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How to Play Baseball

The sport that gives the most fun to the most people is baseball. It is played by millions of youngsters on sand-lots all over the country. A similar game, softball, is played by many people, even after they are old. And young or old, everybody likes to watch baseball

Baseball is fun for everyone, but to play it, you must first be able to do three things: Throw – Catch – Hit

Throwing

A baseball player should be able to throw accurately, throw quickly, and throw far. The first thing, though, is to know how to hold the ball.

A baseball is held with only three fingers. The thumb goes on the bottom, and the index and middle fingers are on top, spread slightly apart so that they go along the seams.

Throwing is mostly a mat-ter of keeping at it until you develop good muscles and timing. Muscles have to grow, but you can speed timing along by yourself. One thing you should keep in mind is that you throw with your whole body, not with your arm alone.

Stand with your feet to-gether, hold the ball up high, and flip it just by snapping your wrist. Now, with feet still to-gether and not moving, throw it by using your whole arm. The ball went farther this time.

But now try the same thing, only this time snapping your wrist as you throw with your arm while also stepping forward. The combination of using your body, arm, and wrist made the ball go farther than ever. Now all you have to do is to find the best way to do all these things together.
This is easy if you can remember one word . .. Constantinople …

In baseball, though, it is much more important to throw accurately than to throw far or throw quickly.

How can you throw more accurately?

One way is to always throw at a specific target. In-stead of just throwing “toward” a friend, aim for a spot. Try to hit his right shoulder, or his belt buckle, or his left knee. If you try this all the time, you’ll soon be able to come close to any target you want to throw at most of the time.

Catching

Everybody who has tried to catch a ball knows that most of the time you miss in the beginning. But like anything else, the more you keep trying, the easier it becomes until you hardly miss at all.

In baseball, there are three different types of gloves to help you catch. One looks like a scoop shovel. It is used by the first baseman to scoop up balls thrown into the dirt…

…sometimes it is used to snag balls thrown high over your head.
The first baseman often has to catch with his one gloved hand, so the scoop glove is shaped like an enormous mitten to trap the ball. Your fingers go into this glove only far enough to make the trap snap shut.

Besides helping you catch the ball, it leaves you in position to throw the ball quickly to someone else.

How do you catch a ball hit high into the air, or one that comes racing across the ground?
You should try to get under a ball hit up into the air (called a fly ball) so that you can catch it by reach-ing up over your head. That way, if it starts to drop out of your hands, you might be able to re-trieve the ball before it hits the ground.

A ball hit along the ground (called a grounder) is some-times difficult to catch because it might be skipping crazily, or it might hit a pebble and bounce sky-high at the last moment. Did a grounder ever roll right between your legs? Didn’t you feel foolish?

When you become good, you will learn extra things, such as how to hold your glove to shield your eyes from the sun when catching a fly ball. But one final thing you should know right now is how to hold your hands. Always keep them open so that your palms, and not your finger tips, are facing the ball.

Hitting

Most boys like to hit more than catch or throw. But hitting is not quite so simple as it might seem. As in throwing, timing is very important, and it is something that is learned by constant practice.

Of course, you must know the right way to hold a bat. Make a fist with each hand. Now hold your fists together so that eight fingers all line up in a row.
Remembering that position, pick up a bat and grasp it with your hands the same way. This is the proper way to hold a bat. Be sure, though, that you don’t hold it right down at the very end. Choke up a little so that some of the wood is showing below your hands and you are able to move the whole bat comfortably with just your wrists.

The most important thing to know about hitting is to

Keep your eye on the ball

Does that sound funny? It shouldn’t because how else can you hit a ball if you don’t keep your eye on it? Yet the reason most people miss is that they swing so hard that at the last minute—just when the bat is about to hit the ball—not only their eyes, but their head turns away. So one of the best ways to learn to hit is by first learning to bunt.

Hoe to Bunt

Bunting is simply a matter of tapping the ball lightly so that it dribbles out in front of the batter and on to the playing field. Some-times a batter is called upon to bunt so that another base runner can advance while the fielders are kept busy going after the ball and getting the batter out at first base. To bunt properly, the batter waits until the pitcher is about to deliver the ball. Then he swings his back foot around so that his body is facing the pitcher, moves his top hand up to give him greater control of the bat, and tries to hold the bat so that it will be in posi-tion to just meet the ball. Since bunting is important, you should practice this often.

Let’s look at the field

Now you know the basic skills of baseball—how to throw, catch, and hit. The next thing you must know is how to play the game itself. First, let’s take a look at the playing field. Notice that it resembles a diamond. In each of its four cor-ners is a base. The base at the bottom of the diamond is called “home plate.” That’s where the batter stands.

First base is at the right corner of the diamond. Sec-ond base is at the far corner opposite home plate. Third base is at the left corner. The area beyond the diamond is called the outfield. The batter must try to get from home to first, second, third, and back home without being put “out” If he does that, he scores a “run.” Each team has nine players, and each team gets nine chances to bat. After three batters of one team are put “out,” the teams change sides—one going to the field while the other hits. A time at bat and a time in the field completes an “inning.” There are nine innings in a game. So you see, a team comes up to bat nine times, and each time it is allowed three outs. After each team has taken its nine turns at bat, the one with the most runs wins. If both teams have scored the same number of runs, they each take an-other turn until one team wins by scoring more runs than the other.

Where the team plays?

The team at bat plays a simple position. Each batter hits in his own turn and runs the bases in progression from first to second to third and home. But what about the team in the field? The first baseman plays behind the base, a little to-wards second. The second baseman plays between first and second. The shortstop plays between second and third. The third baseman plays behind third and a little towards second.

The right fielder is normally stationed between first and second and deep enough to catch long fly balls. The left fielder takes a similar position between sec-ond and third. The center fielder is positioned deep in the outfield directly behind second base. The catcher, of course, is at home plate, directly be-hind the batter. Now notice the round area near the center of the diamond. That’s where the pitcher stands. When the pitcher throws to his catcher, the batter must try to hit the ball and get to first base safely without being put “out” But now what is all this about an “out”? When is a batter “out” and when is he “safe”?

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