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  • Very popular in America, Japan and Latin America. Although it is looked upon as America’s national game, it is actually a variation of rounders.

  • The first rules of the modern game were drawn up in 1845. A year later the first game under these rules resulted in a win for the New York Nine over the sport’s first organized club, the New York Knickerbockers.

  • There are two leagues in America, and after their season of 162 matches against team in their own league, the best take part in play-offs before the two winners from each league meet in the best of seven World Series, which dominates the sporting interest of the entire American nation.


  • Four bases are placed at the angles of a 90-foot square, more often referred to as ‘the diamond’, home plate, and in anti-clock wise order, first, second and third base.

  • Two foul lines provide the boundaries of fair territory, which encompasses the outfield.


  • A base ball is tapered and made of solid wood, no more than 42 inches long, and no more than 2.75 inches round at its widest end. The ball, made from a mixture of cork and rubber as its centre, and hard stitched leather on the outside, is about 9 to 9.5 inches in circumference, weighing just over 5 ounces.

  • The batter wears a protective helmet. The players wear tight trousers to protect their legs when sliding on the earth, as well as socks and studded shoes. The shirt and the rest of each team’s outfit must be in a uniform colour. The pitcher may wear a leather glove. A catcher, directly behind the batter, may wear a headguard, leather glove and chest guard, as well as kneepads. Other fielders may wear a leather glove.


  • Each team is made up of nine players and a number of substitutes.

  • The home side fields first and games are decided on who scores the most runs in nine innings. A home run is made every time the better runs the complete circuit of all four bases or by hitting the ball over the boundary line for a home run, without having to run round the bases.

  • The batter must always run when he hits the ball into fair territory, thus giving the fielders a chance to catch him out. He can be caught out or he can be ‘stumped’ because a fielder touched him or the base he was running to with the ball.


  • Although he died in 1948, Babe Ruth is still regarded as the greatest name in American baseball. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1895, he started his career with the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher, winning 80 games between 1915 and 1919. A year later he was transferred to the famed New York Yankees, and switched from pitcher to batter. He hit over 50 home runs in a season four times and set numerous records.

  • In later years Nolan Ryan, a Texan- born in 1947, he set all sorts of records as a pitcher. He was the first pitcher to achieve 4000 ‘strikeouts’ (that is, causing the batter to be out) in 1985 and four years later this became 5000. He has appeared for several teams, starting with the New York Mets and ending with the Texas Rangers. He is still playing in his mid-forties.


  • One of the most unusual events in baseball history took place when a player for the New York Dodgers caught fire at a critical moment in the game. The cause was a still lighted cigar which he thought he had put out before tucking it away in a pocket.

  • A member of the New York Dodgers team managed to break his leg without moving his position in the outfield. A high-flying ball came in his direction, so he started streaking after it, or so he thought, realizing too late that his foot was stuck in a hole and he’d just fractured his leg.

  • Matsutaro Shoriki, the Japanese politician and media magnet who founded Japan’s first commercial TV channel and brought colour TV to Japan, was almost killed in 1935 by a sword-thrust in the back from a militant member of the War God Society. His offence – he had ‘defiled’ the Emperor Meiji’s memorial stadium by staging a Japan v. US baseball match there.

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