Baseball is one of the traditional American sports, and Little League is where many children learn to play. The game is a relatively slow paced game, so learning the basics of it should not be too difficult. The game is played with two teams.
There are nine players on each team, and the game is split into nine segments, called innings.
Each inning consists of two halves, one half “the top” is when Team 1 is in the field and Team 2 is batting. The second half “the bottom” is when Team 2 is in the field and Team 1 is batting. When a team is batting, they are the offensive players, attempting to score. When a team is in the field, they are defensive players, trying to stop any scoring. If the game is in the first half of the fifth inning, the terminology for saying what part of the game is currently going on is “the top of the fifth”.
The Field and Defensive Players
Outfield – The field has a grassy area called the outfield. Three players are positioned in the outfield, one each in right field, center field and left field. These players are collectively called the outfielders, and individually are called the Right-fielder, Center-fielder and Left-fielder.
Infield – The infield has the diamond, and everything inside the diamond. The diamond itself is the four corners and the links between the four corners. Each corner has a base. Home base is where the batter hits from. First base is to his right, second base is towards the center field, and third base is to the left of home. Each base has a player guarding it. First, second and third base are covered by the First-baseman, Second-baseman and Third-baseman. Home base is covered by the Catcher. An additional player is positioned between second and third bases, since many hits go in this direction. This player is called the Shortstop.
Pitcher’s Mound – The pitcher’s mound is located in the center of the diamond, and is slightly raised from the rest of the field. This is where the Pitcher stands to throw the ball.
Foul Territory – The line connecting home plate to first base is called the first base line. Similarly, the line between home plate and third base is the third base line. Anything inside those two lines, extending beyond the back wall, is considered in bounds, and anything outside that is considered foul territory.
Hitter – The hitter is the player that is currently attempting to bat the ball. There is only one hitter at a time.
Runner – A runner is a player that has already hit the ball, and has reached one of the bases safely.
Game Play and Scoring
The team that is batting has one person at a time attempting to hit the ball. Once the ball is hit, the batter runs to a base, trying to get there before the other team retrieves the ball and touches the base. If the batter gets to the base before the ball, then he is “safe”. If the opposing team gets the ball to the base first, then the batter is “out”.
If a batter gets to a base safely, he can either stay there, or try to get to the next base. When he cannot safely proceed, he stops and that “play” is over. The first batter is now considered a “runner”. The next batter then goes to home plate to hit. When this batter hits the ball, the batter and the runner both attempt to get to the next base safely. Either player can be called out if the ball gets to the base before them.
If a batter touches all four bases, returning to home, he scores one point. It is called a run if he gets there when a different batter hits. It is called a home run if he touches all four bases after hitting the ball himself.
A batter has several attempts at hitting the ball. Each time the pitcher throws, there are four possible outcomes:
- Hit – the batter hits the ball, and it lands or is caught inside the extended lines between the first base line and third base line.
- Strike – the batter swings at the ball and misses, or the batter does not swing at the ball when it was a perfectly good pitch.
- Ball – the batter does not swing at the ball, because the ball was not pitched well. There is a specific zone that the ball needs to be pitched into, and the umpire decides if it was pitched in that zone or not.
- Foul – the batter hits the ball, but it goes outside of the field of play.
Each team is allowed three “outs” before their turn “at bat” is over. At the end of nine innings, the team with the most points wins.
If this is confusing, just give it some time, sit back, relax and enjoy watching the game.