Girlfriend’s Guide to Baseball: Part 1 The Basics

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Editor’s Note:  The NCAA college baseball tournament starts this weekend. Woot, woot….  Ok, seriously if you are like me baseball may as well be a Sanskrit.  I don’t know the pitcher from the shortstop.  To help me get clued in to the action I asked our resident baseball expert to give me (and you) a crash course in baseball 101.

Are you ready for some BASEBALL?

This is part one of a four part series dedicated to America’s favorite pastime, Baseball!
(I was totally thinking it was reality TV. Who knew?)

By Guest Blogger Rachel Freeman I SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY: Undergrad degree – cum laude – in communications. Currently pursuing a master’s in broadcast and electronic communication arts. Currently Social Media Consultant at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Not-so-secret passion: Baseball (go, San Francisco Giants!).

Here are the 6 most important things to know about the game of baseball:

1. There are 3 basic tools needed to play baseball

Glove/mitt: This is a leather glove/mitt used by players in the field to catch the ball. It looks a little like a potholder with fingers. The size and shape of the glove depend greatly on the position of the player using it along with the size of the player’s hand. (You know what they say about people with big hands – they wear big glove… What were you thinking?)

Baseball: The baseball is a round object typically the size of an adult fist. It is covered in white letters and bound with red stitching. The core of a baseball is made of cork or rubber, which is surrounded by yarn before finally being encased in leather. Unlike the other two tools, there is only 1 size for a ball.

The Bat: The baseball bat is used for hitting. It is made of a solid piece of wood or aluminum. The material of the bat depends on the level of play (Major League Baseball uses wood, college may use either, high school and lower use aluminum). The length of the bat for an adult typically ranges from 34 to 42 inches long and weighs no more than 33 ounces.

2. The goal of the game is to (win) score runs.

To do that, two teams consisting of 9 players each take turns playing offense (hitting against a pitcher) and defense (playing in the field). The batting team’s goal is to get on base by hitting the ball or getting walked and ultimately cross home plate. The fielding team’s goal is to prevent the batting team from scoring by making outs.

The game is over after the completion of 9 innings. Each inning consists of a top half with 3 outs and a bottom half with 3 outs, allowing each team the chance to play offense and defense.

*The team that bats in the top half of each inning is typically the visiting team.

3. Dimensions of the playing field

There are 4 bases on the playing field: 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base and home. For Major League Baseball and college baseball, the distance between each base on the field is 90 feet and the distance from the pitcher’s rubber (found at the top of the pitcher’s mound) is 60 feet 6 inches. Outfield fences vary greatly depending on the stadium, with 320 feet typically being the shortest and 500 being the longest.

TD Ameritrade Field, home of the 2011 College World Series, has outfield fences that are 335 feet from home plate down each foul line and 408 feet in center field.

4. Positions on the field

There are 9 positions on the baseball field. The positions are: pitcher, catcher, 1st baseman, 2nd baseman, 3rd baseman, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder. These positions can be better understood by looking at a picture.

5. Outs are made three different ways:

  • The ball is hit and the defending team catches the ball before it hits the ground.
  • Defending team throws the ball to a base before the runner gets there.
  • Striking out a player when he is batting (3 strikes and you’re out!)

6. Scoring runs is achieved by getting runners on base.

Runners get on base by hitting the ball and not making an out or getting walked.

When a batter hits the ball and the fielding team is unable to get him out, he is awarded a base. A single means he got to 1st base, a double to 2nd base and a triple to 3rd base. A homerun means the player hit the ball over the fence and gets all 4 bases.

A run is scored when a runner reaches home. [Remember the movie Angels in the Outfield where Danny Glover’s character tells the little kid, Marvin, to run home so he literally runs to his house?]

So now that you know the basics, you are ready to watch the tournament from start to finish! Check out the teams playing here and tell us who you’re rooting for!

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