America's past-time. A game in which a player (the pitcher) attempts to throw a ball (which the game is named after) past another player (the batter). The batter tries to make contact with the ball using a bat. If he successfully hits the ball and it remains in fair territory (defined as anywhere inside the first and third base lines and in fron of the home plate) without being caught he may advance around the bases. Each base is separated by 90 feet. The bases are placed in a diamond shape (with relative directions noted), and the batter advances in a counter-clockwise fashion. From home (the south end of the diamond) to first(east), second(north), third(west), and back to home. If a runner advances back to home a run is scored.

If a hitter hits the ball, and it is caught or he is tagged by a player holding the ball, the batter is "out". Each team gets 3 outs per inning, and there are 9 innings. Teams alternate fielding and hitting in the same order each inning.

If a batter misses the ball (swinging) he has a strike. If he does not swing at a "good" pitch (one in the strike zone), it is a "called strike". When three strikes are reached the batter is out. If the batter does not swing and it is a "bad" pitch, a ball is called. After four balls, the batter gets to advance to first freely. He also may do so if hit by a pitch.

The first mention of baseball in print is in 1818, in Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey. This was published posthumously, and was her revision of a novel (originally called Susan) she had previously offered for publication in 1803, and which she had begun around 1798.

In chapter one the tomboyish heroine Catherine Morland is described like this:

"it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books"

I'm sorry, this is all I can add. I know nothing about Babe Ruth and the World Series, or even Alexander Cartwright and "the day baseball was born". But I'm sure someone out there does.

Baseball is one of, if not the most, popular sports in the United States today. This is probably because many people believe that this game was completely made and popularized in the US alone. For the most part, they are correct. However, we can trace a primitive baseball's routes back almost over 2000 years ago. So baseball is, in fact, not 100% American.

Some of the earliest developed cultures, such as the Greeks and the Egyptians, had games including a ball and bat, as baseball does. These early civilizations used these sports for recreation, and for special ceremonies. These games stayed popular and were even further spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. During this time many more variations of the sport were developed, as well. But Europeans mainly thought that these bat and ball games were just for children. After Europeans brought bat and ball games, most notably "cricket" and "rounders", to American colonies in the 1600s, this idea started to change. Already by the early 1800s many of the games Europeans brought to North America were becoming widely popular. These games were especially in the famous baseball cities of today, such as New York and Boston. The most popular stick and ball game there at the time was the British game of cricket, which is still popular in countries such as England, India, and parts of Africa. However, the sport that looked the most like modern baseball was called "rounders". In rounders, players must hit a ball with a bat and run bases like in baseball. The only main differences between this sport and modern day baseball are the foul lines, some rulings on "outs" and the fact that in rounders you were able to peg a runner with the ball for an out, like in kickball. Rounders was sometimes called "o' cat", "town ball", and "base ball". This is obviously the sports ancestor that bears the most resemblance to baseball.

So the new baseball was created, and it was extremely popular through out most of the United States and Canada. The only problem was that it lacked regulation. Everybody played by different rulings. Some people left in old elements of rounders or even cricket. There could be no organization in a game where there is no regulation. So, in 1845, a base ball club called the Knickerbockers met and came up with a basic "baseball government" frame. The Knickerbockers established the number and distance of bases, the placement of foul lines, and the practice of tagging instead of pegging. This game became an instant hit. And the following American Civil War was actually good for baseball. The new sport was spread all about our great country.

By that time, baseball was ready to be called America's national pastime. Still, many different cultures have a little bit of credit to claim for it.

A pernicious poker variant. Cards and betting are as in seven card stud. Can also be applied to seven-card no-peek. Rules can include:

Nines are wild.
Threes face down are wild. The first player to be dealt a three face up may pay some preset amount into the pot to make all face-up threes wild.
If a player is dealt a four, they may pay a preset amount to be dealt another card face down.
If a player is dealt a seven, they must fold. (This is insane, and probably a less common rule.)

Baseball is evil, because with so many wilds, unless you play a lot of baseball, it's easy to overestimate the value of your hand, especially when you're a little drunk tired. You think your straight flush is pretty hot, but you're not really paying attention to how much money you're putting in the pot, and then all of a sudden your friend is brandishing five queens and raking in the chips, and you realise that it's after two, and you have considerably less money than you started with.

'Well, how-de-do-de, Frank' burbled the announcer over the PA, his drool-spattered fingers sliding over the keys of the stadium's Hammond organ so loudly my teeth shattered and my tibia cracked. 'Can ya hear me, Washington? Cuz I can't hear you!' He slapped on a Los Del Rio record and blathered into the mic - the crowd roared their approbation. When the Macarena ended, the announcer howled over some Barbara Streisland while men in giant chicken suits made small children cry as they gyrated their fowl hips out of time to the music. Halfway through the game, some men rode round the diamond in a dune buggy, using rocket launchers to fire clothing into the crowd, which brayed its approval.


Twice during the game we all had to stand up to sing a song while the Village People did their thing on the PA. The guys in front of me were so drunk that they were dribbling on themselves and it felt like the world was ending. The Mets closed the eleventh 3-2 and the locals went home disappointed. It had all started so innocently.

I went to a baseball game the other day. My host and employer half-cultivates half-really has an enormous boyish enthusiasm for the sport. As we sat down with a hotdog and a drink each, he explained the rules of the game to me.

'So you see it's very simple. Each team takes turns in running - if you get to a third service over par, you'd better hope for a revealed check because without away goals, you'll be buggered and following on to boot. So instead to keep pole position just double down on the flop, take no short corners, and whatever you do, keep on running. Apart from that, you'll get a flyout or a groundout if you don't walk, so it's a simple matter of finding your runners in nib below the line, and converting your penalties - for a home run!'

He beamed. Later on, we stood up and everybody threw peanuts.

Base"ball" (?), n.


A game of ball, so called from the bases or bounds ( four in number) which designate the circuit which each player must endeavor to make after striking the ball.


The ball used in this game.


© Webster 1913.

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