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This article is about the game of baseball. For other uses, see Baseball (disambiguation)

A baseball game at Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri.

Baseball, is a game in which nine active players on each team (except for those teams having designated hitters) take turns playing defense on the field and batting one at a time. The object is for the batters to hit a ball thrown by the pitcher into "fair" territory such that it is not caught in the air and gives the batter time to run to a base. The offense strives to advance these baserunners until they circle the three infield bases in order and get to the fourth base, called "home". This results in the scoring of a run. Failing to reach a base during their batting attempt results in an out, and the offense is only allowed three outs before they must take the field once again. Each team is allowed nine of these "innings" during the course of the game, an exception being that a team does not bat a ninth time if they are winning after the other teams ninth attempt. If the game is tied after nine innings, additional innings are played until there is a winner.


A well-publicized tradition holds that the game was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. But not even the National Baseball Hall of Fame, founded on the strength of that tradition, seriously promotes this theory any more:

After the [1905] Commission [appointed to determine the game's origins] reported its findings in 1908, many of the game's historians disputed Graves' accounts, noting that many of the innovations he attributed to Doubleday were already being practiced earlier in the 1830s. The discovery in 1999 of the original Mills Commission papers, long reported to have been burned, supports the view of many researchers that Baseball developed from, and along with, other bat-and-ball games earlier in the nineteenth century.[1]

The word "baseball" is mentioned in passing in Jane Austen's 1803 British novel Northanger Abbey, set in England:

it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books...[2]

but there is nothing in the context that tells any details of the game.

"Base-ball" or "base ball" was being played, under that name, during the Civil War:

Captain Kimberly was an experienced and skillful player and base ball player and took the lead in inaugurating a series of games of base ball.[3]
The air seemed full of heavy shot, and as the flew they could be seen as plainly as a base-ball in one of our games.[4]

A 1902 book about Philadelphia says that "base-ball" was simply a new name for an older game:

During the Civil War there was an interesting athletic development when the old game of "town-ball" was rechristened "base-ball." It is believed that the first town-ball club, called the Olympic, was established in 1833.[5]

In 2004, a baseball historian made national news with the apparent discovery of 1791 bylaw of the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, stating that

for the Preservation of the Windows in the New Meeting House... no Person or Inhabitant of said town, shall be permitted to play at any game called Wicket, Cricket, Baseball, Football, Cat, Fives or any other game or games with balls, within the Distance of Eighty Yards from said Meeting House.[6]

The first definitively recorded organized baseball game took place in Hoboken, N.J., in 1846.[7]

The Abner-Doubleday-in-Cooperstown tradition was a reaction to famous baseball writer Henry Chadwick, who had stated that the game evolved from the British game of "rounders."[1]. In response, Albert G. Spaulding, another baseball pioneer, urged the formation of a commission to determine the game's origin; one was formed, and in due course issued a report on December 30, 1907 stating "the first scheme for playing baseball, according to the best evidence obtainable to date, was devised by Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1839." The results of the Spaulding committee led to the 1939 founding of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the city of Cooperstown.[8] Just how long has baseball been played? The only valid answer known (as of the summer of 2008) indicates that it must have been played before March 31, 1755. In a diary found recently, a lawyer by the name of William Bray wrote as follows: "After Dinner Went to Miss Jeale's to play at Base Ball . . . ." The next known reference to the sport is the 1791 law in Pittsfield, Mass., forbidding the game to be played. There are also some Egyptian carvings in which a bat and ball may be seen, but these are indecisive.

Modern Baseball

The game of baseball is now played the world over. In North America, the primary governing body at the professional level is Major League Baseball, which consists of thirty clubs. Major League Baseball is divided into two groups; The American League and The National League. Every year, all of the MLB clubs from each league battle to earn a place in the World Series, the pinnacle of the sport. To date the New York Yankees of the American League have won the most World Series titles with 26 followed by the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League with 10 wins. College baseball in the United States is governed primarily by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

In Japan, professional baseball is primarily governed by Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). There are a total of 12 teams. The association is divided into two leagues of six teams each, the Central League and the Pacific League. With 21 overall titles since the league's inception, the Yomiuri Giants have been the most successful Japanese club since the NPB's beginnings in 1958. [9]


The baseball as we know it—or at least the familiar "figure-eight" stitched cover—was invented in the 1840s by Ellis Drake of Stoughton, Massachusetts.[10]

The umpire's hand signals for "strike" and "out" were invented by deaf baseball player William "Dummy" Hoy (1861-1961)[11]

The ball

Baseball ball : The baseball’s core is made of rubber and cork. Yarn is wound around the rubber and cork centre. Then 2 strips of white cowhide are sewn around the ball. Official baseballs must weigh 5 to 5 1/4 ounces and be 9 to 9 1/4 inches in diameter.


External links

See also

Baseball Terms
Hits BuntSingleDoubleTripleHome RunFair BallFoul BallGround Rule Double
Fouls Quick Return PitchBalkInfield Fly
Events Double HeaderForfeited GameInning
Achievements Baseball Hall of FameAll-Star GameWorld Series
Positions BatterPitcherCatcherDesignated hitterFielderInfielderOutfielderRunner
Equipment Baseball
Outs OutDouble PlayTriple PlayFielder's ChoiceFly BallForce PlayGround BallLine DriveStrikeout
Places on the Field AlleyBaseBatter's BoxDugoutFair TerritoryFoul TerritoryHome PlateInfieldOutfield
Pitches BallStrike
Achievable Events AssistRunTagPerfect game

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Origins of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
  2. Austen, Jane (1803) [Northanger Abbey], Chapter 1
  3. Nash, Eugene Arus (1910) A History of the Forty-fourth Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, in the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 166
  4. Johnson, Robert Underwood and Clarence Clough Buel (1888), Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume IV, p. 37
  5. Edmond, Franklin Spencer, History of the Central High School of Philadelphia p. 251
  6. Pittsfield is "Baseball's Garden of Eden"
  7. Hoboken Baseball
  8. The National Baseball Hall of Fame was inspired by the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in New York. Established in 1901, with a 600-foot colonnade ultimately containing bronze busts of 98 great Americans, the Hall of Fame was at one time a major landmark, and the additions of honorees to it was a national news event. Ironically, the Hall of Fame for Great Americans has itself passed into obscurity; today, the phrase "Hall of Fame" has practically come to mean the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
  9. Team and League Information
  10. Nineteenth-century baseballs
  11. Deaf Place Names