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...)
Curse of the Colonel (カーネルサンダースの呪い Kāneru Sandāsu no noroi) refers to an urban legend regarding a reputed curse placed on the Japanese Kansai-based Hanshin Tigers baseball team by deceased KFC founder and mascot Colonel Harland Sanders. The curse was said to be placed on the team because of the Colonel's anger over treatment of one of his store-front statues. The Hanshin Tigers are located in Kansai, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan. They are considered the eternal underdogs of Nippon Professional Baseball, in opposition to the Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo, who are considered the kings of Japanese baseball. The devoted fans flock to the stadium no matter how badly the Tigers play in the league. As is common with sports-related curses, the Curse of the Colonel is used to explain the Japan Championship Series drought that the Hanshin Tigers have had to endure since their first and only victory in the 1985 Japan Championship. The curse is said to have happened when Hanshin fans, excited over winning the 1985 championship series, tossed the statue of Colonel Sanders into the Dōtonbori River. Since then, fans have said they would never win another Japan Series until the statue was recovered. Comparisons are often made between the Hanshin Tigers and the Boston Red Sox, who were also said to be under a curse, the Curse of the Bambino, until they won the World Series in 2004. The "Curse of the Colonel" has also been used as a boogeyman threat to those who would divulge the secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices that makes the unique taste of KFC chicken.
John Joseph McGraw (April 7, 1873–February 25, 1934), nicknamed "Little Napoleon" and "Muggsy", was a Major League Baseball player and manager. His total of 2840 victories as a manager ranks overall second behind only that of Connie Mack; he still holds the National League record with 2669 wins in that circuit.
Morris "Moe" Berg (March 2, 1902 – May 29, 1972) was an American catcher and coach in Major League Baseball who later served as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Although he played 15 seasons in the major leagues, almost entirely for four American League teams, Berg was never more than an average player, usually used as a backup catcher, and was better known for being "the brainiest guy in baseball" than for anything he accomplished in the game. Casey Stengel once described Berg as "the strangest man ever to play baseball". A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, Berg spoke several languages and regularly read 10 newspapers a day. His reputation was fueled by his successful appearances as a contestant on the radio quiz show Information, Please! in which he answered questions about the derivation of words and names from Greek and Latin, historical events in Europe and the Far East, and ongoing international conferences. As a spy working for the government of the United States, Berg traveled to Yugoslavia to gather intelligence on resistance groups the U.S. government was considering supporting. He was then sent on a mission to Italy, where he interviewed various physicists concerning the German nuclear program. After the war, Berg was occasionally employed by the OSS's successor, the Central Intelligence Agency, but, by the mid-1950s, was unemployed. He spent the last two decades of his life without work, living with various siblings.
The Silver Slugger Award
is awarded annually to the best offensive
player at each position
in both the American League
(AL) and the National League
(NL), as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball
(MLB). These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average
, slugging percentage
, and on-base percentage
, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby
, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger
bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver
. Designated hitters
(DH) only receive a Silver Slugger Award in the American League because the batting order
in the National League includes the pitcher
; therefore, pitchers receive the National League award instead.
Three players are tied for the most Silver Slugger wins among designated hitters. Paul Molitor won the award four times with three different teams: the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987 and 1988; the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, when the team won the World Series; and the Minnesota Twins in 1996. Edgar Martínez won the award four times with the Seattle Mariners (1995, 1997, 2001, 2003), and David Ortiz won four consecutively from 2004 to 2007. Don Baylor won the Silver Slugger three times in four years (1983, 1985–1986) as a designated hitter with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and Frank Thomas won it twice with the Chicago White Sox (1991, 2000). Harold Baines won the award while playing for two separate teams in the same season; he was traded by the White Sox to the Texas Rangers in the middle of the 1989 season. Aubrey Huff is the most recent winner. Martínez set the records for the highest batting average and on-base percentage in a designated hitter's winning season with his .356 and .479 marks, respectively, in 1995. Manny Ramírez' slugging percentage of .647 is best among all winners at the position. Ortiz hit 54 home runs during the 2006 season, when he won his third consecutive award, and his 2005 total of 148 runs batted in is tied with Rafael Palmeiro's 1999 mark for best among designated hitters.