Discover the Basic and Not-So-Basic of Baseball Rules and Impress Your Friends with Your Knowledge of the Game!
*NEW 2023 RULE CHANGES Updates at Bottom of Story
Baseball is a sport that’s been around for over a century and has become an American cultural icon. While most fans know the basics of the game, such as hitting a home run or catching a pop fly, several lesser-known rules can add some humor and surprise to the game.
This list will explore some of baseball rules you may have never heard of, from balks to dropped third strikes. Get ready to learn some hilarious rules that will impress your friends and add to your enjoyment of America’s favorite pastime!
Here is a list of the basic rules and their explanations for novice fans:
- The Field: Baseball is played on a diamond-shaped field with four bases (first, second, third, and home plate) arranged in a square. The area is divided into two parts: the infield and the outfield.
- The Teams: Each team consists of nine players. The defensive team (fielders) consists of a pitcher, a catcher, four infielders, and three outfielders. The offensive team (batters) sends one batter at a time to the plate to hit the ball.
- The Objective: The game’s objective is to score more runs than the other team by hitting the ball and running around the bases without being tagged out by a fielder.
- The Pitch: The pitcher throws the ball to the catcher, positioned behind home plate. The pitcher must throw the ball overhand and within a designated strike zone.
- The Batting: The batter attempts to hit the ball thrown by the pitcher and make it into the field of play. If the ball is hit, the batter runs to first base, while other runners on base may advance to the next base.
- The Scoring: A run is scored when a player crosses home plate before the defensive team can tag him out. A home run is when a batter hits the ball out of the field of play and over the fence, automatically scoring a run.
- Outs: An out is recorded when a defensive player tags a runner with the ball, catches a ball hit by a batter before it touches the ground, or throws it to a base before the runner can get there. Three outs are recorded per inning, and both teams switch between offense and defense.
- Innings: A game consists of nine innings, with each team taking a turn at bat and on defense. If the game is tied after nine innings, extra innings are played until a winner is determined.
- Substitutions: Each team can substitute to replace players on offense or defense during the game.
- Fair and Foul Balls: A ball hit within the playing field is a fair ball, while a ball hit outside the playing field is a foul ball. A foul ball is considered a strike but cannot be caught for an out unless it is hit high enough for a fielder to catch it within the playing field/
- Balk: A balk is a violation committed by a pitcher when he makes an illegal movement or action with the ball while on the pitcher’s mound, causing a baserunner to advance to the next base.
- Infield Fly Rule: The infield fly rule is in effect when there are runners on first and second base or first, second, and third bases with fewer than two outs. The rule is intended to prevent the defense from intentionally dropping a pop-up to create a double or triple play.
- Stealing Bases: Runners can try to steal a base at any time before or after the pitch is thrown. However, if the pitcher catches the runner off guard and throws the ball to the base before the runner arrives, the runner is out.
- Dropped Third Strike: If the catcher drops the ball on a third strike, the batter can attempt to reach first base if there are fewer than two outs.
- Designated Hitter: A designated hitter (DH) can be used instead of the pitcher in the batting order in American League games. The DH does not play a defensive position and is only used as a batter.
- Replay Review: In some cases, umpires may use instant replay to review calls made on the field to ensure that the correct call was made.
Did you know?
The distance between bases (90 feet) was established in the late 1800s and has remained the same. This distance was determined based on the average stride length of the fastest players of that era and has since become a standard measurement in the game.
Some ballparks have unique quirks that can affect the game, such as the Green Monster at Fenway Park or the ivy-covered walls at Wrigley Field. Baseball is the only major North American sport without a clock, meaning games can continue indefinitely until a winner is determined.
A little history:
Baseball has a long and fascinating history, dating back to the mid-19th century in the United States. The origins of baseball can be traced back to various bat-and-ball games played in England and North America in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The modern baseball game began to take shape in the 1840s and 1850s, with the establishment of formal rules and the development of the first professional teams.
In the late 1800s, baseball became known as “America’s pastime,”–the sport experienced a surge in popularity throughout the country. The first professional baseball league, the National League, was established in 1876, and several other leagues followed in the following decades.
Baseball also played a significant role in the integration of American society. In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American player to join a major league team, breaking the color barrier in professional baseball. Other players soon followed, and baseball became one of the first American institutions to integrate.
Baseball remains a beloved sport in the United States and worldwide, with millions of fans watching games yearly. The sport has evolved with changes to rules, equipment, and gameplay, but its core values of teamwork, strategy, and fair play continue to make it a timeless classic.
Baseball and Apple Pie whhhuuuh?
The phrase “as American as baseball and apple pie” is a common saying in the United States, but the origin of this connection is not entirely clear. One theory is that baseball and apple pie gained popularity in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s and were seen as symbols of American culture and values.
Another theory is that the phrase may have been popularized during World War II when soldiers and other Americans were encouraged to support the war effort by embracing traditional American values and culture.
Baseball and apple pie were two popular examples of these values, and the phrase may have been used to promote them as symbols of American identity.
Regardless of its origins, the connection between baseball and apple pie has endured as a cultural touchstone in the United States. Both are seen as quintessentially American and are celebrated as part of the nation’s heritage and identity.
*NEW 2023 RULES:
1) PITCH TIMER
• 15 seconds with bases empty; 20 seconds with runners on
• Hitter gets 1 timeout per plate appearance; must be in batter’s box with 8 seconds left
• Pitchers get two disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per batter; violations are a balk
• Limits on pickoff attempts led to 26% increase in stolen base attempts in Minors
• Pitch timer helped reduce game length by 25 minutes in Minors in ‘22
2) SHIFT RESTRICTIONS
• Two infielders must be positioned on either side of 2B when pitch is released
• All four infielders must have both feet within the infield when pitcher is on rubber
• Shift restrictions increased batting average and decreased strikeouts in Minors while giving players more opportunity to show off their athleticism
3) BIGGER BASES
• 1B, 2B and 3B increased from 15” square to 18” square
• Bigger bases expected to have positive impact on player safety
• Distance reduced by 3″ from home to 1st and home to 3rd, reduced by 4.5″ from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd• Bigger bases reduced injury events near the bases by more than 13% in the Minors in 2022