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Baseball facts for kids and adults

Baseball has long been considered the U.S. 'national game'. From spring until fall, millions of Americans play the game in the afternoons and on weekends, and millions more follow the fortunes of their favorite professional teams on television or radio.

For a long time it was thought that Abner Doubleday, a U.S. Army officer, laid out the first diamond in Coopers-town, N.Y., in 1839. Because of this story, which was later proved to be untrue, baseball's Hall of Fame and Museum was dedicated in that city in 1939.

We now know that games very much like baseball were played before Doubleday's time. The basic rules of the game were developed between 1845 and 1876, when the National League was founded.

Since that time there has been little essential change, although there have been many refinements.

Baseball facts for kids - Montreal runner match

Baseball facts for kids and adults

A Montreal runner slides safely into third base in a match between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Montreal Expos at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pa (the baseball ticket for this match was cost expensively enough)

In fact, baseball is played by two teams of nine men, on a large field containing a diamond-shaped 'infield'. Bases are placed 90 feet apart at each corner of the diamond. First, second, and third bases are covered by fielders, while the shortstop plays between second and third base. There are three fielders in the outfield (four in Softball, or indoor, baseball) plus a pitcher and a catcher. The pitcher stands on a raised mound in the center of the diamond and hurls a small hard ball toward his catcher crouching behind home plate, 60.5 feet away. Members of the team at bat take turns standing on either side of home plate. The object is to hit the ball with a tapering wooden bat so that it lands in fair territory and the batter can reach at least first base before a fielder throws the ball to the first baseman standing on the base, or 'bag'.

If the ball is caught before it touches the ground, the batter is out. He may also be tagged out between bases when the ball is in play. If he reaches base safely, succeeding batters try to advance him all the way round to score a run when he crosses home plate again.

The pitcher must throw the ball over home plate in the 'strike zone' between the batter's shoulders and knees. The batter is called out after three 'strikes' - a swing that misses the ball completely, or a failure to hit the ball when it crosses the strike zone. A pitch that misses the strike zone is called a 'ball', and after four balls the batter 'walks' to first base. Each team has a turn at bat and three 'outs' during an inning. The team that scores most runs at the end of nine innings wins the game. If there is a tie, play continues until the tie is broken.

Principal spectator interest is in professional baseball. The two major leagues are the National and the American, which was organized in 1900. The champions of each league have played for the World Series title every year since 1903. There are also many minor leagues, of which the most important are the International League, the Texas League, and the Pacific Coast League. These leagues serve as training grounds for major league players.

Interest in individual stars, some of whom earn more than $1000,000 a year, centers on number of home runs and batting averages for hitters, and number of games won for pitchers. The greatest home-run hitter of all time was Barry Bonds, who had a lifetime total of 762. Two contemporary players, Henry (Hank) Aaron and Babe Ruth, are in second and third place. Batting average is a three-place figure computed by dividing number of official times at bat into number of hits. An average over .300 is considered excellent. Star pitchers are those who win 20 or more games in a season. Some more interesting baseball facts for kids you can find on this page

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