A Kid's Guide to Baseball History

Baseball is a game of myth and tradition. One of the biggest myths is that a man named Abner Doubleday invented the game in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York. The story makes sense: After all, the National Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown! But that's because the people who ran in the town in the 1930s understood the power of a good story and used it as a reason why their town should be the hometown of baseball.

Baseball's History 

America's pastime is based on two games from England, cricket and rounders. By the time of the American Revolution, both games were played across the American colonies and were quite popular. Early versions of baseball were being played in the new country by the late 1700s. The New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club was established in 1845, and a member of the club, Alexander Joy Cartwright, wrote the basis of the rules of baseball that continue to be followed today. The National League was established in 1876 and was known as the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. The American League was formed in 1900. The two leagues merged in 1903, which was also the year of the first World Series. The first decades of the 20th century were a time of great growth for the game. Baseball was considered so important to national morale that during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt wanted the game to continue, even though the country was at war and many of the players had joined the military effort. Women stepped in to help keep the sport going, playing in their own professional league. After the war, baseball started moving across the country. The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants both moved to California. The Boston Braves first left for Milwaukee before becoming the first team in the Southeast when they made their home in Atlanta. Today, baseball is played around the globe, and Major League Baseball has fans across the country,

Rules of the Game 

The team that scores more runs wins. To score a run, you must hit the ball so that the other team can't catch it and then run around all of the bases, either all at once or one at a time, without being tagged with the ball. Baseball takes place over nine innings, and in each inning, both teams get a turn at bat. The visiting team always bats first. Each team fields nine players. The team at bat faces nine position players from the opposing team: the pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, and three players in the outfield. Pitchers want to get batters out without giving up runs. They can do this by throwing three strikes (balls that the hitter fails to hit) or if the batter hits the ball and one of the position players catches it and tags the batter out as the batter runs the bases. Batters can hit the ball or draw a walk, which lets them go to first base automatically. A walk occurs when the pitcher throws three balls, pitches that are thrown outside of where the hitter should be able to hit them. The home base umpire, who stands behind the catcher, calls balls and strikes.

The Difference Between Softball and Baseball 

There are many key differences between softball and baseball. An important one is the size of the playing field. Softball is played on a much smaller field. Also, softball fields don't have infield grass. Baseball fields, especially at the college and professional levels, do have infield grass. The pitcher's mound is another important difference. Softball pitchers throw underhand and stand on a flat pitcher's mound. Baseball pitchers throw overhand from a mound built up off the ground. The balls used in each game are also different. Baseballs weigh about five ounces and measure nine inches in circumference. Softballs weigh around seven ounces and measure 12 inches around.

Hall of Fame Players 

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has inducted 269 former Major League Baseball players as well as 22 managers and ten umpires. David Ortiz, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, and Gil Hodges were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2022. The first Hall of Famers were the class of 1936, which included Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson.