Rules of Baseball | How it is Played?

Baseball isn’t a game of lazy athletes, but sheer power. It’s a typical American game involving the use of physical strength with little rules.

The game dates back as far as 1744, and the impressive thing is the rules of baseball are pretty much the same today as they were in the beginning. Baseball isn’t popular in Asian countries but it falls in the category of most followed games in America, Canada and Japan.

Rules of Baseball

Objective of Playing Baseball

The objective is simple, score as many runs as you can and the one with more runs at the end of the game is declared the winner. But wait, did I just say runs? Is it the same as cricket? The answer is no. Though you have to hit the ball thrown at you – not bowled with – and run around 4 bases to complete a run. When one player completes a run before being tagged out, then the next batter steps in.

How to Play?

Baseball is played with a bat and ball, a pitcher throws the ball to the batter who is supposed to hit the ball anywhere and run bases to score runs for his team. A professional baseball game can consist of upto 9 innings. Both teams bat and field 9 times during the whole game.

A baseball game can be much more difficult to understand than it sounds above, the fielding positions, how a batsman can get out and what happens when both teams have the same score after 9 innings can create confusion among people who recently started watching Baseball.

To get your every query answered, keep reading till the end.

General Rules of Baseball

  • A baseball game is played between two teams, each consisting of 9 players.
  • One team bats while the other fields. The match consists of 9 innings, and each team bats once in every inning.
  • In the end, the team with most runs wins the game. There are no draws, if after 9 innings, both teams have scored the same number of runs, an extra innings is included in the game.
  • The fielding team has designated spots for fielders. A Pitcher and a Catcher, first baseman and second baseman, shortstop, third baseman and three outfielder stand at left, center and right field.
  • If the team batting second in the 9th innings are ahead in points, they don’t have to complete their batting innings.
  • Batting order remains official throughout the game and it cannot be changed.
  • Substitute players can come in but they too have to bat at the position of the batter whom they are replacing.
  • Each team gets three outs per inning – while batting – and then the other team gets the chance to bat.

Scoring Rules in Baseball

  • A batter and a runner (on each base) remain in the field at a time for a batting side.
  • After hitting the ball, a batter is known as a runner.
  • After hitting a ball, a batter must make an effort to get to first base at least. He can run as many bases as he can before being tagged out. Each base has to be touched properly by any part of the body while running past.
  • It can be done in stages or all in one go. If a player reaches the base before the ball, he is safe and if not, he is out.
  • Upon hitting the shot, the batter runs to second base, the man on the second runs to the third and the man on the 4th base runs to the 1st base where the batsman was batting.
  • Each batter gets three strikes, after which he is called out.
  • Strike refers to every ball that batter tried to hit but missed it.
  • Batter has the option to leave the ball. But if it leaves any ball that is in the strike zone (a certain area called strike) then the strike will be given.
  • If four balls are bowled away from the strike zone and the batter leaves them, he can walk to the first base.
  • A runner has to reach another base before the fielder there catches the ball. If the runner reaches at the same time the fielder at the base catches the ball, then the runner will be safe.
  • A batsman can be dismissed by strike out (missing three balls).
  • When a batter plays a shot and it is caught anywhere in the field, it is called “Fly out”.
  • And the third way of getting out is being tagged (when a defensive player with the ball tags the batsman whilst running).

Who bats First in Baseball?

In Baseball, there’s nothing like toss. The visiting team bats first (also known as top half) while the hosting team bats second (bottom half).

Time Duration of a Baseball Game

The time duration of a baseball game depends upon the number of innings. In major leagues, a baseball game generally lasts nine innings and an average of three hours are required to complete a game. Similarly, at small levels like minor leagues and collegiate tournaments numbers of innings are reduced to 7, hence the time required is also reduced.

Playing Area in Baseball

The action begins with a five-sided slab of whitened rubber, a 17” square with its 2 corners removed so that one of the edges is 17” long. The two adjacent sides are approximately 8.5 inches and the other two sides are 12 inches. A batter box sits adjacent to the two parallel 5.5 inches sides. The point at home page on which the two 12” sides meet at right angles is at one corner of a 90 foot square.

Some important areas of a baseball field are :

First Base: There are 4 bases in a baseball field in total. First base is a base that must be touched by a batting team player in order to score a run.

Second Base: Second base is typically defended by a second batsman. It is also known as the keystone sack and the runner on the second base is said to be in “scoring position”.

Third Base: A third base is another base which must be touched by a runner in a counterclockwise succession in order to score a run.

Home plate: Home plate is the final and fourth base that a batter must touch in order to score.

Batter Box and Catcher Box: Both batter and catcher stand in their boxes. Both the boxes are usually drawn by the chalk. A batter box is approximately 4 feet wide and 6 feet long.

Foul Poles: With the help of these poles, the umpire judges whether a fly ball hit above the fence is a foul or not (if it’s not a foul, then the player can do the Home Run. The minimum distance required to cover a home run is 325 feet. And if the ball hits lower, then the play goes on. Fielders can field the ball and the batter can cover as many bases as he can.

Equipments in Baseball

The equipment required in baseball are a baseball bat, ball, helmets and gloves.

Baseball bat: The baseball bats are made of different materials, including wood, aluminium and metal. The baseball bat shouldn’t be more than 42 inches in length and 2.75 inches in diameter.

Baseball: It is generally in white colour with red stitching, measuring 3 inches in diameter.

Helmets: Baseball helmets are worn by batters and sometimes close fielders. Some of them have exposed fronts while some are well covered from all sides.

Mits: Mits are actually oversized gloves that help the players to catch and pick up the baseball.

Paddings: The catcher who stands right behind the batter wears protective equipment like bodypads, gloves, and helmet because he is the most vulnerable to getting hit if the batsman leaves or misses the ball.

Home Run in Baseball

Also known as HR, a Home Run occurs when a batters hit the ball in such a way that he has plenty of time to circle the base and reach home safely in one play. The feat can be achieved by hitting the ball out of the field’s fence (between foul poles or by making contact with either of the poles) without touching the ground.

Stealing Base

As the name suggests, bases are stolen when a runner advances to a base which is not his property. If a catcher misses or drops the ball, a runner can steal the first base.

Ground Rule Double

If the batter hits the ball and the ball leaves the ground between foul lines, the batter walks to the second base.

Double play

In Double play, the fielding side gets two outs – a runner and a batter.

Tag Out in Baseball

Tagout is common in baseball, it occurs when a fielder touches the baserunner with the ball or gloves holding the ball when he is out of the base.

Umpire’s Role in Baseball

Umpiring in Baseball can be a tough job, you have to be very active and unbiased in order to pass the right judgement. A umpire’s job in a baseball game is to start the game, end the game officially, enforce the rules of the games and grounds on the field and maintain discipline among players

Awards in Baseball

Although Baseball is not as popular as football and some other sports are, some yearly awards are given to the players of different teams. These awards are given at domestic and international levels:

  • Senior athlete of the year
  • Junior athlete of the year
  • Coach of the year
  • Federation executive of the year (Division level)

Famous Baseball Tournaments

Some of the famous baseball tournaments played every year are:

  • WBSC Premier 12
  • World baseball Classic (WBC)
  • Women’s Baseball World Cup
  • 23U Baseball World Cup (World Championship at junior level)

Governing Body for Baseball

IBAF (International Baseball Federation) is the governing body whose job is to promote the game and organize international events. All the junior and senior level baseball tournaments held are scheduled by the IBAF and any change in the laws at particular level is also approved by the federation.