It occurred to me while watching the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians with my grandchildren – their first World Series – that I wasn’t doing a very good job of explaining the game to them because we were all too busy watching the historical action while eating bad food and there was too much to learn in too short of a timespan.
I decided these kids needed to take a course called “Baseball 101” before their second World Series in a year and it was my duty, as a 70-year-old retired sportswriter, to author it for them.
Thus was born the idea of a kiddie book about baseball, a work in progress. In part 2 of this series we covered Chapter 3. Here, we jump into Chapter 4.
Chapter 4: Common Terms
Field of Play
Everything hit between the foul lines is “in play” and has to be fielded to get the batter out, one way or another. The easiest “out” is a soft pop-up to an infielder.
Any ball hit outside the foul lines, but not caught by anybody on the fly is a “Foul ball!” and just counts as a strike against the batter. You cannot strike out on a foul ball.
Hit by Pitch
If the batter is hit anywhere on his body by a pitch, he is awarded a free pass to first base, just like a walk.
Any ball hit in the air to any outfielder. If he catches it on the fly, “YER OUT!”
Any ball rolling on the ground to an infielder. If he scoops it up and throws it to first base before you get there, “YER OUT!”
A mini fly ball to an infielder. If he catches it, “YER OUT!”
When the batter tries to just tap the ball down the first or third baseline, then run really fast and beat the throw to first. Slow runners shouldn’t try to bunt.
When there are men on base and you hit a fly ball deep into the outfield, which allows the runners to “tag up” and advance to the next base. It’s called a sacrifice, because it means you gave up your at-bat for the good of the team. Advancing the runners makes managers very happy.
Between pitches if you run from one base to another without getting caught (tagged out) that’s called stealing a base. Only fast runners have a chance to pull this off.
Any hit after which you wind up on first base. This usually happens when a ball goes over the infielders heads, but falls to the ground in front of the outfielders. A good bunt also counts as a single.
If you wind up safe on second base after a hit, that’s a double and normally happens if you hit the ball hard and it rolls to the fence between outfielders.
If you wind up on third it’s a triple, but triples are really rare. You have to be very fast and the ball has to take a funny bounce, which can happen but not very often.
And, finally the best hit in baseball, which goes over the fence and out of the park. You can take your time circling the bases because the ball is long gone and you’re home free.
A home run with the bases loaded.