Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of nine players each who take turns batting and fielding.
The offense attempts to score runs by hitting a ball thrown by the pitcher with a bat and moving counter-clockwise around a series of four bases: first, second, third, and home plate. A run is scored when a player advances around the bases and returns to home plate.
Players on the batting team take turns hitting against the pitcher of the fielding team, which tries to prevent runs by getting hitters out in any of several ways. A player on the batting team who reaches a base safely can later attempt to advance to subsequent bases during teammates' turns batting, such as on a hit or by other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn batting for both teams, beginning with the visiting team, constitutes an inning. A game comprises nine innings, and the team with the greater number of runs at the end of the game wins.
In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball teams are divided into the National League and American League, each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The major league champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. The top level of play is similarly split in Japan between the Central League and Pacific Leagues and in Cuba between the West League and East League.
Origins of baseball
The evolution of baseball from older bat-and-ball games is difficult to trace with precision. A French manuscript from 1344 contains an illustration of clerics playing a game, possibly la soule, with similarities to baseball. Other old French games such as thèque, la balle au bâton, and la balle empoisonnée also appear to be related. Consensus once held that today's baseball is a North American development from the older game rounders, popular in Great Britain and Ireland. Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the...