We played baseball
as kids when it was the most popular game
in the world, way ahead of soccer, and basketball was still a poor third-placer. We played it in the school yard using a tennis ball and became the highlight of every school boy’s day.
We knew and followed the basic rules of the game although we did not use mittens or masks. We played barefoot because we went to school barefoot. We were children and we had the time of our life.
The rules of baseball are not really that complicated. Almost anyone who can run, swing a bat or throw a ball can join the fun. Later on, we kids found out that there was such a thing as softball, which was for girls but using a bigger ball that was thrown from the hip level instead of overhead.
Watching real baseball and softball games during athletic meets gave us a better understanding and appreciation of the game. How we would have wanted to have all the uniform, gears and field to play with; but all we could afford was an old, balding tennis ball and a homemade 2in x 3in lumber for a bat and bases made of stones or wood scraps.
Baseball, as officially required, has the following rules:1. Basic features of the baseball game and field dimensions
Baseball is played on a diamond-shaped field with the base corner designated as the home base. A player with a bat, or a batter, tries to hit the ball as far away from any of the opposing fielding team in order to reach all three bases and finally make it back to the home base. If a player makes it to a base or two after he bats, he must wait for his own team-mates to hit the ball and give him the opening to move on around the bases.
Strategy and team play are important in maximizing the team’s chance to score. Sometimes, a team may sacrifice a batter just for a player to steal a base or score a run. One point can spell the difference between winning and losing; and such brilliant plays come in handy.2. Team composition
Each team has 9 players to fill up the following positions in the field when the opposing team is on the bat: pitcher, catcher, first base, second base, third base, short stop, right fielder, left fielder and centerfielder. Substitute players may also be included.3. Batting regulations
The team on the bat is given three attempts to hit the ball thrown by a pitcher within the boundaries of the baseball field, marked by the two lines made by the home- base/first-base and the home-base/third-base. A missed ball is called a strike and three strikes puts batter out of the field. A team that gets three outs gets to field next while the other team bats.4. Playing the ball
A flying ball that falls outside of the field boundaries is called a foul ball and gives a batter another chance to hit. Fouls are unlimited. A ball that is hit and falls inside the two lines is either caught in the air to put the batter out or, if it rolls on the ground, must be retrieved and often thrown to the first-base player who will tag the batter with the ball to put him out. Failing to tag the batter who steps on or touches the base puts the batter “safe” on first base or wherever the batter may be as other hitters move on around the diamond.
A player who makes it safely back to home base scores a point. If it is a homerun, meaning the ball is hit out of the filed or steals straight home if the defending team fumbles the ball, two points are gained while a single point is given to a player who eventually goes round all the bases through one or more batters.5. Other game features
When a batting team is struck out, it take the field and lets the other team bat and attempt to score. A foul ball which is caught will also count as an out. Multiple outs can be made, such as when bases are loaded (all three bases have batters) and the batter on the plate hits a good ball and makes it to first base and the ball is retrieved and thrown back before the player running to second base reaches it, then to home base before the player on third base scores a run and, finally, to third base to tag the player running to it. Three outs in one play!
It is during such fast plays when the ball changes hands so rapidly and players are scampering for bases that the excitement runs high. It is cause for celebration for the scoring team and a big letdown for the other who must probably feel like they were hit on the head with a bat several times for losing the big opportunity to score big and ending up with nothing.6. Who wins
The team that makes the most runs after nine innings or rounds wins the game. Sometimes though, the game will stop at the “top of the 9th inning” or before the other team is supposed to go to final bat if that team is already ahead in points as the lagging team will not be able to catch up anyway.
Some of the most memorable games end at the “bottom of the ninth” when a team tries to catch up. We might have heard of the familiar radio voice saying, “It’s the bottom of the ninth and bases are full and the New York Yankees are behind by four and Babe Ruth has the bat. The count is two strikes and three balls . . . the pitcher winds up and throws the ball. Ruth swings hard and the ball flies . . . out of the stadium for a homerun and a win!” Or something to that effect.
That imagined scene a dream every child and adult lover of baseball hopes to accomplish once in a lifetime. You want to see and hear the whole stadium explode with people jumping and shouting as you take your sweet time running through the bases, smiling, waving your cap and finally kissing the home base.
When a great player makes a good play, everybody wins in baseball. You have to be the eternal child to enjoy it. And there are so many people out there who still enjoy it to this day.