Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The goal of baseball is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four markers called bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square, or diamond. Players on one team (the batting team) take turns hitting while the other team (the fielding team) tries to stop them from scoring runs by getting hitters out in any of several ways. A player on the batting team can stop at any of the bases and hope to score on a teammate's hit. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team gets three outs. One turn at bat for each team constitutes an inning; nine innings make up a professional game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
Baseball on the professional, amateur, and youth levels is popular in North America (particularly in the United States), Central America, parts of South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia. The game is thought to have originated in England some time before 1755, as noted by William Bray, a lawyer from the period whose diary historians have recently authenticated. The consensus of historians is that it evolved from earlier bat-and-ball games, such as cricket and rounders. Baseball was then brought to North America by British and Irish immigrants. This is contrary to the popular belief that the game was invented in North America during the eighteenth century. However, by the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. The game is sometimes referred to as hardball in contrast to the very similar game of softball.
In North America, professional Major League Baseball teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL). Each league has three divisions: East, West, and Central. Every year, the champion of Major League Baseball is determined by playoffs culminating in the World Series. Four teams make the playoffs from each league: the three regular season division winners, plus one wild card team. The wild card is the team with the best record among the non–division winners in the league. In the National League, the pitcher is required to bat, per the traditional rules. In the American League, there is a tenth player, a designated hitter, who bats for the pitcher. Each major league team has a "farm system" of minor league teams at various levels. These teams allow younger players to develop as they gain on-field experience against opponents with similar levels of skill.
Origins of baseball
The story that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1839 was once widely promoted and widely believed, but there was and is no evidence for this claim, except for the testimony of one man decades after the fact, and there is a great deal of persuasive counter-evidence. Doubleday left many letters and papers, but they contain no description of baseball or even a suggestion that he considered himself a prominent person in the history of the game. His New York Times obituary makes no mention of baseball, nor does a 1911 encyclopedia article about Doubleday.
The distinct evolution of baseball from among the various bat-and-ball games is difficult to trace with precision. Oina, a very similar bat-and-ball traditional game played in Romania was mentioned for the first time during the rule of King Vlaicu Vod?, in 1364. Typically, consensus was that today's baseball is a North American development from the older game rounders, however a 2005 book Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game, by David Block, and historical evidence argues against that notion. Several references to "baseball" and "bat-and-ball" have been found in British and American documents of the early eighteenth century. The earliest known description is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery. It contains a wood-cut illustration of boys playing "base-ball," showing a baseball set-up roughly similar to the modern game, and a rhymed description of the sport. However, on September 11th 2008, the Surrey County Council's History Centre gave documentary proof that the game was being played by the British before anywhere else and have written to Major League Baseball explaining this. The diarist William Bray recorded a game of baseball on Easter Monday 1755 in Guildford. The earliest known unambiguous American discussion of "baseball" was published in a 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts town bylaw, which prohibited the playing of the game within 80 yards (70 m) of the town's new meeting house. The English novelist Jane Austen made a reference to children playing "base-ball" on a village green in her book Northanger Abbey, which was written between 1798 and 1803 (though not published until 1818).
The first full documentation of a baseball game in North America is Dr. Adam Ford's contemporary description of a game that took place in 1838 on June 4 (Militia Muster Day) in Beachville, Ontario, Canada; this report was related in an 1886 edition of Sporting Life magazine in a letter by former St. Marys, Ontario, resident Dr. Matthew Harris.
In 1845, Alexander Cartwright of New York City led the codification of an early list of rules (the so-called Knickerbocker Rules), from which today's rules have evolved. He had also initiated the replacement of the soft ball used in rounders with a smaller hard ball. While there are reports of Cartwright's club, the New York Knickerbockers, playing games in 1845, the game now recognized as the first in U.S. history to be officially recorded took place on June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey, with the "New York Nine" defeating the Knickerbockers, 23–1, in four innings.
On June 3, 1953, the United States Congress officially recognized Cartwright as the inventor of modern baseball.
History of baseball in the United States
Semiprofessional baseball started in the United States in the 1860s. In 1869 the first fully professional baseball club, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was formed and went undefeated against a schedule of semipro and amateur teams. By the following decade, American newspapers were referring to baseball as the "National Pastime" or "National Game." The first attempt at forming a "major league" was the National Association, which lasted from 1871 to 1875. The "major league" status of the NA is in dispute among present-day baseball historians, and Major League Baseball does not include the NA among the major leagues. The National League, which still exists, was founded in 1876 in response to the NA's shortcomings. Several other major leagues formed and failed, but the American League, which evolved from the minor Western League (1893) and was established in 1901 as a major league, succeeded. The two leagues were initially rivals that actively fought for the best players, often disregarding one another's contracts and engaging in bitter legal disputes. A modicum of peace was established in 1903, and the World Series was inaugurated that fall, albeit without formal major league sanction or governance. The next year, the National League champion New York Giants did not participate, as their manager, John McGraw, refused to recognize the major league status of the American League and its champion, the Boston Americans who beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series. The following year, Giants' management relented, and actually led the formal establishment of rules that standardized the format of the World Series and made participation compulsory.
The New York Giants baseball team, circa 1910.
Compared with the present day, games in the early part of the 20th century were lower scoring and pitchers were more successful. The "inside game", whose nature was to "scratch for runs", was played more violently and aggressively than it is today. Ty Cobb said of his era especially, "Baseball is something like a war!" This period, which has since become known as the "dead-ball era", ended in the 1920s with several rule changes that gave advantages to hitters and the rise of the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth, who showed the world what power hitting could produce, altering the nature of the game. Two of the changes introduced were the construction of additional seating to accommodate the rising popularity of the game, which often had the effect of bringing the outfield fences closer to the infield in the largest parks; and the introduction of strict rules governing the size, shape and construction of the ball which, coupled with superior materials becoming available following World War I, caused the ball to travel farther when hit. The aggregate result of these two changes was to enable batters to hit many more home runs.
In 1884, African American Moses Walker (and, briefly, his brother Welday) had played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the major league American Association. An injury ended Walker's major league career, and by the early 1890s, a "gentlemen's agreement" in the form of the baseball color line effectively barred African-American players from the majors and their affiliated minor leagues, resulting in the formation of several Negro Leagues. There was never any formal segregation rule in baseball, which presented an opportunity for integration for someone bold enough to attempt it. The first crack in the unwritten agreement occurred in 1946, when Jackie Robinson was signed by the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers and began playing for their minor league team in Montreal. Finally, in 1947, the major leagues' color barrier was broken when Robinson debuted with the Dodgers. Larry Doby debuted in the American League the same year. Although the transformation was not instantaneous, baseball has since become fully integrated.
Major League baseball finally made it to the West Coast of the United States in 1958, when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants relocated to Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively. The first American League team on the West Coast was the Los Angeles Angels, who were founded as an expansion team in 1961.
Pitchers dominated the game in the 1960s and early 1970s. In the early 1970s the designated hitter (DH) rule was proposed. The American League adopted this rule in 1973, though pitchers still bat for themselves in the National League to this day. The DH rule now constitutes the primary difference between the two leagues.
Despite the popularity of baseball, and the attendant high salaries relative to those of average Americans, the players have become dissatisfied from time to time, as they believed the owners had too much control and retained an unfair share of the money. Various job actions have occurred throughout the game's history. Players on specific teams occasionally attempted strikes, but usually came back when their jobs were sufficiently threatened. The throwing of the 1919 World Series, the "Black Sox Scandal", was in some sense a "strike" or at least a rebellion by the ballplayers against a perceived stingy owner. But the strict rules of baseball contracts tended to keep the players "in line" in general.
This began to change in 1966 when former United Steelworkers chief economist (and assistant to the president) Marvin Miller became the Baseball Players Union executive director. The union became much stronger than it had been previously, especially when the reserve clause was effectively nullified in the mid-1970s. Conflicts between owners and the players' union led to major work stoppages in 1972, 1981, and 1994. The 1994 baseball strike led to the cancellation of the World Series, and was not settled until the spring of 1995. During this period, as well, many of the functions — such as player discipline and umpire supervision — and regulations that had been administered separately by the two major leagues' administrations were united under the rubric of Major League Baseball.
The number of home runs increased dramatically after the strike. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both surpassed Roger Maris's long-standing single season home run record in 1998. In 2001, Barry Bonds established the current record of 73 home runs in a single season. In 2007, Bonds became MLB's all-time home run leader, surpassing Hank Aaron's total of 755. Even though all three sluggers (McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds) have been accused in the steroid-abuse scandal of the mid-2000s, their feats did do a lot at the time to bolster the game's renewed popularity.
Currently, baseball makes up around 20 percent of the franchise sports industry. The team with the highest average game attendance is the New York Yankees, with 51,848 spectators. The New York Yankees are closely followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers (46,400) and the New York Mets (42,327). The 30 Major League Baseball teams earned $5.11 billion in revenue in 2006.
Baseball around the world
Baseball is largely known as America's pastime, but has a fan base in several other countries as well. The history of baseball in Canada has remained closely linked with that of the sport in the United States. As early as 1877, a professional league, the International Association, featured teams from both countries. While baseball is widely played in Canada, and many minor league teams have been based in the country, the American major leagues did not include a Canadian club until 1969, when the Montreal Expos joined the National League as an expansion team. In 1977, the expansion Toronto Blue Jays joined the American League. The Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993, the first and still the only club from outside the United States to do so. In 2004, Major League Baseball relocated the Expos to Washington, D.C., where the team is now known as the Nationals.
The first formal baseball league outside of the United States and Canada was founded in 1878 in Cuba, which maintains a rich baseball tradition and whose national team has been one of the world's strongest since international play began in the late 1930s. Professional baseball leagues began to form in other countries between the world wars, including the Netherlands (formed in 1922), Australia (1934), Japan (1936), and Puerto Rico (1938). After World War II, professional leagues were founded in Italy (1948) and in many Latin American nations, most prominently Venezuela (1945), Mexico (1945), and the Dominican Republic (1951). In Asia, Korea (1982), Taiwan (1990), and China (2003) all have professional leagues.
Many European countries have pro leagues as well, the most successful beside the Dutch being the Italian league founded in 1948. Compared to those in Asia and Latin America, the various European leagues and the one in Australia historically have had no more than niche appeal. Recently, the sport has begun to grow in popularity in those nations, most notably in Australia, which won a surprise silver medal in the 2004 Olympic Games. In 2007, the Israel Baseball League, featuring six teams, was launched. Competition between national teams, such as in the Baseball World Cup and the Olympic baseball tournament, has been administered by the International Baseball Federation since its formation in 1938. As of 2004, the organization has 112 member countries.
Since the early 1970s, the annual Caribbean Series has matched the league-winning clubs from Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. The Confédération Européene de Baseball (European Baseball Confederation), founded in 1953, organizes a number of competitions between clubs from different countries as well as national squads. The inaugural World Baseball Classic, held in March 2006, had a much higher profile than previous tournaments featuring national teams, owing to the participation for the first time of a significant number of players from Major League Baseball.
The 117th meeting of the International Olympic Committee, held in Singapore in July 2005, voted not to hold baseball and softball tournaments at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, but they will remain Olympic sports during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and will be put to vote again for each succeeding Summer Olympics. The elimination of baseball and softball from the 2012 Olympic program enabled the IOC to consider adding two different sports to the program, but no other sport received the majority vote required for inclusion. While baseball's lack of substantial appeal in much of the world was a factor; more important is the unwillingness of Major League Baseball to have a break during the Games so that its players can participate, something that the National Hockey League now does during the Winter Olympic Games. Because of the seasonal nature of baseball and the high priority its fans place on the integrity of major-league statistics from one season to the next, it would be more difficult to accommodate such a break in Major League Baseball.
- See also: Baseball in Cuba, Baseball in the United Kingdom, and Baseball in Japan
Rules and gameplay
A single game is played by two teams, who, during the course of a game, alternate playing offense and defense. Each couplet of alternations is called an "inning", and there are usually 9 innings in a game. The goal of a game is to score more points, which are called "runs" in the language of baseball, than the other team. Each team, usually composed of 9 players, attempts to score runs while on offense, by completing a tour of the bases, which form a square-shaped figure called a "diamond." A tour starts at home plate and proceeds counter-clockwise. See the image below.
There are four basic tools of baseball: the bat, the ball, the mitt, and the field.
- The bat is an offensive tool, either made of wood or aluminum depending on the game being played. It is a long, hard stick, about 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter, except at the handle, which is about 1-inch (2.5 centimeters) diameter.
- The ball in baseball is about the size of a fist and white (though other colors can be used) with red lacing.
- The glove or mitt is a defensive tool, made of leather, worn on the player's hand to aid in catching the ball. It takes various shapes to meet the unique needs of the defensive position of the player.
- The game is played on a field, whose dimensions vary depending on the age of the players. However, every field has a diamond, with bases at its corners, which the offensive players circumnavigate, as mentioned above. The part of the field closest to the bases is called the infield, and the part most distant from the bases is called the outfield.
Baseball is played in a series of (usually 9) "innings", each of which is divided into two halves (called "top" and "bottom" in that order: hence the phrase bottom of the ninth). In each half-inning, the offensive team attempts to score runs until three of its players are put "out" (removed from play by actions of the defensive team; discussed below). After the third out, the teams switch roles for the other half of the inning. The "home" team plays defense first, and so plays defense in the top of every inning and offense in the bottom of every inning.
At the beginning of each half-inning, the nine defensive players arrange themselves on the field. One defensive player is called the "pitcher" and stands at the center of the diamond on a designated spot, called the mound or the rubber - a reference to the rectangular rubber plate at the center of the mound. Another defensive player is called the "catcher" and stands on the other side of home plate from the pitcher. Typically four more players are arranged along the lines between first, second, and third bases, and the other three are in the outfield.
Runs are scored as follows: starting at home plate, each offensive player attempts to earn the right to run (counterclockwise) to the next base (corner) of the diamond, then to touch the base at that corner, continuing on to each following base in order, and finally returning to home, whereupon a run (point) is scored. Often an offensive player will achieve a base but be forced to stop there; on future plays (usually in concert with other runners), the player may continue to advance, or else be put out.
A play begins with an offensive player called a "batter" standing at home plate, holding a bat. The batter then waits for the pitcher to throw a "pitch" (the ball) toward home plate, and attempts to hit the ball with the bat. If the batter hits the ball into play, the batter must then drop the bat and begin running toward first base. (There are other ways to earn the right to run the bases, such as "walks" or being hit by a pitched ball.) The catcher catches pitches that the batter does not hit (either by choice or simple failure to make contact) and returns them to the pitcher.
A pitch that is not hit into the field of play is called either a "strike" or a "ball". A batter is out if he gets 3 strikes. He walks to first base if he is thrown 4 balls. If the ball is hit over the outfield and exits the field there, it is instead (one type of) a "home run": the batter and all other offensive players on bases may complete a tour of the bases and score a run. This is the most desirable result for the batter.
A strike is called when one of the following happens:
- The batter lets a well-pitched ball (one within the strike zone) go through to the catcher.
- The batter swings at any ball (even one outside the strike zone) and misses.
- The batter hits any ball so that it goes outside the field of play (on either side of foul lines/foul poles). This particular type of strike is not counted as a third strike and hence cannot result in the immediate strikeout of the batter.
A ball is called when the pitcher throws a pitch that is outside the strike zone, provided the batter has not swung at it.
tries to tag out
a runner who is sliding headfirst, trying to reach a base.
When a batter hits the ball in field of play and he begins running, he or she is then referred to as a "runner." Runners attempt to reach a base, where they are "safe" and may remain there. The defensive players attempt to prevent this by either catching the ball (if it has not bounced), or by putting the runners out by fielding and throwing the ball back to a base the runner is attempting to reach. Runners put out must leave the field (returning to the "bench" or "dugout", the location where all the other inactive players and managers observe the game).
There are many ways that the team on defense can get an offensive player out. For the sake of simplicity, only the five most common ways are listed here:
- The "strikeout": occurs when the batter acquires three strikes before hitting the ball (within the field); the batter never becomes a runner. (Hence the phrase "Three strikes and you are out".)
- The "ground out": when the batter hits the ball but a defensive player retrieves it after it has touched the ground and throws it to another defensive player standing on first base before the runner arrives there.
- The "forceout": occurs when a runner is required to run to advance bases ahead of a teammate's hit but fails to reach it before a defensive player reaches the base with the ball. The "ground out" is actually a special case of "force out."
- The "flyout": if a defensive player catches a hit ball before it touches the ground, the batter (now a runner) is out (regardless of his location).
- The "tag out": while between bases, a runner is out if a defensive player touches him with a held ball.
Any baseball game involves one or more umpires, who make rulings on the outcome of each play. At a minimum, one umpire will stand behind the catcher, to have a good view of the strike zone, and call each pitch a ball or a strike. Additional umpires may be stationed near the bases, thus making it easier to see plays in the field. In Major League Baseball, four umpires are used for each game, one near each base. In the all-star game and playoffs, six umpires are used: one at each base and two in the outfield along either foul line.
According to the official rules of professional baseball, making physical contact with an umpire at any time is grounds for ejection from the game.
Baseball's unique style
Baseball is unique among American sports in several ways. This uniqueness is a large part of its longstanding appeal and strong association with the American psyche. The philosopher Morris Raphael Cohen described baseball as a national religion. Many Americans believe that baseball is the ultimate combination of skill, timing, athleticism, and strategy. In this, baseball is similar to its cousin game cricket: in many Commonwealth nations, cricket and the culture surrounding it hold a similar place and affection to baseball's role in American culture.
Basketball, ice hockey, American football, and soccer all use a clock, and games often end by a team with the lead killing the clock rather than competing directly against the opposing team. In contrast, baseball has no clock; a team cannot win without getting the last batter out and rallies are not constrained by time. Other sports popular on the professional level in the U.S. that do not have a time limit are tennis and golf, although these are individual as opposed to team sports.
In recent decades, observers have criticized professional baseball for the length of its games, with some justification as the time required to play a baseball game has increased steadily through the years. At the turn of the 20th century, games typically took an hour and a half to play. In the 1920s, they averaged just less than two hours, which eventually ballooned to 2 hours and 38 minutes in 1960. Though this average dipped to 2 hours 25 minutes in 1975,  by the turn of the 21st century, games had become so long that Major League Baseball's goal in 2004 was to get the average game down to 2 hour and 45 minutes, after coming close in 2003 at 2 hours and 46 minutes.
The lengthening of games is attributed to longer breaks between half-innings for television commercials, increased offense, more pitching changes, and a slower pace of play. In response, Major League Baseball mandated a maximum break between half-innings, while instructing umpires to be stricter in enforcing speed-up rules and the size of the strike zone. 
Although the official rules specify that when the bases are empty, the pitcher should deliver the ball within 12 seconds of receiving it (with the penalty of a ball called if he fails to do so), this rule is rarely, if ever, enforced. The umpire also has the option of calling a ball if there are runners on base, but this is also rarely, if ever, enforced. The official rules also require the batter to remain in the batter's box at all times when at bat—another rule that is "observed in the breach".
Individual and team
Baseball is fundamentally a team sport—even a franchise financially blessed enough to afford two or three Hall of Fame-caliber players cannot count on success. Yet it places individual players under great pressure and scrutiny. The pitcher must make good pitches or risk losing the game; the hitter has a mere fraction of a second to decide what pitch has been thrown and whether to swing at it. While managers and coaches can signal players to pursue certain strategies, no one can help the pitcher while he pitches or the hitter while he bats. If the batter hits a line drive, the outfielder, as the last line of defense, makes the lone decision to try to catch it or play it on the bounce. Baseball's history is full of heroes and goats—men who in the heat of the moment (the "clutch") distinguished themselves with a timely hit or catch, or an untimely strikeout or error.
The uniqueness of each baseball park
Unlike the majority of sports, baseball playing fields can vary significantly, within certain guidelines, in size and shape of the field. With the exception of the strict rules on the dimensions of the infield, discussed above, the official rules simply state that fields built after June 1, 1958 must have a minimum distance of 325 feet (99 m) from home plate to the fences in left and right field and 400 (121 m) feet to center. This rule (a footnote to official rule 1.04) was passed specifically in response to the fence at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was not originally designed for baseball, and thus was only 251 feet (77 m) to the left field pole (1 foot [0.3 m] over the bare minimum required by the rules). Major league teams often skirt this rule. For example, Minute Maid Park's Crawford Boxes are only 315 feet (96 m), and with a fence much lower than the famous "Green Monster" at Fenway Park which is labeled as 310 feet (94 m) away and 37-foot (11 m), two-inches tall. And there are no rules at all regulating the height of "fences, stands or other obstructions", other than the assumption that they exist. However, teams are required to obtain approval from the League Office when constructing new stadiums, or when proposing alterations.
Because of this flexibility, there are numerous variations in park configuration, from different lengths to the fences to uneven playing surfaces to massive or minimal amounts of foul territory. The differing styles create a unique sense of ambiance in each location, something that many fans find alluring (and even a source of civic pride). All of these factors, as well as local variations in altitude, climate and game scheduling, can affect the nature of the games played at those ballparks. Certain stadiums eventually get labeled as either a "pitcher's park" or a "hitter's park", depending on which side benefits more from the unique factors present. Some ballparks, notorious for both strong and frequently shifting wind currents, such as Chicago's Wrigley Field can be either, depending on the wind direction at any given time.
Many, if not most, baseball fields are oriented specifically to prevent the sun from getting into the pitchers' eyes and interfering with play.
In the end, the lack of a consistent, standardized playing field has caused some debate, particularly when comparing players' statistics and career records. For example, hitting a fly ball to the warning track at one field may result in an easy catch for the outfielder, while at another the same hit could result in a home run.
Uniquely among sports, baseball lends itself to statistics. Each play is discrete and has a relatively small number of possible outcomes. (In contrast, sports such as hockey, basketball, soccer, and American football are more fluid and harder to describe as discrete plays.) Section 10 of the Official Baseball Rules requires the Official Scorer to describe each baseball play unambiguously, giving detailed criteria to promote consistency. For example, every advance of a baserunner must be officially attributed either to a batting play, to the initiative of the baserunner, or to a defensive lapse. This facilitates a statistical analysis of baseball, and allows a deeper level of mathematical study than that provided by other sports.
Statistics have been kept for the Major Leagues since their creation. General managers, baseball scouts, managers, and players study player statistics to help them evaluate players and choose strategies.
Certain traditional statistics are known to, and discussed by, baseball fans of all ages:
- At-bats are the total number of times at bat that a batter has had. It excludes certain plate appearances where the batter is not fairly tested, such as when the batter is walked or hit by a pitch.
- A batter's batting average is the number of hits divided by the number of at-bats. It is the basic statistic that measures batting ability.
- A pitcher's earned run average is the number of runs the pitcher has allowed, excluding runs caused by mishaps that weren't the pitcher's fault, per 9 innings the pitcher has pitched.
Other important batting statistics include the number of hits and extra-base hits, and runs batted in (RBI). Other important pitching statistics include total innings pitched, strikeouts per nine innings, walks, and the pitch count.
The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) develops innovative statistics (the term sabermetrics refers to the field of study and to the specific statistics devised) to better gauge a player's performance and contributions, and to provide statistical answers to more abstract questions about relative worth.
Some sabermetrics have entered the mainstream baseball statistic world:
More specific statistics apply to particular situations. For example, statistics may indicate that a batter performs better against left-handed pitchers, or with runners in scoring position. With a statistical indication that the current situation favors a certain player, the offensive manager might pinch-hit this batter, while the defensive manager might elect to intentionally walk the batter in order to face a batter who is less likely to succeed.
The majority of baseball's popularity resides in East Asia and the Americas, although in South America its popularity is mainly limited to the northern portion of the continent. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Canada, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Venezuela.
Baseball's largest national market is the United States, where it is currently the second most popular sport, behind American football. Baseball was long the most popular sport in the country, and since the 19th century, it has been popularly referred to as the "national pastime." In addition, Major League Baseball has been given a unique monopoly status by the Supreme Court of the United States. This popularity continues with Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig commenting that baseball is currently more popular now than it has ever been.
Worldwide, baseball is estimated to be one of the most popular sports, along with Association football (soccer), cricket, field hockey, tennis, volleyball and table tennis. However, in July 2005 the IOC decided to drop baseball from the 2012 Olympics.
- See also: List of organized baseball leagues
Baseball is played at a number of levels, by amateur and professionals, by both sexes, and by all ages. A varsity baseball team is an established part of Physical Education departments at most high schools and colleges in the United States.
Youth programs use modified versions of professional baseball rules, which may include a smaller field, easier pitching (from a coach, a tee, or a machine), less contact, baserunning restrictions, limitations on innings a pitcher can throw, liberal balk rules, and run limitations, among others. The official baseball rules say that a player removed from a game cannot re-enter it in any capacity, but amateur leagues often relax this rule and may require that all available players be used in every game. Non-professional leagues may also include a mercy rule that ends the game when one team takes a sufficiently large scoring lead over the other team.
Organized baseball leagues exist in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
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- ^ Sullivan p.80
- ^ Sullivan p. 32
- ^ Sullivan p.95
- ^ Sullivan p.9
- ^ Sullivan p.23-26
- ^ a b Sullivan p.81
- ^ Sullivan p.130
- ^ Sullivan p.243-246
- ^ Sullivan p.13
- ^ Sullivan p.13-16
- ^ Sullivan p.141-150
- ^ Sullivan p.214
- ^ Zoss p.1928
- ^ Zos p.90
- ^ Zoss p.136
- ^ Zoss p.102
- ^ Sullivan p.115
- ^ Burgos p.158
- ^ Burgos p.180
- ^ Burgos p.191
- ^ Burgos p.215
- ^ Sullivan (2002) p.239
- ^ Sullivan (2002) p.239-240
- ^ a b c Hal Bodley, "Baseball wants just a few more minutes", USAToday.com, 26 February 2004
- ^ a b Jeff Greenfield, "Midnight Baseball", Time.com, 13 July 1998
- ^ "Official Rules: Foreword". MLB.com. Retrieved on 2008-09-15.
- ^ "Fewer sports for London Olympics", BBC News (July 8, 2005). Retrieved on 16 September 2008.
- ^ Baseball Almanac - George Carlin in Baseball and Football
Sources and further reading
- Robert K. Barney and Nancy Bouchier, "A Critical Examination of a Source in Early Ontario Baseball: The Reminiscence of Adam E. Ford," Journal of Sport History (1988)
- Joe Brinkman and Charlie Euchner, The Umpire's Handbook, rev. ed. (1987)
- Bob Elliott, The Northern Game: Baseball the Canadian Way (Sport Classic, 2005)
- Charles Euchner, The Last Nine Innings: Inside the Real Game Fans Never See (2006)
- William Humber, Diamonds of the North: A Concise History of Baseball in Canada (Oxford University Press, 1995)
- Bill James and John Dewan, Bill James Presents the Great American Baseball Stat Book, ed. by Geoff Beckman et al. (1987)
- Bill James, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (ISBN 0-7432-2722-0)
- Mark Kearney, "Baseball's Canadian Roots: Abner Who?" The Beaver: Exploring Canada's History (October-November 1994)
- Michael Mandelbaum, The Meaning of Sports (PublicAffairs) (ISBN 1-58648-252-1)
- Robert Peterson, Only the Ball Was White (1984 )
- Joseph L. Reichler (ed.), The Baseball Encyclopedia, 7th rev. ed. (1988)
- Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig, The Image of Their Greatness: An Illustrated History of Baseball from 1900 to the Present, updated ed. (1984)
- Lawrence S. Ritter (comp.), The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It, new ed. (1984)
- Seth Swirsky, Baseball Letters, A Fan's Correspondence With His Heroes (Crown Books, 1996).
- David Quentin Voigt, Baseball, an Illustrated History (1987)
- Baseball Organizations/Leagues/Clubs
- Baseball Reference & Stats
- Baseball News, Resources, & Other