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Baseball Information

Baseball Australia
Baseball Australia (BA) is the governing body for all levels of baseball throughout the country. Primarily responsible for the development of the sport; administration, conduct, participation, high performance and promotion, BA works with seven (7) State and Territory associations and 600+ clubs across the country.

Introduction
Played with a bat and a ball, baseball is a popular team sport. There are two teams with nine players each, and the teams take turns to take up the batting and the fielding side alternatively. While the rules differ slightly for the different leagues, for the major part, they are the same. A baseball field is diamond shaped and it has four corners forming the four bases. Now, the batter scores a run on touching all the four bases. Hence, the name "Baseball" is used. The batting side is supposed to scores runs while the fielding side is supposed to prevent them from doing so. The player who throws the ball from the fielding side is known as a pitcher. Basically, the ball thrown by the pitcher is hit by the batter and he tries to run across the four bases while the other team fetches the ball.

The Beginning
The origin of baseball has been a topic of debate for a long time now. It is said that the roots of the game lie in the folk sports of England. In fact many of the bat ball and running games are generally linked to the sports and pastime of early England. The records indicate that the rules of the game were first published for a base ball club in New York called Knickerbockers in 1845. The writer was Alexander Cartwright. The merit of devising the game was bestowed upon Cartwright officially in 1953 and today, he is known as "the father of baseball". He donned the hat of an umpire for the first ever chronicled game of baseball in the United States. Alexander Cartwright's contribution and the title itself remains disputed among the historians as some of them consider it to be exaggerated.

The baseball community was divided into two on the subject of its origin. The British insisted that its roots lay in their cultural history, while the Americans were confident that they had invented the game. The game had evolved much before 1845 is definitely known. Surprisingly, Jane Austen's 1798-1799 novel, "Northanger Abbey" has a reference to the game where the female protagonist says that she prefers "cricket, base ball, riding on horseback and running about the country to books."

Early players of baseball did not make use of mitts. They used their bare hands to catch the ball. In one of the early versions of the game, the teams pitched to themselves and the batters ran in the opposite direction in order to score a run. British Baseball, native to the British, is still played in Wales and England.

As per popular belief, baseball was introduced to the Australians by the American miners during the gold rush of the Victorian era of the 1850s. The first chronicled official teams and tournament was reported in the year 1857. During their first tour of the United States, the Australians played without mitts, a surprising feat according to the Americans. The popularity of the sport grew to a great extent with the advent of the twentieth century.

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Baseball - Rules & Regulations of the Game
In baseball, along the corners of a 90 feet square pitch, the four bases are located. This area, along which a batter sprints to score a run, is known as the infield. The other grassed part is known as the outfield. There can be a minimum of one and a maximum of six umpires in the game, but generally, major leagues have four umpires. The batter can stop at any of these four bases if he is unable to complete a run in the time taken by the opponent team to fetch the ball.

At this juncture, when the player is stuck at one of the bases, unable to complete a run, his teammate can take over the position of a batter. Now the new batter hits the ball and the initial player can complete his run by touching the remaining bases and returning to the original one. The batter is called out after three strikes. The two teams switch sides every time three batsmen of the batting team are batted out. In such a manner, nine innings in totality are played. A total run score is then calculated and the team with a higher number of runs obviously wins.

In an enclosed field, when the ball is hit over the fence, it is known as a home run. It entitles the batter and all the baserunners to touch all the bases to score and complete runs. When all the bases are occupied by players and a home run is scored, it is a grand slam.

Common Baseball Terms

  • Tag out - A player in baseball is tagged out when he is touched by a fielder who is holding the ball in his hands while the runner is in a state of jeopardy.
     
  • Jeopardy - A runner can be in a state of jeopardy under various circumstances. For example,
    a) When the runner is not touching any of the four bases.
    b) The runner failed to touch a base he last passed.
    c) When a runner is touching the same base that a preceding runner is also touching. The exception to this scenario occurs when the runner has been forced to vacate a base since the batter became a base runner.
     
  • Put out - Also known as fly out, it is credited to a defence team's player when he records an out. For example,
    a) Catching a passed or striker-hit ball and tagging the base.
    b) If a fielder catches a third strike, it is a put out.
    c) It is a putout when a fielder catches a fly ball.
     
  • Bunt - Bunt is an offensive technique used in baseball, obviously by the batting side. Basically, the striker tries to hit the ball in a way that it is at a maximum distance from the fielders in spite of staying in the infield section of the field. It requires an in depth technical knowledge and immense concentration.
     
  • Squaring up - This is a position assumed by the striker before using the bunt technique. The batter slides his hand towards the barrel of his bat in order to steady it for the bunt.
     

Baseball Essentials

Bat
The baseball bat is like a rounded wooden club unlike the cricket bat with a flat end to hit the ball. It can also be a hollow aluminium bat. The bat is no more than 2.74 inches in diameter. Conventionally, the bats used for baseball are made out of ash wood but exceptionally, bamboo wood or maple wood may also be used in its production. Wooden bats with a metal rod at its core, is also becoming increasingly popular amongst players. It becomes a little more difficult in his game for the bat to make contact with the ball since the bat has a smaller surface area facing the pitcher.
Ball
The ball in the game of baseball has an outer covering of leather over a cork or rubber wrapped in yarn. It has a diameter of around 3 inches.
Glove and Mitts
Mitt is the term used for large glove in baseball by the defending team to catch the ball. It is used by the catcher in particular since it gives the catcher some ease and a good grip over the ball due to the use of padded leather in its manufacture. The mitts are broader than the normal fielding gloves. They also have all the four fingers connected to each other unlike normal gloves. The catcher's mitt is pretty much similar to the first baseman's mitt. It also has joint fingers and more padding when compare to the standard fielding gloves.

Another variety is that of the batter's gloves, which can be worn on one or both hands. They protect the striker's hands from the shock due to the contact of the bat with the ball. The gloves are worn by all the players on the field. The gloves have long fingers. They also have a webbed part between the first finger and the thumb which help in giving a good grasp of the ball.
Helmets
Helmets have to be worn by the batter and the catcher especially in order to avoid injury. The striker’s helmet also has an ear protector depending on whether the player is right handed or left handed. A protective helmet integrated with a face mask similar to that of a goal keeper is worn by the catcher in baseball.
Base
There are four bases on a baseball field. Out of the four, three of the bases are basically canvas bags. The three bases are known as the first, second and the third base, while the base at which the striker initially stands is known as the home base. The home base is made up of a rubber plate.
Cleats
The baseball cleats are a specific variety of shoes worn by the baseball players on field. They are specially made in a way to provide better friction and grip to the players for running around the base. The cleats are made out of either rubber or metal.
Uniforms
The baseball cap has come to be identified with the sport in recent times. The practise of having players to wear caps was introduced to protect them from the sun. But there are a lot of components in a baseball players clothing which are necessary for the players fitness and safety. Apart from the regular pants and shirts, there is the jockstrap, the athletic cup, and the sliding shorts. A player can wear a jockstrap or the sliding shorts depending on his preference. They both have space to hold the athletic cup.

Baseball has been enjoyed by the masses and the players in the United States about a century and a half now. The fame and name enjoyed by the players in the States in a commonly known fact. The field is also lucratively rewarding.
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Fielding Positions

  • All the nine fielding positions in baseball have a number associated to them. These positions are eventually used in the game to score put outs. Basically, the job of all these fielders at their positions is to stop a passing ball and to pass it to the appropriate teammate so that the batter or the base runners can be tagged out.
     
  • The first position is that of the pitcher. He is supposed to stop the ball from passing by him and throw it over, mostly to the catcher towards the home base or the first base.
     
  • The second is that of the catcher whose responsibility is to not allow any balls to go by him and to catch the foul balls.
     
  • The third position is that of the first baseman. He is supposed to take care of the fielding area near the first base which is where the batter runs to after striking the ball. He receives the ball from the catcher, pitcher and the other infielders after they have fielded the ground balls.
     
  • The fourth position is that of the second baseman. Although the name suggests that he stands behind the second base, in reality, the second baseman is positioned somewhere in between the first and the second base. He catches the ground or fly balls coming towards him and decides whom to throw it to.
     
  • Fifth comes the third baseman, who is positioned exactly behind the third base and takes responsibility of the fielding the balls coming into that area.
     
  • Sixth is the shortstop. This guy is positioned between the second and the third base. This is considered as one of the most important positions in baseball since most batters are right handed and hence, have a tendency to hit the ball towards the left, where the shortstop is present. He has to field maximum number of balls in the game.
     
  • The seventh, eighth and the ninth positions are occupied by the left, centre and the right fielder respectively. These three take care of any fly balls or any balls that reach the outfield region and pass them to the most appropriately positioned fielder in the infield.

Baseball in Australia
The Australian Baseball Federation is the apex body governing baseball in the Australian continent. Professional baseball in Australia comes under the Australian Baseball League which is governed over by the Australian Baseball Federation, the MLB and the Australian government. At one point of time, baseball was considered a sport for cricketers during the off season in cricket given the numerable similarities between the two games. This is the reason for which baseball was known to be more of a summer game with the season commencing near spring and ending in autumn. However, in time, baseball came to be played and appreciated in Australia as a standalone sport.

The interest of the Australian population in baseball has been growing tremendously since the embarking of the twenty first century. Especially the youth's renewed interest in the game is surprising. Australia won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics for baseball. Many Australian baseball players having attracted the attention of American scouts have played in major international leagues as well. Australia had been on the seventh position on the leader boards twice before it won the silver medal in the Olympics.

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