Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a 90-foot diamond. Players on the batting team take turns hitting against the pitcher of the fielding team, which 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 later advance via a teammate's hit or other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn at bat for each team constitutes an inning and nine innings make up a professional game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-eighteenth century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is now popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia.
In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The major league champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. Five teams make the playoffs from each league: the three regular season division winners, plus two wild card teams. Baseball is the leading team sport in both Japan and Cuba, and the top level of play is similarly split between two leagues: Japan's Central League and Pacific League; Cuba's West League and East League. In the National and Central leagues, the pitcher is required to bat, per the traditional rules. In the American, Pacific, and both Cuban leagues, there is a tenth player, a designated hitter, who bats for the pitcher. Each top-level team has a farm system of one or more minor league teams.
Famous quotes containing the word baseball:
“I dont like comparisons with football. Baseball is an entirely different game. You can watch a tight, well-played football game, but it isnt exciting if half the stadium is empty. The violence on the field must bounce off a lot of people. But you can go to a ball park on a quiet Tuesday afternoon with only a few thousand people in the place and thoroughly enjoy a one-sided game. Baseball has an aesthetic, intellectual appeal found in no other team sport.”
—Bowie Kuhn (b. 1926)
“When Dad cant get the diaper on straight, we laugh at him as though he were trying to walk around in high-heel shoes. Do we ever assist him by pointing out that all you have to do is lay out the diaper like a baseball diamond, put the kids butt on the pitchers mound, bring home plate up, then fasten the tapes at first and third base?”
—Michael K. Meyerhoff (20th century)
“Baseball is the religion that worships the obvious and gives thanks that things are exactly as they seem. Instead of celebrating mysteries, baseball rejoices in the absence of mysteries and trusts that, if we watch what is laid before our eyes, down to the last detail, we will cultivate the gift of seeing things as they really are.”
—Thomas Boswell, U.S. sports journalist. The Church of Baseball, Baseball: An Illustrated History, ed. Geoffrey C. Ward, Knopf (1994)