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Theory Op The Game A Chapter For The Ladies






On account of the associations by which a professional game of base-ball
was supposed to be surrounded, it was for a long time thought not a
proper sport for the patronage of ladies. Gradually, however, this
illusion has been dispelled, until now at every principal contest they
are found present in large numbers. One game is generally enough to
interest the novice; she had expected to find it so difficult to
understand and she soon discovers that she knows all about it; she is
able to criticize plays and even find fault with the umpire; she is
surprised and flattered by the wonderful grasp of her own understanding,
and she begins to like the game. As with everything else that she likes
at all, she likes it with all her might, and it is only a question of a
few more games till she becomes an enthusiast. It is a fact that the
sport has no more ardent admirers than are to be found among its lady
attendants throughout the country.

Whoever has not experienced the pleasure of taking a young lady to her
first game of ball should seize the first opportunity to do so. Her
remarks about plays, her opinions of different players and the umpire,
and the questions she will ask concerning the game, are all too funny to
be missed. She is a violent partisan and at once takes strong sides, and
if her favorite team fails to bat well she characterizes the opposing
pitcher as a horrid creature; or when the teams have finished
practicing she wants to know, with charming ingenuousness, which won.
But as she gets deeper into the principles of the game her remarks
become less frequent and her questions more to the point, until her
well-timed attempts to applaud good plays and the anxious look at
critical points of the game indicate that she has at last caught the
idea.

Unfortunately, some men are not able to intelligibly explain the theory
of base-ball, while others are so engrossed with the game that they do
not care to be disturbed. For the benefit of those ladies whose escorts
either cannot, or will not, answer their questions, I will attempt to
set forth as clearly as possible the fundamental principles of the game.

There are always two opposing teams of nine players each, and they play
on a field laid out in the shape of a diamond, as seen in time diagram
on the following page.

At each corner of the diamond is a base, and these are known
respectively as home base, first base, second base, and third base. One
of the teams takes the field, that is, each of its nine players
occupies one of the nine fielding positions shown in the diagram, and
known as pitcher, catcher, first base, second base, third base, short
stop, left field, centre field, and right field; the other team goes to
the bat and tries to make runs. A run is scored in this way: One of
the nine batting players takes his position at the home base and
endeavors to hit the ball, thrown to him by the opposing pitcher, to
some part of the field where it can neither be caught before touching
the ground, nor thrown to first base before the batter himself can run
there; if he can hit it far enough to allow him to reach not only first
base, but second or third or even home, so much the better, for when he
has made the complete circuit of the bases his side is credited with one
run. If he cannot make home on his own hit he may be helped around by
the good hits of succeeding batsmen, for each one of the nine takes his
regular turn at the bat. This batting and running goes on until three of
the batting side have been put out, whereupon the batting side take
the field and the other team comes in to take its turn at bat and make
as many runs as possible. When three of a batting side have been put
out, that side is said to have had its inning, and each side is
entitled to nine innings.

A player is put out in various ways, principal among which are the
following: If he strikes three times at the ball and misses it and on
the third strike the ball is caught by the catcher; a ball which passes
over the plate between the height of the knee and shoulder and not
struck at, is called a strike just as though it had been struck at and
missed. The batsman is also out if the ball which he hits is caught by
some fielder before touching the ground; or if, having touched the
ground, it is thrown to time first-baseman before the batter himself can
reach that base. He is out if, at any time after having hit the ball, he
is touched with it in the hands of a fielder, when no part of his person
is touching a base.

There are lines drawn from the home base through the first and third-
base corners and continued indefinitely into the field. These are called
foul lines, and any hit ball falling outside of them counts as nothing
at all, unless, of course, it be caught before touching the ground; in
which case it puts the striker out.

Outside of the nine players on each side there is another important
personage, known as The Umpire. He is not placed there as a target for
the maledictions of disappointed spectators. He is of flesh and blood,
and has feelings just the same as any other human being. He is not
chosen because of his dishonesty or ignorance of the rules of the game,
neither is he an ex-horse thief nor an escaped felon; on the contrary,
he has been carefully selected by the President of the League from among
a great number of applicants on account of his supposed integrity of
character and peculiar fitness for the position; indeed, in private life
he may even pass as a gentleman.

His duties are arduous; he must decide all points of play, though taking
place on widely separated portions of the field; he determines whether a
ball has been fairly pitched over the home-base, whether a hit is fair
or foul, or whether a player has been put out in accordance with the
rules. In brief, he is expected to see all parts of the field at once
and enforce all the principal and incidental rules of the game. It would
not be strange, therefore, if he made an occasional mistake or failed to
decide in a way to suit all.

I have given thus concisely, and with the use of as few technical terms
as possible, the first principles of the game. Many things are purposely
left for the novice to learn, because any attempt to go into detail
would prove confusing. For the instruction of those who wish to master
the technical terms generally used, I subjoin some definitions. They are
intended for beginners, and though not in all cases covering the entire
ground, will yet convey the idea.





Next: Definitions

Previous: An Inquiry Into The Origin Of Base-ball With A Brief Sketch Of Its History



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