Baseball Basics and Rules: Everything You Need To Know

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Baseball has been around in various forms for centuries coming from ancient times. As the years go by, it has evolved into a professional sport catering to the needs of millions of fans throughout the world, with many not knowing the rules and basics of the game. In this article, we will explain the basics and instructions on how to play baseball.

how to play baseball

The objective in a baseball game

The goal of the game is not to just hit the ball as far as you can (even though it helps), but also to score more runs than the opposing team.

The batter needs to run around 4 bases back to home plate in order to score a run. Once the hitter makes it around all four bases without being tagged out, another batter will take their place.

Players & equipment

A professional baseball league game lasts for 9 innings. Each baseball team which is made up of 9 players, alternate their turns batting and fielding through the course of the game

There are three outs per inning in a baseball game. In the end of the innings, each teams’ scores are added to an overall score and the team with the most points wins. Each inning has a top (away team bats) and bottom (home team bats).

A baseball field has two sections; the infield and the outfield. These 2 sections are separated by 4 bases spaced at 90 feet apart from each other, in the shape of a diamond. The pitcher (whose job is to pitch or throw the ball) stands and throws the ball from the pitcher’s mound, and the player batting stands at the home plate. The other three bases are the 1st base, 2nd base, and 3rd base. In order to score a run, the batter must touch all bases without getting tagged out.

Pitching

A good pitcher is often necessary for a defensive or fielding team to win a game. A pitcher’s job is to make sure the batter has a hard time trying to hit the ball, while also trying to strike him out. 

While standing on the pitching mound, pitchers use various pitch speeds and pitches in order to throw their hitters off-balance. They want to throw the ball past the batter so that when the ball comes off the bat, it lands somewhere other than inside the field of play. This is so they can get runners out and keep them from getting on base.

A good pitcher will have several different pitching techniques that they use in any given game which include a fastball along with a slider, change-up and curveball. They want to be able to throw the ball past the batter in many different ways.

Hitting

The purpose of the offensive team in baseball is to score more runs than the opponent. In order to do this, hitters attempt to “hit the ball in a direction not occupied by a fielder.”

After hitting the ball, a batter will run as fast as he can to first base. The batter can stay on first base if he reaches the base before a fielder throws the ball to the first baseman who is on the base. Batters can take second or third base when they hit to the outfield.

A “single” is a hit that gets the batter to first base. A “double” gets him to second base, and a “triple” gets him to third base.

On some occasions, batters are able to hit a “home-run”. If a batter is able to hit a ball over the outfield fence while keeping it between the foul lines, that hit is called a home run. The three main factors in determining a home-run hitter are power, speed, and luck.

Power is the most important factor for a home-run hitter. A batter with power will have the ability to generate more bat speed and hit the ball with more force. Power hitters tend to be heavier than those who lack this skill, which helps them maintain their balance at the batter’s box and swing harder at balls pitched outside of their normal hitting zone.

Speed cannot be overlooked when judging a home-run hitter either. A high-speed runner can tag up on singles or doubles, get on base through bunts or steals, and advance on fly balls that only clear one fence rather than two.

Finally, luck. A lucky hit will be able to clear all outfield fences no matter how far away the fence is or where the ball lands in relation to it. Many home runs end up in the stands, and others bounce off the wall. Sometimes a pitch will hit a runner and score another run, or maybe a fielder will drop an easy fly ball. All these factors are out of the players’ hands but happen every day.

Standard Baseball Gear

  • Baseball Glove / Mitts
  • Baseball Bat
  • Baseball
  • Batting Helmet
  • Catcher’s Gear
  • Protective Cup
  • Baseball Hat
  • Baseball Cleats / Shoes
  • Baseball Pants
  • Batting Gloves
  • Baseball Bat

A batter or hitter needs a helmet, and a baseball bat which is made from wood, aluminum or metal. The ball has a bright white color and red stitching, with a diameter of 3 inches. A fielder wears hats and gloves that are called ‘mitts’ (big, oversized baseball gloves), which helps them catch the ball. The catcher behind the batter wears leg guards, a body pad, and has extra padding in their glove to protect them from injuries. 

Baseball Scoring Rules

After the ball is hit, the hitter becomes a base runner and must cover all four bases to score. They must do this before the defending team can pick up the ball and throw it to any base the runner is heading to.

A player can score a mandatory point if he/she hits a home run, which usually occurs when the ball gets out of the playing area within the foul lines. If a player feels they might not reach the next base before being tagged out, he or she can stop in any base.

A batting team can score multiple points from one hit, with a maximum of four points. This is possible if they have multiple runners already on any of the bases. Once a batter has reached first base, whoever is sitting at second or third base can run to the home plate.

Winning the Game

To win a baseball game, a team must score more runs than their opponent through the 9 innings played, which is the standard amount of innings in a professional major league match. 

Most high school and college matches will last seven innings, while Little League matches will last six innings. If the home team is ahead in points, they don’t need to bat in the final inning because they bat last. If both teams are tied at the end of a game, they will play extra innings until a winner is declared.

Basic Baseball Rules

  • A baseball game has two teams (offensive team and defensive team) that consist of 9 players each.
  • The defending team consists of a pitcher, catcher, first, second & third basemen, shortstop, and three outfielders at center field, right field, and left field.
  • The match lasts 9 innings in which both baseball teams get to bat once. If the game remains tied after 9 innings, then an extra inning is played until a winner is decided. In the 9th inning, the team batting second in the bottom don’t need to complete their batting if they are already ahead in points.
  • A batting order cannot be changed throughout the game once it has been picked. Substitutes may be used, but they must bat in the order of the player they replace.
  • The batter must make an effort to reach first base if they manage to hit the ball from the pitcher. The player can then run to as many bases as they would like before being tagged out. Each base must be touched by some part of the batter when he/she runs past it.
  • The batter is allowed three strikes before he or she gets out. A strike occurs when the batter attempts to swing at the ball, but misses it. The batter can leave and not swing at the ball, but will be given a strike if it’s within a predetermined area (called the strike zone). The batter may walk to 1st base if the 4 balls miss the strike zone and the batter doesn’t swing the bat. A ball missing the strike zone is called a foul ball.
  • When a batter is on base, they can advance to the next base whenever they wish.
  • Players of the offensive team can be dismissed by a ‘strike out’ (meaning the hitter missing the ball 3 times), ‘force out’ (cannot make the base before the defending player), ‘fly out’ (when the ball is hit but caught mid-air by a fielder, without it touching the ground), and ‘tag outs‘ (where a defensive player with the ball ‘tags’ the batter with the ball while the batter is running).

How to Play Baseball: Baseball FAQs

Who is in charge of a baseball game?

In baseball, the umpire officiates the game, starting and ending the game, and enforcing the baseball rules along with making judgments on plays.

Baseball Strike zone

The strike zone is the area above home plate between the bottom of the batter‘s knees to the midpoint between the top of the batter‘s shoulders and the top of his pants. Have a look at the picture below to get a good visual understanding of the strike zone.

baseball strike zone

How many baseballs are used in a game?

Around 10-12 dozens of baseballs are used in a game. The reason for this is that each baseball has a lifespan of around three pitches. Balls that have struck the ground are immediately swapped, because possible dents, scuffs, and scratches can impact the path of the ball on the next throw. Another reason is that dirty baseballs make it harder for the batter and catcher to see.

Baseball number positions

You can view the number positions in baseball in the picture from Wikipedia below.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a player or just an average fan, understanding the rules and basics on how to play baseball is a must. Why? Because baseball is a sport that requires a good grasp of the rules to be enjoyed. It’s a sport based on very basic concepts, like scoring runs or putting the ball in play, which make it the perfect sport for anyone to pick up.

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