Victor Starffin 303 (1936–1955)
  • SO
    • Masaichi Kaneda 4490

See also

  • Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame
  • List of Japanese baseball players
  • High school baseball in Japan

External links

  • Japan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Japanese Baseball Data Archive at The Baseball Guru
  • List of players at Japanese Baseball
  • ((Japanese)) Official Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Site (.jp)
  • MLB history of Puro Yakyū page
  • Japan Baseball Daily

Japanese Professional Baseball
Central League Pacific League
Yomiuri Giants Chunichi Dragons Tokyo Yakult Swallows Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles Chiba Lotte Marines
Hiroshima Toyo Carp Hanshin Tigers Yokohama BayStars Seibu Lions Orix Buffaloes Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks

Japan Series - Japanese Baseball League (former) - edit table

Baseball Field

A baseball field or baseball diamond is the field upon which the game of baseball is played.


  • 1 Specifications
  • 2 First Base
  • 3 Second Base
  • 4 Third Base
  • 5 Foul Poles
  • 6 Home plate
  • 7 Pitcher's Mound
  • 8 Baseline
  • 9 Grass line
  • 10 History
  • 11 See also
  • 12 References
  • 13 External links



The starting point for much of the action on the field is home plate, which is a five-sided white rubber slab 17 inches by 8 1/2 by 12 by 12 by 8 1/2 inches. Next to each of the two parallel 8 1/2 inch sides is a batter's box. The point of home plate where the two 12 inch sides meet at right angles, is at one corner of a ninety-foot square. The other three corners of the square, in counterclockwise order from home plate, are called first base, second base, and third base. Three canvas bags fifteen inches (38 cm) square mark the three bases. These three bags along with home plate form the four bases at the corners of the infield.

Diagram of a baseball field.
Diagram of a baseball field.

A subtlety about the bases is that home plate and the first and third base bags are entirely within the ninety-foot square. They are positioned this way to help the umpires, as any ball hitting those bases must necessarily be in fair territory. Home plate has its peculiar shape in order to help the plate umpire judge whether a pitch is over the plate or not, i.e. whether it might be in the strike zone. The second base bag, which is fully within fair territory, is placed so that its center coincides exactly with the corner or "point" of the ninety-foot infield square. Thus, although the "points" of the bases are 90 feet apart, the physical distance between each successive pair of base markers is more like 88 feet.

The lines from home plate to first and third bases are extended to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction and are called the foul lines. The portion of the playing field between (and including) the foul lines is fair territory; the rest is foul territory. The area in the vicinity of the square formed by the bases is called the infield; fair territory outside the infield is the outfield. Most baseball fields are enclosed with a fence that marks the outer edge of the outfield. The fence is usually set at a distance ranging from 300 to 410 feet (90 to 125 m) from home plate. Most professional and college baseball fields have a right and left foul pole. These poles are at the intersection of the foul lines and the respective ends of the outfield fence.


First Base

Main article: First baseman

Second Base

Main article: Second baseman

Third Base

Main article: Third baseman

Foul Poles

The purpose of the foul poles is to help the umpires judge whether a fly ball hit above the fence line is fair (a home run) or foul (out of play). The foul pole is an extension of the foul line. Despite their names, both the foul lines and the foul poles are actually in fair territory. Prior to 1920, the foul lines were "infinite": A fly ball over the fence had to land in fair territory, or to be fair when last seen by the umpire, in order to be a home run. The rule was changed to be where the ball is when it clears the fence. Thus, a fly ball hitting a foul pole above the top of the outfield fence is a home run, regardless of where the ball goes after striking this pole, and a fly ball clearing the fence on the fair side of the pole is a home run regardless of where it lands. Foul poles (not shown on the diagram seen above) are typically much higher than the top of the outfield fence, and often have a narrow screen running along the fair side of the pole to further aid the umpire's judgment. It can still be a difficult call, especially in ballparks with no outfield stands behind the poles to provide perspective. Wrigley Field is notorious for arguments over long, curving flies down the lines which might even go higher than the foul pole. Sometimes, even repeated TV replays cannot prove the call either way.


Home plate

For the Bonnie Raitt album, see Home Plate. For the geological feature on Mars, see Home Plate (Mars).

In baseball and related games, home plate is the final base that a player must touch to score. It has five sides. Unlike the other bases, home plate is hard, usually a slightly flexible hard plastic with beveled edges that rises only slightly above ground level.


Pitcher's Mound

In the middle of the square is a low artificial hill called the pitcher's mound. On the mound there is a white rubber slab, called the pitcher's plate or commonly the rubber, six inches (15 cm) front-to-back and two feet (61 cm) across, the front of which is exactly sixty feet six inches (18.4 m) from the rear point of home plate. This peculiar distance was set by the rulemakers in 1893, not due to a clerical or surveying error as popular myth has it, but purposely (as noted earlier). On a baseball field, the pitcher's mound is a raised section in the middle of the diamond where the pitcher stands when throwing the pitch.

In Major League Baseball, a regulation mound is 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter, with the center 59 feet (18.0 m) from the rear point of home plate, on the line between home plate and second base. The front edge of the pitcher's plate or rubber is 18 inches (45.7 cm) behind the center of the mound, making it 60 feet 6 inches (18.4 m) from the rear point of home plate. Six inches (15.2 cm) in front of the pitcher's rubber the mound begins to slope downward. The top of the rubber is to be no higher than ten inches (25.4 cm) above home plate. From 1903 through 1968 this height limit was set at 15 inches, but was often slightly higher, sometimes as high as 20 inches (50.8 cm), especially for teams that emphasized pitching, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were reputed to have the highest mound in the majors.

A pitcher will push off the rubber with his foot in order to gain velocity toward home plate when pitching. In addition, a higher mound generally favors the pitcher over a lower mound. With the height advantage, the pitcher gains more leverage and can put more downward velocity on the ball, making it more difficult for the batter to strike the ball squarely with the bat. The lowering of the mound in 1969 was intended to "increase the batting" once again, as pitching had become increasingly dominant, reaching its peak the prior year; 1968 is known among baseball historians as "The Year of the Pitcher". This restrictive rule apparently did its job, contributing to the hitting surge of modern baseball.

A pitcher's mound is difficult for groundskeepers to maintain. On youth and amateur baseball fields, the mound may be much different than the rulebook definition due to erosion and repair attempts. Even in the major leagues, each mound gains its own character, as pitchers are allowed to kick away pieces of dirt in their way, thereby sculpting the mound a bit to their preference.



A baseline is the direct route—a straight line— between two adjacent bases. The basepath is the region within three feet (0.9 meters) of the baseline. Baserunners are not required to run in this objective basepath, however; a baserunner may run wherever he wants when no play is being attempted on him. At the moment the defense begins to attempt a tag on him, his running baseline is established as a direct line from his current position to the base which he is trying for. The runner may not stray three feet away from this line in an attempt to avoid a tag; if he does, he is automatically out.


Grass line

The grass line, where the dirt of the infield ends and the grass of the outfield begins, has no special significance to the rules of the game. Its only purpose is to act as a visual aid so that participants, fans, and umpires may better judge distance from the center of the diamond.



The basic layout of the diamond has been little changed since the original Knickerbocker Rules of the 1840s. The distance between bases was already established as 90 feet, which it remains to this day. Through trial and error, 90 feet had been settled upon as the optimal distance. 100 feet would have given too much advantage to the defense, and 80 feet too much to the offense. As athleticism has improved on both sides of the equation, 90 feet remains the appropriate balance between hitting and fielding, as it continues to provide frequent tests between the speed of a batter-runner and the throwing arm of a fielder.

It is the pitching distance, and other aspects of the pitcher's mound, and of pitching itself, that have been tinkered with from time to time over the many decades, in an effort to keep an appropriate balance between pitching and hitting.

In contrast to the distance between the bases, which seems natural enough, the very specific pitching distance of 60 feet 6 inches is one of those sports oddities that seems like a mistake unless one knows the history. To paraphrase Mae West, "Never mind the 60 feet, let's talk about the 6 inches":

  • The original Knickerbocker Rules did not specify the pitching distance explicitly.
  • By the time major league baseball began in the 1870s, the pitcher was compelled to pitch from within a "box" whose front edge was 45 feet from the "point" of home plate. Although he had to release the ball before crossing the line, as with bowlers in cricket, he also had to start his delivery from within the box; he could not run in from the field as bowlers do. Furthermore, he had to throw underhand. By the 1880s, pitchers had mastered the underhand delivery quite well. The year 1880 saw two perfect games within a week of each other.
  • In an attempt to "increase the batting", the front edge of the pitcher's box was moved back 5 feet in 1881, to 50 feet from home plate.
  • The size of the box was tinkered with over the next few years. Pitchers were allowed to throw overhand starting in 1884, and that tilted the balance of power again. In 1887, the box was set at 4 feet wide and 5 1/2 feet deep, with the front edge still 50 feet from the plate. However, the pitcher was compelled to deliver the ball with his back foot at the 55 1/2 foot line of the box, thus somewhat restricting his ability to "power" the ball with his overhand delivery.
  • In 1893, the box was replaced by the pitcher's plate, although the term "knocked out of the box" is still sometimes used when a pitcher is replaced for ineffectiveness. Exactly 5 feet was added to the point the pitcher had to toe, again "to increase the batting" (and hopefully to increase attendance, as fan interest had flagged somewhat), resulting in the peculiar pitching distance of 60 1/2 feet.
  • Many sources tend to say that the pitching distance evolved from 45 to 50 to 60 1/2 feet. However, the first two were the "release point" and the third is the "pushoff point", so the 1893 increase was not quite as dramatic as is often implied; that is, the 1893 rule change added only 5 feet to the release point, not 10 1/2 feet.
  • Originally the pitcher threw from flat ground (as softball pitchers still do), but over time the mound was developed, tipping the balance back the pitchers' way somewhat.

See also

  • Baseball


  • Official Rules of Major League Baseball
  • The Baseball Encyclopedia, published by MacMillan).
  • Glory Fades Away, by Jerry Lansch

Baseball Pitch

In baseball, a pitch is the act of throwing a baseball toward home plate to start a play. The term comes from the Knickerbocker Rules. Originally, the ball had to be literally "pitched" underhand, as with pitching horseshoes. Overhand throwing was not allowed in baseball until 1884.

Pitchers throw a variety of pitches, each of which has a slightly different velocity, trajectory, movement, and/or arm angle. These variations are introduced to confuse the batter in various ways, and ultimately aid the defensive team in getting the batter or baserunners out.

To obtain variety, and therefore enhance defensive baseball strategy, the pitcher manipulates the grip on the ball at the point of release. Variations in the grip, cause the seams to "catch" the air differently, therefore changing the trajectory of the ball, making it harder for the batter to hit.


  • 1 List of pitches
    • 1.1 Fastballs
    • 1.2 Breaking balls
    • 1.3 Changeups
    • 1.4 Others


List of pitches



The fastball is the most common pitch in baseball, and all pitchers have some form of a fastball in their arsenal. At its simplest, it is a straight pitch thrown very fast. The cut fastball, split-finger fastball and forkball are variations on the fastball with extra movement. The most common fastball type pitches are:

  • four-seam fastball (rising fastball)
  • two-seam fastball
    • cutter
    • splitter
    • sinker
  • forkball

Breaking balls

Well-thrown breaking balls have movement—sideways or downward usually. The goal is usually to make the ball difficult to hit well or confusing to batters. Most breaking balls are considered off-speed pitches. The most common breaking pitches are:

  • curveball
    • knuckle curve
    • slurve
  • slider
  • screwball
  • submarine (actually a pitching motion, not a distinct pitch type)


The changeup is the staple off-speed pitch, usually thrown to look like a fastball but arriving much slower to the plate. It is meant to confuse the batter's timing. The most common changeups are:

  • palmball
  • circle change
  • changeup


Other pitches which are or have been used in baseball are:

  • knuckleball
  • Eephus pitch
  • brushback and beanball
  • spitball
  • pitchout
  • intentional ball
  • gyroball
  • Shuuto

See also: Wild pitch

Retrieved from ""


Home plate umpire Gary Darling signals that the last pitch was a strike
Home plate umpire Gary Darling signals that the last pitch was a strike

In baseball, the umpire is the person charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and meting out discipline. The term is often shortened to the colloquial form ump. They are also addressed as blue due to the color of the uniform some umpires wear. (It should be noted that on the professional level, umpires generally disdain being called "blue", preferring instead to be called by their name.) Although games were often officiated by a sole umpire in the formative years of the sport, from the turn of the 20th century onward officiating has been commonly divided among several umpires, who form the umpiring crew.



Duties and positions

In a baseball game officiated by two or more umpires, the plate umpire is the umpire who is positioned behind home plate. This umpire calls balls and strikes, calls fair balls and foul balls short of first/third base, and makes most calls concerning the batter or concerning baserunners near home plate. If another umpire leaves the infield to cover a potential play in foul ground or in the outfield, then the plate umpire may move to cover a potential play near second or third base. The plate umpire is often mistakenly called the "umpire-in-chief(UIC)". This term refers to the head umpire on the field. In most leagues, the UIC is the plate umpire, in higher levels or playoff tournaments where 3 or more officials are used, however, the UIC is not always the plate umpire. Traditionally, an umpiring crew rotates such that each umpire in the crew works each position, including umpire-in-chief, an equal number of games. On the Major League level, an umpiring crew generally rotates positions clockwise each game; for example, the plate umpire in one game would umpire third base in the next.

The other umpires are called base umpires, as they are commonly stationed near the bases. (Field umpire is an incorrect term for any position.) When two umpires are used, the second umpire is simply the base umpire. This umpire will make most calls concerning runners on the bases and nearby plays, as well as in the middle of the outfield. When three umpires are used, the second umpire is called the first base umpire and the third umpire is called the third base umpire, even though the various umpires may move to different positions on the field as the play demands. When four umpires are used, each umpire is named after the base they are stationed near. Sometimes a league will provide six umpires; then, two are stationed in the outfield and then may be called outfield umpires. In Major League Baseball, outfield umpires are only used during the playoffs and the All-Star Game, when they are stationed in foul territory on both sides, and are thus known as the left- and right-field umpires. Rulings on catches of batted balls are usually made by the umpire closest to the play.

The term umpire-in-chief is not to be confused with the umpiring crew chief or crew chief, who is usually the most experienced umpire in a crew. On the major league and high minor league level (Class AA and AAA), the crew-chief acts as a liaison between the league office and the crew and has a supervisory role over other members of the crew.

For example, on the Major League level, "[t]he Crew Chief shall coordinate and direct his crew's compliance with the Office of the Commissioner's rules and policies. Other Crew Chief responsibilities include: leading periodic discussions and reviews of situations, plays and rules with his crew; generally directing the work of the other umpires on the crew, with particular emphasis on uniformity in dealing with unique situations; assigning responsibilities for maintaining time limits during the game; ensuring the timely filing of all required crew reports for incidents such as ejections, brawls and protested games; and reporting to the Office of Commissioner any irregularity in field conditions at any ballpark." [1] Thus, on the professional level, some of the duties assigned to the umpire-in-chief (the plate umpire) in the Official Baseball Rules have been reassigned to the crew chief, regardless of the crew chief's umpiring position.

Unlike referees in American football, an umpire's judgment call is final, unless the umpire making the call chooses to ask his partner(s) for help and then decides to reverse it after the discussion. If an umpire seems to make an error in rule interpretation, his call in some leagues can be officially protested. If the umpire is persistent in his or her interpretation, the matter will be settled at a later time by a league official. Such protests are seldom upheld; indeed, in most cases of protest, the umpire's interpretation is found to be correct.

Amateur Umpiring

Just as kids play little league before progressing into a more competitive style of baseball, the best place for new umpires to get experience is at the local level. Almost every league in every city will use amateur umpires to call games. The only difference between an amateur and professional umpire is the level of play. An amateur umpire should carry the same amount of respect for the game as that of a professional umpire. Umpires are responsible for ensuring that all players, coaches, and fans conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner, and that the game is played so that the focus is on playing, rather than on personal matters or "bad blood" between opposing teams. Each umpire has the authority to eject any player, spectator, or coach from the premises in order to insure the integrity of the game. There are numerous organizations that train/test anyone interested in umpiring for local leagues and can help make connections to the leagues in the area. Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball are two of the most popular organizations when it comes to youth baseball and each have their own application, test, and training process for becoming an umpire.

Little League Baseball:

Babe Ruth Baseball:

Amateur Baseball Umpires Association:

Professional umpiring

Becoming a Major League Baseball (United States) umpire is a long and tough road, with very long odds of success. First, a person desiring to become a professional umpire must attend one of two private umpiring schools authorized by Major League Baseball: The Jim Evans Umpire Academy or The Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School. Both schools are run by former Major League umpires and are located in Florida. There is no prerequisite for attending these schools; it is said that the teachers even prefer unexperience players that they might start their training afresh.

After five weeks of training, each school sends its top students to the Professional Baseball Umpires Corp. (PBUC) evaluation course also held in Florida. The actual number of students sent on to the evaluation course is determined by PBUC and not the umpire schools. Generally, the top 10 to 20 percent of each school's graduating class advance. The evaluation course is conducted by PBUC staff, which differs in personnel from the staff at the respective umpire schools. The evaluation course generally lasts around 10 days. Depending on the number of available positions in the various minor leagues, so many (but not all) of the evaluation course attendees will be assigned to a low level minor league.

Professional umpires begin their careers in a Class "A" league, which is divided into four levels (rookie, short-season, long-season and advanced "A"). Top umpiring prospects will often begin their careers in a short-season "A" league (for example, the New York-Penn League), but most will begin in a rookie league (for example, the Gulf Coast League).

Throughout the season all minor league umpires in Class A and Class AA are evaluated by members of the PBUC staff. All umpires receive a detailed written evaluation of their performance after every season. In addition, all umpires, except those in the rookie or short "A" leagues, receive written mid-season evaluations.

Generally, an umpire is regarded as making adequate progress "up the ranks" if he advances up one level of Class "A" ball each year (thus earning promotion to Class AA after three to four years) and promotion to Class AAA after two to three years on the Class AA level. However, this is a very rough estimate and other factors not discussed (such as a lack of or overwhelming number of retirements at higher levels) may dramatically affect these estimates. For example, many umpires saw rapid advancement in 1999 due to the mass resignation of many Major League umpires as a collective bargaining ploy.

When promoted to the Class AAA level, an umpire's evaluation will also be conducted by the umpiring supervisory staff of Major League Baseball. In recent years, top AAA prospects, in addition to umpiring and being evaluated during the regular season (in either the International or Pacific Coast League) have been required to umpire in the Arizona Fall League where they receive extensive training and evaluation by Major League Baseball staff.

In addition, top AAA prospects may also be rewarded with umpiring only Major League pre-season games during spring training (in lieu of Class AAA games). Finally, the very top prospects may umpire Major League regular season games on a limited basis as "fill-in" umpires (where the Class AAA umpire replaces a sick, injured or vacationing Major League umpire).

Finally, upon the retirement of a Major League umpire, a top Class AAA umpire will be promoted to Major League Baseball's permanent umpire staff. It should be noted, that during this entire process, if an umpire is evaluated as no longer being a major-league prospect, he (or she) will be released, ending their professional career.

There are currently (in 2005) 68 umpires on Major League Baseball's permanent staff, and 21 Class AAA umpires eligible to umpire regular season Major League games as a "fill-in" umpire. [2]

Major League umpires earn $100,000 to $300,000 per year depending on their experience. Minor league umpires earn a drastically lower salary.

Famous umpires

Umpires are eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame for their careers, and eight umpires have been thus inducted:

Other noteworthy umpires have included:

For other umpires, see Category:Baseball umpires and List of baseball umpires

Origin of the word "umpire"

"Kill the ump" might have been "kill the nump," but a linguistic process known as false splitting or juncture loss intervened.

According to the Middle English Dictionary entry for noumpere, the predecessor of umpire, which came from the Old French nonper (from non, "not" + per, "equal") meaning "one who is requested to act as arbiter of a dispute between two people"--meaning that the arbiter is not paired with anyone in the dispute.

In Middle English, the earliest form of this shows up as noumper around 1350, and the earliest version without the n shows up as owmpere, a variant spelling in Middle English, circa 1440.

The n was lost after it was written (in 1426-1427) as a noounpier with the a being the indefinite article. The leading n became attached to the article, changing it to an Oumper around 1475. Thus today we say "an umpire" instead of "a numpire."

External links

Baseball glove

(Redirected from Baseball mitt)
Jump to: navigation, search
Glove front (top) shows catching surface with baseball bat. Glove back (bottom).
Glove front (top) shows catching surface with baseball bat. Glove back (bottom).

A baseball glove or mitt is a large leather glove that baseball players on the defending team are allowed to wear to assist them in catching and fielding balls hit by a batter.

Some say the first player to use a baseball glove was Doug Allison, a catcher for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1870, due to an injured left hand. The first documented story of glove use however concerns Charles Waitt, a St. Louis outfielder-first baseman who in 1875 donned a pair of flesh-colored gloves. While glove usage was not accepted by all players at first, being considered "sissy" by many, it slowly caught on as more and more players began using different forms of gloves. Many early baseball gloves were simple leather gloves with the fingertips cut off, supposedly to allow for the same control of a bare hand, but with extra padding. The adoption of the baseball glove by baseball star Albert Spalding when he began playing first base influenced more infielders to begin using gloves. By the mid 1890s, it was the norm for players to wear gloves in the field.

Since their beginnings, baseball gloves have grown. While catching in baseball had always been two handed, eventually, gloves grew to a size that made it easier to catch the ball in the webbing of the glove, and use the off-hand to keep it from falling out.

Now, gloves have taken on many shapes and sizes:

  • Catcher's mitts have extra padding and a hinged, claw-like shape that helps them to catch 90+ mile per hour fastballs, and provide a good target for pitchers to throw at. If required to catch a knuckleball, a catcher will typically use an even larger mitt.
  • Pitcher's gloves usually have a closed webbing to allow them to get a grip on the ball without tipping their pitches
  • First basemen's mitts are generally very long and wide to help them with scooping badly thrown balls from infielders. These mitts lack individual fingers.
  • Outfield gloves are usually quite long, to help with both catching fly balls on the run or on a dive and so they do not have to bend down as far to field a ground ball, so they can return it to the infield.
  • Infield baseball gloves other than the first basemens' tend to be smaller, to allow the players to easily fish the ball out of the dirt with their glove to make a quick throw to first base.

See also

Baseball Manager

In baseball, the head coach of a team is called the manager (or more formally, the field manager); this individual controls matters of team strategy on the field and team leadership. The manager sets the line-up and starting pitcher before each game as well as making substitutions throughout the game. How much control a manager takes in player strategy varies from one manager to another. Some managers control pitch selection, defensive positioning, decisions to bunt/steal/pitch out, etc., while others leave these decisions to a player's discretion. Most find a balance somewhere in the middle.

In modern baseball the field manager is normally subordinate to the team's general manager, who among other things is responsible for personnel decisions, including hiring and firing the field manager. However, the term manager used without qualification almost always refers to the field manager, while the general manager is often called the GM.


  • 1 Current MLB Managers
    • 1.1 American League
    • 1.2 National League
  • 2 See also

Current MLB Managers


American League

Team Manager Managing Since
Baltimore Orioles Sam Perlozzo 2005
Boston Red Sox Terry Francona 2004
Chicago White Sox Ozzie Guillén 2004
Cleveland Indians Eric Wedge 2003
Detroit Tigers Jim Leyland 2006
Kansas City Royals Buddy Bell 2005
Los Angeles Angels Mike Scioscia 2000
Minnesota Twins Ron Gardenhire 2002
New York Yankees Joe Torre 1996
Oakland Athletics Ken Macha 2003
Seattle Mariners Mike Hargrove 2004
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Joe Maddon 2006
Texas Rangers Buck Showalter 2003
Toronto Blue Jays John Gibbons 2004

National League

Team Manager Managing Since
Arizona Diamondbacks Bob Melvin 2004
Atlanta Braves Bobby Cox 1991
Chicago Cubs Dusty Baker 2003
Cincinnati Reds Jerry Narron 2005
Colorado Rockies Clint Hurdle 2003
Florida Marlins Joe Girardi 2006
Houston Astros Phil Garner 2004
Los Angeles Dodgers Grady Little 2006
Milwaukee Brewers Ned Yost 2003
New York Mets Willie Randolph 2004
Philadelphia Phillies Charlie Manuel 2005
Pittsburgh Pirates Jim Tracy 2006
St. Louis Cardinals Tony La Russa 1996
San Diego Padres Bruce Bochy 1995
San Francisco Giants Felipe Alou 2003
Washington Nationals Frank Robinson 2002

See also

  • General Manager
Retrieved from ""

Baseball Statistics

As with many sports, and perhaps even more so, statistics are very important to baseball. A seemingly intrinsic part of the game is the keeping of statistics on the achievements of the players. The practice was started by Henry Chadwick in the 19th century who devised the concepts of batting average and earned run average based on his experience of cricket. Statistics have been kept for the Major Leagues since their creation.

General managers and baseball scouts study player statistics to decide what players to try to get for their team. Managers, catchers and pitchers study statistics of batters on opposing teams to figure out how best to pitch to them and position the players. Managers and batters study opposing pitchers to figure out how best to hit them. Managers often base their personnel decisions during the game on statistics, such as choosing who to put in the lineup, or which relief pitcher to bring in.

Traditionally, statistics like batting average for batters (the number of hits divided by the number of at bats) and earned run average (approximately the number of runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings) have governed the statistical world of baseball. However, the advent of sabermetrics brought an onslaught of new statistics that better gauge a player's performance and contributions to his team from year to year.

Some sabermetric statistics have entered the mainstream baseball world. Among statistics that do an excellent job of measuring a batter's performance, On-base plus slugging (OPS) is the easiest to calculate. It adds the hitter's on base percentage (number of times reached base -by any means- divided by total plate appearances) to his or her slugging percentage (total bases divided by at bats). Some argue that the OPS formula is flawed and that more weight should be shifted towards OBP (on base percentage). Regardless, OPS still stands as the most direct means of evaluating a hitter's performance using readily available statistics.

OPS is also useful when determining a pitcher's level of success. 'Opponent On-base Plus Slugging' (OOPS) is becoming a popular way to evaluating a pitcher's actual performance. When analyzing a pitcher's statistics, some useful categories to consider are: K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), K/BB (strikeouts per walk), WHIP (walks+hits per inning pitched) and OOPS (opponent on-base plus slugging). When viewing all these categories together, you gain a much clearer picture of the pitcher's success level (as opposed to simply considering W-L and ERA).

Since 2001, more emphasis has been placed on Defense-Independent Pitching Statistics. These statistics, such as Defense-Independent ERA (dERA), evaluate a pitcher solely according to those events governed solely by the pitcher's performance, regardless of the strength of the defensive players behind him.

Also important are all of those statistics in certain in-game situations. For example, a certain hitter's ability to hit left-handed pitchers might cause his manager to give him more chances to face lefties. Other hitters may have a history of success against a given pitcher (or vice versa), and the manager may use this information to engineer a favourable matchup.

Comprehensive, historical baseball statistics were difficult for the average fan to access until 1951, when researcher Hy Turkin published "The Complete Encyclopedia of Baseball". In 1969, MacMillan Publishing printed its first Baseball Encyclopedia, using a computer to compile stats for the first time. "Big Mac" became the standard baseball reference until 1988, when Total Baseball was released by Warner Books, using even more sophisticated technology. (This led to discovery, and expulsion, of several players who didn't belong in the record books -- "phantom ballplayers", like Lou Proctor.)


  • 1 Commonly used statistics
    • 1.1 Batting statistics
    • 1.2 Baserunning statistics
    • 1.3 Pitching statistics
    • 1.4 Fielding statistics
    • 1.5 General statistics
  • 2 See also
  • 3 Other terminology


Commonly used statistics

Most of these terms also apply to softball. Commonly used statistics with their abbreviations are explained here. The explanations below are for quick reference and do not fully or completely define the statistic; for the strict definition, see the corresponding article for each statistic.


Batting statistics

  • 1B - Single - hits on which the batter reached first base safely without the contribution of a fielding error.
  • 2B - Double - hits on which the batter reached second base safely without the contribution of a fielding error.
  • 3B - Triple - hits on which the batter reached third base safely without the contribution of a fielding error.
  • AB - At bat - Batting appearances, not including bases on balls, hit by pitch, sacrifices, interference, or obstruction
  • BA - Batting average (also abbreviated AVG) - hits divided by at bats
  • BB - Base on balls (also called a "walk") - times receiving four balls and advancing to first base
  • BBP - Walk percentage - number of base on balls divided by plate appearances
  • BB/K - Walk-to-strikeout ratio - number of base on balls divided by number of strikeouts
  • EBH - Extra base hit (Sometimes EB or XBH) - doubles plus triples plus home runs
  • FC - Fielder's choice - times reaching base when a fielder chose to try for an out on another runner
  • G/F - Ground ball fly ball ratio - number of ground balls divided by number of fly balls
  • GIDP - Ground into Double play - number of ground balls hit that became double plays
  • GS - Grand Slam - a home run with the bases loaded, resulting in four runs scoring, and four RBI credited to the batter.
  • H - Hit - times reached base because of a batted, fair ball without error by the defense
  • HBP - Hit by pitch - times touched by a pitch and awarded first base as a result
  • HR - Home run - hits on which the batter successfully touched all four bases, without the contribution of a fielding error.
  • K - Strike out - number of times that strike three is taken or swung at and missed, or bunted foul
  • LOB - Left on base - number of runners not out nor scored at the end of an innning.
  • OBP - On base percentage - times reached base (H + BB + HBP) divided by at bats plus walks plus hit by pitch plus sacrifice flies (AB + BB + HBP + SF).
  • OPS - On-base plus slugging - on-base percentage plus slugging percentage
  • PA - Plate appearance - number of completed batting appearances no matter the result
  • RBI - Run batted in - number of runners who scored due to a batters's action, except when batter grounded into double play or reached on an error
  • SAC - Sacrifice bunt - number of times bunts advanced other runners (sometimes called sacrifice hit or SH)
  • SF - Sacrifice fly - number of fly ball outs which allow another runner to score
  • SLG - Slugging percentage - total bases divided by at-bats
  • TA - Total average - total bases, plus walks, plus steals, divided by plate appearances plus caught stealing
  • TB - Total bases - one for each single, two for each double, three for each triple, and four for each home run
  • TOB - Times on base - times reaching base as a result of hits, walks and hit by pitches

Baserunning statistics

  • CS - Caught stealing - times tagged out when attempting to steal a base or when picked off
  • SB - Stolen base - number of bases advanced other than on batted balls, walks, or hits by pitch.
  • R - Run - times reached home base legally and safely

Pitching statistics

  • AVG - Opponents batting average - hits allowed divided by at-bats faced
  • BB - Base on balls (also called a "walk") - times pitching four balls, allowing runner to advance to first base
  • BB/9 - Base on balls times nine divided by innings pitched
  • BS - Blown save - number of times entering the game in a save situation, and being charged the run which ties the game.
  • CG - Complete game - number of games where player was the only pitcher for his team
  • dERA - Defense-Independent ERA - a measure of a pitcher's effectiveness that doesn't include balls hit within the field of play
  • ER - Earned run - number of runs that did not occur as a result of errors or passed balls
  • ERA - Earned run average - earned runs times innings in a game (usually nine) divided by innings pitched
  • GIR - Games in relief - number of games pitched where player was not the starting pitcher for his team
  • GF - Games finished - number of games pitched where player was the final pitcher for his team
  • GP - Games pitched - number of games in which the player pitched
  • G/F - Ground ball fly ball ratio - ground balls allowed divided by fly balls allowed
  • GS - Games started - number of games pitched where player was the first pitcher for his team
  • H/9 - Hits per nine innings - hits allowed times nine divided by innings pitched
  • HA - Hits Allowed - total hits allowed
  • HB - Hit batsman - times hit a batter with pitch, allowing runner to advance to first base
  • HLD (or H) - Hold - number of games entered in a save situation, left in save situation, recorded at least one out, and not having surrendered the lead
  • HRA - Home runs allowed - total home runs allowed
  • IBB - Intentional base on balls
  • IRA - Inherited runs allowed - number of runners allowed to score who were on base when pitcher enters the game
  • IP - Innings pitched - number of outs recorded while pitching divided by three
  • K - Strikeout (also abbreviated K) - number of batters who received strike three
  • K/9 - Strikeouts per nine innings - strikeouts times nine divided by innings pitched
  • K/BB - Strikeout-to-walk ratio - number of strikeouts divided by number of base on balls
  • L - Loss - number of games where pitcher was pitching while the opposing team took the lead and went on to win
  • R/9 - Runs per nine innings - number of runs allowed times nine divided by innings pitched
  • SHO - Shutout - number of complete games having allowed zero runs
  • SV - Save - number of close games finished where the pitcher's team won
  • TBF - Total batters faced - opponent's total plate appearances
  • W - Win - number of games where pitcher was pitching while his team took the lead and went on to win (also related: winning percentage)
  • W+S - Relief wins plus saves - wins plus saves
  • WHIP - Walks plus hits per inning pitched - bases on balls plus hits divided by innings pitched
  • W/9 - Walks per nine innings - bases on balls times nine divided by innings pitched
  • WP - Wild pitches - charged when a pitch is too high, low, or wide of home plate for the catcher to field, thereby allowing one or more runners to advance or score

See also

  • List of pitches

Fielding statistics

  • A - Assists - number of outs recorded on a play where a fielder touched the ball, except if such touching is the putout
  • DP - Double plays - one for each double play during which the fielder recorded a putout or an assist.
  • E - Errors - number of times a fielder fails to make a play he should have made with common effort, and the offense benefits as a result
  • FP - Fielding percentage - total plays (chances minus errors) divided by the number of total chances
  • INN - Innings - number of innings that a player is at one certain position
  • PB - Passed ball - error charged to the catcher that occurs when the ball is dropped and one or more runners advance
  • PO - Putout - number of times the fielder tags, forces, or appeals a runner and he is called out as a result
  • RF - Range factor - ([putouts + assists]*9)/innings played. Used to determine the amount of field that the player can cover
  • SB - Stolen bases - number of times a runner advanced on the pitch without being thrown out by the catcher
  • TC - Total chances - assists plus putouts plus errors
  • TP - Triple play - one for each triple play during which the fielder recorded a putout or an assist

General statistics

  • G - Games played - number of games where the player played, in whole or in part
  • WW - "Wasn't Watching" - used by non-official scorekeepers when their attention is distracted from the game - said to have been invented by Phil Rizzuto

See also

  • Triple Crown in Major League Baseball
  • MLB Most Valuable Player Award winners
  • Cy Young Award winners
  • MLB Rookie of the Year Award winners
  • Gold Glove Award winners

Other terminology

  • Ball
  • Strike
  • Strike zone
Retrieved from ""
  • Article
  • Discussion
  • Edit this page
  • History
Personal tools
  • Sign in / create account
  • Main Page
  • Community Portal
  • Current events
  • Recent changes
  • Random article
  • Help
  • Contact Wikipedia
  • Donations
  • What links here
  • Related changes
  • Upload file
  • Special pages
  • Printable version
  • Cite this article
In other languages
  • Dansk
  • Deutsch

Baseball Coach

In baseball, a number of coaches assist in the smooth functioning of a team. The most prominent is the manager who determines the lineup and decides how to substitute players during the game. Beyond the manager, more than a half dozen coaches may assist the manager in running the team. Baseball is unique in that the manager and coaches all wear numbered uniforms similar to those of the players. One noteable exception to this was Baseball Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack, who always wore a black suit and never dressed like a player while managing.

The team is assisted by two on-field coaches when it is at bat. They are stationed near first and third base to signal and direct the runners and batters. These coaches are called the first base coach and third base coach, respectively, and position themselves in designated coach's boxes. The third base coach typically has more responsibility because he must quickly and accurately signal to a baserunner whether he should attempt to score on a batted ball.

In addition, a team may have several other coaches who specialize in certain disciplines. A pitching coach mentors and trains pitchers. A hitting coach works with players to improve their hitting techniques and form. A bullpen coach is similar to a pitching coach but works primarily with relief pitchers in the bullpen. Another coaching position is the catching instructor who advises catchers. Many teams also employ special instructors in defense and baserunning. The position of bench coach is relatively new in baseball. The bench coach's responsibilities include helping to set up the day's practice and stretching routines before a game. Once the game begins, the bench coach acts mostly like an assistant manager, offering the manager situational advice. Because of MLB rules on the number of coaches, the same person may hold more than one of these positions.

Teams may hire more than one person for any given coaching position based on the team's needs. Teams may also hire people to serve as general coaches or instructors without any specific title who instead may perform any one or more of the duties listed above. Often times coaches will be former players themselves who can teach current players from their own experience.


For the Ken Burns documentary, see Baseball (documentary).
For unrelated computer and video games entitled Baseball or similar names, see Baseball (computer game).

Baseball is a team sport in which a player on one team (the pitcher) attempts to throw a hard, fist-sized ball within a zone over home plate while a player on the other team (the batter) attempts to hit the baseball with a tapered, smooth, cylindrical bat that can be made out of either wood (professional baseball) or metal alloys (amateur baseball).

A team scores only when batting, by advancing counter-clockwise past a series of four markers called bases arranged at the corners of a diamond. Each base is 90 feet from the previous base (except in amateur baseball).

Both "softballs" and "hardballs" fall under the sport named "baseball." The main difference between the two lies in pitching. In softballs, the pitcher delivers the ball with an underhand throw, where in hardballs, the ball is thrown overhand (hardball is traditional baseball). Other differences include ball size (softballs are larger) and field dimensions (softballs are shorter and distance between bases is 60 feet).

A view of the playing field at Busch Stadium II in St. Louis, Missouri.
A view of the playing field at Busch Stadium II in St. Louis, Missouri.
Picture of Fenway Park. Part of the "Green Monster" can be seen on the right side of this picture
Picture of Fenway Park. Part of the "Green Monster" can be seen on the right side of this picture

Baseball is most popular in the Americas and East Asia (although in South America only in the extreme northern portion). In Japan, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, Nicaragua, South Korea, and Taiwan, it is one of the most popular sports. The United States is the birthplace of baseball, where it has long been regarded as more than just a "major sport" - it has been considered, for decades, the national pastime and Major League Baseball has been given a unique monopoly status by the U.S. Congress; the total attendance for Major League games is roughly equal to that of all other American professional team sports combined, this being due to the fact that they play far more games per season (162 regular season and 11 minimum postseason games) than any other sport. Among American television viewers, however, baseball has been surpassed in popularity (in terms of television ratings) by American football. Although three of the four most popular sports in North America are ball games (baseball, basketball and American football), baseball's popularity grew so great that the word "ballgame" in the United States almost always refers to a game of baseball, and "ballpark" to a baseball field. Of notable exception is in the south, where "ballgame" is used more frequently in association with the more popular football.




Main article: History of baseball

Baseball is among the most popular team sports in the United States. A unique culture surrounds it, which includes the game itself, the field, the players, the ballparks, and the fans. It remains a sport created in and for simpler times, yet is a complex sport that is greater than any one individual, team, or era. Baseball's current popularity is supposed to be less than that of football; its greater attendance than all other team sports combined (see above) is supposedly a function of its longer season. Yet the 162 game MLB season is only twice that of the NHL or NBA, both of which play 82 game seasons. It's odd that baseball's attendance figures (which reached another record in 2005) are explained away by its longer season, yet the same explanation isn't used to consider why baseball's TV ratings are lower. There are ten times as many baseball than football games in any given year, yet football doesn't get ten times the ratings for nationally televised games, let alone ten times baseball's per-game attendance. Also, the intensity of the fan base must be considered. Even in the South, where football and NASCAR are the apparent kings, baseball books far out-number football books in your local Barnes and Noble.

The origins and evolution of the various bat-and-ball games are murky, and many believe that baseball is primarily an American invention. However, many believe that it originated as an adaptation of the game of rounders, vigaro and was also influenced by the rules of cricket. Indeed, the English author Jane Austen specifically mentions the game of baseball in her novel, Northanger Abbey, being played by the protagonist, Catherine Moreland. The book was first written in 1798 and revised until publication in 1803. As far back as the 1870s, American newspapers were referring to baseball as "The National Pastime" or "The National Game." An award-winning account of the origins of the game is David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2005). The publisher's description of the book notes that "David Block looks into the early history of the game and of the 150-year-old debate about its beginnings. He tackles one stubborn misconception after another, debunking the enduring belief that baseball descended from the English game of rounders and revealing a surprising new explanation for the most notorious myth of all—the Abner Doubleday–Cooperstown story." In short, the debate on the game's origins may never be settled to everyone's satisfaction.

A substantial part of baseball's appeal is that most of the games take place during the warm, relatively leisurely months of the year, which is why many people refer to baseball players as "The Boys of Summer."

Baseball is a perennial attraction—summarized below in Baseball's unique style—unlike any other mainstream, American sport. Many people believe that baseball is the ultimate combination of skill, timing, athleticism, and strategy. Yogi Berra (a Hall of Fame baseball player) once said: "Baseball is 90% mental—the other half is physical."

The following section on Gameplay provides the rules of game, but the lure of baseball is in its subtleties: situational defense, pitch location, pitch sequence, statistics, ball parks, history, and player personalities. For the avid fan, the game—even during its slowest points—is never boring because of these nuances. Therefore, a full appreciation of baseball naturally requires some knowledge of the rules; it also requires deep observation of those endearing and enduring qualities that give baseball its unique style.


A simplified version of the rules of baseball is at simplified baseball rules. Also visit, the official web site of Major League Baseball in the United States, where you can access the complete Official Rules, and view clips of baseball being played during the baseball season (April-October).

General structure

Diagram of a baseball diamond.
Diagram of a baseball diamond.

Baseball is played between two teams of nine players each on a baseball field, under the authority of one or more officials, called umpires. There are usually four umpires in major league games; up to six (and as few as one) may officiate depending on the league and the importance of the game. There are four bases. Numbered counter-clockwise, first, second and third bases are cushions (sometimes informally referred to as bags) shaped as 15 in (38 cm) squares which are raised a short distance above the ground; together with home plate, the fourth "base," they form a square with sides of 90 ft (27.4 m) called the diamond. Home base (plate) is a pentagonal rubber slab known as simply home. The field is divided into two main sections:

  • The infield, containing the four bases, is for defensive and conversational purposes bounded by the foul lines and the grass line (see figure). However, the infield technically consists of only the area within and including the bases and foul lines.
  • The outfield is the grassed area beyond the infield grass line (for general purposes; see above under infield), between the foul lines, and bounded by a wall or fence. Again, there is a technical difference; properly speaking, the outfield consists of all fair ground beyond the square of the infield and its bases. The area between the foul lines, including the foul lines (the foul lines are in fair territory), is fair territory, and the area outside the foul lines is foul territory.

The game is played in nine innings in which each team gets one turn to bat and try to score runs while the other pitches and defends in the field. In baseball, the defense always has the ball -- a fact that differentiates it from most other team sports. The teams switch every time the defending team gets three players of the batting team out. The winner is the team with the most runs after nine innings. In the case of a tie, additional innings are played until one team comes out ahead at the end of an inning (if the visitors are ahead) or in an incomplete inning (if the home team scores to take the lead in its half of an extra inning, the game ends at that point). At the start of the game, all nine players of the home team play the field, while players on the visiting team come to bat one at a time.

A batter follows through after swinging at a pitched ball.
A batter follows through after swinging at a pitched ball.

The basic contest is always between the pitcher for the fielding team, and a batter. The pitcher throws—pitches—the ball towards home plate, where the catcher for the fielding team waits (in a crouched stance) to receive it. Behind the catcher stands the home plate umpire. The batter stands in one of the batter's boxes and tries to hit the ball with a bat. The pitcher must keep one foot in contact with the top or front of the pitcher's rubber—a 24" x 6" (~ 61 cm x 15 cm) plate located atop the pitcher's mound—during the entire pitch, so he can only take one step backward and one forward in delivering the ball. The catcher's job is to receive any BALLS that the batter has and to "call" the game by a series of hand movements that signal to the pitcher what pitch to throw and where. If the pitcher disagrees with the call, he will "shake off" the catcher by shaking his head; he accepts the sign by nodding. The catcher's role becomes more crucial depending on how the game is going, and how the pitcher responds to a given situation. Each pitch begins a new play, which might consist of nothing more than the pitch itself.

Each half-inning, the goal of the defending team is to get three members of the other team out. A player who is out must leave the field and wait for his next turn at bat. There are many ways to get batters and baserunners out; some of the most common are catching a batted ball in the air, tag outs, force outs, and strikeouts. After the fielding team has put out three players from the opposing team, that half of the inning is over and the team in the field and the team at bat switch places; there is no upper limit to the number that may bat in rotation before three outs are recorded. Going through the entire order in an inning is referred to as "batting around". It is indicative of a high scoring inning. A complete inning consists of each opposing side having a turn (three outs) on offense.

The goal of the team at bat is to score more runs than the opposition; a player may do so only by batting, then becoming a base runner, touching all the bases in order (via one or more plays), and finally touching home plate. To that end, the goal of each batter is to enable baserunners to score or to become a baserunner himself. The batter attempts to hit the ball into fair territory—between the baselines—in such a way that the defending players cannot get them or the baserunners out. In general, the pitcher attempts to prevent this by pitching the ball in such a way that the batter cannot hit it cleanly or, ideally, at all.

A baserunner who successfully touches home plate after touching all previous bases in order scores a run. In an enclosed field, a fair ball hit over the fence on the fly is normally an automatic home run, which entitles the batter and all runners to touch all the bases and score. A home run hit with all bases occupied ('bases loaded') is called a grand slam.

Fielding team

The squad in the field is the defensive team; they attempt to prevent the baserunners from scoring. There are nine defensive positions, however, only two of the positions have a mandatory location (pitcher and catcher), the locations of the other seven fielders is not specified by the rules, except that at the moment the pitch is delivered they must be positioned in fair territory and not in the space between the pitcher and the catcher. These fielders often shift their positioning in response to specific batters or game situations, and they may exchange positions with one another at any time. The nine positions are: pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder. Scorekeepers label each position with a number starting with the pitcher (1), catcher (2), first baseman (3), second baseman (4), third baseman (5), shortstop (6), left fielder (7), center fielder (8), right fielder (9). This convention was established by Henry Chadwick. The reason the shortstop seems out of order has to do with the way fielders positioned themselves in the early years of the game.

The battery

The battery is composed of the pitcher, who stands on the rubber of the mound, and the catcher, who squats behind home plate. These are the two fielders who always deal directly with the batter on every pitch, hence the term "battery", coined by Henry Chadwick and later reinforced by the implied comparison to artillery fire.

The pitcher's main role is to pitch the ball toward home plate with the goal of getting the batter out. Pitchers also play defense by fielding batted balls, covering bases (for a potential tag out or force out on an approaching runner), or backing up throws. The catcher's main role is to receive the pitch if the batter does not hit it. Together with the pitcher and coaches, the catcher plots game strategy by suggesting different pitches and by shifting the starting positions of the other fielders. Catchers are also responsible for defense in the area near home plate.

The infielders

The four infielders are the first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman. Originally the first, second and third basemen played very near their respective bases, and the shortstop generally played "in" (hence the term), covering the area between second, third, and the pitchers box, or wherever the game situation required. As the game evolved, the fielding positions changed to the now-familiar "umbrella", with the first and third baseman generally positioned a short distance toward second base from their bases, the second baseman to the right side of second base, and the shortstop playing to the left of second base, as seen from the batter's perspective, filling in the gaps.

The first baseman's job consists largely of making force plays at first base on ground balls hit to the other infielders. When an infielder picks up a ball from the ground hit by the batter, he must throw it to the first baseman before the batter gets to the base for the batter to be out. The first baseman must be able to catch the ball very well. The first baseman also fields balls hit near first base. The first baseman also has to receive throws from the pitcher in order to tag runners out who have reached base safely. The position is less physically challenging than the other positions, but there is still a lot of skill involved. Infielders don't always make good throws to first base, so it is the first baseman's job to field any ball thrown toward him cleanly. Older players who can no longer fulfill the demands of their original positions also often become first basemen. The second baseman covers the area to the first-base side of second base and provides backup for the first baseman in bunt situations. He also is a cut-off for the outfield. This is when the outfielder doesn't have to throw the full distance from him/her to the base, but just to the cut-off. The shortstop fills the critical gap between second and third bases—where right-handed batters generally hit ground balls—and also covers second or third base and the near part of left field. This player is also a cut-off for the outfield. This position is the most demanding defensively, so a good shortstop doesn't need to necessarily be a good batter. The third baseman's primary requirement is a strong throwing arm, in order to make the long throw across the infield to the first baseman. Quick reaction time is also important for third basemen, as they tend to see more sharply hit balls than the other infielders, thus the nickname for third base as the "hot corner."

The outfielders

The three outfielders, left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder, are so named from the catcher's perspective looking out onto the field. The right fielder generally has the strongest arm of all the outfielders due to the need to make throws on runners attempting to take third base. The center fielder has more territory to cover than the corner outfielders, so this player must be quick and agile with a strong arm to throw balls in to the infield; as with the shortstop, teams tend to emphasize defense at this position. Also, the center fielder is considered the outfield leader, and left- and right-fielders often cede to his direction when fielding fly balls. Of all outfielders, the left fielder often has the weakest arm, as they generally do not need to throw the ball as far in order to prevent the advance of any baserunners. The left fielder still requires good fielding and catching skills, and tends to receive more balls than the right fielder due to the fact that right-handed hitters, who are much more common, tend to "pull" the ball into left field. The left fielder also backs up third base on pick-off attempts from the catcher.

Defensive strategy

The typical motion of a pitcher
The typical motion of a pitcher
Main article: Pitching

Effective pitching is vitally important to a baseball team, as pitching is the key for the defensive team to retire batters and to preventing runners from getting on base. A full game usually involves over one hundred pitches thrown by each team. However, most pitchers begin to tire before they reach this point. In previous eras, pitchers would often throw up to four complete games (all nine innings) in a week. With new advances in medical research and thus a better understanding of how the human body functions and tires out, starting pitchers tend more often to throw fractions of a game (typically 6 or 7 innings depending on their performance) about every five days (though a few complete games do still occur each year).

Multiple pitchers are often needed in a single game, including the starting pitcher and relief pitcher(s). Pitchers are substituted for one another like any other player (see below), and the rules do not limit the number of pitchers that can be used in a game; the only limiting factor is the size of the squad, naturally. In general, starting pitchers are not used in relief situations except sometimes during the post-season when every game is vital. If a game runs into many extra innings, a team may well empty its bullpen. If it then becomes necessary to use a "position player" as a pitcher, major league teams generally have certain players pre-designated as emergency relief pitchers, to avoid the embarrassment of using a less skillful player. In baseball's early years, squads were smaller, and relief pitchers were relatively uncommon, with the starter normally remaining for the entire game unless he was either thoroughly ineffective or became injured; today, with a much greater emphasis on pitch count (100 being the "magic number" in general), over the course of a single game each team will frequently use from two to five pitchers. In the 2005 ALCS, all four of the Chicago White Sox victories were complete games by the starters, a highly noteworthy event in the modern game.

Although a pitcher can only take one step backward and one forward while delivering the ball, the pitcher has a great arsenal at his disposal in the variation of location, velocity, movement, and arm location (see types of pitches). Most pitchers attempt to master two or three types of pitches; some pitchers throw up to 6 types of pitches with varying degrees of control. Common pitches include a fastball, which is the ball thrown at just under maximum velocity; a curveball, which is made to curve by rotation imparted by the pitcher; and a change-up, which seeks to mimic the delivery of a fastball but arrives at significantly lower velocity.

To illustrate pitching strategy, consider the "fastball/change-up" combination: The average major-league pitcher can throw a fast ball around 90 miles per hour (145 km/h), and a few pitchers have even exceeded 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). The change-up is thrown somewhere between 75 to 85 miles per hour (121 to 137 km/h). Since the batter's timing is critical to hitting a pitch, a batter swinging to hit what looks like a fast ball, would be terribly fooled (swing and miss, hopefully) when the pitch turns out to be a much slower change-up.

Some pitchers choose to throw using the 'submarine style,' a very efficient sidearm or near-underhand motion. Pitchers with a submarine delivery are often very difficult to hit because of the angle and movement of the ball once released. Walter Johnson, who threw one of the fastest fast balls in the history of the game, threw sidearm (though not submarine) rather than a normal overhand. True underhanded pitching was outlawed early in baseball history due to the fact that because the underhand motion is a natural motion it puts less stress on the arm and enables the hurler to throw at speeds deemed unfair to the batter. Remember, when baseball first began the pitcher was supposed to "allow" the batter to hit the ball.

Fielding strategy

Since only the pitcher's and catcher's locations are fixed( The pitcher does sometimes covers 1st base and home plate if the the play pulls the 1st baseman/catcher off the base as the runner approaches and someone needs to cover the base for a play to be made) , the other players on the field move around as needed to defend against scoring a run. Many variations of this are possible, as location depends upon the "situation." "Situation" refers to immediate circumstances of play, and includes: the number of outs, the count (balls and strikes) on the batter, the number and speed of runners, the ability of the fielders, the ability of the pitcher, the