from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pitcher when throwing
Catchers and runners

Baseball is a two- team batball game . The defenders bring a ball into play that the attackers must hit with a stick. If the ball has been hit successfully, the attackers can score points by running four running times (bases) . The defenders try to prevent this by throwing the beaten ball first for a run.

American baseball emerged from European batting variants of the 18th century. Emigrants brought the game to the United States , where today's rules were developed from the mid-19th century.

The economically strongest professional league in the world is the North American Major League Baseball (MLB) with sales of over USD 9 billion. In addition, baseball is particularly popular in parts of Latin America and East Asia .

Game principle and basic rules

The most important rules and a summary of the game principle follow. See the Baseball Rules article for more details .

Baseball rules explanatory video

The game Brennball is a greatly simplified variant of baseball and can serve as a starting point for understanding baseball. Even cricket is relatively closely related to the baseball despite many differences in detail.

The rules of the modern baseball game can be traced back to a set of rules that Alexander Cartwright wrote under the title RULES & REGULATIONS OF THE Recently Invented Game OF BASE BALL AS ADOPTED BY the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club on September 23, 1845 .

Baseball is played by two teams of nine players each. One team alternately has the right to hit (offense) and can score runs (points), while the other team defends the field in defense (defense) and tries to get the ball under control quickly. The aim of the game is to get more runs than your opponent. The offense players try to hit the ball thrown by the defense and then counter-clockwise to reach the next safe position (base) . If the defense players get the ball under control faster, they can prevent this and the offense player is eliminated. If a player of the offense does not hit the ball or not on a base is, it can be put in contact with the ball out of play (out) .

A run is scored when an offensive player passes all three bases and has returned to his starting position (home plate) . If three players are out of the offense team , both teams switch. A run (one team plays offense and defense) is called an inning . The game ends after nine innings.


The baseball field: The infield (olive) and the outfield (green) form the fair territory . The blue area shows the foul territory .

The playing field consists of two parts and is usually surrounded by a fence. The so-called fair territory usually has the shape of a quarter circle, the straight edges of which act as foul lines and are between 90 and 120 meters long. The area outside the foul lines is called foul territory (shown in blue in the adjacent drawing).

Most of the action takes place in the infield (olive in the drawing), a square at the top of the 90-foot (27.43 m) quarter circle, the corners of which are marked by the three bases and the home plate . The rest of the Fair Territory is called the Outfield (shown in green in the drawing). The Americans call the game because of the diamond shape of the infield and Diamond (diamond, diamond, diamond in playing cards).

Innings and playing time

A period of play is called an inning and consists of two half innings (top & bottom). The away team is always offense in the first half-linning . In the second half-linning, the home team is in control. Both teams are allowed to keep playing in their offensive half-inning until three of their players are 'out'. The offense players compete individually against the pitcher in an order determined by their team before the game and announced to the referees (batting order). The batting order is to be understood as a rotation, i.e. after the ninth player in the batting order, the first player goes back to the stroke. The batting order is not started from the beginning at the beginning of a half-inning, but the player who is on the list below the last player (in the previous inning) of his team beats. (Exception: The third out was a different runner, e.g. by pick-off and the batter himself is not out . In this case, the batter is back to bat in the next inning.)

A game usually consists of nine such innings . According to the 10-run rule, which is used in many leagues, if the lead is ten or more points, the game is ended at the end of an inning, but not earlier than two and a half innings before the regular end. Other leagues may have 15-run and 20-run rules. If the home team is in the lead at the end of the eighth inning and the guests do not achieve enough runs in their part of the ninth to at least draw level, the second half-linning - which in any case could only produce cosmetic results - is dispensed with and the game is decided. If there is a tie after the specified number of innings, the game will be extended by a further full inning (extra inning) until a team wins or the weather, the lack of pitchers or darkness on unlit pitches to abort or interrupt of the game.

typical baseball ad
Explanation of a typical box score display in baseball.

In Japan and in Spring Training , a game is considered a tie after a specified number of extra innings. In some competitions with relatively large differences in the strength of the teams involved - including the Olympic Games - a game is ended prematurely if a team is in the lead a certain number of runs. This rule prevents the better team from staying on the beat for an excessive amount of time because the worse team does not manage to get the necessary three 'out' within a reasonable period of time.

In some German leagues, double headers are also played, i.e. two games in a row. Depending on the league, 2 × 5, 2 × 7, 1 × 7 or 1 × 9 innings are common in Germany. Since 2008, double headers with 2 × 9 innings have been played in the German Bundesliga.

In US Major League Baseball , a minimum of nine innings is always played (eight and a half if the home team is in the lead). If a game is canceled or interrupted, for example due to bad weather conditions, it will be rescheduled or played to the end on another game day, in addition to the game originally scheduled for this later game day (double header). The referee decides whether a game is canceled or interrupted due to bad weather conditions or other reasons.

In the baseball leagues below the major leagues (the so-called minor leagues ), however, games are ended prematurely under certain circumstances, such as bad weather conditions, and the currently leading team is declared the winner. However, at least five innings must have been played (four and a half if the home team is in the lead), otherwise the game will be interrupted here and restarted at a different time.

In the minor leagues, too, canceled games are made up for with a double header , but both games are shortened to seven innings. If, on the other hand , a game is interrupted (this happens, for example, if less than five innings have been played but the game cannot be continued due to bad weather conditions), then the interrupted game will be played to the end on one of the following game days and then take place the originally scheduled game will take place in full.

In the minor leagues, in contrast to the major leagues, games are still quite often canceled or interrupted due to bad weather. This is partly due to the fact that the stadiums are poorly equipped (no roofing, poorer lighting, poorer wind protection) or the playing fields are of poorer quality (the ground softened more easily when it rains). The tickets of the spectators do not lose their validity in the case of canceled games, but can be redeemed for the next game day.

Pitcher vs. Batter

Pitcher (Mound) Batter (bottom right)

The focus of the game is the duel between a batter of the offense and the pitcher of the field team. The offense players compete individually against the pitcher in a predetermined order ( batting order or lineup ). He tries to throw the ball through the strike zone to his catcher from a good 18 m in such a way that the batter cannot hit him with his stick or can only hit him weakly. The strike zone is the area above the 43 cm wide home plate , which is delimited at the top and bottom by the batterer's chest and knee height. If the pitcher succeeds in throwing three times into the strike zone without the batter hitting the ball, the batter is out (so-called strike out . In this case, the referee often hears: "Strike three; he's out.").

For a strike , however, the ball does not have to be completely missed. The pitcher is also awarded a strike if the batter hits a foul . If the batter hits the ball just barely - mostly from below - and it then hits the ball outside of the field of play, e.g. outside the sidelines, behind home plate or on the stands, this is a foul (this term is not in the context of this to understand unsportsmanlike or irregularity). A ball struck out of the stadium is also a foul if it has left the stadium not in the area of ​​the field of play, but to the left or right of it. However, the batted ball is only considered a foul if it has touched the ground outside the field of play. As long as it is in the air, the ball is in play and can be caught by a player of the defending team (fly out) . This can lead to spectacular situations when a player of the defending team runs up to the stand barriers and jumps up to catch the ball before it lands in the stands.

An important exception to this rule is that a foul can never count as a third strike and therefore a strikeout . Suggests the batter with the score at two strikes a challenge , it remains on two strikes and the union is repeated. The so-called foul tip is dealt with separately . In contrast to a foul , a foul tip always counts as a strike. This is given if the batter hits the ball very thinly so that it flies in a line towards the catcher and is then caught directly by the catcher . The ball may only be deflected minimally and must first touch the catcher's glove. If, on the other hand, the ball flies in a high arc due to a stronger hit before the catcher catches it, it is a fly out .

If the pitcher does not hit the strike zone , it is a ball (pronunciation in English). However, if the batter hit such a ball and failed to hit it, this counts as a strike to his disadvantage, even though the strike zone was missed. However, if the batter sees in good time that the ball will not be a strike after all and stops the swing (checked swing) , the throw remains a ball . The club may only be swung until it is a straight line away from the batter. Since this cannot always be clearly seen by the home base umpire (referee), the 1st or 3rd base umpires are asked for their judgment, as they often have a better understanding of the swing of the club.

Throw study by a pitcher

The art of the pitcher on the other hand therein, the balls a Effet mitzugeben ( Curve ball , slider , Sinking ball etc.), so that it becomes difficult for the batter to assess whether the pitch is legal. One often experiences the batter stopping his stroke movement to be informed by the umpire that he has allowed a strike to happen. Even a slow throw ( change-up ) can mess up the batter's timing if he is expecting a fast pitch.

If the pitcher undergoes four balls against a batter , he may advance to first base. This is commonly called a walk (correct: base on balls ) because in this case the batter can go to first base. If there is already a runner on this base , he may advance to the second base, since only one player is allowed to stand on each base. If all bases are occupied (bases loaded) , a walk costs one point (run) at the same time , since all runners move one base further, i.e. the player on third base reaches home plate and thus scores a run .

The walk is not infrequently used deliberately (see strategy) (intentional walk), if you  prefer not to pitch against a batter known as high-class - with a high hit average (batting average) and many home runs ; this is even more true when bases are already occupied and there could be several runs. At the signal of his coach (manager) , after the ball has been thrown, the catcher moves one meter from home plate and catches four balls that the pitcher deliberately throws past the home plate .

Hit ball

Batter while hitting a ball

The most interesting situations arise when the batter hits the ball and hits it back into the field. This makes him a runner and has to run to first base.

If the battered ball is caught directly in the air by a field player (fly ball) , the batsman is immediately out (fly out) . It does not matter whether the ball was caught in fair or foul territory. Other runners on the field who had already left their base before the fly out must return to this base and may only leave this base and run to the next base after the ball has landed in the glove of the field player ("tag up"). If a runner then scores a point, the (captured) flight ball is called sacrifice fly (literally “sacrificial flight ball”) because the batsman's “victim” (being out ) allowed the teammate to advance to home plate.

The out can also be achieved if the ball, which has only been striped with the bat, flies steeply up and then behind the sideline (foul pop) . The ball is then in foul territory and any runners are not allowed to continue, but the defense - usually the catcher  - is allowed to catch the ball there and thus make the fly out . Many a player who wanted to stretch out for a long time fell over the barrier at the edge of the field at the feet of the spectators. After a successful catch, however, the runners are allowed to run, as with any fly out , provided they have made a day up .

The new runner is also out if a field player picks up the ball from the ground ("ground ball") and throws it to the first baseman, who then catches the ball while touching first base and before the batter / runner himself arrives there (ground out ) . The field umpire decides between safe and out . Every runner who is out must leave the field of play and take a seat on the players' bench "( dugout )" until it is his turn again as batter.

Any runner who is not currently touching a base is also out if he is touched by a field player with the ball itself or with the glove in which the ball is in (tag out) . This does not apply in cases where runners are allowed to advance one or more bases without running the risk of being knocked out . A common example of this is a base on balls with runners on the bases. Here the runner to the next base may advance and can not it out to be made.

Fly out, in the outfield

If a runner is hit by a batted ball in fair territory, he is out . This does not apply if the ball has already passed a defending player who could have played that ball. The batter is awarded first base in this case.

A runner is safe if he reaches a base before the field team can get the ball there. He can always try to run two or three bases at a time, but there may be at most one runner on each base. A runner is also automatically out if he overtakes a runner running in front of him.

A hit that is good enough (hit firmly or loosely) to allow the batter to reach base on his own is called a hit . If the batter makes it to first base with his own stroke, he has scored a single . If he makes it to second or third base, he scores a double or triple accordingly . A runner remains at a base that he has reached safe until a new batter competes against the pitcher. With his stroke, all runners can then advance further or even achieve a run in which they arrive safely at home plate again . If a batter hits the ball over the outer fence, it is called a home run . The batter and any runners who may be on the bases are allowed to run through the bases in peace and quiet and each achieve one run. A batsman can therefore score a maximum of four points for his team with a home run , namely for the runners on first, second and third base and for himself. This maximum yield is called the Grand Slam Homerun .

A home run is also possible if the ball does not leave the field (a so-called inside the park homerun ). This case is very rare, however, because it would require a top-class batter (who would also be an excellent short distance runner) and a hit where the ball is extremely difficult to control. Mostly these are balls in the really farthest corner of the field, not least those that only roll into the foul territory after they hit the “fair territory” and are therefore usually live , i.e. still in the game and not foul . Often there are also special circumstances that are unfortunate for the defense, such as the ball jumping in an unexpected direction (so-called “bad hop”).

However, not every ball that lands in the field is a hit , even if the batter reaches first base. If the blow would have been easy to intercept for the defense, one speaks of an error , for example when a ball that is not hit particularly hard flies straight at a defender (fielder) and the defender does not catch it. Incidentally, whether there is an error - i.e. not a hit - is not decided by any of the referees (umpires) , but rather a game writer appointed for this purpose (official scorer) . It is not uncommon for players to have been quite unhappy with his decision, as errors are at the expense of their batting average . Also, no hit will be awarded if the defense brought the struck ball under control, but then did not want to see the batter, but tried the out on a runner ahead. In this case one speaks of Fielder's Choice (choice of field player), since the batter is usually the easier out. Unlike the runners, he cannot detach himself from the base before the stroke and thus has to cover a longer distance. For the score itself, however, the question of whether or not hit is of no importance.

Base stealing

Curtis Granderson steals a base

A runner can try to “steal” the next base at any time, even if the batter has not hit the ball at all. A typical occasion is when the pitcher has begun his throwing motion. This must not be interrupted. The runner tries to arrive at the next base sooner than the ball, which is thrown from the pitcher to the catcher and from there to the corresponding base .

Not least because of this, a good catcher is of great importance for a successful defense , because he has to recognize possible moves in advance and decide where the ball should be best played if there are several opponents on the bases. He has to recognize where it is easiest to make an out or where this is most urgently needed. Of course, he has to throw the ball there quickly and precisely. He fulfilled his task, so it is quite possible to have multiple runners in a move out to make ( double play or, very rarely, Triple Play ).

As a tactical tool, base stealing is particularly interesting when the score is close, especially when there is a tie, especially in the late innings, because a game can be won in this way, for example if the stronger part of your own batting order still follows and you can hope , a batter will make a good hit. If the runner makes it from first to second base in this way, a subsequent long single may be enough to win the game.

Defensive positions

Defensive positions

The defending team consists of 9 players, each with their own position on the field and sometimes with different tasks. The position is - apart from the pitcher (thrower) and catcher (catcher) - not fixed, for example the 3rd baseman is near third base, but it depends on the current game situation and the current batter (batsman) whether he is now oriented further in the infield or towards the outfield or is more to the right of the base. The positions and their tasks in detail:

  • P : Pitcher (position number 1). The pitcher is the most specialized position in defense. Its main role is to get the ball into play. He tries to throw the ball past the batsman to his catcher. He is also responsible for picking up and directing flat balls into the center of the infield . He must also run to first base and cover it should the 1st baseman leave his position due to a high ball. The main task of a good pitcher is to get his pitches off the ground so skillfully that they are as difficult as possible for the batter to calculate, for example by describing a trajectory in which there are changes in direction or altitude ( Sinking ball , slider , change-up etc.). Often it is also the sheer speed that makes the ball difficult to hit (fastball) .
  • C : catcher  (2). He wears special protective clothing because his job is to catch the pitcher's balls that the batsman does not hit or that he does not hit, as well as the balls that ricochet off the bat's bat in a more or less uncontrolled manner. Furthermore, he is the baseman of home plate , so he prevents runners from scoring a point. In the end, it is simply a matter of the catcher on home plate simply forming an obstacle as wide as possible against the onrushing runner with his body ("to block home plate"), of course without a "blocking without the ball", as one does in football would say. The catcher also indicates to the pitcher what kind of throw to throw to the batsman and must keep an eye on what is happening behind the pitcher; he has to react quickly if a runner tries to steal a base. It is certainly not a disadvantage to have a strong litter. The great importance of a good catcher for a successful defense should therefore not be underestimated.
  • 1B : First baseman  (3). Like all players, he is responsible for catching and passing balls flying in his direction. He also covers the first base, that is, he must try, runners on the way to "his" base out to make. If a runner is on first base, the 1st baseman usually stands very close to the base or even on it to prevent the second base from being stolen.
  • 2B : Second Baseman  (4). He picks up balls that come in his direction and tries, if necessary, to initiate a double play , i.e. to make two opposing players out at once . When the ball hits the shortstop , the 2nd baseman is usually on second base, gets the ball thrown from the shortstop , thus making the runner from first base, and throws to the 1st baseman to kill the batter there. The double play is complete. Usually the 2nd baseman is oriented further towards the first base.
  • 3B : Third baseman (5). The third base is known as the "hot corner", as this is where most of the balls from right-handed batsmen arrive. Since these balls often reach high speeds, a good reaction time is a prerequisite. He has the longest way from the infielders to the 1st baseman , which is why he also needs a strong and precise throw.
  • SS : shortstop (6). In principle, he has the same tasks as the 2nd baseman , i.e. catching balls in his direction, making the out at second base and possibly initiating double plays . However, he is usually further away from first base, which is why he needs a better limb.
  • LF : Left Fielder (7), CF : Center Fielder (8), RF : Right Fielder (9). The three outfielder must pursue every ball that flies into the outfield and - if possible - catch it directly from the air and, if necessary, throw the ball quickly and precisely to a teammate at a base. If the path becomes too long, a player from the infield can come towards you and pass the ball on (relay throw) . The outfielder are less challenged on the defensive than the other players, so these positions are often occupied by those players who specialize more on the offensive (hitting and running). Here, left fielder still the most common, right fielder least often called defensive because of right-handers hit balls than fly in the right outfield more frequently in the left.

The number assigned to each position is mainly used for the statistical recording of the moves. Here are two examples:

  • A 5-3 out means that the 3rd baseman  (5) picks up the ball,  throws it to the 1st baseman (3) and the latter " knocks out " the batter .
  • A 4-6-3 double play means that the 2nd baseman  (4) picks up the ball, the shortstop  (6) stands on second base, catches the ball, so the runner from first base out power and then the ball to 1st baseman  (3) throws, who in turn takes the batter out of the game.


The plate umpire indicates that the last pitch was a strike.

In baseball, umpires are called umpires . Colloquially, they are also referred to as ump or blue . The latter is due to the umpire's traditional blue shirts.

A game is usually presided over by two referees. In the American professional leagues, four umpires (one for each base ) are the order of the day. During the play-offs , so the championship round of the MLB, are even used six referees, that is a referee in addition to the foul lines to in the outfield on or around the foul line to evaluate incident balls safe and the decision fair ball or foul ball cases to be able to.

The main referee (plate umpire) always stands behind home plate , where he decides whether the pitcher has thrown a strike or a ball . Although the plate umpire has the final say in cases of doubt, he occasionally checks with his colleagues before making his decision. This applies, for example, to the question of whether the batter was just about to hit (checked swing) or whether he tried to hit the ball. He also has to decide whether a runner has reached home plate safely, i.e. has scored a run. The other referee (s) work in the field. If there are only one or two field referees, they must each run near the base where they expect the next action and therefore a good position and distance from the base is important.

Due to the many factual decisions to be made on the one hand and the very extensive set of rules with countless special regulations on the other, inexperienced umpires (especially in lower German leagues) get involved in discussions. While protests by players and coaches in football, for example, almost never lead to a subsequent change in the decision, in baseball (as in football) a decision can be changed. In the event of protests it can happen that the coaches of the teams, together with the umpire and possibly also the scorer , possibly with the help of the rule book, recapitulate the previous game situation and, in the event of an obviously wrong decision, at the end of the umpire in chief (or crew Chief ) a decision other than the original is made.

From the 2014 season, video evidence in baseball was introduced in the American professional league as the last of the 4 major American sports (baseball, basketball , football and (ice) hockey ). For this purpose, a control center was set up in New York in which a referee observes a maximum of 4 league games at the same time and, in the event of an objection by a team manager, decides on the game situation using video recordings. The managers of the teams may object to a factual decision from a catalog of decisions defined by the league authority twice up to the 6th inning (the second time only if the first objection is successful). In this case, the decision-making power passes to the referee in the New York control center, who can confirm or revoke the decision of the field referee or classify it as non-assessable (nonconclusive). This decision is binding and cannot be changed by a field judge. From the 7th inning onwards, it is up to the court judges to decide whether or not to use video evidence.


A scorer at the edge of the field records all actions and moves on a ready-made form, the scoresheet . The completed score sheet is not only used as a game report. On the basis of the scoring recordings, extensive statistics are also created that provide information about the strength of teams and individual players.

Playground equipment, equipment



The ball is approximately 7.4 cm in diameter, the circumference must be a minimum of 22.8 cm (9 inches) and a maximum of 23.5 cm (9 1/4 inches). The weight should be no less than 141.7 g (5 ounces) and no more than 148.8 g (5 1/4 ounces). So it's a little bigger than a tennis ball. The baseball is wrapped in two pieces of white leather sewn together with red thread. It is not inflated with air, its interior consists of a cork core and thread extremely tightly wrapped around it. Thus, the ball is very hard, which is why the batsmen (batter) long protective helmets and the catcher and plate umpire wearing protective masks stable.

Not least because of this hardness of the ball, there are sometimes - often palpable - controversies ( charging the mound ) when a ball thrown by the pitcher forces the batter to evade (brushback pitch) or hits the body or even the neck or head (beanball / Hit by Pitch) . Since every pitcher is trusted to be so precise that he can avoid this, opponents quickly assume intent in such cases (e.g. revenge for unfair behavior on the part of the batterer seen by the pitcher).

The balls used in professional games - especially those used to achieve outstanding shots - are coveted collectibles among fans around the world. Unlike in football, for example, in the higher leagues, balls hit in the stands (e.g. home runs or foul balls) can be kept as souvenirs by the spectators. In some stadiums, however, local fans throw an opponent's home run ball back onto the field to express their displeasure.


A baseball bat is made of wood or an aluminum alloy . Clubs made of carbon are also rarely found. In professional leagues and in the German first and second division only wooden sticks may be used, in most other amateur leagues sticks made of other materials are also allowed. Aluminum clubs are mandatory in US colleges.

A weight ring ( bat weight , unofficially usually called a donut ) or a "batsock" (a short, heavy tube that has the same function as the donut ) is used for warming up . This is pushed onto the racket in order to get a higher weight on the racket during the warm-up immediately before the attempt to hit. It makes the club feel lighter without the donut and increases the stroke speed.


A baseball glove

Each player in the field team wears a leather glove for falling (picking up) or catching, which enables the ball to be caught easily and painlessly. The players standing in the infield wear a somewhat smaller glove than the three outfielders due to the speed in the infield. Only the first baseman's glove is slightly larger than that of the others. The catcher wears a specially padded glove (mitt) to catch the balls that the pitcher sometimes throws very hard.

The batsman usually wears a pair of batting gloves to prevent blisters on his fingers, to have a better grip and to reduce the vibration when the baseball hits the bat, which in turn reduces pain. Some batsmen use a batting glove or no batting glove at all.

Flared helmet

Batter and runners wear plastic helmets (or fiberglass helmets) in order to be protected from head hits with the ball. On the side facing the pitcher, they also cover the ear, in youth baseball even both ears.

Catcher equipment

The catcher wears additional protective equipment, as he sits in a crouch behind the batter and must be protected from balls that are not hit or deflected. His equipment consists of an even larger and heavily padded, fingerless glove, a face mask, a helmet, a chest protector, a genital protector and knee and shin guards. The helmet and face mask can be easily thrown off, for example if the catcher has to catch a fly ball and needs a clear view.

The plate umpire, who is slightly crouching behind him, is similarly protected, but does not wear a glove. In addition, the protective clothing of the plate umpire is worn under clothing.


Softball is a variant of baseball. The pitcher does not throw the ball from above, but with a circular motion from below. Some rules differ from baseball, but the gameplay is identical. Baseball is sometimes called hardball to distinguish it from softball .

The playing field in softball is about a third smaller than in baseball. Likewise, the bases are only 60 feet away from each other. The clubs are usually a bit thinner and lighter.

The name of the game is misleading: the ball itself is bigger than a baseball, but just as hard. It just can't be thrown and hit quite as hard because of its size.

In the United States , recreational softball is predominantly played by adults, while baseball is played by professionals and male students; Women mostly play softball.

There are two versions of softball, fastpitch softball and slowpitch softball .

Fastpitch softball

With Fastpitch Softball , the ball can be thrown as hard as you like. This variant is usually played by women in schools and universities, as well as by women and men in ambitious amateur leagues, including all German women's leagues. Women's Fastpitch Softball has been an Olympic discipline since 1996 . In addition to the USA (Olympic champion 1996 , 2000 , 2004 ), Japan (Olympic champion 2008 ) and Australia are among the best national teams in the world.

Slowpitch softball

Slowpitch softball is the "leisure variant" of softball, in which the ball thrown by the pitcher must describe a clear arc. The ball must be released below the thrower's belt line and fly above head height on the way to the batsman, so it describes a "high arc" in flight - which can make it difficult to hit because the arc can cause it to fall very steeply Fly hit zone. Base stealing and some other variations are not allowed in slowpitch softball. Slowpitch softball is usually played in Germany in tournament form or as an organized league operation in the Rhein-Main and Rhein-Neckar leagues.

Special features of the sport of baseball

No limit on playing time

Baseball games have no time limit. A fixed number of game segments (innings) is played. A tie is not possible because in the event of a tie after completing the nine or seven innings, individual extra innings will be played until a winner has been determined. This was changed in the Japanese professional league; here a game can end in a draw after three extra innings . In baseball it is not possible to “save” a leadership through a special style of play.

In Major League Baseball (MLB), only the number of games (won / lost) is counted for the table. However, it has already happened several times that there was a tie between two clubs at the end of the season and then a one game playoff or a best-of-three series in the National League before 1969 to participate in the play -offs had to be carried out.

In the case of the elaborately managed statistics in Major League Baseball (hits, runs, home runs, stolen bases or pitching strikeouts and walks, to name just a few), a tie in the final table would be unlikely if all these were rated, especially since with the high number of usually 162 games per season.

In Germany there are " Mercy Rules" , according to which the game can be ended prematurely if a team has a clear lead. The regional associations in the leagues below the association league can also limit the playing time - but in this case, too, a winner must be determined at the end of the game.

Combination of team and individual sports

Baseball is commonly considered a team sport. In a duel against the pitcher , a batter competes individually. His teammates cannot influence his performance or the success of his mission. From this perspective, baseball can also be understood as a combination of team and individual sport.

Strategy, repetition of the initial situation

The game principle of baseball is based on the duel between pitcher and batter. The starting and boundary conditions for this duel (e.g. left or right-handed, which bases are occupied, how many strikes, how many balls, how many outs) are repeated many times in the course of a game. This increases the importance of strategic means compared to sports in which, due to variable situations, actions are more intuitive to tactical.

This also results in the possibility of using statistical means to assess the performance of a player or a team. For example, the equivalent batting average (batting average) of the number of successful punches (base hits) divided by the number of impact tests (At Bats) . With a sufficiently large number of measurements, it is considered a reasonably meaningful parameter for the battery's ability. In addition to these traditional, rather intuitive statistics, the modern school of thought of the Sabermetrics tries more strongly to justify meaningful statistics for victory or defeat through mathematical analyzes.

Pitcher change

Typical tactical means are, for example, the replacement of another pitcher when a certain batter comes to the stroke - e. B. the substitution of a left-handed pitcher for a left-handed batter - or, on the offensive, the substitution of a substitute as a batter (pinch hitter) . Another (faster) runner (pinch runner) is often desirable, for example when the score is tight, to make the decisive run or to steal a base. Herb Washington , who was used exclusively as a pinch runner, played 131 MLB games in this way.

Intentional Walk

This refers to the deliberate throwing of four balls by the pitcher in order not to have to pitch against a batter who the defending team considers to be particularly dangerous. The pitcher is deliberately letting the batter advance to first base without allowing him to hit. In MLB, the batter goes straight to first base without having to throw a ball if the coach of the opposing team so wishes. This tactic is often used towards the end of the game and when there is a tie or a narrow lead, especially when it only takes one or two outs to end the inning for the defending team. In these situations it is particularly important to prevent a point from the opposing team. With the intentional walk, the pitcher avoids confrontation with a particularly strong batter, but with the additional baserunner gives the opposing team the opportunity to score even more runs on a subsequent hit. An intentional walk is very rarely used when all bases are empty or the baserunner closest to home plate would advance one more base through the walk, as this increases the likelihood that the opposing team will hit a subsequent one Hit a point. On the other hand, it is preferably used when there are already base runners on the second or third base, but the first base is unoccupied. This gives the defending team a good opportunity for a double play, as this is most likely when first base is occupied.


A special striking technique is called colored . This is - almost only - a “pushing away” of the ball, whereby the batter quickly gives up the typical hitting position and brings the club into an oblique position so that the ball almost only “drips off”. The ball usually remains in the infield . On the other hand, it is part of the defensive tactic to move very close to the infield in situations that “smell” like a Bunt attempt, in order to pick up the ball as quickly as possible and to shorten the walking distance. For the batter, trying a bunt is a risk if he has already taken two strikes. A Bunt that lands in the foul territory always counts as a strike, unlike a normally beaten foul.

The aim of the bunt as a play is to achieve a run with all means or at least to prepare significantly in tight situations (such as a tie in the eighth or ninth inning) . The main aim of the bunt is to get the ball to a place where it takes just long enough for the opponent to pick it up and, if necessary, to pass it on so that the runner (s) can move up a base.

The sacrifice is very often colorful because the batter tries to reach first base as usual, which he often does not succeed with the typically short ball, as it gets there very quickly and an out can be made there . If one of his teammates has occupied the next base as a runner in the meantime, the purpose of the sacrifice has been achieved. The batter has "sacrificed" himself for the better position of his teammates.

Squeeze Play

In some cases the suicide squeeze is used. This means that the runner from the lead of third base runs off with the pitch movement in the direction of the homeplate - i.e. before the ball has left the pitcher's throwing hand. The batter now has to try with all his might to get the ball into the field for the run to count - even if the pitch is far past the strike zone , he will try to hit it somehow. In most cases, the batter tries to paint the ball. If the batter does not succeed in getting the ball into the field, you have to a certain extent sacrificed your runner in a "suicide action", as the catcher now simply has to touch the runner with the ball before it reaches the home plate.

In the case of a safety squeeze , the runner from the lead of third base only starts running towards the home plate after the bunt. Most of the time he waits until he is certain that the ball is in a region that will make it difficult for the defense to reach the out at home plate.

No penalties

With a few exceptions, there are no penalties in baseball. In the event of illegal actions by a player, the referees usually allow the game to restart from the situation that would have been brought about without the illegal actions. Fouls (not foul balls , but fouls in the sense of deliberately used, illegal unsportsmanlike conduct) are quite rare in baseball. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for discussions to occur in encounters in which individual players are accused of having behaved unsportingly. Although baseball is essentially a sport without physical contact, situations in which opponents jostle or obstruct each other give rise to arguments.

Two typical scenarios for this:

  • Theoretically, the fielder has "priority", which means that the runner must not hinder the fielder catching the ball. If the runner runs over it, it is scored as interference and the runner is out . This only applies when the fielder is about to catch the ball. If this is not the case, he must avoid the runner, otherwise this will be counted as a so-called obstruction and the runner can advance unhindered to the next base. In both cases, a light touch of the runner or fielder is sufficient.
  • Theoretically, the runner's entire body (including the head, which is ideally still protected by a helmet in the relevant situation) is the target for tagging - i.e. touching the opponent with the glove or the hand in which the match ball is located.

It is easy to imagine that in both situations the difference between a fair and an exaggerated effort - or even a conscious attack - is not always easy.

In the event of grossly illegal behavior, a player can be removed from the field (ejection) . References from the field or from the game can also be issued against players on the bench or against coaches or managers who behave unsportingly (e.g. insults or mobbing). The umpires may also send off pitchers who, in their opinion, have thrown batter more often, either on purpose or during the game. The pitcher's hitting of the batter with the ball is known as hit by pitch .

General information on terminology

Terminology in Germany

Baseball, like any other sport, has its own terminology . Practically all technical terms come from the country of origin USA and are used unchanged in German-speaking countries. Individual attempts to Germanize technical terms have failed. Today the strong Anglicisation of the baseball language is generally accepted in Germany. In other countries such as the Netherlands or France , terms in the national language have largely replaced English.

Influence on the American language

In its country of origin, the USA, baseball has influenced everyday English through its history, so that today some technical terms are used in a different context. to touch base means something like making brief contact , to throw someone a curve ball means catching someone on the wrong foot , whereas a "soft ball" is an (intentionally) simple question and to go to bat means (in a corresponding context) yourself to get involved, to make a difference , also to go to bat for someone : to help someone; stand up for him . Various life wisdoms are often formulated using baseball expressions; keep your eye on the ball means, for example, do not get distracted .

In California and some other US states, there has been legislation under the motto “ three strikes and you're out ” since the mid-1990s, which mandates that the judges must impose life imprisonment for every third offender when it comes to minor offenses.

Baseball had in the US until the 1970s, such a high popularity compared to American football and basketball that with the generic terms Ball Player , Ball Game and Ballpark still today baseball player , a baseball game or a baseball stadium is called.

Baseball plays a very special role in American youth language as the basis of metaphors for romantic and sexual activity. The degree of activity is expressed through references to the bases in baseball. For example, people talk about having been on “first base” with their partner when they kissed, “second base” usually stands for intense touching of the body and “third base” for oral sex while reaching the "fourth base" or a "home run" stands for sexual intercourse . These metaphors are so widespread in America that they are generally understandable, but due to their harmless, quasi-euphemistic nature, they can easily be 'pronounced'. The allusions are therefore also used in schools for sex education .

Game operation

Game operations in Germany

Today almost 30,000 players are active in Germany.

The German Baseball and Softball Association e. V. organizes games in various leagues with its regional associations :

Baseball men:

  • 1st Bundesliga (2 groups north / south)
  • 2nd Bundesliga (2 groups north / south with 3 seasons each)
  • Association league (usually 1 per national association)
  • National league
  • District League

Softball women:

  • 1st Bundesliga (2 groups north / south)
  • Association league (usually 1 per state association, the state associations of Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein as well as Southwest and Hesse have a joint association league)
  • National league

In Europe, the usual promotion and relegation in sport is played in this country, while this is practically unknown in the USA.

There are also youth leagues in the age groups (small) children (B-Ball) (3–6 years), children (T-Ball) (4–8 years), schoolchildren (9–12 years), youth (13–15 years) ) and juniors (16-18 years). In softball there are age groups of children (5–9 years), schoolgirls (10–13 years), youth (14–16 years) and juniors (17–19 years).

So far, the DBV Cup has taken place parallel to the league . The cup winner was determined in this knockout system . The winners of the national associations' cup competitions were qualified. The DBV Cup was held for the last time in 2006.

After massive growth during the 1990s, the quantitative development of baseball in Germany has been declining since around 2004. The majority of German baseball clubs do not have stable management and membership structures. They are dependent on one or a few committed volunteers and their livelihoods are often endangered after their departure. Likewise, the relegation of a team can endanger the existence of an entire club.

German baseball is practically non-existent in the national mass media. The attempt to present a German baseball league consistently on television (1990 by DSF predecessor Tele 5 ) failed. One of the reasons for this was that baseball can generally only be captured on television with great effort (number of cameras, etc.). However, games of the American professional leagues (National and American League together form Major League Baseball) were offered by some pay-TV channels . The broadcaster ESPN America in Germany provided extensive coverage, including live games . Since its discontinuation, the pay-TV broadcaster Sport1 US has reported on Major League Baseball (MLB) and shows one or two games a week live. In addition, with a subscription to the streaming service, you can receive all games from American professional clubs live.

Due to the lack of media presence, the interest of potential sponsors is usually low and mostly regional. In many cases of financial support, private-law companies do not expect any advertising effect, so it is more a question of patronage . In terms of quality, baseball is constantly developing in Germany. The most recent successes at European championships (especially among young people) show the increasing performance of German baseball. In 2019, with the Heidenheim Heideköpfe , a German team won the CEB Cup (comparable to the European Football League) for the first time. In the same year, the U15 national team won the Junior European Championship for the third time in a row, while the U23 national team became vice European champions.

Game operations in Austria

Today almost 3000 players are active in Austria.

The Austrian Baseball Federation (ABF) organizes games in various leagues with its regional associations:

Baseball men:

  • BLA ( Baseball League Austria)
  • Regional leagues (middle / east / west)
  • Regional leagues (East, Upper Austria, Vorarlberg, Tyrol)
  • Junior leagues (East, Upper Austria, Vorarlberg)

Softball women:

  • ASL (Austrian Softball League)
  • SBL (Softball Bundesliga)

There are also various youth leagues in the age groups juniors (16-18 years), youth (14-16 years), ponies (12-14), schoolchildren (10-12 years) and children (6-10 years), as well as the Austrians Junior championships (juniors, youth, schoolchildren, children). Some teams from Slovakia and Hungary take part in the youth championships of the Eastern League.

Game operations in Switzerland

The Swiss Baseball and Softball Association (SBSV) was founded on July 26, 1981. Since January 19, 2008 Swiss Baseball and Softball Federation (SBSF) based in Therwil . The association organizes the following leagues:

Baseball men:

  • NLA (National League A)
  • NLB (National League B)
  • 1st League

Softball women:

  • Softball (Softball Bundesliga)

Youth / Juniors:

  • Cadets (Junior Bundesliga)
  • Juveniles (Youth Bundesliga)

International gaming operations

Worldwide distribution

Baseball is considered a national sport not only in the United States , but also in many Latin American and East Asian countries such as Mexico , Cuba , the Dominican Republic , Venezuela , Puerto Rico , Nicaragua , Panama , Japan , Republic of Korea ( South Korea ), the Philippines and Taiwan .

There has been a remarkable development in Europe over the past 20 years. Professional leagues have existed in Italy since 1948 and the Netherlands since 1922.

In Finland there has been a variant of baseball called " Pesäpallo " since 1922 (see main article on this). Pesäpallo is also played by women.

Baseball in North America today

In the sport of the United States , baseball, once dominant, gradually lost more and more viewers to American football after World War II and in recent decades also to basketball, and was pushed from the top to second place by American football in the 1970s. The extreme player salaries earned through repeated strikes, as well as opaque deals and league restructuring by club owners, have seriously damaged the reputation of baseball in the 1990s. However, the sport still has a large and loyal fan base and is deeply anchored in US culture. Playing or watching baseball together is still widely regarded as the father-son experience par excellence and America's Favorite Pastime .

In the 2019 season, almost 68.5 million viewers attended Major League Baseball , or MLB for short, more than any other sports league in the world. This is mainly due to the number of games (162 games in the regular season) and the favorable schedule. The season is mainly played in the summer, so baseball is not in competition with the other major sports leagues, the NFL , NBA , and NHL . Nevertheless, the league is struggling with a steady decline in attendance. Since 2015, the average attendance has fallen by 7.14% or 5.2 million fans. In terms of total audience numbers, Major League Baseball is still the most popular sports league in the world, even if the number of viewers per game has now been surpassed by several other sports (such as the NFL, but also the German Bundesliga).

The most famous professional leagues in the USA are organized by the MLB. This is divided into the American League and the National League . Below these leagues are the minor leagues , also professional leagues , whose teams are closely associated with a major league team and serve them as junior leagues for their talents. There are also independent leagues in which professional baseball is played. The teams consist of professionals who were no longer contracted on an MLB team, sacked minor league players, or former college players who were not selected in the MLB draft .

Similar to other sports in the United States, amateur baseball is mostly practiced by schools and universities. Compared to American football or basketball , college baseball has little popularity. Often times, the best high school players are hired directly by the professional teams, which affects the quality of college leagues. Another reason is that even the best college talent does not make it straight into the MLB, but is usually developed over several years in the minor leagues.

The youth sector is covered by several organizations. The best known is the Little League . Here boys and girls between 5 and 18 years of age play softball and baseball in six age groups. The rules are often adapted, for example on smaller fields and with less physical contact.

Baseball in Japan

In Japan baseball was introduced in 1872 by the English professor Horace Wilson . At the turn of the century, with its spread at universities, the rise of baseball began as a national sport - alongside sumo and, more recently, football . Professional league operations began in the 1920s, and high school tournaments have been held twice a year in Koshien since 1915 and have received national attention.

Baseball in Mexico

Baseball is a very popular sport in Mexico. Although the origins of the sport in Mexico lie between the 1870s and 1890s, the first professional league was not founded until 1925, the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (LMB). In 2009 the league played with 16 teams in 2 divisions. Another professional league, the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (LMP) was founded in 1945. In addition, there are many regional leagues that serve as talent detection and promotion for the professional leagues.

Baseball in Cuba

The Cuban national baseball system does not consist of a single league, but is a superstructure of various leagues and series under the umbrella of the Cuban Baseball Federation . The federation organizes the national championships and the selection for the Cuban national baseball team .

Baseball at Olympics

Baseball is an Olympic sport and was part of the program of the Olympic Games from 1992 to 2008 - together with softball. However, the world's best players do not take part in the Olympic tournaments because the professional leagues are not yet ready to interrupt their game operations. In baseball, in contrast to most other team sports, a season that begins in spring and ends in autumn without a summer break is common, so that the Olympics do not fit in well. Doping scandals in US professional baseball and an all too lax attitude of the league bosses to this problem also damage the international reputation of the sport.

On July 8, 2005, the IOC decided that baseball and softball would continue to be an “Olympic sport” in accordance with Article 46 of the Olympic Charter , but would not be played in London in 2012 . This made baseball and softball the first sports to be dropped from the program since 1936, when polo was dropped.

This decision was primarily intended to make room for new sports (including rugby , golf , karate and squash ), but none of these sports found the necessary majority. 2008 in Beijing , there was an Olympic baseball or softball tournament at the IOC session in 2009, the request for recovery has been in the program for the 2016 Summer Olympics rejected. On August 3, 2016, the IOC decided to reinstate baseball for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris will take place again without baseball.

Baseball world championship

The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) has been working with the MLB since 2003 to organize a real world championship for national teams based on the model of the soccer world championship, to which the best players from each country should really come. This should take place for the first time in 2006 or 2007 and then at least every four years, should last around two weeks and include national teams from all continents. In order not to have to interrupt league operations, it should take place in March in a region that is sufficiently warm at this time of the year. The first tournament was to be held in the USA, with stadiums that are either located in the southern part of the USA or are covered.

For financial and organizational reasons, however, one had to move away from a championship taking place in a single country. From March 3rd to 20th, 2006, the World Baseball Classic (hosted by the MLB) took place for the first time in Tokyo (Japan), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Orlando, Phoenix, Anaheim and San Diego (United States) which the team of Japan emerged victorious. The team from Japan also won the second edition of this event in 2009.

The third "World Baseball Classic" championship took place in March 2013.

European baseball championship

European championships in baseball have been held since 1954 and are organized by the European baseball umbrella organization CEB . In 2007 , the European Championship also served as the Olympic qualification for the European teams for Beijing 2008 . The last European Championship was held in Bonn and Solingen in 2019 . The Netherlands was able to defend their title. With two exceptions, all previous European championships have been won by the teams from the Netherlands and Italy.

Historical development

In England in 1744 a game under the name base ball , which probably developed from forerunners of cricket, is documented for the first time. The widespread thesis that it developed from the English game Rounders has now been refuted.

Baseball in the USA

The first documented club founded in the USA was the New York Knickerbockers in 1845. The first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (today's Cincinnati Reds ), was founded on June 1, 1869. In New York in 1876, the National League was founded by teams from Cincinnati, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Hartford, Louisville, New York and Philadelphia. In the first years of professional operation there were a number of other, short-lived leagues. In 1901 the American League was founded, initially as a competition. Both leagues are still considered the major leagues today . The greatest heroes of the Major Leagues are honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame , located in Cooperstown , New York State . The two leagues have been cooperating since 1903 and hold the World Series as the final every year .

Historical development in Germany

The oldest description of the game can be found in Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths from 1796. The first official baseball game on German soil took place at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin . At that time, the largest and so far not even close to record crowd of more than 90,000 spectators followed a demonstration game between two US teams in the Berlin Olympic Stadium .

A German baseball community developed in the 1950s, benefiting from the presence of US troops in Germany. In the years after 1968, baseball in Germany practically came to a standstill and only took place in one German-American league in which high school and army teams played. It wasn't until the early 1980s that the sport developed again. In 1982 a German championship was introduced again.

Between 1989 and 2005, the German national team did not succeed in establishing itself permanently in the European elite: it shuttled back and forth between the A and B pools several times. In 2005, however, the team reached fourth place at the European Championships and was thus able to qualify for a world championship (in 2007) for the first time in thirty years, where with a win against Thailand (2-0) they also won their first World Cup . In 2007 the 4th place at the EM could be repeated, whereby the renewed qualification for the World Cup (2009) was achieved. In 2010, they even took third place at the European Championships in their own country.

Development in Switzerland

Baseball has been played in Switzerland since 1980. In the summer of 1980, a group of like-minded people began to meet regularly for baseball on the Allmend in Zurich. The hammer thrower was trained on the facility, the net of which served as a backstop. A Dodge Challenger, a member's wheeled vehicle, gave the group the name Challengers. In November the Challengers met a group called the White Sox in Reussbühl LU for the first baseball game in Switzerland. However, the game had to be stopped prematurely. Not because of the onset of snowfall: the balls ran out.

On December 5, 1980, the Challengers Baseball Club, the first baseball club in Zurich , was officially founded. Its exponents were also involved in founding the Swiss Baseball and Softball Association (SBSV) the following year. The Challengers won the Swiss championship title on the occasion of the premiere of the national championship in 1982 .


As a supposedly genuinely American sport, baseball, which has also been associated with terms such as innocence and idyll, has also found its way into the work of numerous American writers, such as: As at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and the first half of the 20th century, Ring Lardner , Charles E. Van Loan , Gerald Beaumont or Damon Runyon (which also leaves as the Saturday Evening Post respective short stories written) or more recently Bernard Malamud , Robert Coover , John Grisham , Chad Harbach and Philip Roth . In some of these works, excesses such as bribery scandals or excessive star cults are also discussed.

In many baseball games, a seventh-inning stretch takes place in the middle of the seventh inning , during which the spectators can stretch for about ten minutes. Traditionally, the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game is sung here.

See also

Portal: Baseball  - Overview of Wikipedia content on baseball


  • Christian Posny, Sven Müncheberg: Baseball Rules Booklet - Revised 2007 . German Baseball and Softball Association V. (ed.). 6. revised Edition. Meyer & Meyer, Aachen 2008, ISBN 978-3-89899-365-4 .
  • Bernhard Schmeilzl, Bill Church: Baseball training . Meyer & Meyer, Aachen 1995, ISBN 3-89124-236-0 .
  • HA Dorfman, Karl Kuehl: The Mental Game of Baseball . Diamond Communications, South Bend IN, ISBN 0-912083-32-8 .
  • Jim Bouton: Ball Four . Macmillan Books, New York NY 1981, ISBN 0-02-030665-2 .
  • Georg Bull, Sven Huhnholz: Baseball . Hofmann, Schorndorf 2006, ISBN 3-7780-0231-7 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Baseball  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Commons : Baseball  collection of pictures, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. MLB sales
  2. ^ Baseball Almanac website, accessed September 1, 2010
  3. MLB simplifies Intentional Walk for the 2017 season
  4. ^ Thomas L. Altherr: Eros at the Bat. American Baseball and Sexuality in Historical Context . In: ders. (Ed.): The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture , 1998. Jefferson NC 2002, pp. 157-182, here: p. 160.
  5. ^ Website of the German Baseball and Softball Association
  6. ^ Website of the Austrian Baseball Federation
  7. ^ Website of the Swiss Baseball and Softball Association
  8. Survey on the most popular sport among Americans ( Memento from February 6, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  9. MLB sees fan growth across the board in 2019. Accessed July 12, 2020 .
  10. Maury Brown: From Terrible Teams To Rising Costs: Why MLB Attendance Is Down Over 7% Since 2015. Accessed July 12, 2020 .
  11. ^ Leonard Cassuto: Baseball and the Business of American Innocence., April 3, 2011.
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on February 6, 2006 .