You all know what Baseball is, this bat-and-ball game played by handsome students in American TV Series. But do you really know where it comes from ? How to play ? Which countries play baseball today ? Well, that’s what we’re going to discover.
First, let’s start by a brief history of baseball. Today’s baseball is a North American development from an older game called « rounders », which was popular
among children in Great Britain and Ireland. The word « baseball » was first used in England during the 18th century, and then entered in the USA in the 1820s. The rules we now play with were standardized in the USA in 1845.
In the US, it is said that the first official match was played in Hoboken (New Jersey) on June 19th, 1846. The first clubs to be created originate from New York and Brooklyn.
Now, how do we really play baseball ?
Well, a baseball game is played between 2 teams, each composed of 9 players, which take turns playing offense and defense. Offense includes batting and base running while defense is made up of pitching and fielding.
The goal of the game is to score more points (runs) than the other team. The players on the team at bat try to score runs by touching all four bases in order. A player who succeeds in running all over the four bases in one hit makes what we call a « home run » which scores 1 point in one go. The team on the field tries to prevent runs from scoring by recording « outs » which remove opposing players from offensive actions. When 3 outs are recorded, the teams switch roles for the next period.
Now, what do we need to play baseball ?
Well, not much except a large field, 18 players, a baseball, a bat, mitts (or gloves) and protective helmets… To be more specific, the ball is usually in white cowhide with red stitching and the bat is a 100 cm-hitting tool made of wood. The mitt must be worn in the non-dominant hand (in the left hand for right-handed persons and vice versa).
Even if it is well known that baseball is the national sport of the USA (along with football!), there are many other countries in which baseball is the national sport as well. I think you would never figure it out…
Well, here is the list of countries in which baseball is the National Sport : The USA, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela, Porto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Taiwan. (Yes! Taiwan’s official national sport is baseball !)
Where we started practicing track-and-field and swimming at school, the students of these countries learnt to play baseball quite young. Indeed, the middle schools and high schools of these countries often possess a baseball field.
In addition, in countries like the US, each school has a team represented by a mascot, which plays against the teams of other schools. This system of school sports-teams is quite beneficial for schools : it brings students together and unites the school.
Nowadays, the most prodigious baseball competition is undeniably the Major League Baseball (MLB). The season takes place in the USA or Canada from April to October and counts more than 2600 matches !
Today, the teams outshining the competition are the Yankees of New York (27 titles) and the St Louis Cardinals (11 titles).
What about starting baseball now ?