/ beɪsbɒl /
baseball game · ball game
Prevedi baseball na: francuski · nemački
1. A game played with a bat and ball between two teams of 9 players; teams take turns at bat trying to score runs; SYN. baseball game, ball game.
2. A ball used in playing baseball.
A bat-and-ball game between two teams, played on an infield called a diamond, because of the arrangement of the bases, and an outfield. Bats, balls, and gloves constitute the basic equipment. The ball is struck with a cylindrical bat, and the players try to make a run by circuiting the bases. A “home run” is a nonstop circuit on one hit. In the US the highest-level professional teams are divided into the two “major leagues”, the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). The league champions meet annually in the World Series.
The ground is in the form of an infield 27.45 m/90 ft square and an outfield with a minimum distance of 76.2 m/250 ft to the fence or boundary. The first baseball diamond was laid out in 1839 by General Abner Doubleday, and his demarcation has not since been altered. Bases are placed on each corner of the infield.
There are nine defensive positions: the pitcher, who stands on a mound 60.5 ft/18.4 m from home plate; the catcher, who crouches behind home plate; the first, second, and third basemen, who stand at or near their respective bases (90 ft/27.4 m apart), which together with home plate form the diamond-shaped infield: the shortstop, who covers the infield between second and third bases; and the right, center, and left fielders, whose domain is the outfield, the dimensions of which vary from stadium to stadium.
The game is divided into nine innings. During the “top” half of each inning the home team plays defense and the visiting team, offense. In the “bottom” half, the roles are reversed. Essentially an offensive player attempts to get on base and advance around the bases, to score a run by crossing home plate. Batters appear in an assigned order. Assuming a batting stance in front of the catcher, the batter faces the pitcher, who throws the baseball to home plate to the catcher.
“strikes” and “balls”
Standing behind the catcher is an umpire (major-league games have four umpires at various vantage points), who calls out a “ball” or “strike” ruling for each unhit pitch. A pitch that fails to cross the plate within the batter’s “strike zone” (it must pass between the batter’s armpits and knees) is called a ball. However, if such a pitch is swung at and missed, a strike is ruled against the batter. Any unhit pitch that is within the strike zone, whether or not the batter swings, is called a strike. Hit balls that fall outside playing-field bounds are called “foul balls” and are counted as strikes, unless it would be a third strike. A three-strike count is an “out”. If the count reaches four balls before the third strike is called, the batter earns a “walk” and proceeds to first base.
making a run
Having hit the ball into fair territory, the batter tries to make a run, either in stages from home base to first, second, and third base, and back to home base, or in a “home run”, a hit that usually goes beyond the outfield wall, so the batter (and any baserunners) completes the circuit of base paths that leads back to home plate.
The batter is declared out if (1) he (or she, but the professional leagues have not yet admitted women) has 3 “strikes”, (2) he hits the ball into the air (a “fly ball”) and it is caught by a fielder, (3) he is touched by the ball in the hand of one of his opponents while he is between bases, and (4) a fielder stands on one of the bases with the ball before the batter reaches the base.
During each inning, a team's offensive play continues until three outs occur. After nine innings, the team with the most runs wins. If the home team is ahead after the visiting team's final inning, the home team does not take its last inning. If the game is tied after nine innings, extra innings are played until the tie is broken.
The most important defensive player is the pitcher. Pitching is an art, and great skill is required for the curves, drops, and speed a pitcher must possess. Besides the pitcher’s skill, the speed, accuracy and throwing ability of the fielders are of the utmost importance. However, as the game is now played, the hard-hitting batter is the most valuable player in the team: the whole game revolves around the batter who can hit for extra bases. The most outstanding player of modern times was“Babe” Ruth of the New York Yankees. Before his retirement in 1935 he set a lifetime record of 714 home runs which remained unbroken until April 1974, when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves passed this mark, ending with 755.
The legend of Abner Doubleday's invention of baseball in Cooperstown, New York, 1839, was born 1907 when a major-league baseball committee tried to determine the origins of the game. The story was presented as fact, although there was no real evidence to support it, and Doubleday's journals contain no mention of any pastime similar to baseball.
Sports historians vary in their hypotheses, but most agree that baseball was no one person’s invention; rather it evolved from numerous ball-and-stick games. Colonial Americans enjoyed several varieties of such English games as rounders and town ball. By the mid-19th century many regional variations of baseball had been developed. The “New York game” became especially popular after 1845, when player A J Cartwright devised such surviving innovations as the nine-man team, the diamond-shaped infield, and the three-outs-per-inning format. Cartwright was a founding member of the New York Knickerbocker Club, which for 13 years exerted its authority over baseball in the greater New York area. When 25 ball clubs formed the National Association of Base Ball Players 1858, the Knickerbockers lost their arbitership, and the game of baseball entered a new era of standardization and organized competition.
In 1871 the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was born, becoming baseball’s first major league. The more stable National League usurped the Association 1876, and for nearly 40 years watched the rise and fall of several rival leagues. By 1916 the “majors” belonged to just two leagues: the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), and so it remains to this day. In 1916 each league was comprised of 8 teams. Today the NL’s 14 teams and the AL’s 14 teams are divided into east and west divisions. At the end of the regular playing season (April–Oct), the division-leading teams compete for their league’s championship in a best-of-seven “pennant” series. The two pennant winners meet for the best-of-seven World Series.
The exclusivity of US teams in major-league baseball ended 1969 when Canada’s Montréal Expos joined the NL. (Another Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, joined the AL 1977.) In 1973 the AL adopted the “designated hitter” rule, which allows a tenth player to assume the batting role of the pitcher without affecting the pitcher’s eligibility to continue defensive play.
Professional baseball also includes the “minors,” the training leagues for the majors, and has an extensive network across the US. The sport is very popular in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Japan, all of which have baseball leagues similar to those of the US.
Baseball is the quintessential US hometown sport, with American children playing on fields and sandlots from age 3 on. It has been formulated into school leagues and Little League competitions, but most children love to play it for the fun of the game.
baseball around the world
Although most popular in the US, baseball is a world-wide sport. In Japan the standard of play is second only to that of the US. There is an international confederation, founded in 1936 with 17 member countries, that has a membership in over 40 nations.
The European Baseball Federation was formed in 1953 and a European Championship was inaugurated the following year. In addition, an annual European Cup is played for by the champion clubs of the member countries. The game has almost died out in England, despite its being the first European country to take up baseball (1890) and having professional leagues before World War II.