Jul 112010

Many of my ESL students have come from the Dominican Republic. They understand baseball! Baseball and the Dominican Republic go hand in hand! Baseball is also very popular in Japan so my Japanese students also understand and love baseball.

Many other international students, however, have no idea what’s going on in the game of baseball, which is so popular in the United States. Baseball is not popular in Europe, Russia, or the Middle East.  That sounds odd to an American, especially after many Americans complain about how slow baseball is! How could the game of baseball be so confusing when it goes so slowly? I guess when you grow up with a sport, like I did, its seem so easy!

So here’s my attempt to explain baseball, to the person who has no idea what’s going on. In fact,  baseball is so complicated that it will take more than one post.  So I’ll begin:

First, baseball is a team sport. There are two teams.   The teams are the “home” team and the “away” team. The team that is the “away” team bats* first.

The game is organized into “innings“. The basic game consists of nine complete innings. If the game is tied** after nine innings, the game goes into “extra innings” until one team wins.  The longest game in baseball occurred in 1920; it was 25 innings long!

Each inning lasts until there are three “outs” on the part of the team that is “at bat“.  There are many ways to score an “out”.

Let’s talk about the baseball field.  There are four bases:  home plate, first base, second base, and third base. Because the bases are arranged in the shape of a diamond, we use the term “baseball diamond” to refer to these four bases.

Also located in the infield is the pitcher’s mound.

Finally, the field is divided into “infield” and “outfield“.  The “infielders” are the following players: The pitcher, the catcher, the first baseman, the second baseman, the shortstop, and the third baseman. The “outfielders” are the right fielder, the center fielder, and the left fielder. That adds up to nine players on the defensive team who may be on the field at any one time.

The equipment used in the game is the following: the bat, the fielders’ gloves, the four bases. There are also batting helmets , knee and ankle protectors, and the catcher’s and umpire’s protective equipment such as the face mask and chest protector, because the ball is traveling so very quickly and could do some serious damage.  You might include sunglasses, batting gloves, and suntan lotion in this category, as the sun is a big factor in this game when played in the daytime.

Do you have that so far?

In part 2, we will discuss the rules of baseball.

As usual, we would love to hear your feedback and comments.

* from the verb, (to) bat
**from the verb (to) tie/ passive form: (to) be tied