is a bat-and-ball
sport played between two teams of nine players each. The goal is to score runs
by hitting a thrown ball
with a bat
and touching a series of four bases
arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square, or diamond. Players on one team (the batting team
) take turns hitting against the pitcher
of the other team (the fielding team
), which tries to stop them from scoring runs by getting hitters out
in any of several ways. A player on the batting team can stop at any of the bases and later advance via a teammate's hit
or other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn at bat - 3 outs - for each team constitutes an inning
; nine innings make up a professional game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-eighteenth century. This game and the related rounders were brought by British and Irish immigrants to North America, where the modern version of baseball developed. By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball on the professional, amateur, and youth levels is now popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia. The game is sometimes referred to as hardball, in contrast to the derivative game of softball.
In North America, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL). Each league has three divisions: East, West, and Central. Every year, the champion of Major League Baseball is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. Five teams make the playoffs from each league: the three regular season division winners, plus two wild card teams. Baseball is the leading team sport in both Japan and Cuba, and the top level of play is similarly split between two leagues: Japan's Central League and Pacific League; Cuba's West League and East League. In the National and Central leagues, the pitcher is required to bat, per the traditional rules. In the American, Pacific, and both Cuban leagues, there is a tenth player, a designated hitter, who bats for the pitcher. Each top-level team has a farm system of one or more minor league teams. These teams allow younger players to develop as they gain on-field experience against opponents with similar levels of skill. (more...)
James Rodney Richard (born March 7, 1950) is a former right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played his entire career, from 1971 to 1980, with the Houston Astros. After leaving high school, Richard was selected by the Astros as the second pick in the first round of the 1969 amateur draft. From the time he made his major league debut with the Astros in 1971 until 1975, Richard had a limited role as an Astros pitcher, throwing no more than 72 innings in a season. In 1975, Richard played his first full season in the majors as a starting pitcher. From 1976 to 1980, he was one of the premier pitchers in the majors, twice leading the National League twice in strikeouts, once in earned run average, and three times in hits allowed per nine innings, winning at least 18 games each year. Richard could throw a fastball over 100 mph and has the fastest recorded slider in the books at 98 mph. On July 30, 1980, Richard suffered a stroke and collapsed while playing a game of catch before an Astros game, and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to remove a life-threatening blood clot in his neck. His condition brought a sudden end to his major league career at the age of 30. His 313 strikeouts in 1979 remain an Astros franchise record, and he held the team's record for career strikeouts (1,493) until 1987. In 1981, Richard attempted a comeback with the Astros, but this failed because the stroke had slowed down his reaction time and weakened his depth perception. He spent the next few seasons in the minor leagues before being released by the Astros in 1984. After his professional baseball career ended, Richard became involved in unsuccessful business deals and went through two divorces, which led to him being homeless and destitute in 1994. Richard found succor in a local church and later became a Christian minister.
The Hank Aaron Award
is given annually to the Major League Baseball
(MLB) players selected as the top hitter in each league, as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media. It was introduced in 1999 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron
's surpassing of Babe Ruth
's career home run
mark of 714 home runs. The award was the first major award to be introduced by Major League Baseball in more than 25 years. For the 1999 season, a winner was selected using an objective points system. Hits, home runs
, and runs batted in
(RBI) were given certain point values and the winner was the player who had the highest tabulated points total. In 2000, the system was changed to a ballot in which each MLB team's radio and television play-by-play broadcasters and color analysts voted for three players in each league. Their first place vote receives five points, the second place vote receives three points, and the third place vote receives one point. Beginning in 2003, fans were given the opportunity to vote via MLB's official website, MLB.com
. Fans' votes account for 30% of the points, while broadcasters' and analysts' votes account for the other 70%. The first winners of the award were Manny Ramirez
and Sammy Sosa
in 1999, while the most recent winners are Kevin Youkilis
and Aramis Ramirez
. Alex Rodriguez
has won the award four times, the most of any player. Barry Bonds
has won the award three times, the second-most of any player. The winner with the most hits is Todd Helton
, who won as a Colorado Rockie
in 2000. The winner with the most home runs is Barry Bonds from 2001, and Manny Ramírez in 1999 has the most RBIs.