The Rules Of Baseball

Familiarise yourself with the essential rules of baseball in our simple quick guide.

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The baseball field of play

  • The game of baseball is played on a diamond-shaped playing field. The four corners of the diamond are the home plate, first base, second base and third base.

  • The part closest to the bases is known as the infield and the grass area beyond the infield is the outfield.

  • In the middle of the infield is a raised mound — known as the pitcher’s mound — where the pitcher stands when pitching the ball to the batter.

  • There are also two foul lines which run from the home plate to the outfield (connected by first base) and from the home plate to the outfield (connected by third base).

The game of baseball

  • A baseball game is played between two teams of nine players who each have nine innings.

  • These innings are divided in half with the visiting team hitting at the ‘top’ of the inning and the home team at the ‘bottom.’  

  • The team that scores the most runs by the end of the ninth inning wins the game.

  • If the scores are level at the end of both team’s ninth inning, the game can be extended into an extra inning.

  • Play starts when the pitcher throws a ball overhand towards the batter, who tries to hit the ball into the baseball field.

  • Players score runs by hitting the ball and running around the four bases (running in a counterclockwise direction) before a player in the field is able to get them out. This can be done in stages or all in one go, depending on how many bases the player thinks they can reach without getting out. If a player reaches the base before the ball, they are called ‘safe’.

  • Once a batter has hit the ball, then they are referred to as a ‘runner.’

  • Runners try to reach the bases, and can remain safe on a base until the next hitter comes.

  • If the ball is caught direct from the batter’s hit, then that batter is out. The same applies if the ball is thrown to first base before the batter arrives at the base.

  • A batter is out if he or she fails to connect with the ball three times after three good pitches — which is often referred to as being ‘out on strikes’.

  • The offensive player can also be out by a ‘tagout’ when a defensive player touches the runner with the ball or a glove with the ball in.

  • After the batting team has three players out, the teams switch so that the other side does the fielding while the other bats.

  • The defensive team position a ‘catcher’ directly behind the batter who catches the ball if it is not hit.

  • The defensive team also position ‘infielders’ on first, second and third base ‘basemen’ and also will have a ‘shortstop’ to cover the area between second and third base.

  • There will also be three outfielders or the defensive team - the center fielder and the right and left fielders.

  • When the teams are on offence, they have nine players in batting order- this cannot change during the game although players may be substituted in for one another.

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