This Description of Baseball began on the Baseball Teams Page and Concludes here. It is recommended that you start your reading at the beginning - at The Game of Baseball. A section outlining differences, with Pro Fastpitch, is also on the Baseball Teams Page.
The Offensive Players are Batters and Runners. Batter, Catcher and Umpire in Chief are in the Batting Circle - 26 feet in diameter from the centre of Home Plate. The Batter Stands beside Home Plate, facing it, and completely inside the Batter‘s Box - a 3 ft. by 7 ft. box that is 6“ from Home Plate. It extends 4 feet out in front, from the centre of the Plate, and reaches back to the front of the Catcher’s Box. There is a Batter’s Box on each side of Home Plate, but, usually only the outsides of the two boxes are shown. The Batter may not Swing at a Pitch if either foot is outside of the Batter’s Box and can not step to the other Box once the Pitcher is Set. A Batter may Bat from either side of the Plate (or both) during a ‘Plate Appearance’ (known as an ‘At Bat’ if an Out or Hit results). Before a Plate Appearance, the Batter prepares to Bat in the team’s ‘On Deck Circle’ - 5 foot diameter areas behind the centre of the Batting Circle and 37 ft toward each Dugout, or player’s bench. This Batter is ‘On Deck’ and the next Batter to go into the On-Deck Circle is known as ‘In the Hole’. The Batter becomes a Batter-Runner when the Ball is hit, and is obligated to run to 1st Base before the Ball is ‘Fielded’ and thrown to the Baseman touching the 1st ‘Base Bag‘ (creating a ‘Force Out‘). The Batter-Runner, who must stay inside of the Runner’s Lane unless the ball is being Fielded there, can over run 1st base, and CAN slide, and over slide it as well, provided he return to the Bag immediately. Should a motion to 2nd Base be made, a decision that the Batter-Runner was rounding 1st to go to 2nd could be made and then the tag would be a Putout. When the Batter is Safe at 1st, he becomes a ‘Base Runner’ and must touch the Bag (usually with a foot) in order to remain ‘Safe‘. If ‘Tagged‘ - touched with the Ball or a Glove with the Ball in it, while not touching a Base - the Runner is Out. If the hit Ball is caught, before touching the ground, the Batter is Out. If the Ball is hit over the Outfield Fence it is a ‘Home Run’ and the Batter rounds the Bases and Scores a ‘Run‘ - as do the other Runners on Base. A Batter may continue past 1st Base, on a Hit, but risks being Tagged at the next Bases. The Runner is only Safe when touching a Base. A Runner may decide to take a liberty of a few steps toward the next Base, knowing the Pitcher can not get the Ball to the Baseman before the Runner can scramble back to touch the bag (with a foot or hand). This is known as a ‘Lead Off’ and Pitchers do try to ‘Pick Off’ the Runner with a quick throw. A hit Ball Fielded and thrown to a Baseman Tagging a Base, where all the Bases before it are occupied, produces a Force Out and then a second Out can occur if the Ball is thrown to a another Baseman touching a Bag previous to the first one - if it is after the first Out, then a tag is required. This creates a ‘Double play‘, or two Outs on one Hit Ball. Base Runners are obligated to advance to the next Base if Runners before them are Forced to that Base by a Batter-Runner. A Runner at 1st Base must advance to 2nd Base if the Batter becomes a Batter-Runner, but, a Runner at 2nd Base may stay at 2nd if there is not a Runner at 1st Base. The next Hitters advance the Runners until they come Home to Score, or are Tagged Out or Forced Out. If a third Out occurs while a Base Runner is still at a Base, then that Runner is ‘Left On Base’ and erased. A runner may try to advance while the Pitcher is busy with the Batter; this is called a ‘Stolen Base’, or it can result in a Tagged Out. The Catcher must be very accurate with a throw to the 2nd Baseman (or Shortstop) so the Tag can be made. The Pitcher may try to catch the Runner off of the Bag by quick throws to the Baseman for a Tag. These are not considered Pitches. The Pitcher must first step off of the ‘Rubber’.
The pitcher throws the Ball very hard, or not hard at all and sometimes puts Spin on it to make it arc and fool the Batter into Swinging at a ‘Ball’ or not Swinging at a ‘Strike‘. A Pitcher is obligated to make a certain routine of movements that is known as a ‘Pitch’. The ‘Set Position’ has the Pitcher standing with the ‘Pivot’ foot touching the Pitcher’s Plate and the ‘Free’ foot beside it. Signals from the Catcher, as to what Pitch to make, can now be received. The Batter must already be in the Batter’s Box ready to take the Pitch. To Pitch the Ball, the Pitcher - who is holding the Baseball in the Pitcher’s Glove - can go into the ‘Windup’ by bringing the Pitching hand up to hold the Ball - now with both hands or hand and glove - and then stops! The Pitcher then, within a second or so, lifts the Free foot, high up in the air for leverage, and steps toward Home Plate, down the front of the Mound, while throwing the Ball over handed to the Catcher past the Batter. This action is called ’A Pitch’. If it takes place in any other way it is not a Pitch and a ‘Balk’ may be called. A Balk results in the advancement of each Runner 1 Base. A Pitcher may back out of a Pitch by stepping off of the Pitcher’s Plate, but, must drop the arms to the sides, first. Some Pitchers Pitch Sidearm and it is overhand. A Pitcher may throw the Ball to any Base, while not Set, but Must throw the Ball to 1st Base if it is motioned to do so. A Pitcher must not start and then stop the Windup motion, other than the required ‘Pause‘. All these actions produce a Balk. Pitchers may Catch and Field Hit Balls. They may also Catch Pop or Foul Fly Balls. Pitchers often run over to 1st base to make the ‘Putout’ for the 1st Baseman who Fielded the Ball, and can start a Double Play with a throw to 2nd. The Umpires make sure there is a ‘Rosen’ bag on the back of the Pitcher’s Mound for each game. Any defensive player may use the Rosin bag on either hand, but, not on the Uniform or Equipment. There is also a shoe cleaning device, at the back of the mound, to clear dirt from the bottom of the Infielders' shoes.
All of the Baseball Players’ Uniforms must be the same. They must have a unique number on the back, no smaller than 6” tall, and no advertising: the manufacturer’s logo must be appropriate in size. Undershirts can be worn but, must all be the same colour for each team. Shoes and Gloves are Equipment and may be different colours for each player - the Pitcher‘s Glove must not be white or grey. The Fielders all have the same Equipment including a leather ‘Baseball Glove’, but, the 1st Baseman and Catcher are allowed larger Gloves. The Catcher’s Glove is largest as the Pitches - Strikes, Balls, and Wild Pitches - must all be stopped. The 1st Baseman’s Glove is a little bigger than the other Fielders’ Gloves as most plays involve the 1st Baseman. All Gloves must conform to regulation sizes. Shoes may have leather or rubber Grip devices mounted on the bottom, but, metal “Spikes” are not allowed. A Catcher also wears ‘ Tools of Ignorance’; Baseball jargon for the extra protection worn behind the plate. The Catcher has a Chest Protector, Two Shin and attached Knee Pads, a Mask and a Throat Protector hanging down loose from the chin of the Mask, or a full Helmet and Mask combined. A Batter may wear Padded Elbow Pads, Batting Gloves, Shin and Foot Protectors as long as they conform to regulation sizes. A Batter must wear a Batting Helmet with at least 1 ear flap - facing the Pitcher - and may wear it while being a Base Runner. The Bat is made of 1 solid piece of wood, up to 42” long, with a Barrel no more than 2 ¾” in diameter and a Handle up to 18” long. The Barrel may have an indentation up to 1”, 1” to 2” in diameter out of the end, while only the Handle may have Grip improving substances on it (known as Pine Tar). Coloured or painted Bats are not approved. Violations result in ejections from the game.
The game is officiated by 4 Umpires, and as many as 6: Home Plate Umpire in Chief; 1st Base; 2nd Base; 3rd Base and 2 Outfield Umpires in the Playoffs and special Events; like the All-Star Game. All Umpires are attired the same for each League. The American League wears Black shirts, black pants, black coat, black cap and black shoes. The National League wears powder blue shirts, grey pants, black coat, navy blue cap and black shoes. The Home Plate Umpires wear a black padded mask, throat protector and has additional padding under the clothing. Some Umpires wear a full Helmut and Mask - black in the American League, Navy in the National. The Umpires have two sacks that are worn around the waist - 1 for new Baseballs to be put into play and 1 for scuffed, used Baseballs taken out of play. The Umpires decide on all plays in a Baseball Game: Strikes, Balls, Outs, Safes, Foul Balls, Home Runs, Tags, Balks, etc. The Umpire in Chief - the authority of the Umpire Crew - squats behind the Catcher, at Home Plate in the Batting Circle, and officiates any play there. The 1st Base Umpire stands behind 1st base straddling the Foul Line and Officiates the Play there. The 2nd Base Umpire stands in front of 2nd Base and Officiates the Play there. The Umpire moves behind 2nd Base when there is a Base Runner on 2nd. The 3rd Base Umpire stands behind 3rd Base straddling the Foul Line and Officiates the Play there. The two Outfield Umpires, when provided, straddle the two Foul Lines further out toward the Outfield Fence and Officiate Plays in the Outfield and along the Foul Line deeper than the 1st and 3rd Base Umpires. Each of the Umpires has complete control over their individual officiating territory. Only the team Manager can “Appeal” the plays called by an Umpire, but, no Appeal can be made on a Judgement (or ‘Adjudged‘) call. The Umpires’ decisions are Final. Appeals are to question whether the Umpire had a clear view of the play: requesting that the other Umpires be consulted to achieve the positive result. Umpires may conference at these times and will reverse a call, if needed. However, many players, and Managers, get thrown out of the game arguing about a Strike or a Ball called at the Plate. Helpers answer to the Umpiring Crew: there are Foul or Loose Ball fetchers, down along each grandstand wall, who retrieve dead Foul Balls and give them to the spectators (the Balls are now scuffed, by the Bat, and are illegal); and the Ball Boy who makes sure the Umpire in Chief has at least two extra Balls to put in play at all times (retrieving any scuffed or used Balls the Umpire has removed from play). An Umpire calls Strike and then indicates it by raising the right hand - for a Ball, no motion is made. When an Umpire signals Out, the right hand is clenched and raised up over head. The Umpire signals Safe when the hands are flattend and crossed with extended arms down low, and then swiftly brought back out to the side. A Foul Ball signal has both open hands on out stretched arms and over the head.
It is important to know that a Catcher must not ‘Obstruct’ the Batter in the attempt to Bat the Ball, nor may a Batter Obstruct the Catcher in the attempt to throw the Ball to a Baseman, or Shortstop, to Putout a Base Stealing Attempt, or even an errant Base Runner. Also, a Base Runner must not interfere with a Fielder’s attempt to Catch or Field a hit Ball, nor may a Fielder, without the Ball, interfere with a Base Runner’s attempt to advance to the next Base. And, a Base Runner that is hit directly by a Batted Ball is Out. If the Runner is hit by a throw, that is meant to be caught by the Baseman to Putout the Runner, then the Fielder who threw the Ball is charged with an ‘Error’ and the Runner is Safe. Errors are charged on a Fielder who should have made a play with an ordinary effort - rather than giving a Base Hit to a play that does not deserve one. Errors are included in calculating Batters’ Stats. A Batted Ball that lands Fair, but, bounces over the Fence or into the stands is ruled ‘A Ground Rule Double’ and the Batter-Runner is sent to 2nd Base, while the Runners advance two bases. A Batted Ball that hits an Outfielder and then proceeds over the Outfield Fence is a Home Run. If it bounces first, then it is a Ground Rule Double. When a fan reaches out into the Playing Field and interferes with a Live Ball, the fan is ejected from the stadium and a Ground Rule Double is given. When a Policemen, Security Guard, Bat Boy, Ball Boy or Grounds Crewman is hit by a Live Ball, while in the act of getting out of the way, then it remains a Live Ball and the workers continue their duties. In the 5th Inning, between the Top and Bottom, the Grounds Crew comes out onto the Field and performs a quick maintenance on the Field - mostly the Diamond. After the Top of the 7th Inning, there is a 7th Inning Stretch including music and activity to help the spectators move and relax for the last part of the game. The song might be ’Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ , ‘Centre Field’, or a Home Team Favourite. Where the Relief Pitchers Warm Up is in the ‘Bull Pen’: a designated area, for each team, that has a raised Pitcher’s Plate and a Catcher’s Box where the Pitcher makes practice throws, until called to enter the game by the Manager. There is one Bull Pen for each team and they may have two Pitcher’s Plates each. The Bull Pens are usually out behind the Outfield Fence, but can still be located in Foul Territory, out past the team Dugout, along the Foul Lines. The Manager, or the Pitching Coach, can make one visit per Inning to the Pitcher’s Mound to converse with the Pitcher, but, on the second visit, the Pitcher must be replaced. No two visits can be during the same Batter’s Plate Appearance.
Each of the Fielders takes a turn at Bat, but, in the MLB American League the ‘Designated Hitter’, or ‘DH’, Bats for the Pitchers - Starting and Relief. The DH is a Professional Hitter who may be a ‘Slugger’ - a Batter who often attains extra Bases on a Hit - or an expert: at ‘Sacrifice Bunts’ or ‘Sacrifice Fly Balls’. These Sacrifice Plays are to take an Out to advance a Base Runner into ‘Scoring Position’ - 2nd or 3rd Base. A Sacrifice Fly Ball is high and deep, but, is caught in the Outfield too far to throw the Baseball to the Infield Bases in time to get a Tag. A Bunt is deadened, with the Bat held at the Handle and at the other End, to dribble the Ball slowly out of easy reach of all Infielders a short distance away from Home Plate, but, far enough away from the Catcher so that the only play the Fielder has is to throw to 1st Base. This would advance any Base Runners to the next Bases as they take Lead Offs and are often already Running when the Pitch is released. Any Batter may attempt these plays. The DH is the 10th player position. Players are often ‘Substituted’ during a game with the new player assuming the Fielding and Batting position of the removed player. A Substitute can be a ‘Pinch Runner’, or a ‘Pinch Hitter’ - PH. Substitutes replace ‘Starting Players’ who may not return in that game - this includes the ‘Starting Pitcher’ by ‘Relief Pitchers’ - and are announced when entering the Lineup. The ‘Batting Order’ is permanent throughout the game and is used by the Official Scorer - who keeps track of all the Balls, Strikes, Bases reached, Outs and every event: per Batter, Fielder and especially the Pitchers. Baseball is heavily reliant on statistics. Copies of the ‘Starting Lineup Batting Order’ are delivered, by each Manager, to the Umpire in Chief at the start of the Game.
A Game starts when the Managers meet the Umpire in Chief, at Home Plate, and provides two copies of the Starting Lineup Batting Order. When the Home Team Manager confirms that the Field conditions and weather conditions are acceptable, the Umpire in Chief takes control of the Playing Field and makes all game decisions there after. Confirming both copies of each Batting Order are a match, each Manager receives an Opponents copy and will scrutinize it carefully throughout the game. The Home team takes to the Field and their Starting Pitcher begins 8 ’Warm Up Pitches’ - or more if the Umpire grants it, eg. due to cold weather - with the Catcher in ‘Position‘. The Fielders throw around Baseballs that are then returned to the Dugout. The ‘Lead Off Batter’ proceeds to the On-Deck Circle to take practice Swings. The Umpire counts out the Warm Up Pitches and then signals each Bench: Ready. When the Lead Off Batter steps into the Batting Circle the Umpire, when Ready, Declares: Play! The top Half of the 1st Inning is about to start.
The Batter steps into the Batter’s Box and plants the feet in the dirt to be ’In Position’. This is where the Catcher, In Position in the Catcher’s Box, begins to make finger and hand signals to the Pitcher. The Batter must face the Pitcher - who has the Pivot foot on the front of the Pitcher’s Plate and the Free foot on the ground beside it. Usually with a nod, the Pitcher accepts a signal from the Catcher - who positions inside the Catcher’s Box to receive the called Pitch. If this takes place within a time frame to the Batter’s liking, the Pitcher moves into the Windup and delivers the first Pitch. If not, then the Batter may step out of the Batter’s Box requesting ‘Time’ from the Umpire. The Catcher and Batter are In Position and the Pitcher raises the Pitching hand into the glove to hold the Ball and Pauses for a moment, lifts the Free foot up high and then steps forward releasing the Ball at Home Plate. This Ball travels at 88 MPH and crosses over the inside (the part of the Plate closest to the Batter) of the Plate just above the Batter’s knees. STRIKE calls the Umpire and the Game is ON!
The next Pitches miss: outside (further away than the part of the Plate farthest from the Batter) and high (above the mid point from the Batter’s shoulders and pants). The ‘Count is 2 Balls and 1 Strike (2-1). The next Pitch is Swung on and hit driving the Ball to the 2nd Baseman who Catches it. 1 Out! The next Batter Swings and misses with a Count of (3-2) Striking Out. 2 Out! The third Batter takes two misses for Balls and then Swings and Drives the Ball out over the Shortstop's Glove into the ‘Gap’ in the Outfield. The Batter-Runner drops the Bat and Runs to 1st Base rounding the Bag and heads for 2nd - standing on the Bag once arriving, with a Stand Up Double’, as the 2nd Baseman receives the throw afterwards. Man on Second - 2 Out. The fourth Batter ‘Steps Up to the Plate’ and Swings on the first delivery launching a high Fly Ball deep into Right Field - over the Outfield Fence for a 2 Run Home Run! The Visitors lead 2-0 and the Bases are now empty. After the third Out, the Home team is Up to Bat, in the Bottom Half of the 1st Inning, and the Visiting team takes to the Field. A game is 9 Innings, but, becomes Official after 5 complete Innings. The Bottom of the last Inning played does not have to be completed - or even started - if the home team is ahead. A Tie Game goes into extra Innings - the 10th or more - to get a Decision.
Sometimes, the game is tied going into the bottom of the 9th. The Visiting Pitcher, by now a Reliever, tries to get the game to continue into the 10th Inning by not allowing any runs from the Home team. This is a time when the Count often goes to (3-2) with the Pitcher putting the Ball over or near Home Plate and the Batter Swinging and Fouling the Ball Off into the stands behind or beside the Playing Field - repeatedly. With two Outs, the Visitors are eager to get that final Batter and ‘Retire the Side’. The Batter is In Position and the Pitcher Winds Up and misses - Ball 1. The Batter is twirling the Bat up over head as the Pitcher - getting signals from the Catcher - is stared at in anticipation of the next Pitch. The Pitcher steps and Hurls the Ball past the Batter catching the lower part of the Strike Zone and the Umpire says - Strike. Then the Umpire holds up fingers, from each hand, indicating 1 Ball with the right and 1 Strike with the left (1-1). This is a left hand Batter known to ‘Pull’ the Ball right and the defenders have shifted to the right side of the Field to fill in the space between 1st and 2nd and the holes in Right Field. With the 3rd Baseman over in Shortstop and the Left Fielder over in Left Centre Field, the Batter Swings late, connecting with a Fastball sending the Ball ‘Fair’ down the 3rd Base Line: bouncing and bounding around off of the grandstand wall. The Batter-Runner approaches 1st Base taking a wide turn proceeding to 2nd , as the Left Fielder has just arrived in the Left Field Corner after the Ball has rebounded off of the Outfield Fence past him. The Batter-Runner rounds 2nd Base and continues on to 3rd, while the Leftfielder finally ‘Tracks Down’ the Ball and Hurls it to the ‘Cut Off Man’ - in this case the Shortstop out behind 3rd base. The 3rd Base Coach has ‘Waved the Runner Through’ anticipating off line throws by the Fielders. The Batter-Runner ‘Heads for Home’ as the Shortstop Catches and Relays the Ball to the Catcher at ‘The Plate‘. The throw is waist high as the Batter-Runner slides, head first, ‘Under the Tag’ and gets a ‘Hand On’ Home Plate: Scored a ‘Walk Off’ ’Inside the Park’ Home Run to win the Game!! An exceptional play, yes! But, events like this happen in Baseball - like a Triple Play or a No Hitter - and every Game is full of outstanding Catches, Stolen Bases, accurate throws and brilliant Pitching.
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