The game has its origins in English sports. It was first played around mid 19th century when they also first published the rules of the game (1845).
Baseball is also called the hardball game. There are two teams involved, each having 9 players. The primary equipments required are a bat, ball, gloves and protective gear. The square field is called diamond formed by 4 bases, 3 cushions and the home plate. The members of the fielding side are located at their specific positions in the field. A member of a team, the pitcher, located on the mound, throws the ball and the batter of the opposite team hits it with the bat. The pitcher tries to get the hitter out by attempting to throw the ball to the catcher - a member of his team - in a way that the batter misses it or hits it wrongly. A catcher bends on the opposite side of the home plate. The other players stand on the infield, facing the home plate. During the process of running between the bases, the player can halt in any base and wait for the next hit. And when a player crosses all four bases a run is scored. Batting of any team is referred to as an inning and a professional game contains 9 continuous innings. The team that scores more runs is declared as the winning team.
The baseball field is bordered by the foul lines and the area between them is the main field to play. The fair territory is the area within the foul lines which forms an angle of 90 degrees. Infield covers the area from the bases up to some yards distance. There are 4 infielders: first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and fourth baseman. The pitcher's mound is in the center of the infield and made of rubber plates in a rectangular shape. Outfield is the area externally to the infield and is separated by railings of variable heights. There are 3 outfielders: left, right and center fielder.
The necessary equipments include protective helmets, a bat, gloves and a ball. The size of a standard baseball is about 9 inches. The baseball is made of a rubber or cork cloth, which is wound with threads and covered with cowskin. The color of a baseball is typically white with red strips. Wood is used for making the bat. The bat is a rounded stick of 1.25 inches radius equipped with a handle and a knob on the top. The length of the bat is variable in the range of 34 inches to 42 inches. The pair of gloves is useful for protecting your hands from sweat. The mitt, a sort of glove created for the purpose of catching the baseball, is made of cushioned leather and has webbing where the fingers are. They may have different shapes according to the need of specific fielding places.
Some of the countries where baseball is most popular are: England, Wales, Ireland, USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Iraq and Pakistan. Some of the best male club teams are:
- New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers (In USA and Canada). Alex Rodriguez is the top highest paid player, according to the latest statistics: $33 million. The contract with New York Yankees he signed in 2007 for 10 years - worth $275 million - established it as a new record in this field of operations.
- Yomiuri Giants, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Saitama Seibu Lions (Japan)
- London Mets and Bracknell Blazers are the top teams in England
There are two major tournaments organized for baseball players: World Baseball Classic (WBC) and Baseball World Cup, which take place every four years, as of 2009 decision. The first was won by the Japanese team in the only two editions of this tournament. The prize money for WBC tournament is $14 million split among the teams that compete.
In Europe, for the countries category, national teams play in European Baseball Championship, organized every two years. Netherlands and Italy are considered as the top two teams. On the league level, some of the best teams are Bologna, Rimini and Amsterdam. The teams at this level participate in European Cup competition and the disputes take place every year.
Although this sport is most popular among men, don't be surprised to find out that Justine Siegal is the first female who coaches a professional team of men: Brockton Rox.In Melbourne, Australia, there is a program called Doncaster for enrolling women to play baseball and is geared to all ages.
It is quite a challenge to play baseball. It's a game that you'll enjoy both watching and playing once you visit a baseball stadium.