The Basics of Baseball


Baseball is a game in which teams compete to score more runs than the other team during a period of play called an inning. A run is scored when a player on the batting team touches all four bases positioned at the corners of a square pitch. The object of the fielding team is to get the batting players out by either catching the ball after it is struck or throwing the ball at them before they reach a base.

The game originated in the United States during the mid-to-late 1800s and soon became America’s national pastime. By the turn of the 20th century, it was considered a symbol of American culture and character. “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America has got to understand baseball,” wrote the influential American author Jacques Barzun.

Unlike most sports, baseball is played between two teams of nine professional athletes, rather than against individual opponents. The batting team is called the “home team” and the visiting team is known as the “away team.”

A game of baseball begins when the home team distributes its defensive players to various positions on the field, while the away team sends its batters out one at a time. The batter, who stands behind home plate, attempts to hit the ball thrown by a member of the opposing team (known as the pitcher) from the pitcher’s mound, located 60 feet 6 inches from home plate. The batter must swing at the ball within a region, which is called the strike zone, and miss it entirely or touch the foul lines with the bat. If the umpire seated behind the plate deems the batter to have missed the ball, he or she calls a “strike.” If a batter receives three strikes, he or she is declared out and is removed from the batting position.

After a strikeout, the away team assumes the batting role and the process is repeated until all members of the batting team have been declared out. Defenders attempt to record outs by striking a batter, catching the ball on the fly, throwing the batter out or tagging out a running hitter. A game is considered complete after nine innings, and the team with the most runs wins.

In addition to the etiquette of the game, there are a number of statistics that are used to keep track of the progress of each team. For example, a batter’s batting average indicates how often he or she successfully hits the ball during each at-bat. Other important statistics include hits, stolen bases and home runs.

In the early 1900s, baseball’s popularity exploded as a result of nationalism in America. In their desire for cultural autonomy, Americans sought a sport that could be deemed uniquely their own. The game of baseball, which owes its roots to England’s children’s game of rounders and Germany’s turnvereins, seemed perfect for the task. By 1907, a special commission appointed by the baseball magnate A.G. Spalding confirmed that the game truly was “America’s game.”