Baseball, "America's favorite pastime," is one of the most popular sports for kids of all ages. Boys play it in their backyards, families play it at picnics and kids line up to join organized leagues in their communities. Even the littlest toddlers love to try to hit the ball and run the bases. The basics of the game are simple to learn, so brush up on the rules so your youngest Babe Ruth can have his turn.
1. The Basics
Baseball is played by two teams and each team has nine players. One team is in the field while the other team hits the ball with the bat. The pitcher throws a ball to a batter standing on home plate, and the batter tries to hit the ball. When a batter hits the ball, he tries to run to first, then second, then to third base and then to run to home plate. If he makes it all the way back to home plate, his team gets a point. The fielding team catches the balls and tries to tag the running batter before he gets to a base.
2. What You Need
All you need to play a game of backyard baseball are a bat, a baseball, a couple of gloves for catching the ball, and something to mark the four bases. These bases are home plate, first base, second base and third base. When little ones are playing, it's best to start with a big plastic bat and a plastic ball -- save the heavy bats and balls for later. You might want to consider a T-stand for the ball to sit on so the youngest batters can hit it -- hitting a thrown ball is hard work!
3. About Batting
Each player takes turns going up to home plate to try to hit the baseball thrown that the pitcher has thrown. If you're hitting the ball off of a T-stand, the same rule applies. If the batter swings and misses, it's called a strike. When a batter gets three strikes, his turn to bat is over and the next player gets a turn. Since there will be a lot of strikes when you're first starting out, you might want to just ignore that rule until the kiddos get the hang of it. If the batter hits the ball, he gets to run to first base. If one of the players on the field team catches the ball and can tag the runner before he gets to the base, he's out and his turn is over. If he makes it to the base without being tagged, then the next batter comes up for a turn. If he also makes a hit, then the runner on first base has to run to second base, then third base and then home, as fast as he can without being tagged. If he makes it to home plate, his team gets a point.
4. Taking Turns
When the field team gets three batters tagged out, the teams switch places and the field team gets a chance to bat while the batters get to play the field. When that team gets three outs, the teams switch places again. The teams keep switching places until each team has had a chance to bat at least five times, or until they get too tired to play anymore, whichever comes first. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins!
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