Baseball is America’s national pastime. Major League Baseball has a summer season, with 162 regular season games plus play-offs running from April to October, making it the longest of the major sports leagues in the country.
Baseball is a distant cousin of another bat and ball sport, cricket, but the game’s exact origins have long been the subject of debate. It’s generally believed to have its origins in old English folk games but the first published rules of baseball were written in 1845 for a New York City club called the Knickerbockers.
The pitcher stands 60ft, 6in (18.4 meters) from the batter and the batter score runs by running around bases after hitting the ball. A home run is scored when the batter is able to circle all the bases and reach home safely without any errors (a fielding fumble that allows the batsman to run an extra base) being committed by the defensive team. These days, a home run typically happens when the ball clears the outfield without touching the ground.
MLB is home to some of sport’s most iconic stadia (named ballparks), some of which are more than a century old. Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park, Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field (where you can also take in the game from adjacent rooftops) and the New York Yankees replaced the famous (Old) Yankee Stadium with the (New) Yankee Stadium in 2009. The Yankees, with their famous pinstripe uniforms, have won 27 World Series Championships, more than any other team. Also well worth a trip are Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park, Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field (with its retractable roof) and San Francisco Giants AT&T Park, with stunning views of the San Francisco Bay. Out of season, many of the historic ballparks offer guided tours.
Each team celebrates a home run in different (and highly entertaining) fashion: New York Mets’ home run apple rises up in the middle of the field, Houston Astros have a home run train, while Philadelphia Phillies boast a home run Liberty Bell. Equally, many stadiums have their own famous hot dogs (as much a part of the MLB as gloves and caps!), including the Fenway Frank in Boston and Dodger Dog in LA. There are plenty of other quirky MLB traditions - the Yankees’ Old Timers Day (where they pay tribute to former players), opening day at the St Louis Cardinals (horses on the field) and the Milwaukee Brewers, who host the a sausage mascots race at every home game. Every July, there’s also an All-Star Game, where the partaking players are selected by fans’ votes.
Come and get to know the USA through its national pastime.
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