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Baseball

By Human Kinetics with Thomas Hanlon


Abner Doubleday is reputed to have invented baseball in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839, though some insist the game evolved from the British games of cricket and rounders. Alexander Cartwright, a former player, is credited with formulating the first set of rules, and the first game of record was between the New York Knickerbockers and another New York team, played on June 19, 1846, at the Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Baseball has long been popular in the United States and in Latin American countries, and it is a major sport in Japan and many other countries as well. The sport is played at the youth level in more than 90 countries; it ranks behind only soccer and basketball in youth participation in the United States.

Overview

Objective: To score the most runs.

Scoring: A player scores a run when he safely touches first, second, third, and home before his team makes three outs.

Number of Players: 9 per team (10 if a designated hitter is used, though only 9 are on the field).

Number of Innings: Nine (five to seven for younger players).

Number of Outs per Inning: Three outs for each team.

The defense fields nine players. Each team has a batting order it must adhere to, though substitutions can be made. Once a player is removed from the game, he cannot return. The pitcher pitches and attempts to get the batter out; the batter attempts to get on base and eventually score. The most common ways to record outs are by strikeout, force out, tag out, and fly out.



Field

Figure 5.1 shows the dimensions of a major league field. Distances to outfield fences vary, but distances of 320 feet or more down the lines, and 400 feet or more to center field, are preferable. The figure also shows player positions.

Equipment

Balls, bats, bases, and batter’s helmets are described under "Terms" on page 24. The catcher’s glove must be not more than 38 inches in circumference and not more than 15.5 inches from top to bottom. The first baseman’s glove may be a maximum of 12 inches from top to bottom and 7.75 inches across the palm. In addition to gloves, catchers wear other protective gear: a helmet, face mask, chest and throat protectors, and shin guards. Players may not wear pointed spikes on their shoes.

Rules

The basic play of baseball can be understood through its rules for pitching, batting, and base running.

Pitching

Following are specific pitching rules that have not been previously stated.

1. Once a pitcher begins his motion to home, he must throw home or be called for a balk.

2. When the bases are empty, the pitcher has 20 seconds to pitch, or the umpire will automatically call a ball.

3. The pitcher may not bring his pitching hand into contact with his mouth or lips while on the mound, although exceptions can be made in cold weather if both managers agree. Penalty: automatic ball called.

Other reasons for an automatic ball being called include

-applying a foreign substance to the ball;
-spitting on the ball, on either hand, or on the glove;
-rubbing the ball on the glove, body, or clothing;
-defacing the ball; and
-pitching a "shine" ball, spitball, mudball, or "emery" ball.
4. The pitcher may rub the ball in his bare hands.

5. The pitcher may not intentionally throw at a batter. If he does, the umpire may expel the pitcher and his manager or may warn the pitchers and the managers of both teams.

6. A manager or coach may make two trips to the mound during an inning to talk to the pitcher. On the second trip, the pitcher must be removed.

Batting

Batting rules that have not been previously stated include the following.

1. Players must hit in the batting order decided by the manager.

2. A batter cannot leave the batter’s box once the pitcher comes set or begins his windup.

3. Both of the batter’s feet must be in the batter’s box (the lines are part of the box). If the batter hits the ball-either fair or foul-with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside of the box, he is automatically out.

4. A batter may request time, but the umpire does not have to grant this request. If a batter refuses to take his position in the batter’s box, the umpire will order the pitcher to pitch and call each pitch a strike, no matter the location.

5. A batter makes an out when

-his fair or foul fly ball is caught by a fielder;
-a third strike is caught by the catcher;
-a third strike is not caught by the catcher when first base is occupied before two are out;
-he bunts foul on the third strike;
-an infield fly rule is called;
-his fair ball touches him before touching a fielder (such as on a bunt);
-after hitting a ball in fair territory, he hits the ball with his bat a second time (unless the umpire judges that the batter did not intend to interfere with the ball);
-after a third strike or a hit into fair territory, he or first base is tagged before he touches first base;
-he runs outside the 3-foot line toward first base, interfering with the first baseman taking the throw or with a fielder fielding the ball;
-he interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing;
-he uses a bat that has been tampered with (i.e., a bat that has been filled, hollowed, grooved, covered with paraffin or wax, or otherwise altered) to increase hitting distance; or
-a runner on first intentionally interferes with the second baseman or shortstop on a double play opportunity (if the runner leaves the baseline to try to "take out" the pivot man, both the runner and the batter are automatically out).


Base Running

The following are base-running rules that have not been previously covered.

1. A runner is entitled to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is put out.

2. The baseline belongs to the runner. A fielder not in the act of fielding the ball cannot block the path of a runner between any two bases. In such a case the ball is dead, and the runner is awarded the base he would have reached, in the umpire’s judgment, had he not been obstructed.

3. A runner is out when

-he is tagged by a fielder with the ball while not on a base (however, a runner can run or slide past first base without risking being tagged out if he returns immediately to first base without stepping or turning to second); -he fails to reach the next base before a fielder tags him or when he is forced to advance because the batter has become a runner;
-he runs out of the baseline (more than 3 feet away from a direct line between the bases), unless he is doing so to avoid interfering with a fielder fielding a batted ball;
-he intentionally interferes with a thrown ball or hinders a fielder making a play on a batted ball;
two runners occupy the same base, and one runner is tagged with the ball;
-a runner is hit by a batted ball in fair territory before it touches a fielder or an umpire (unless he is on a base and an infield fly rule has been called);
-he passes a runner on the base paths;
-he misses a base in advancing to the next base, and a fielder appeals before the next pitch by touching the base with the ball in his possession;
-he fails to touch each base in order; or
-he intentionally interferes with a fielder or the ball in trying to break up a double play-in this case both the runner and the batter are out.


Scoring

A win can be recorded in any of the following situations:

-When the home team is ahead after the visiting team bats in the top of the ninth inning
-When the home team, tied or behind going into the bottom of the ninth inning, scores the winning run in the bottom of the ninth
-When the home team, losing in the bottom of the ninth inning, fails to score (the visitors win)
-When the teams are tied after nine innings, and the game goes into extra innings, where it is played until one team has scored more than the other at the end of a complete inning
-When the game is shortened for bad weather, if it has gone at least five innings and one team is ahead (or 4 1/2 innings if the home team is ahead)
-When the umpire declares a forfeit

This is an excerpt from The Sports Rules Book 3E.



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