Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team (batting team) are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team (fielding team) is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate (the place where the player started as a batter). The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.
The first objective of the batting team is to have a player reach first base safely. A player on the batting team who reaches first base without being called "out" can attempt to advance to subsequent bases as a runner, either immediately or during teammates' turns batting. The fielding team tries to prevent runs by getting batters or runners "out", which forces them out of the field of play. Both the pitcher and fielders have methods of getting the batting team's players out. The opposing teams switch back and forth between batting and fielding; the batting team's turn to bat is over once the fielding team records three outs. One turn batting for each team constitutes an inning. A game is usually composed of nine innings, and the team with the greater number of runs at the end of the game wins. If scores are tied at the end of nine innings, extra innings are usually played. Baseball has no game clock, although most games end in the ninth inning.
Baseball evolved from older bat-and-ball games already being played in England by the mid-18th century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly in Japan and South Korea.
In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The MLB champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. The top level of play is similarly split in Japan between the Central and Pacific Leagues and in Cuba between the West League and East League. The World Baseball Classic, organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, is the major international competition of the sport and attracts the top national teams from around the world.
|Highest governing body||World Baseball Softball Confederation|
|First played||18th-century England|
|Mixed gender||Yes, separate competitions|
|Type||Team sport, bat-and-ball|
|Glossary||Glossary of baseball|
|Country or region||Worldwide (most prominent in the Americas and East Asia)|
|Olympic||Demonstration sport: 1912, 1936, 1952, 1956, 1964, 1984 and 1988|
Medal sport: 1992–2008, 2020–
A baseball game is played between two teams, each composed of nine players, that take turns playing offense (batting and baserunning) and defense (pitching and fielding). A pair of turns, one at bat and one in the field, by each team constitutes an inning. A game consists of nine innings (seven innings at the high school level and in doubleheaders in college and minor leagues, and six innings at the Little League level). One team—customarily the visiting team—bats in the top, or first half, of every inning. The other team—customarily the home team—bats in the bottom, or second half, of every inning. The goal of the game is to score more points (runs) than the other team. The players on the team at bat attempt to score runs by circling or completing a tour of the four bases set at the corners of the square-shaped baseball diamond. A player bats at home plate and must proceed counterclockwise to first base, second base, third base, and back home to score a run. The team in the field attempts to prevent runs from scoring and record outs, which remove opposing players from offensive action until their turn in their team's batting order comes up again. When three outs are recorded, the teams switch roles for the next half-inning. If the score of the game is tied after nine innings, extra innings are played to resolve the contest. Many amateur games, particularly unorganized ones, involve different numbers of players and innings.
The game is played on a field whose primary boundaries, the foul lines, extend forward from home plate at 45-degree angles. The 90-degree area within the foul lines is referred to as fair territory; the 270-degree area outside them is foul territory. The part of the field enclosed by the bases and several yards beyond them is the infield; the area farther beyond the infield is the outfield. In the middle of the infield is a raised pitcher's mound, with a rectangular rubber plate (the rubber) at its center. The outer boundary of the outfield is typically demarcated by a raised fence, which may be of any material and height. The fair territory between home plate and the outfield boundary is baseball's field of play, though significant events can take place in foul territory, as well.
At the beginning of each half-inning, the nine players on the fielding team arrange themselves around the field. One of them, the pitcher, stands on the pitcher's mound. The pitcher begins the pitching delivery with one foot on the rubber, pushing off it to gain velocity when throwing toward home plate. Another player, the catcher, squats on the far side of home plate, facing the pitcher. The rest of the team faces home plate, typically arranged as four infielders—who set up along or within a few yards outside the imaginary lines (basepaths) between first, second, and third base—and three outfielders. In the standard arrangement, there is a first baseman positioned several steps to the left of first base, a second baseman to the right of second base, a shortstop to the left of second base, and a third baseman to the right of third base. The basic outfield positions are left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder. With the exception of the catcher, all fielders are required to be in fair territory when the pitch is delivered. A neutral umpire sets up behind the catcher. Other umpires will be distributed around the field as well.
Play starts with a batter standing at home plate, holding a bat. The batter waits for the pitcher to throw a pitch (the ball) toward home plate, and attempts to hit the ball with the bat. The catcher catches pitches that the batter does not hit—as a result of either electing not to swing or failing to connect—and returns them to the pitcher. A batter who hits the ball into the field of play must drop the bat and begin running toward first base, at which point the player is referred to as a runner (or, until the play is over, a batter-runner). A batter-runner who reaches first base without being put out is said to be safe and is on base. A batter-runner may choose to remain at first base or attempt to advance to second base or even beyond—however far the player believes can be reached safely. A player who reaches base despite proper play by the fielders has recorded a hit. A player who reaches first base safely on a hit is credited with a single. If a player makes it to second base safely as a direct result of a hit, it is a double; third base, a triple. If the ball is hit in the air within the foul lines over the entire outfield (and outfield fence, if there is one), or otherwise safely circles all the bases, it is a home run: the batter and any runners on base may all freely circle the bases, each scoring a run. This is the most desirable result for the batter. A player who reaches base due to a fielding mistake is not credited with a hit—instead, the responsible fielder is charged with an error.
Any runners already on base may attempt to advance on batted balls that land, or contact the ground, in fair territory, before or after the ball lands. A runner on first base must attempt to advance if a ball lands in play. If a ball hit into play rolls foul before passing through the infield, it becomes dead and any runners must return to the base they occupied when the play began. If the ball is hit in the air and caught before it lands, the batter has flied out and any runners on base may attempt to advance only if they tag up (contact the base they occupied when the play began, as or after the ball is caught). Runners may also attempt to advance to the next base while the pitcher is in the process of delivering the ball to home plate; a successful effort is a stolen base.
A pitch that is not hit into the field of play is called either a strike or a ball. A batter against whom three strikes are recorded strikes out. A batter against whom four balls are recorded is awarded a base on balls or walk, a free advance to first base. (A batter may also freely advance to first base if the batter's body or uniform is struck by a pitch outside the strike zone, provided the batter does not swing and attempts to avoid being hit.) Crucial to determining balls and strikes is the umpire's judgment as to whether a pitch has passed through the strike zone, a conceptual area above home plate extending from the midpoint between the batter's shoulders and belt down to the hollow of the knee.
While the team at bat is trying to score runs, the team in the field is attempting to record outs. In addition to the strikeout, common ways a member of the batting team may be put out include the flyout, ground out, force out, and tag out. It is possible to record two outs in the course of the same play. This is called a double play. Three outs in one play, a triple play, is possible, though rare. Players put out or retired must leave the field, returning to their team's dugout or bench. A runner may be stranded on base when a third out is recorded against another player on the team. Stranded runners do not benefit the team in its next turn at bat as every half-inning begins with the bases empty.
An individual player's turn batting or plate appearance is complete when the player reaches base, hits a home run, makes an out, or hits a ball that results in the team's third out, even if it is recorded against a teammate. On rare occasions, a batter may be at the plate when, without the batter's hitting the ball, a third out is recorded against a teammate—for instance, a runner getting caught stealing (tagged out attempting to steal a base). A batter with this sort of incomplete plate appearance starts off the team's next turn batting; any balls or strikes recorded against the batter the previous inning are erased. A runner may circle the bases only once per plate appearance and thus can score at most a single run per batting turn. Once a player has completed a plate appearance, that player may not bat again until the eight other members of the player's team have all taken their turn at bat. The batting order is set before the game begins, and may not be altered except for substitutions. Once a player has been removed for a substitute, that player may not reenter the game. Children's games often have more liberal substitution rules.
If the designated hitter (DH) rule is in effect, each team has a tenth player whose sole responsibility is to bat (and run). The DH takes the place of another player—almost invariably the pitcher—in the batting order, but does not field. Thus, even with the DH, each team still has a batting order of nine players and a fielding arrangement of nine players.
The number of players on a baseball roster, or squad, varies by league and by the level of organized play. A Major League Baseball (MLB) team has a roster of 25 players with specific roles. A typical roster features the following players:
Most baseball leagues worldwide have the DH rule, including MLB's American League, Japan's Pacific League, and Caribbean professional leagues, along with major American amateur organizations. The Central League in Japan and the National League do not have the rule, and high-level minor league clubs connected to National League teams are not required to field a DH. In leagues that apply the designated hitter rule, a typical team has nine offensive regulars (including the DH), five starting pitchers, seven or eight relievers, a backup catcher, and two or three other reserve players.
The manager, or head coach, oversees the team's major strategic decisions, such as establishing the starting rotation, setting the lineup, or batting order, before each game, and making substitutions during games—in particular, bringing in relief pitchers. Managers are typically assisted by two or more coaches; they may have specialized responsibilities, such as working with players on hitting, fielding, pitching, or strength and conditioning. At most levels of organized play, two coaches are stationed on the field when the team is at bat: the first base coach and third base coach, occupying designated coaches' boxes just outside the foul lines, assist in the direction of baserunners when the ball is in play, and relay tactical signals from the manager to batters and runners during pauses in play. In contrast to many other team sports, baseball managers and coaches generally wear their team's uniforms; coaches must be in uniform to be allowed on the field to confer with players during a game.
Any baseball game involves one or more umpires, who make rulings on the outcome of each play. At a minimum, one umpire will stand behind the catcher, to have a good view of the strike zone, and call balls and strikes. Additional umpires may be stationed near the other bases, thus making it easier to judge plays such as attempted force outs and tag outs. In MLB, four umpires are used for each game, one near each base. In the playoffs, six umpires are used: one at each base and two in the outfield along the foul lines.
Many of the pre-game and in-game strategic decisions in baseball revolve around a fundamental fact: in general, right-handed batters tend to be more successful against left-handed pitchers and, to an even greater degree, left-handed batters tend to be more successful against right-handed pitchers. A manager with several left-handed batters in the regular lineup who knows the team will be facing a left-handed starting pitcher may respond by starting one or more of the right-handed backups on the team's roster. During the late innings of a game, as relief pitchers and pinch hitters are brought in, the opposing managers will often go back and forth trying to create favorable matchups with their substitutions: the manager of the fielding team trying to arrange same-handed pitcher-batter matchups, the manager of the batting team trying to arrange opposite-handed matchups. With a team that has the lead in the late innings, a manager may remove a starting position player—especially one whose turn at bat is not likely to come up again—for a more skillful fielder.
The tactical decision that precedes almost every play in a baseball game involves pitch selection. By gripping and then releasing the baseball in a certain manner, and by throwing it at a certain speed, pitchers can cause the baseball to break to either side, or downward, as it approaches the batter. Among the resulting wide variety of pitches that may be thrown, the four basic types are the fastball, the changeup (or off-speed pitch), and two breaking balls—the curveball and the slider. Pitchers have different repertoires of pitches they are skillful at throwing. Conventionally, before each pitch, the catcher signals the pitcher what type of pitch to throw, as well as its general vertical and/or horizontal location. If there is disagreement on the selection, the pitcher may shake off the sign and the catcher will call for a different pitch. With a runner on base and taking a lead, the pitcher may attempt a pickoff, a quick throw to a fielder covering the base to keep the runner's lead in check or, optimally, effect a tag out. Pickoff attempts, however, are subject to rules that severely restrict the pitcher's movements before and during the pickoff attempt. Violation of any one of these rules could result in the umpire calling a balk against the pitcher, which permits any runners on base to advance one base with impunity. If an attempted stolen base is anticipated, the catcher may call for a pitchout, a ball thrown deliberately off the plate, allowing the catcher to catch it while standing and throw quickly to a base. Facing a batter with a strong tendency to hit to one side of the field, the fielding team may employ a shift, with most or all of the fielders moving to the left or right of their usual positions. With a runner on third base, the infielders may play in, moving closer to home plate to improve the odds of throwing out the runner on a ground ball, though a sharply hit grounder is more likely to carry through a drawn-in infield.
Several basic offensive tactics come into play with a runner on first base, including the fundamental choice of whether to attempt a steal of second base. The hit and run is sometimes employed with a skillful contact hitter: the runner takes off with the pitch drawing the shortstop or second baseman over to second base, creating a gap in the infield for the batter to poke the ball through. The sacrifice bunt calls for the batter to focus on making contact with the ball so that it rolls a short distance into the infield, allowing the runner to advance into scoring position even at the expense of the batter being thrown out at first—a batter who succeeds is credited with a sacrifice. (A batter, particularly one who is a fast runner, may also attempt to bunt for a hit.) A sacrifice bunt employed with a runner on third base, aimed at bringing that runner home, is known as a squeeze play. With a runner on third and fewer than two outs, a batter may instead concentrate on hitting a fly ball that, even if it is caught, will be deep enough to allow the runner to tag up and score—a successful batter, in this case, gets credit for a sacrifice fly. The manager will sometimes signal a batter who is ahead in the count (i.e., has more balls than strikes) to take, or not swing at, the next pitch.
The evolution of baseball from older bat-and-ball games is difficult to trace with precision. Consensus once held that today's baseball is a North American development from the older game rounders, popular among children in Great Britain and Ireland. Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (2005), by American baseball historian David Block, suggests that the game originated in England; recently uncovered historical evidence supports this position. Block argues that rounders and early baseball were actually regional variants of each other, and that the game's most direct antecedents are the English games of stoolball and "tut-ball". The earliest known reference to baseball is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery. Block discovered that the first recorded game of "Bass-Ball" took place in 1749 in Surrey, and featured the Prince of Wales as a player. This early form of the game was apparently brought to Canada by English immigrants.
By the early 1830s, there were reports of a variety of uncodified bat-and-ball games recognizable as early forms of baseball being played around North America. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright, a member of New York City's Knickerbocker Club, led the codification of the so-called Knickerbocker Rules. While there are reports that the New York Knickerbockers played games in 1845, the contest long recognized as the first officially recorded baseball game in U.S. history took place on June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey: the "New York Nine" defeated the Knickerbockers, 23–1, in four innings. With the Knickerbocker code as the basis, the rules of modern baseball continued to evolve over the next half-century.
In the mid-1850s, a baseball craze hit the New York metropolitan area, and by 1856, local journals were referring to baseball as the "national pastime" or "national game". A year later, the sport's first governing body, the National Association of Base Ball Players, was formed. In 1867, it barred participation by African Americans. The more formally structured National League was founded in 1876. Professional Negro leagues formed, but quickly folded. In 1887, softball, under the name of indoor baseball or indoor-outdoor, was invented as a winter version of the parent game. The National League's first successful counterpart, the American League, which evolved from the minor Western League, was established in 1893, and virtually all of the modern baseball rules were in place by then.
The National Agreement of 1903 formalized relations both between the two major leagues and between them and the National Association of Professional Base Ball Leagues, representing most of the country's minor professional leagues. The World Series, pitting the two major league champions against each other, was inaugurated that fall. The Black Sox Scandal of the 1919 World Series led to the formation of a new National Commission of baseball that drew the two major leagues closer together. The first major league baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was elected in 1920. That year also saw the founding of the Negro National League; the first significant Negro league, it would operate until 1931. For part of the 1920s, it was joined by the Eastern Colored League.
Compared with the present, professional baseball in the early 20th century was lower-scoring, and pitchers were more dominant. The so-called dead-ball era ended in the early 1920s with several changes in rule and circumstance that were advantageous to hitters. Strict new regulations governed the ball's size, shape and composition, along with a new rule officially banning the spitball and other pitches that depended on the ball being treated or roughed-up with foreign substances, resulted in a ball that traveled farther when hit. The rise of the legendary player Babe Ruth, the first great power hitter of the new era, helped permanently alter the nature of the game. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, St. Louis Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey invested in several minor league clubs and developed the first modern farm system. A new Negro National League was organized in 1933; four years later, it was joined by the Negro American League. The first elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame took place in 1936. In 1939, Little League Baseball was founded in Pennsylvania.
A large number of minor league teams disbanded when World War II led to a player shortage. Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley led the formation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to help keep the game in the public eye. The first crack in the unwritten agreement barring blacks from white-controlled professional ball occurred in 1945: Jackie Robinson was signed by the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers and began playing for their minor league team in Montreal. In 1947, Robinson broke the major leagues' color barrier when he debuted with the Dodgers. Latin American players, largely overlooked before, also started entering the majors in greater numbers. In 1951, two Chicago White Sox, Venezuelan-born Chico Carrasquel and black Cuban-born Minnie Miñoso, became the first Hispanic All-Stars. Integration proceeded slowly: by 1953, only six of the 16 major league teams had a black player on the roster.
In 1975, the union's power—and players' salaries—began to increase greatly when the reserve clause was effectively struck down, leading to the free agency system. Significant work stoppages occurred in 1981 and 1994, the latter forcing the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years. Attendance had been growing steadily since the mid-1970s and in 1994, before the stoppage, the majors were setting their all-time record for per-game attendance. After play resumed in 1995, non-division-winning wild card teams became a permanent fixture of the post-season. Regular-season interleague play was introduced in 1997 and the second-highest attendance mark for a full season was set. In 2000, the National and American Leagues were dissolved as legal entities. While their identities were maintained for scheduling purposes (and the designated hitter distinction), the regulations and other functions—such as player discipline and umpire supervision—they had administered separately were consolidated under the rubric of MLB.
In 2001, Barry Bonds established the current record of 73 home runs in a single season. There had long been suspicions that the dramatic increase in power hitting was fueled in large part by the abuse of illegal steroids (as well as by the dilution of pitching talent due to expansion), but the issue only began attracting significant media attention in 2002 and there was no penalty for the use of performance-enhancing drugs before 2004. In 2007, Bonds became MLB's all-time home run leader, surpassing Hank Aaron, as total major league and minor league attendance both reached all-time highs.
Widely known as America's pastime, baseball is well established in several other countries as well. As early as 1877, a professional league, the International Association, featured teams from both Canada and the US. While baseball is widely played in Canada and many minor league teams have been based in the country, the American major leagues did not include a Canadian club until 1969, when the Montreal Expos joined the National League as an expansion team. In 1977, the expansion Toronto Blue Jays joined the American League.
In 1847, American soldiers played what may have been the first baseball game in Mexico at Parque Los Berros in Xalapa, Veracruz. The first formal baseball league outside of the United States and Canada was founded in 1878 in Cuba, which maintains a rich baseball tradition. The Dominican Republic held its first islandwide championship tournament in 1912. Professional baseball tournaments and leagues began to form in other countries between the world wars, including the Netherlands (formed in 1922), Australia (1934), Japan (1936), Mexico (1937), and Puerto Rico (1938). The Japanese major leagues have long been considered the highest quality professional circuits outside of the United States.
After World War II, professional leagues were founded in many Latin American countries, most prominently Venezuela (1946) and the Dominican Republic (1955). Since the early 1970s, the annual Caribbean Series has matched the championship clubs from the four leading Latin American winter leagues: the Dominican Professional Baseball League, Mexican Pacific League, Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League, and Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. In Asia, South Korea (1982), Taiwan (1990) and China (2003) all have professional leagues.
Many European countries have professional leagues as well; the most successful, other than the Dutch league, is the Italian league, founded in 1948. In 2004, Australia won a surprise silver medal at the Olympic Games. The Confédération Européene de Baseball (European Baseball Confederation), founded in 1953, organizes a number of competitions between clubs from different countries. Other competitions between national teams, such as the Baseball World Cup and the Olympic baseball tournament, were administered by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) from its formation in 1938 until its 2013 merger with the International Softball Federation to create the current joint governing body for both sports, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). Women's baseball is played on an organized amateur basis in numerous countries.
After being admitted to the Olympics as a medal sport beginning with the 1992 Games, baseball was dropped from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games at the 2005 International Olympic Committee meeting. It remained part of the 2008 Games. While the sport's lack of a following in much of the world was a factor, more important was MLB's reluctance to have a break during the Games to allow its players to participate. MLB initiated the World Baseball Classic, scheduled to precede the major league season, partly as a replacement, high-profile international tournament. The inaugural Classic, held in March 2006, was the first tournament involving national teams to feature a significant number of MLB participants. The Baseball World Cup was discontinued after its 2011 edition in favor of an expanded World Baseball Classic.
Baseball has certain attributes that set it apart from the other popular team sports in the countries where it has a following. All of these sports use a clock; in all of them, play is less individual and more collective; and in none of them is the variation between playing fields nearly as substantial or important. The comparison between cricket and baseball demonstrates that many of baseball's distinctive elements are shared in various ways with its cousin sports.
In clock-limited sports, games often end with a team that holds the lead killing the clock rather than competing aggressively against the opposing team. In contrast, baseball has no clock; a team cannot win without getting the last batter out and rallies are not constrained by time. At almost any turn in any baseball game, the most advantageous strategy is some form of aggressive strategy. In contrast, again, the clock comes into play even in the case of multi-day Test and first-class cricket: the possibility of a draw often encourages a team that is batting last and well behind to bat defensively, giving up any faint chance at a win to avoid a loss.
While nine innings has been the standard since the beginning of professional baseball, the duration of the average major league game has increased steadily through the years. At the turn of the 20th century, games typically took an hour and a half to play. In the 1920s, they averaged just less than two hours, which eventually ballooned to 2:38 in 1960. By 1997, the average American League game lasted 2:57 (National League games were about 10 minutes shorter—pitchers at the plate making for quicker outs than designated hitters). In 2004, Major League Baseball declared that its goal was an average game of 2:45. By 2014, though, the average MLB game took over three hours to complete. The lengthening of games is attributed to longer breaks between half-innings for television commercials, increased offense, more pitching changes, and a slower pace of play with pitchers taking more time between each delivery, and batters stepping out of the box more frequently. Other leagues have experienced similar issues. In 2008, Nippon Professional Baseball took steps aimed at shortening games by 12 minutes from the preceding decade's average of 3:18.
In 2016, the average nine-inning playoff game in Major League baseball was 3 hours and 35 minutes. This was up 10 minutes from 2015 and 21 minutes from 2014.
Although baseball is a team sport, individual players are often placed under scrutiny and pressure. In 1915, a baseball instructional manual pointed out that every single pitch, of which there are often more than two hundred in a game, involves an individual, one-on-one contest: "the pitcher and the batter in a battle of wits". Contrasting the game with both football and basketball, scholar Michael Mandelbaum argues that "baseball is the one closest in evolutionary descent to the older individual sports". Pitcher, batter, and fielder all act essentially independent of each other. While coaching staffs can signal pitcher or batter to pursue certain tactics, the execution of the play itself is a series of solitary acts. If the batter hits a line drive, the outfielder is solely responsible for deciding to try to catch it or play it on the bounce and for succeeding or failing. The statistical precision of baseball is both facilitated by this isolation and reinforces it. As described by Mandelbaum,
It is impossible to isolate and objectively assess the contribution each [football] team member makes to the outcome of the play... [E]very basketball player is interacting with all of his teammates all the time. In baseball, by contrast, every player is more or less on his own... Baseball is therefore a realm of complete transparency and total responsibility. A baseball player lives in a glass house, and in a stark moral universe... Everything that every player does is accounted for and everything accounted for is either good or bad, right or wrong.
Cricket is more similar to baseball than many other team sports in this regard: while the individual focus in cricket is mitigated by the importance of the batting partnership and the practicalities of tandem running, it is enhanced by the fact that a batsman may occupy the wicket for an hour or much more. There is no statistical equivalent in cricket for the fielding error and thus less emphasis on personal responsibility in this area of play.
Unlike those of most sports, baseball playing fields can vary significantly in size and shape. While the dimensions of the infield are specifically regulated, the only constraint on outfield size and shape for professional teams following the rules of MLB and Minor League Baseball is that fields built or remodeled since June 1, 1958, must have a minimum distance of 325 feet (99 m) from home plate to the fences in left and right field and 400 feet (122 m) to center. Major league teams often skirt even this rule. For example, at Minute Maid Park, which became the home of the Houston Astros in 2000, the Crawford Boxes in left field are only 315 feet (96 m) from home plate. There are no rules at all that address the height of fences or other structures at the edge of the outfield. The most famously idiosyncratic outfield boundary is the left-field wall at Boston's Fenway Park, in use since 1912: the Green Monster is 310 feet (94 m) from home plate down the line and 37 feet (11 m) tall.
Similarly, there are no regulations at all concerning the dimensions of foul territory. Thus a foul fly ball may be entirely out of play in a park with little space between the foul lines and the stands, but a foulout in a park with more expansive foul ground. A fence in foul territory that is close to the outfield line will tend to direct balls that strike it back toward the fielders, while one that is farther away may actually prompt more collisions, as outfielders run full speed to field balls deep in the corner. These variations can make the difference between a double and a triple or inside-the-park home run. The surface of the field is also unregulated. While the adjacent image shows a traditional field surfacing arrangement (and the one used by virtually all MLB teams with naturally surfaced fields), teams are free to decide what areas will be grassed or bare. Some fields—including several in MLB—use an artificial surface, such as AstroTurf. Surface variations can have a significant effect on how ground balls behave and are fielded as well as on baserunning. Similarly, the presence of a roof (seven major league teams play in stadiums with permanent or retractable roofs) can greatly affect how fly balls are played. While football and soccer players deal with similar variations of field surface and stadium covering, the size and shape of their fields are much more standardized. The area out-of-bounds on a football or soccer field does not affect play the way foul territory in baseball does, so variations in that regard are largely insignificant.
These physical variations create a distinctive set of playing conditions at each ballpark. Other local factors, such as altitude and climate, can also significantly affect play. A given stadium may acquire a reputation as a pitcher's park or a hitter's park, if one or the other discipline notably benefits from its unique mix of elements. The most exceptional park in this regard is Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. Its high altitude—5,282 feet (1,610 m) above sea level—is responsible for giving it the strongest hitter's park effect in the major leagues due to the low air pressure. Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is known for its fickle disposition: a hitter's park when the strong winds off Lake Michigan are blowing out, it becomes more of a pitcher's park when they are blowing in. The absence of a standardized field affects not only how particular games play out, but the nature of team rosters and players' statistical records. For example, hitting a fly ball 330 feet (100 m) into right field might result in an easy catch on the warning track at one park, and a home run at another. A team that plays in a park with a relatively short right field, such as the New York Yankees, will tend to stock its roster with left-handed pull hitters, who can best exploit it. On the individual level, a player who spends most of his career with a team that plays in a hitter's park will gain an advantage in batting statistics over time—even more so if his talents are especially suited to the park.
Organized baseball lends itself to statistics to a greater degree than many other sports. Each play is discrete and has a relatively small number of possible outcomes. In the late 19th century, a former cricket player, English-born Henry Chadwick of Brooklyn, was responsible for the "development of the box score, tabular standings, the annual baseball guide, the batting average, and most of the common statistics and tables used to describe baseball." The statistical record is so central to the game's "historical essence" that Chadwick came to be known as Father Baseball. In the 1920s, American newspapers began devoting more and more attention to baseball statistics, initiating what journalist and historian Alan Schwarz describes as a "tectonic shift in sports, as intrigue that once focused mostly on teams began to go to individual players and their statistics lines."
The Official Baseball Rules administered by MLB require the official scorer to categorize each baseball play unambiguously. The rules provide detailed criteria to promote consistency. The score report is the official basis for both the box score of the game and the relevant statistical records. General managers, managers, and baseball scouts use statistics to evaluate players and make strategic decisions.
Certain traditional statistics are familiar to most baseball fans. The basic batting statistics include:
The basic baserunning statistics include:
The basic pitching statistics include:
The basic fielding statistics include:
Among the many other statistics that are kept are those collectively known as situational statistics. For example, statistics can indicate which specific pitchers a certain batter performs best against. If a given situation statistically favors a certain batter, the manager of the fielding team may be more likely to change pitchers or have the pitcher intentionally walk the batter in order to face one who is less likely to succeed.
Sabermetrics refers to the field of baseball statistical study and the development of new statistics and analytical tools. The term is also used to refer directly to new statistics themselves. The term was coined around 1980 by one of the field's leading proponents, Bill James, and derives from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
The growing popularity of sabermetrics since the early 1980s has brought more attention to two batting statistics that sabermetricians argue are much better gauges of a batter's skill than batting average:
Some of the new statistics devised by sabermetricians have gained wide use:
Writing in 1919, philosopher Morris Raphael Cohen described baseball as America's national religion. In the words of sports columnist Jayson Stark, baseball has long been "a unique paragon of American culture"—a status he sees as devastated by the steroid abuse scandal. Baseball has an important place in other national cultures as well: Scholar Peter Bjarkman describes "how deeply the sport is ingrained in the history and culture of a nation such as Cuba, [and] how thoroughly it was radically reshaped and nativized in Japan." Since the early 1980s, the Dominican Republic, in particular the city of San Pedro de Macorís, has been the major leagues' primary source of foreign talent. In 2017, 83 of the 868 players on MLB Opening Day rosters (and disabled lists) were from the country. Among other Caribbean countries and territories, a combined 97 MLB players were born in Venezuela, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente remains one of the greatest national heroes in Puerto Rico's history. While baseball has long been the island's primary athletic pastime, its once well-attended professional winter league has declined in popularity since 1990, when young Puerto Rican players began to be included in the major leagues' annual first-year player draft. In Asia, baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan and South Korea.
The major league game in the United States was originally targeted toward a middle-class, white-collar audience: relative to other spectator pastimes, the National League's set ticket price of 50 cents in 1876 was high, while the location of playing fields outside the inner city and the workweek daytime scheduling of games were also obstacles to a blue-collar audience. A century later, the situation was very different. With the rise in popularity of other team sports with much higher average ticket prices—football, basketball, and hockey—professional baseball had become among the most blue-collar-oriented of leading American spectator sports.
Overall, baseball has a large following in the United States; a 2006 poll found that nearly half of Americans are fans. In the late 1900s and early 2000s, baseball's position compared to football in the United States moved in contradictory directions. In 2008, MLB set a revenue record of $6.5 billion, matching the NFL's revenue for the first time in decades. A new MLB revenue record of more than $10 billion was set in 2017. On the other hand, the percentage of American sports fans polled who named baseball as their favorite sport was 9%, compared to pro football at 37%. In 1985, the respective figures were pro football 24%, baseball 23%. Because there are so many more major league games played, there is no comparison in overall attendance. In 2008, total attendance at major league games was the second-highest in history: 78.6 million, 0.7% off the record set the previous year. The following year, amid the U.S. recession, attendance fell by 6.6% to 73.4 million. Eight years later, it dropped under 73 million. Attendance at games held under the Minor League Baseball umbrella set a record in 2008, with 43.3 million.
In Japan, where baseball is inarguably the leading spectator team sport, combined revenue for the twelve teams in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the body that oversees both the Central and Pacific Leagues, was estimated at $1 billion in 2007. Total NPB attendance for the year was approximately 20 million. While in the preceding two decades, MLB attendance grew by 50 percent and revenue nearly tripled, the comparable NPB figures were stagnant. There are concerns that MLB's growing interest in acquiring star Japanese players will hurt the game in their home country. In Cuba, where baseball is by every reckoning the national sport, the national team overshadows the city and provincial teams that play in the top-level domestic leagues. Revenue figures are not released for the country's amateur system. Similarly, according to one official pronouncement, the sport's governing authority "has never taken into account attendance ... because its greatest interest has always been the development of athletes".
As of 2018, Little League Baseball oversees leagues with close to 2.4 million participants in over 80 countries. The number of players has fallen since the 1990s, when 3 million children took part in Little League Baseball annually. Babe Ruth League teams have over 1 million participants. According to the president of the International Baseball Federation, between 300,000 and 500,000 women and girls play baseball around the world, including Little League and the introductory game of Tee Ball.
A varsity baseball team is an established part of physical education departments at most high schools and colleges in the United States. In 2015, nearly half a million high schoolers and over 34,000 collegians played on their schools' baseball teams. By early in the 20th century, intercollegiate baseball was Japan's leading sport. Today, high school baseball in particular is immensely popular there. The final rounds of the two annual tournaments—the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament in the spring, and the even more important National High School Baseball Championship in the summer—are broadcast around the country. The tournaments are known, respectively, as Spring Koshien and Summer Koshien after the 55,000-capacity stadium where they are played. In Cuba, baseball is a mandatory part of the state system of physical education, which begins at age six. Talented children as young as seven are sent to special district schools for more intensive training—the first step on a ladder whose acme is the national baseball team.
Baseball has had a broad impact on popular culture, both in the United States and elsewhere. Dozens of English-language idioms have been derived from baseball; in particular, the game is the source of a number of widely used sexual euphemisms. The first networked radio broadcasts in North America were of the 1922 World Series: famed sportswriter Grantland Rice announced play-by-play from New York City's Polo Grounds on WJZ–Newark, New Jersey, which was connected by wire to WGY–Schenectady, New York, and WBZ–Springfield, Massachusetts. The baseball cap has become a ubiquitous fashion item not only in the United States and Japan, but also in countries where the sport itself is not particularly popular, such as the United Kingdom.
Baseball has inspired many works of art and entertainment. One of the first major examples, Ernest Thayer's poem "Casey at the Bat", appeared in 1888. A wry description of the failure of a star player in what would now be called a "clutch situation", the poem became the source of vaudeville and other staged performances, audio recordings, film adaptations, and an opera, as well as a host of sequels and parodies in various media. There have been many baseball movies, including the Academy Award–winning The Pride of the Yankees (1942) and the Oscar nominees The Natural (1984) and Field of Dreams (1989). The American Film Institute's selection of the ten best sports movies includes The Pride of the Yankees at number 3 and Bull Durham (1988) at number 5. Baseball has provided thematic material for hits on both stage—the Adler–Ross musical Damn Yankees—and record—George J. Gaskin's "Slide, Kelly, Slide", Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson", and John Fogerty's "Centerfield". The baseball-inspired comedic sketch "Who's on First", popularized by Abbott and Costello in 1938, quickly became famous. Six decades later, Time named it the best comedy routine of the 20th century.
Literary works connected to the game include the short fiction of Ring Lardner and novels such as Bernard Malamud's The Natural (the source for the movie), Robert Coover's The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., and W. P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe (the source for Field of Dreams). Baseball's literary canon also includes the beat reportage of Damon Runyon; the columns of Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Dick Young, and Peter Gammons; and the essays of Roger Angell. Among the celebrated nonfiction books in the field are Lawrence S. Ritter's The Glory of Their Times, Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer, and Michael Lewis's Moneyball. The 1970 publication of major league pitcher Jim Bouton's tell-all chronicle Ball Four is considered a turning point in the reporting of professional sports.
Baseball has also inspired the creation of new cultural forms. Baseball cards were introduced in the late 19th century as trade cards. A typical example featured an image of a baseball player on one side and advertising for a business on the other. In the early 1900s they were produced widely as promotional items by tobacco and confectionery companies. The 1930s saw the popularization of the modern style of baseball card, with a player photograph accompanied on the rear by statistics and biographical data. Baseball cards—many of which are now prized collectibles—are the source of the much broader trading card industry, involving similar products for different sports and non-sports-related fields.
Modern fantasy sports began in 1980 with the invention of Rotisserie League Baseball by New York writer Daniel Okrent and several friends. Participants in a Rotisserie league draft notional teams from the list of active MLB players and play out an entire imaginary season with game outcomes based on the players' latest real-world statistics. Rotisserie-style play quickly became a phenomenon. Now known more generically as fantasy baseball, it has inspired similar games based on an array of different sports. The field boomed with increasing Internet access and new fantasy sports-related websites. By 2008, 29.9 million people in the United States and Canada were playing fantasy sports, spending $800 million on the hobby. The burgeoning popularity of fantasy baseball is also credited with the increasing attention paid to sabermetrics—first among fans, only later among baseball professionals.
Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez (born July 27, 1975), nicknamed "A-Rod", is an American former professional baseball shortstop and third baseman. He played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, and New York Yankees. Rodriguez began his professional career as one of the sport's most highly touted prospects and is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Rodriguez amassed a .295 batting average, over 600 home runs (696), over 2,000 runs batted in (RBI), over 2,000 runs scored, over 3,000 hits, and over 300 stolen bases, the only player in MLB history to achieve all of those feats. He is a 14-time All-Star and won three American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, ten Silver Slugger Awards, and two Gold Glove Awards. Rodríguez is the career record holder for grand slams with 25. He signed two of the most lucrative sports contracts in history, but his career was highly controversial. He incurred criticism from the media for his use of performance-enhancing drugs.The Mariners selected Rodriguez first overall in the 1993 MLB draft, and he debuted in the major leagues the following year at the age of 18. In 1996, he became the Mariners' starting shortstop, won the major league batting championship, and finished second in voting for the AL MVP Award. His combination of power, speed, and defense made him a cornerstone of the franchise, but he left the team via free agency after the 2000 season to join the Rangers. The 10-year, $252 million contract he signed was the richest in baseball history. He played at a high level in his three years with Texas, highlighted by his first AL MVP Award win in 2003, but the team failed to make the playoffs during his tenure. Prior to the 2004 season, Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees, for whom he converted to a third baseman, because Derek Jeter was already the Yankees' full-time shortstop. During Rodriguez's career with the Yankees, he was named AL MVP in 2005 and 2007. After opting out of his contract following the 2007 season, Rodriguez signed a new 10-year, $275 million deal with the Yankees, extending his record for the sport's most lucrative contract. He became the youngest player ever to hit 500 home runs, reaching the milestone in 2007. He was part of the Yankees' 2009 World Series championship over the Philadelphia Phillies, which was the first year of the new Yankee Stadium and Rodriguez's only world title. Toward the end of his career, Rodriguez was hampered by hip and knee injuries, which caused him to become exclusively a designated hitter. He played his final game in professional baseball on August 12, 2016.
During a 2007 interview with Katie Couric on 60 Minutes, Rodriguez denied using performance-enhancing drugs. In February 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids, saying he used them from 2001 to 2003 when playing for Rangers due to "an enormous amount of pressure" to perform. While recovering from a hip injury in 2013, Rodriguez made headlines by feuding with team management over his rehabilitation and for having allegedly obtained performance-enhancing drugs as part of the Biogenesis baseball scandal. In August 2013, MLB suspended him for 211 games for his involvement in the scandal, but he was allowed to play while appealing the punishment. Had the original suspension been upheld, it would have been the longest non-lifetime suspension in Major League Baseball history. After an arbitration hearing, the suspension was reduced to 162 games, which kept him off the field for the entire 2014 season.After retiring as a player, Rodriguez became a media personality, serving as a broadcaster for Fox Sports 1, a cast member of Shark Tank and a member of the ABC News network. In January 2018, ESPN announced that Rodriguez would be joining the broadcast team of Sunday Night Baseball In January 2017, CNBC announced Rodriguez would be the host of the show Back In The Game, where he would help former athletes make a comeback in their personal lives; the first episode debuted on the network in March 2018.Babe Ruth
George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948) was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. Nicknamed "The Bambino" and "The Sultan of Swat", he began his MLB career as a stellar left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. Ruth established many MLB batting (and some pitching) records, including career home runs (714), runs batted in (RBIs) (2,213), bases on balls (2,062), slugging percentage (.690), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164); the latter still stands as of 2019. Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. In 1936, Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its "first five" inaugural members.
At age 7, Ruth was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory where he learned life lessons and baseball skills from Brother Matthias Boutlier of the Xaverian Brothers, the school's disciplinarian and a capable baseball player. In 1914, Ruth was signed to play minor-league baseball for the Baltimore Orioles but was soon sold to the Red Sox. By 1916, he had built a reputation as an outstanding pitcher who sometimes hit long home runs, a feat unusual for any player in the pre-1920 dead-ball era. Although Ruth twice won 23 games in a season as a pitcher and was a member of three World Series championship teams with the Red Sox, he wanted to play every day and was allowed to convert to an outfielder. With regular playing time, he broke the MLB single-season home run record in 1919.
After that season, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth to the Yankees amid controversy. The trade fueled Boston's subsequent 86 year championship drought and popularized the "Curse of the Bambino" superstition. In his 15 years with the Yankees, Ruth helped the team win seven American League (AL) pennants and four World Series championships. His big swing led to escalating home run totals that not only drew fans to the ballpark and boosted the sport's popularity but also helped usher in baseball's live-ball era, which evolved from a low-scoring game of strategy to a sport where the home run was a major factor. As part of the Yankees' vaunted "Murderers' Row" lineup of 1927, Ruth hit 60 home runs, which extended his MLB single-season record by a single home run. Ruth's last season with the Yankees was 1934; he retired from the game the following year, after a short stint with the Boston Braves. During his career, Ruth led the AL in home runs during a season 12 times.
Ruth's legendary power and charismatic personality made him a larger-than-life figure during the Roaring Twenties. During his career, he was the target of intense press and public attention for his baseball exploits and off-field penchants for drinking and womanizing. His often reckless lifestyle was tempered by his willingness to do good by visiting children at hospitals and orphanages. After his retirement as a player, he was denied the opportunity to manage a major league club, most likely due to poor behavior during parts of his playing career. In his final years, Ruth made many public appearances, especially in support of American efforts in World War II. In 1946, he became ill with esophageal cancer and died from it two years later. Ruth remains a part of American culture and in 2018, President Donald Trump posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. The Red Sox have won nine World Series championships, tied for the third-most of any MLB team, and they have played in 13. Their most recent appearance and win was in 2018. In addition, they won the 1904 American League pennant, but were not able to defend their 1903 World Series championship when the New York Giants refused to participate in the 1904 World Series. Founded in 1901 as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox' home ballpark has been Fenway Park since 1912. The "Red Sox" name was chosen by the team owner, John I. Taylor, circa 1908, following the lead of previous teams that had been known as the "Boston Red Stockings", including the forerunner of the Atlanta Braves.
Boston was a dominant team in the new league, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series in 1903 and winning four more championships by 1918. However, they then went into one of the longest championship droughts in baseball history, dubbed the "Curse of the Bambino" after its alleged inception due to the Red Sox' sale of Babe Ruth to the rival New York Yankees two years after their world championship in 1918, an 86-year wait before the team's sixth World Championship in 2004. The team's history during that period was punctuated with some of the most memorable moments in World Series history, including Enos Slaughter's "mad dash" in 1946, the "Impossible Dream" of 1967, Carlton Fisk's home run in 1975, and Bill Buckner's error in 1986. Following their victory in the 2018 World Series, they became the first team to win four World Series trophies in the 21st century, including championships in 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018. Red Sox history has also been marked by the team's intense rivalry with the Yankees, arguably the fiercest and most historic in North American professional sports.The Boston Red Sox are owned by Fenway Sports Group, which also owns Liverpool F.C. of the Premier League in England. The Red Sox are consistently one of the top MLB teams in average road attendance, while the small capacity of Fenway Park prevents them from leading in overall attendance. From May 15, 2003 to April 10, 2013, the Red Sox sold out every home game—a total of 820 games (794 regular season) for a major professional sports record. Both Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", and The Standells's "Dirty Water" have become anthems for the Red Sox.Bryce Harper
Bryce Aron Max Harper (born October 16, 1992) is an American professional baseball right fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played in MLB for the Washington Nationals from 2012 through 2018. He has been touted as a "five-tool player".Harper graduated from high school early so that he could attend the College of Southern Nevada, where he won the 2010 Golden Spikes Award. The Nationals selected Harper as the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut with the Nationals on April 28, 2012, at 19 years old. Harper was selected for the 2012 All-Star Game, becoming the youngest position player to perform in an All-Star Game.Harper won the National League (NL) Rookie of the Year Award in 2012 and tied for the NL lead in home runs in 2015. He was named the NL Most Valuable Player for 2015 by unanimous decision of the Baseball Writers' Association of America; at age 23, he became the youngest MLB baseball player to win the award. As a free agent during the 2018–19 off-season, he signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies. Harper's deal is the 3rd-richest contract in the history of North American sports.Derek Jeter
Derek Sanderson Jeter ( JEE-tər; born June 26, 1974) is an American former professional baseball shortstop, businessman, and baseball executive. He has been the chief executive officer (CEO) and part owner of the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball (MLB) since September 2017.
As a shortstop, Jeter spent his entire 20-year MLB playing career with the New York Yankees. A five-time World Series champion, Jeter is regarded as one of the primary contributors to the Yankees' success of the late 1990s and early 2000s for his hitting, baserunning, fielding, and leadership. He is the Yankees' all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter was the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career ranked sixth in MLB history in career hits and first among shortstops. In 2017, the Yankees retired his uniform number 2.
The Yankees drafted Jeter out of high school in 1992, and he debuted in the major leagues at age 21 in 1995. The following year, he became the Yankees' starting shortstop, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and helped push the team to win the 1996 World Series. Jeter continued to play during the team's championship seasons of 1998–2000; he finished third in voting for the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1998, recorded multiple career-high numbers in 1999, and won both the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP Awards in 2000. He consistently placed among the AL leaders in hits and runs scored for most of his career, and served as the Yankees' team captain from 2003 until his retirement in 2014. Throughout his career, Jeter contributed reliably to the Yankees' franchise successes. He holds many postseason records, and has a .321 batting average in the World Series. Jeter earned the nicknames of "Captain Clutch" and "Mr. November" due to his outstanding play in the postseason.
Jeter was one of the most heavily marketed athletes of his generation and is involved in numerous product endorsements. As a celebrity, his personal life and relationships with other celebrities has drawn the attention of the media.Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro Suzuki (鈴木 一朗, Suzuki Ichirō, born October 22, 1973), often referred to mononymously as Ichiro (イチロー, Ichirō), is a Japanese former professional baseball outfielder who played 28 seasons combined in top-level professional leagues. He spent the bulk of his career with two teams: nine seasons with the Orix Blue Wave of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan, where he began his career, and 14 with the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States. After playing the first 12 years of his MLB career for the Mariners, Ichiro played two and a half seasons with the New York Yankees before signing with the Miami Marlins. Ichiro played three seasons with the Marlins before returning to the Mariners in 2018. Ichiro established a number of batting records, including MLB's single-season record for hits with 262. He achieved 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, the longest streak by any player in history. Between his major league career in both Japan and the United States, Ichiro has the most hits by any player in top-tier professional leagues. He also has recorded the most hits of all Japanese-born players in MLB history.
In his combined playing time in the NPB and MLB, Ichiro received 17 consecutive selections both as an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, won nine league batting titles and was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) four times. While playing in the NPB, he won seven consecutive batting titles and three consecutive Pacific League MVP Awards. In 2001, Ichiro became the first Japanese-born position player to be posted and signed to an MLB club. He led the American League (AL) in batting average and stolen bases en route to being named AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP.
Ichiro was the first MLB player to enter the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame (The Golden Players Club). He was a ten-time MLB All-Star and won the 2007 All-Star Game MVP Award for a three-hit performance that included the event's first-ever inside-the-park home run. Ichiro won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award in each of his first 10 years in the majors, and had an American League–record seven hitting streaks of 20 or more games, with a high of 27. He is also noted for his longevity, continuing to produce at a high level with batting, slugging, and on-base percentages above .300 in 2016, while approaching 43 years of age. In 2016, Ichiro notched the 3,000th hit of his MLB career, off Chris Rusin of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, becoming only the 30th player ever to do so. In total, he finished with 4,367 hits in his professional career across Japan and the United States.Jackie Robinson
Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. When the Dodgers signed Robinson, they heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.Robinson had an exceptional 10-year MLB career. He was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship.
In 1997, MLB retired his uniform number 42 across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. MLB also adopted a new annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day", for the first time on April 15, 2004, on which every player on every team wears No. 42.
Robinson's character, his use of nonviolence, and his unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation which then marked many other aspects of American life. He influenced the culture of and contributed significantly to the civil rights movement. Robinson also was the first black television analyst in MLB and the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full o'Nuts. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem, New York. After his death in 1972, in recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom.Joe DiMaggio
Joseph Paul DiMaggio (November 25, 1914 – March 8, 1999), nicknamed "Joltin' Joe" and "The Yankee Clipper", was an American baseball center fielder who played his entire 13-year career in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees. Born to Italian immigrants in California, he is widely considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15 – July 16, 1941), a record that still stands.DiMaggio was a three-time Most Valuable Player Award winner and an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons. During his tenure with the Yankees, the club won ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships.
At the time of his retirement after the 1951 season, he ranked fifth in career home runs (361) and sixth in career slugging percentage (.579). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955 and was voted the sport's greatest living player in a poll taken during the baseball centennial year of 1969. His brothers Vince (1912–1986) and Dom (1917–2009) also were major league center fielders. DiMaggio is widely known for his marriage and lifelong devotion to Marilyn Monroe.Jose Canseco
José Canseco Capas Jr. (born July 2, 1964), is a Cuban-American former Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder and designated hitter. During his time with the Oakland A's, he established himself as one of the premier power hitters in the game. He won the Rookie of the Year (1986), and Most Valuable Player award (1988), and was a six-time All-Star. Canseco is a two-time World Series winner with the Oakland A's (1989) and the New York Yankees (2000).
Canseco became the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season in 1988 and won the Silver Slugger award four times: three as an AL outfielder (1988, 1990, 1991), and once as a designated hitter (1998). He ranks 4th all time in A's history with 254 home runs and is one of 11 players in MLB history with 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases. Despite his many injuries during the later part of his career, Canseco averaged 40 home runs, 120 RBIs and 102 runs scored every 162 games.
As of 2019, Canseco's 462 career home runs rank him 37th on the MLB all-time list. Canseco was the all-time leader in home runs among Latino players; but was later surpassed by Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Carlos Delgado, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, and Miguel Cabrera. He was the first player to hit 30 home runs for 4 different clubs; Oakland 33 in 1986, Texas 31 in 1994, Toronto 46 in 1998 and Tampa Bay 34 in 1999 (this was later surpassed by Fred McGriff and Gary Sheffield who did it for 5 different teams).
Canseco admitted using performance-enhancing drugs during his playing career, and in 2005 wrote a tell-all book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, in which he claimed that the vast majority of MLB players use steroids. After retiring from Major League Baseball, he also competed in boxing and mixed martial arts.List of World Series champions
The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) and concludes the MLB postseason. First played in 1903, the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and is a contest between the champions of baseball's National League (NL) and American League (AL). Often referred to as the "Fall Classic", the modern World Series has been played every year since 1903 with two exceptions: in 1904, when the NL champion New York Giants declined to play the AL champion Boston Americans; and in 1994, when the series was canceled due to the players' strike.The best-of-seven style has been the format of all World Series except in 1903, 1919, 1920, and 1921, when the winner was determined through a best-of-nine playoff. Although the large majority of contests have been played entirely during the month of October, a small number of Series have also had games played during September and November. The Series-winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. Players, coaches, and others associated with the team are generally given World Series rings to commemorate their victory; however, they have received other items such as pocket watches and medallions in the past. The winning team is traditionally invited to the White House to meet the President of the United States.
A total of 114 Series have been contested, with the NL champion winning 48 and the AL champion winning 66. The New York Yankees of the AL have played in 40 World Series through 2018—winning 27—the most Series appearances and most victories of any Major League Baseball franchise. The Los Angeles Dodgers of the NL have the most losses with 14. The St. Louis Cardinals have represented the NL 19 times, and won 11 championships, second-most among all teams and most among NL clubs. Both the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers have appeared in more World Series, with 20 each.
The Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos) are the only current Major League Baseball franchises to have never appeared in a World Series; the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers (formerly the 1961–1971 version of the Washington Senators), Tampa Bay Rays, and Milwaukee Brewers (formerly Seattle Pilots) have all played in the Series but have never won. The Toronto Blue Jays are the only franchise from outside the United States to appear in a World Series, winning in 1992 and 1993. The Houston Astros have represented both the NL (2005) and the AL (2017), winning the Series in 2017. The current World Series champions are the Boston Red Sox.Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.
Baseball's first openly all-professional team was founded in Cincinnati in 1869. (There had been teams in the past that paid some players, and some that had paid all players but under the table.) The first few decades of professional baseball were characterized by rivalries between leagues and by players who often jumped from one team or league to another.
The period before 1920 in baseball was known as the dead-ball era; players rarely hit home runs during this time. Baseball survived a conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series, which came to be known as the Black Sox Scandal. The sport rose in popularity in the 1920s, and survived potential downturns during the Great Depression and World War II. Shortly after the war, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier.
The 1950s and 1960s were a time of expansion for the AL and NL, then new stadiums and artificial turf surfaces began to change the game in the 1970s and 1980s. Home runs dominated the game during the 1990s, and media reports began to discuss the use of anabolic steroids among Major League players in the mid-2000s. In 2006, an investigation produced the Mitchell Report, which implicated many players in the use of performance-enhancing substances, including at least one player from each team.
Today, MLB is composed of 30 teams: 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada. Teams play 162 games each season and five teams in each league advance to a four-round postseason tournament that culminates in the World Series, a best-of-seven championship series between the two league champions that dates to 1903. Baseball broadcasts are aired on television, radio, and the Internet throughout North America and in several other countries throughout the world. MLB has the highest season attendance of any sports league in the world with more than 73 million spectators in 2015.Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award
The Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) is an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) award given to one outstanding player in the American League and one in the National League. Since 1931, it has been awarded by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). The winners receive the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award, which became the official name of the award in 1944, in honor of the first MLB commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served from 1920 until his death on November 25, 1944.MVP voting takes place before the postseason, but the results are not announced until after the World Series. The BBWAA began by polling three writers in each league city in 1938, reducing that number to two per league city in 1961. The BBWAA does not offer a clear-cut definition of what "most valuable" means, instead leaving the judgment to the individual voters.First basemen, with 34 winners, have won the most MVPs among infielders, followed by second basemen (16), third basemen (15), and shortstops (15). Of the 25 pitchers who have won the award, 15 are right-handed while 10 are left-handed. Walter Johnson, Carl Hubbell, and Hal Newhouser are the only pitchers who have won multiple times, Newhouser winning consecutively in 1944 and 1945.Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial, Alex Rodriguez, and Robin Yount have won at different positions, while Rodriguez is the only player who has won the award with two different teams at two different positions. Barry Bonds has won the most often (seven times) and the most consecutively (four: 2001–04). Jimmie Foxx was the first player to win multiple times; 9 players have won three times, and 19 have won twice. Frank Robinson is the only player to win the award in both the American and National Leagues.
The award's only tie occurred in the National League in 1979, when Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell received an equal number of points. There have been 18 unanimous winners, who received all the first-place votes. The New York Yankees have the most winning players with 22, followed by the St. Louis Cardinals with 17 winners. The award has never been presented to a member of the following three teams: Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets, and Tampa Bay Rays.
In recent decades, pitchers have rarely won the award. When Justin Verlander won the AL award in 2011, he became the first pitcher in either league to be named the MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992. Verlander also became the first starting pitcher to win this award since Roger Clemens accomplished the feat in 1986. The National League went even longer without an MVP award to a pitcher. After Bob Gibson won in 1968, no pitcher in that league was named MVP until Clayton Kershaw in 2014.Mickey Mantle
Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 – August 13, 1995), nicknamed The Commerce Comet and The Mick, was an American professional baseball player. Mantle played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career (1951-1968) with the New York Yankees as a center fielder and first baseman. Mantle was one of the best players and sluggers and is regarded by many as the greatest switch hitter in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.
Mantle was arguably the greatest offensive threat of any center fielder in baseball history. He has the highest career OPS+ of any center fielder, and he had the highest stolen base percentage in history at the time of his retirement. In addition, compared to the other four center fielders on the All-Century team, he had the lowest career rate of grounding into double plays, and he had the highest World Series on-base percentage and World Series slugging percentage. He also had an excellent 0.984 fielding percentage when playing center field. Mantle was noted for his ability to hit for both average and power, especially tape measure home runs. He hit 536 MLB career home runs, batted .300 or more ten times, and is the career leader (tied with Jim Thome) in walk-off home runs, with a combined thirteen—twelve in the regular season and one in the postseason.
Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956, leading the major leagues in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in (RBI). He later wrote a book about his best year in baseball. He was an All-Star for 16 seasons, playing in 16 of the 20 All-Star Games that were played. He was an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times and a Gold Glove winner once. Mantle appeared in 12 World Series including seven championships, and he holds World Series records for the most home runs (18), RBIs (40), extra-base hits (26), runs (42), walks (43), and total bases (123).Minor League Baseball
Minor League Baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development and a way to prepare for the major leagues. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses. Most are members of the umbrella organization known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which operates under the Commissioner of Baseball within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent baseball leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.
Except for the Mexican League, teams in the organized minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated but are directly affiliated with one major league team through a standardized Player Development Contract (PDC). These leagues also go by the nicknames the "farm system", "farm club", or "farm team(s)" because of a joke passed around by major league players in the 1930s when St. Louis Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey formalized the system, and teams in small towns were "growing players down on the farm like corn".
Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball teams may enter into a PDC for a two- or four-year term. At the expiration of a PDC term, teams may renew their affiliation, or sign new PDCs with different clubs, though many relationships are renewed and endure for extended time periods. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals and Omaha Golden Spikes) have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals since the Royals joined the American League in 1969, but the Columbus Clippers changed affiliations, after being associated with the New York Yankees from 1979, to the Washington Nationals in 2007, and have been affiliated with the Cleveland Indians since 2009.
A few minor league teams are directly owned by their major league parent club, such as the Springfield Cardinals, owned by the St. Louis Cardinals, and all of the Atlanta Braves' affiliates except the Florida Fire Frogs. Minor League teams that are owned directly by the major league club do not have PDCs with the parent club and are typically not part of the reaffiliation shuffles that occur each year.
Today, there are 14 MLB-affiliated minor leagues with a total of 160 revenue-generating teams, located in large, medium, and small cities and suburbs across the United States and Canada, and there are three MLB-affiliated rookie leagues with a total of 80 teams, located in Arizona, Florida, and the Dominican Republic, though these teams do not generate revenue. The Mexican League, with 16 teams, is independent but closely tied with MLB. Several more independent leagues operate in the United States and Canada.National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an American history museum and hall of fame, located in Cooperstown, New York, and operated by private interests. It serves as the central point for the study of the history of baseball in the United States and beyond, displays baseball-related artifacts and exhibits, and honors those who have excelled in playing, managing, and serving the sport. The Hall's motto is "Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations."
The word Cooperstown is often used as shorthand (or a metonym) for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, similarly to Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
The Hall of Fame was established in 1939 by Stephen Carlton Clark, the owner of a local hotel. Clark had sought to bring tourists to a city hurt by the Great Depression, which reduced the local tourist trade, and Prohibition, which devastated the local hops industry. A new building was constructed, and the Hall of Fame was dedicated on June 12, 1939. (Clark's granddaughter, Jane Forbes Clark, is the current chairman of the Board of Directors.)
The erroneous claim that Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown was instrumental in the early marketing of the Hall.
An expanded library and research facility opened in 1994. Dale Petroskey became the organization's president in 1999.In 2002, the Hall launched Baseball As America, a traveling exhibit that toured ten American museums over six years. The Hall of Fame has since also sponsored educational programming on the Internet to bring the Hall of Fame to schoolchildren who might not visit. The Hall and Museum completed a series of renovations in spring 2005. The Hall of Fame also presents an annual exhibit at FanFest at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Jeff Idelson replaced Petroskey as president on April 16, 2008. He had been acting as president since March 25, 2008, when Petroskey was forced to resign for having "failed to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility" and making "judgments that were not in the best interest of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum."New York Mets
The New York Mets are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of Queens. The Mets compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. The Mets are one of two Major League clubs based in New York City; the other is the New York Yankees of the American League East.
One of baseball's first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York's departed NL teams, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. The Mets' colors are composed of the Dodgers' blue and the Giants' orange, which also form the outer two bands of the New York City flag. During the 1962 and 1963 seasons, the Mets played their home games at the Polo Grounds. From 1964 to 2008, the Mets' home ballpark was Shea Stadium. In 2009, they moved into their current ballpark, Citi Field.In their 1962 inaugural season, the Mets posted a record of 40–120, the worst regular season record since MLB went to a 162-game schedule (two games were canceled). The team never finished better than second to last until the 1969 "Miracle Mets" beat the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series in what is considered one of the biggest upsets in World Series history. Since then, they have played in four additional World Series, including a dramatic run in 1973 that ended in a seven-game loss to the Oakland Athletics, a second championship in 1986 over the Boston Red Sox, a Subway Series loss against their cross-town rivals the New York Yankees in 2000, and a five-game loss to the Kansas City Royals in 2015.
The Mets qualified to play in the Major League Baseball postseason in 1988 and 2006, coming within one game of the World Series both years. After near-misses in 2007 and 2008, the Mets made the playoffs in 2015 for the first time in nine years, and won their first NL pennant in 15 years. The team again returned to the playoffs in 2016, this time with a wild card berth. This was the team's second back-to-back playoff appearance, the first occurring during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
As of the end of the 2018 MLB season, the Mets overall win-loss record is 4362–4732, good for a .480 win percentage.New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of the Bronx. The Yankees compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. They are one of two major league clubs based in New York City, the other being the New York Mets of the National League. In the 1901 season, the club began play in the AL as the Baltimore Orioles (no relation to the modern Baltimore Orioles). Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchased the franchise (which had ceased operations) and moved it to New York City, renaming the club the New York Highlanders. The Highlanders were officially renamed the Yankees in 1913.The team is owned by Yankee Global Enterprises, an LLC controlled by the family of the late George Steinbrenner, who purchased the team in 1973. Brian Cashman is the team's general manager, and Aaron Boone is the team's field manager. The team's home games were played at the original Yankee Stadium from 1923 to 1973 and from 1976 to 2008. In 1974 and 1975, the Yankees shared Shea Stadium with the Mets, in addition to the New York Jets, and New York Giants. In 2009, they moved into a new ballpark of the same name after the previous facility was closed and demolished. The team is perennially among the leaders in MLB attendance; in 2011, the Yankees had the second-highest attendance.
As arguably the most successful sports club in the United States, the Yankees have won 40 AL pennants, and 27 World Series championships, all of which are MLB records. The Yankees have won more titles than any other franchise in the four major North American sports leagues. Forty-four Yankees players and eleven Yankees managers have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford. In pursuit of winning championships, the franchise has used a large payroll to attract talent, particularly during the Steinbrenner era. According to Forbes, the Yankees are the second highest valued sports franchise in the United States and the fifth in the world, with an estimated value of approximately $4 billion. The Yankees have garnered enormous popularity and a dedicated fanbase, as well as widespread enmity from fans of other MLB teams. The team's rivalry with the Boston Red Sox is one of the most well-known rivalries in U.S. sports.
From 1903-2018, the Yankees overall win-loss record is 10275-7781 (a .569 winning "percentage").Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics, often referred to as the A's, are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland, California. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) West division. The team plays its home games at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum. They have won nine World Series championships, tied for the third-most of all current MLB teams. The 2018 season was the club's 50th while based in Oakland.
One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the team was founded in Philadelphia in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. They won three World Series championships from 1910 to 1913 and back-to-back titles in 1929 and 1930. The team's owner and manager for its first 50 years was Connie Mack and Hall of Fame players included Chief Bender, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Jimmie Foxx, and Lefty Grove. The team left Philadelphia for Kansas City in 1955 and became the Kansas City Athletics before moving to Oakland in 1968. They won three consecutive World Championships between 1972 and 1974, led by players including Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, ace reliever Rollie Fingers, and colorful owner Charlie O. Finley. After being sold by Finley to Walter A. Haas Jr., the team won three consecutive pennants and the 1989 World Series behind the "Bash Brothers", Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, as well as Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson and manager Tony La Russa.St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are an American professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. Busch Stadium has been their home ballpark since 2006. One of the most successful franchises in baseball history, the Cardinals have won 11 World Series championships, the second-most in Major League Baseball (behind the New York Yankees) and the most in the National League. Their 19 National League pennants rank third in NL history. In addition, St. Louis has won 13 division titles in the East and Central divisions.
While still in the old American Association (AA), named then as the St. Louis Browns, the team won four AA league championships, qualifying them to play in the professional baseball championship tournament (a forerunner of the modern World Series, established 1903) of that era. They tied in 1885 and won outright in 1886 and lost in 1888 for the early trophy Hall Cup versus the New York Giants. The others both times against the Chicago Cubs (originally the Chicago White Stockings then), in the first meetings of the Cardinals–Cubs rivalry between nearby cities of St. Louis and Chicago that continues to this day.
With origins as one of the early professional baseball clubs in St. Louis and the nation, entrepreneur Chris von der Ahe purchased a barnstorming club in 1881, then known as the Brown Stockings, and established them as charter members of the old American Association (AA) base ball league which played 1882 to 1891, the following season. Upon the discontinuation of the AA, St. Louis joined the continuing National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, later known simply as the National League, (organized in 1876), in 1892; at that time, they were called the Browns (not to be confused with a later team also known as the St. Louis Browns in the American League, 1902-1953) and also as the Perfectos before they were officially renamed eight years later as the Cardinals in 1900.
Cardinals achievements that have impacted MLB and sports events in general include manager/owner Branch Rickey's pioneering of the farm system, Rogers Hornsby's two batting Triple Crowns, Dizzy Dean's 30-win season in 1934, Stan Musial's 17 MLB and 29 NL records, Bob Gibson's 1.12 earned run average (ERA) in 1968, Whitey Herzog's Whiteyball, Mark McGwire breaking the single-season home run record in 1998, and the 2011 championship team's unprecedented comebacks. The Cardinals have won 105 or more games in four different seasons and won 100 or more a total of nine times. Cardinals players have won 20 league MVPs, four batting Triple Crowns, and three Cy Young Awards. Baseball Hall of Fame inductees include Lou Brock, Dizzy Dean, Bob Gibson, Whitey Herzog, Rogers Hornsby, Joe Medwick, Stan Musial, Branch Rickey, Red Schoendienst, Ozzie Smith, and Bruce Sutter.
In 2018, Forbes valued the Cardinals at $1.9 billion, making them the 7th-most valuable franchise in MLB; their revenue the previous year was $319 million, and their operating income was $40.0 million. Since their purchase in 1995, owner William DeWitt, Jr.'s investment group has seen enormous growth from the $147 million purchase price. John Mozeliak is the President of Baseball Operations, Mike Girsch is the general manager and Mike Shildt is the manager. The Cardinals are renowned for their strong fan support: despite being in one of the sport's mid-level markets, they routinely see attendances among the league's highest, and are consistently among the Top 3 in MLB in local television ratings.
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