Most historians agree that baseball is based on the English game of “Rounders”. It became popular in Canada in the early 19th Century, and many sources report the growing popularity of a game called “Townball”, “Base”, or “Baseball”. The International Baseball Federation, founded in 1938, has a membership of 111 National Federations. Baseball appeared as an Olympic medal sport in 1992 but was taken off the Olympic program following the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. It has been featured at the Pan American Games since 1951 (with Cuba winning 12 of 15 gold medals).
The shape and dimensions of a baseball field are unique. In most cases, the infield is laid with grass, while the pitcher’s mound, home plate area, the base paths and the outfield warning track are covered with clay. The inner zone is called a “diamond” because of the way it appears to a viewer standing at home plate. The arc connecting the home plate to the outfield fence has a minimum distance of 98 metres from either side of the foul lines and a maximum distance of 122 metres from the centre field fence.
The batter’s objective is to “reach base” and score – by advancing past home plate. The pitcher’s objective is to get each batter out. The purpose of the team on the field is to defend the bases and prevent its opponent from scoring by catching the batted ball in the air before it hits the ground, or by throwing the ball to a player covering a base before the batter or base runner gets there. When the team in the field manages to get three of the batting team’s players out, a half-inning is complete and the teams must alternate positions.
Each game consists of nine innings. The team that scores the most runs is the winner. There are no tied games. If the game is tied after nine innings, more innings are played to decide the winner.
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