Baseball is the most popular spectator sport in the United States of America, and it is slowly finding popularity in many countries across the world as well. The game has become something of a religion for many suburban American families. Its popularity is unmatched, and it is a great choice of profession for aspiring sportsmen as well.
Baseball is a bat and ball game (similar to English Cricket), and was, according to some sources, developed in England in the 18th century. History documents that immigrants brought the game to the United States and shaped baseball into the modern sport that it has become. The fundamental rules have remained the same through the centuries, but the gameplay has changed since the time that it was first played.
There are nine baseball players in each team, with one of these players being the starting pitcher. As is common in all bat and ball games, one team bats and the other pitches and fields. The pitching side has all nine players out on the field, while the batting side can have any number of players ranging from one to four, at a given moment. One from the pitching team's players is the catcher, and crouches behind the batter, in order to catch a pitched ball that the batter may miss.
The game derives its name from the four bases. These are four spots that are in a diamond shape. The pitcher's mound is at the center of this diamond, and the batter stands at the home plate. Going in a counter clockwise direction, you have the first base, the second base, and the third base. At a 45 degrees angle on either side of the batter are the foul lines. The area on the inside of these foul lines (where all the players are) is known as fair territory, the remaining portion is foul territory. The area that is enclosed within the bases and a few yards beyond in the fair territory is the infield, while the remaining portion is the outfield.
Rules have defined the primary objective of the game as simply outscoring your opponents. Each team takes turns to pitch and bat, and at the end of the game the team that scores more is the winner. When both teams have batted once (that is, till all their players are out), it is known as an inning. There are a total of nine innings per game. That means each team gets to bat a total of nine times. The pitching team tries to get all the batters out by either striking them out (strikeout), by catching a ball before it touches the ground (flyout), by touching a base before the runner gets there (groundout), or by touching a runner with the ball before he reaches a base (tagout).
A team gains one run when a batter has covered all four bases. This means he starts running from the home base, to the first base, to the second base, then the third base, and when he finally reaches home base again, it counts as one run. Therefore, as mentioned before, at one point in time there can be four members of the batting team on the pitch, each of them covering one base. Once a batter completes a run, his part in the innings is over.
This is a hit that crosses the boundary of the field without touching the ground. People teaching baseball to rookies always talk about the home run, as it is the best shot that a batter can hit. What it invariably means is that all the batting team members who are on the bases are allowed to reach the home plate unobstructed. Thus by hitting a home run, a batter can score 4 runs for his team in a best case scenario, and if he is the lone hitter on the field, he can get at least one run out of the home run.
There are many more basic rules that you should learn as well before you start playing the game. This information was just to get you started, the rest is simply in your hands.