How to Play Baseball: An Overview of The Game

Baseball is a game you can spend 30 minutes learning to play and a lifetime perfecting your skill. Once you understand the basics of baseball, you can immediately begin playing with friends, family, or even co-workers. Team sports provide a great way to connect, foster team spirit, and learn to work with others to accomplish goals. On the offense, each player aims to get on base and eventually make it to home base without getting out. On the defensive side, nine players occupy various positions and work together with the goal of getting three outs from the offense.

Positions

Most amateur to professional baseball teams keep more players on call than actually used at one time. The minimum number of players for a complete baseball team is nine players. Major League teams often keep additional players on the payroll since a single pitcher rarely pitches every single game. Those that play out in the field also need breaks, so it’s important to keep multiple players beyond the bare minimum to accommodate all of the positions and provide rest. Each position in baseball also often has a number associated with it as well as a letter.

Pitcher (1,P): The goal of the picture is to get the person at bat out. The pitcher learns to throw a variety of pitches to throw off the batter and get a strike. The pitcher stands at the pitcher’s mound and in some cases may need to pitch and catch returning balls coming directly toward them.

Catcher (2,C): The catcher or umpire sits behind the batter. The primary goal of the catcher is to catch the balls delivered from the pitcher. He often leads the rest of the team and provides a level of defense by using hand signals to indicate plays and strategy.

First Baseman (3,1B): The infield first baseman stands at first base and protects the area closest to first base. The first basemen typically is the tallest player on the team and has quick reflexes and good flexibility.

Second Basemen (4,2B): The second basement plays the infield area around the second base diamond. Good second basemen typically have the ability to throw accurately over a decent range. They must often field balls to the first baseman as well as run towards the ball to coordinate a relay between players.

Third Baseman (5,3B): The third basemen often stands closest in proximity of the infielders to the batter. However, he must have a strong arm and be capable of quickly throwing balls to first base. In some cases, the third baseman must also throw to second base to strike out a runner.

Shortstop (6,SS): Shortstop is an infield position between second and third base. The shortstop typically gets the most number of balls directed towards him in the game. Most hitters are right=handed and end up hitting balls directly into the path of the shortstop.

Left Field (7,LF): Left field is an outfielder position that plays the leftmost portion of the outfield. This area covers a wide distance and the left fielder must have a strong arm to throw the ball back to the infield.

Center Field (8, CF): Center field sits in between the left field and right field position. Often these players must be the most athletic and quickest of the three outfielders since they must cover the gaps between the left field and right field positions.

Right Field (9,RF): Right field is the most common outfield position to receive balls since most batters are right-handed. The right fielder must be quick and able to make decisions fast in order to get the ball to the right baseman.

Batter Outs

Players can get out at bat in a variety of ways. A fielder can catch your ball before it touches the ground resulting in your immediate out. You can hit what is known as a foul tip, where the catcher cats your ball off the bat for strike three. A baseman can tag your base before you reach it. The umpire might call your third strike based on fair pitches that you didn’t swing at, or you might run outside the foul lines and obstruct a fielder’s line of sight. You can also get out by running into the very ball you hit, or you obstruct the catcher from fielding or throwing a ball.

Runner Outs

You have the option to stay on base during a play. However, if a new runner gets to your base and you haven’t yet moved on to the next base, you can be called out. Passing the preceding runner while running the bases can also get you out. You might also miss contact with a base and a player on the defense notices and calls you out on it. Other possibly ways for a runner to get out include your teammate hitting a ball that touches you inside fair territory as long as it doesn’t touch or pass any other fielder with the exception of the pitcher. The umpire can also make a call if he feels you have hindered a fielder from making a play or a batted ball forces you to advance to the nearest base and the fielder hits the base before you reach it.

Getting on Base

The object of the game of baseball is to get on base without getting out and make it back to home base. If you can do this, you’ll get a point for your team. When the offensive team gets three outs for the team, the other team goes up to bat and gets a chance to make points for the team. As a player, you must avoid getting strikes and outs for your team. You can’t score unless you can get on base. This can be accomplished in a few major ways. You can hit a fair ball that is not caught by any fielder before it hits the ground. Even if a fielder catches the ball, they must first throw it to a fielder closest to your next base before you reach it. If the pitcher throws four strokes outside of the strike zone, you get to walk all of the bases. The same thing goes for hitting a home run. Additionally, you might hit a ball that is consider fair and the fielder that catches the ball drops it. Finally, if you get to the next base before the ball reaches the fielder, you’re considered safe.

Baseball provides an exciting game that requires years of practice and skill to become an effective players. By learning the basics of baseball you can be a more effective player and learn how to play the game. However, with all things that require practical experience, the only way to really get better at baseball is to get out and practice. Batting cages and other arenas can help you get accustomed to hitting fast balls and organizations and community groups can help you gain experience and improve.

Kevin Kerekes is a New Jersey resident and former Division I Rutgers baseball player. His popular NJ blog serves the Florham Park community.

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