Baseball is one of the most popular games in the world. While it has long been a tradition in the United States, baseball has gained popularity in many other countries, as well. Of course, if you are not yet familiar with How Is Baseball Played, watching a game could be downright confusing.
With this article, we’d like to walk through some of the basics of how baseball is played. You might not be an expert by the end of this page, but you should have a much better idea of what the players are trying to do and what makes this sport so much fun to watch and play. Let’s get started!
The Basic Concept to How Is Baseball Played?
The concept of the game of baseball is like many other sports. A game is contested between two teams, and the team with the most points – called runs, in baseball parlance – at the end of the game is deemed the winner. In most cases, a tied score at the end of regulation will lead to a continuation of the game until a winner is determined, although those rules can vary from league to league.
Unlike many other sports, there is no clock in baseball. Rather, each game is played for a set number of innings (more on how an inning works later). Professional baseball leagues, such as Major League Baseball in the United States, typically play games consisting of nine innings. Leagues at a lower level, such as youth baseball leagues, often play games that last for six or seven innings.
As mentioned above, it may be necessary to extend a game if it is tied at the end of the number of regulation innings. In that case, the game continues one inning at a time until one team is ahead at the end of an inning. At that point, the game will be over.
The Field – Explaining How is Baseball Played?
Before we can get into the process of how the game is played, we need to quickly outline the details of how the field is composed. The field is unique to baseball, and it does not look like fields used for other sports.
There are two primary sections of the field – the infield and the outfield. The infield is made up of four bases oriented in a diamond pattern. Those bases are called first base, second base, third base, and home plate. Roughly in the middle of that diamond is a mound from where the ball will be thrown to start each play.
For the outfield, there is a large expanse of grass that is ringed on the far end by a fence. A line is drawn from home plate out through first and third base, respectively, and onto the fence. This is the foul line, and any ball that lands outside of that line is not in play. The outfield fence runs from one foul line to the other and usually arcs so that the points at the foul lines are the closest to home plate. If a line was drawn from home plate through second base and out to the fence, that would roughly be the longest point to the fence.
As far as dimensions, the distances between the bases are standardized based on the level of baseball that is being played. For Major League Baseball and any other formal league, the bases will be set 90 feet apart. Also, the pitching mound is 60’6’’ from home plate. In leagues that serve younger players, these distances will be shorter. However, there are no standardized dimensions for the outfield fence, and as a result, the distance to the fence will vary from field to field.
Outlining Game Play to explain How is Baseball Played?
Detailing the way baseball is played could likely fill up an entire book of its own, so we won’t be able to get down into every single detail in this article. With that said, we can outline the general process of how the game is played.
Each play starts with a player – called the pitcher – throwing the ball from the mound toward home plate. A player on the other team – called the batter – is standing next to the plate and will attempt to hit the ball. The batter does not have to swing, and a referee – known as an umpire in baseball lingo – will decide if the pitch is a strike or a ball if the batter does not swing.
A strike is a pitch that passed over the plate and was at an appropriate height, roughly between the batter’s knees and waist. A ball is a pitch that the batter didn’t swing at and did not pass over the plate. If the batter accumulates four balls, the player is allowed to go to first base. If three strikes are accumulated, the batter is out.
Each pitch can result in one of a few outcomes – How is Baseball Played?
- When the batter doesn’t swing and the ball doesn’t go over the plate, it’s called a ball.
- A strike is called when the batter doesn’t swing and the ball flies over the plate, or when the batter swings and misses.
- If the batter contacts the ball but it lands outside the field of play, it’s called a foul. A foul counts as a strike, but it will not count as a third strike for an out.
- Ball in play. If the batter hits the ball into the field of play, there are many other possible outcomes that we will touch on in the next section.
Pitchers can use a variety of types of pitches to prevent the batter from hitting the ball. Some pitchers throw the ball extremely hard, while others specialize in using spin to make the ball curve as it travels toward the plate.
When the Ball is In Play- How is Baseball Played?
Runs are scored in baseball by batters getting safely onto the base and then making it all the way around the bases to home plate. So, when a ball is hit into the field of play, the batter will immediately start running toward first base. If the defense – known as fielders – is able to catch the ball in the air before it lands, the batter is out and will leave the field. Also, if the fielders can pick the ball up and throw it to first base before the batter arrives, an out is again recorded. Batters are only safe on base when they beat the ball to the base in question.
If the batter hits the ball into the field and does not get out, it’s simply called a ‘hit’. Different types of hits have different names, depending on how many bases the batter reached.
- When the batter reaches first base, it’s known as a ‘single’
- Reaching second base on a hit is called a ‘double’
- Getting to third base is a ‘triple’
- Going all the way around the bases on a single hit is a ‘home run’. While it’s possible to get a home run while the ball stays in the field of play, a typical home run is when the ball flies over the outfield fence
Each time a player makes it all the way around the bases and safely touches home plate, a run is recorded for that team. However, when the team reaches three outs in an inning, that inning is over. When that team gets their turn on offense again in the next inning, they will start with no runners on base.
The Players- How is Baseball Played?
For a standard game of baseball, each team uses nine players at any one time. There will certainly be more than nine players on the team, as substitutions are common, but each team has nine players in the game at once.
If you would like to know more about how many players are on a baseball team, please read the following article – https://www.baseballhover.com/how-many-baseball-players-are-on-a-team/
The team that is batting will work through their ‘lineup’ in order, one through nine. The team gets to decide before the game which players will bat in which spot in the order. Usually, the better hitters will be placed at the top of the batting order, so they get more turns at bat during the game.
In the field, each player will have a specific position that they play. Those positions are as follows –
- This player throws the ball toward the plate to start each play. Pitching is an advanced skill and only some of the players on the team will be able to pitch effectively.
- The catcher squats behind home plate and catches the ball after it is thrown by the pitcher (unless the batter hits it).
- First baseman. This player is positioned near the first base.
- Second baseman. This player is positioned to the right of the second base, as seen from the home plate.
- The player positioned to the left of the second base is known as the shortstop.
- Third baseman. This player stands near the third base on the left side of the field.
- Left fielder. This fielder stands in the outfield grass on the left side of the field.
- Center fielder. As the name would suggest, this defensive player stands in the middle of the outfield grass, straight out from home plate.
- Right fielder. Finally, the right fielder is on the right side of the field, in the outfield.
There are no rules that govern exactly where these various players stand, so they will often move around during the game. At advanced levels, teams will position their defense based on where they expect the opposing batter to hit the ball.
Understanding the Procedure- How is Baseball Played?
At this point, you should have a very basic idea of how the game is played. However, when you watch a game, it may be hard to follow along with the procedure of how the game progresses. It will be helpful on this point to understand the concept of half innings.
Basically, each team gets a turn to hit during each inning – and those turns are called half innings. It is traditional for the home team to hit last, so usually, the visiting team will hit in the first half of the inning (called the ‘top of the inning…. the second half of the inning is called the ‘bottom’).
So, to start the game, the visiting team will come up to hit in the top of the first inning. Once three outs have been made, the teams will switch, and the home team will hit until they record three outs. This pattern goes back and forth until the set number of innings has been played and one team is declared the winner.
Grow Your Knowledge on How is Baseball Played?
We hope this baseball primer has served as an effective introduction to this wonderful game. While the concept of baseball is simple once you understand the basics, the game itself has endless complexities and subtleties. Even baseball players or fans who have been around the game for decades will commonly see something they have never seen before. One of the traits that have allowed baseball to be so popular for so long is the possibility that something new and exciting will happen in the next game. Enjoy getting to know this great sport.