The most popular sport in North America, baseball is also played in many other countries. It is believed to have derived from two English games: the children’s game of rounders and cricket. Its rise is associated with nationalistic sentiment as American immigrants sought to establish cultural autonomy in the United States. As early as 1857, a sports newspaper proclaimed that “Americans need a game they can claim exclusively as their own. The British have cricket and the Germans have their turnvereins (gymnastic clubs). We, therefore, need a native American game, and baseball is that game.”
The game of baseball requires teams of nine players and one umpire. The ball is thrown from the pitcher’s mound to the batter who stands at home plate. The batter tries to hit the ball before running around the field, touching points called bases. If the runner makes it to first base without being tagged out, that player scores a run for his team. A team must score a certain number of runs to win the game.
A team’s batting order is set at the start of each game. The hitters take turns batting. If the batting team doesn’t strike out in an inning, then they get a free pass to first base known as a “base on balls.” After three strikes, a batter is out.
During games, most injuries occur when a player is contacted by another player or the ground. The most common injuries are upper leg strains, knee sprains, and shoulder strains.
Baseball rules were established in the late 19th century, and the rules of play have remained mostly unchanged since then. The most important change was the addition of a third base in 1901. In addition to limiting the distance between first and third base, the added third base increased the number of runs scored on successful stolen bases.
As the twentieth century began, the popularity of baseball continued to grow in the United States and abroad. In World War II, hundreds of major league baseball players volunteered to serve in the armed forces. This sacrifice of prime playing years boosted the public’s perception of baseball as a powerful morale booster for the nation.
Unlike most business enterprises, the Commissioner of Baseball is empowered to investigate any act, transaction or practice that is alleged to be detrimental to the best interests of baseball. His authority is derived from the constitution of Major League Baseball, which grants him the power to take preventive and remedial action “against any Major League, its clubs or any individual.” Despite this broad mandate, the Commissioner’s actual powers are limited by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners. As a result, the Commissioner rarely intervenes in the operations of the game of baseball. Nevertheless, his office continues to be a formidable force in the management of the professional game. In addition to ensuring that teams pay their share of the league’s costs, the Commissioner acts as a liaison between players and owners, and he has the power to discipline any player for violating the rules of the game.