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A view of the playing field at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Baseball is a team sport popular in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean and East Asia. The modern game was developed in the United States from early bat-and-ball games played in Britain, and it has become the national sport of the United States. It is a ball game in which a pitcher throws (pitches) a hard, fist-sized ball past the hitting area of a batter. The batter attempts to hit the baseball with a tapered, smooth, cylindrical bat that in professional baseball must be made out of wood. A team scores only when batting, by advancing counter-clockwise past a series of four markers called bases arranged at the corners of a diamond. Each base is 90 feet from the previous base. Baseball is sometimes called hardball to differentiate it from similar games such as softball.


As with many sports, and perhaps even more so, statistics are very important to baseball. Statistics have been kept for the Major Leagues since their creation, and presumably statistics were around even before that. General managers, baseball scouts, managers, and players alike study player statistics to help them choose various strategies to best help their team.

Traditionally, statistics like batting average for batters—the number of hits divided by the number of at bats—and earned run average—approximately the number of runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings—have governed the statistical world of baseball. However, the advent of sabermetrics has brought an onslaught of new statistics that perhaps better gauge a player’s performance and contributions to his team from year to year.

Some sabermetrics have entered the mainstream baseball statistic world. On-base plus slugging (OPS) is a somewhat complicated formula that gauges a hitter’s performance better than batting average. It combines the hitter’s on base percentage—hits plus walks plus hit by pitches divided by plate appearances—with their slugging percentage—total bases divided by at bats. Walks plus hits per inning pitched (or WHIP) gives a good representation of a pitcher’s abilities; it is calculated exactly as its name suggests.

Also important are more specific statistics for particular situations. For example, a certain hitter’s ability to hit left-handed pitchers might cause his manager to give him more chances to face lefties. Some hitters hit better with runners in scoring position, so an opposing manager, knowing this statistic, might elect to intentionally walk him in order to face a poorer hitter.


Baseball is most popular in East Asia and the Americas, although it is also popular in South America mainly in the northern portion of the continent as well as Brazil. In Japan, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, Nicaragua, South Korea, and Taiwan, it is one of the most popular sports. The United States is the birthplace of baseball, and there it has long been regarded as more than just a “major sport” – it has been considered, for decades, the national pastime and Major League Baseball has been given a unique monopoly status by the United States Congress. Although three of the four most popular sports in North America are ball games — baseball, basketball and American football — baseball’s popularity grew so great that the word “ballgame” in the United States almost always refers to a game of baseball, and “ballpark” to a baseball field (except in the South, where “ballgame” is also used in association with football).

Baseball has often been a barometer of the fabled American “melting pot”, as immigrants from different regions have tried to “make good” in various areas including sports. In the 19th century, baseball was populated with many players of Irish or German extraction. A number of Native Americans had successful careers especially in the early 1900s. Italians and Poles appeared on many rosters during the 1920s and 1930s. Black Americans came on strong starting in the late 1940s after the barriers had been lifted, and continue to form a significant contingent. By the 1960s, Hispanics had started to make the scene, and had become a dominant force by the 1990s. In the 21st century, East Asians have been appearing in increasing numbers.

While baseball is perhaps the most popular sport in the United States and is certainly one of the two most popular along with football, it is difficult to determine which is more popular because of the wide discrepancy in number of games per season. For example, the total attendance for Major League games is roughly equal to that of all other American professional team sports combined, but football gets higher television ratings, both a function in part of the long (162-game) baseball season and short (16-game) football season.

Organized leagues

Baseball is played at a number of levels, by amateur and professionals, and by the young and the old. Youth programs use modified versions of adult and professional baseball rules, which may include a smaller field, easier pitching (from a coach, a tee, or a machine), less contact, base running restrictions, limitations on innings a pitcher can throw, liberal balk rules, and run limitations, among others. Since rules vary from location-to-location and among the organizations, coverage of the nuances in those rules is beyond this article.

Following is a list of organized leagues:

  • Youth Leagues
    • Little League, a youth program, headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania (USA).
      Pony Baseball, a youth program, headquartered in Washington, Pennsylvania (USA).
      Dizzy Dean Baseball a youth program in the USA.
      American Legion Baseball, a youth program, headquartered in Indianapolis, IN.
      USSSA Baseball a youth and adult program, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri (USA).
      Ripken Baseball, a youth program, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland (USA).
      Babe Ruth League, a youth program, headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey (USA).
      Moberly Midget League a youth program headquartered in Moberly, Missouri (USA).
  • High School
    • In the USA, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and each state association governs the play of baseball at the high school level.
  • Collegiate Level
    • List of Collegiate Summer Baseball Leagues
      NCAA, including NCAA Division I and the College World Series, are collegiate level baseball programs played in the USA.
      National Club Baseball Association (NCBA)
  • International Competition
    • Many international baseball events are coordinated by the International Baseball Federation, including The World Cup and The World Baseball Classic.
      As an Olympic sport, see earlier section on the status of baseball in the Olympic games, and the article “Baseball at the Summer Olympics.”
  • Semi-professional baseball
    • National Semi-Pro Baseball Association
  • Professional baseball
    • Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States;
      Minor League baseball in the United States;
      Independent Baseball
      Negro League baseball, defunct since 1958, in the United States.
      All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
      Mexican Baseball
      Japanese Baseball
      Taiwan professional baseball
      Korean Baseball Organization (KBO)
      Australian Baseball
      There are also smaller professional leagues in China, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and many others.

Picture of Fenway Park Picture of Fenway Park. Part of the “Green Monster” can be seen on the right side of this picture


  • Joe Brinkman and Charlie Euchner, The Umpire’s Handbook, rev. ed. (1987)
  • 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 0743227220)
  • Robert Peterson, Only the Ball Was White (1970, reprinted 1984)
  • Joseph L. Reichler (ed.), The Baseball Encyclopedia, 7th rev. ed. (1988). (since 1871)
  • 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)
  • David Quentin Voigt, Baseball, an Illustrated History (1987)
  • Charles Euchner, The Last Nine Innings: Inside the Real Game Fans Never See (2006)
  • Jeff MacGregor, The New Electoral Sex Symbol: Nascar Dad, The New York Times (January 18, 2004)
  • Michael Mandelbaum, The Meaning of Sports, (PublicAffairs, ISBN 1-58648-252-1).
  • Diamonds of the North: A Concise History of Baseball in Canada by William Humber (Oxford University Press, 1995).
  • Old Time Baseball and the London Tecumsehs of the late 1870s by Les Bronson, a recorded (and later transcribed) talk given to the London & Middlesex Historical Society on February 15, 1972. Available in the London Room of the Central Branch of the London Public Library.
  • Journal of Sport History (1988), A Critical Examination of a Source in Early Ontario Baseball: The Reminiscence of Adam E. Ford by UWO Professor Robert K. Barney and Nancy Bouchier.
  • The Beaver, Exploring Canada’s History October-November 1994, Baseball’s Canadian Roots: Abner Who? by Mark Kearney.
  • The Northern Game: Baseball the Canadian Way by Bob Elliott (Sport Classic, 2005).
  • The 1948 London Majors: A Great Canadian Team by Dan Mendham (unpublished academic paper, UWO, December 7, 1992).
  • An Eight-Page Indenture/ Instrument #33043 between The London and Western Trusts Company Limited, The Corporation of The City of London and John Labatt, Limited, dated December 31, 1936, and registered on title in the Land Registry Office for the City of London on January 2, 1937, conveying Tecumseh Park to the City of London along with $10,000 on the provisos that the athletic field be preserved, maintained and operated “for the use of the citizens of the City of London as an athletic field and recreation ground” and that it be renamed “The John Labatt Memorial Athletic Park.”
  • Heritage Baseball: City of London a souvenir program from July 23, 2005, celebrating the history of Labatt Park and London, Ontario’s 150th anniversary as an incorporated city.
  • Pittsfield: Small city, big baseball town, earliest known baseball reference


This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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