Baseball may be America's pastime, but that doesn't mean that everyone understands all the rules that make up the game. It's possible to watch and enjoy the game without knowing all the terms and lingo, but knowing some basics makes the game even more interesting.
Strike zone: The strike zone is the area from about midway down the batter's torso to their knees. When a batter swings at a ball, it's right in that area.
Strike: A strike is a pitched ball that goes right into that range of the batter, as long as it is right over home plate. If the batter swings on the ball and misses, it is a strike. The umpire may also rule the pitch a strike if it goes cleanly through the strike zone and the batter could have swung on the ball and didn't. If a player gets three strikes, they are out.
Ball: In baseball, ball can mean a couple of things. One is that it is the object being played with. The other is a pitch that is outside the strike zone and wasn't swung on by the batter. If a batter gets four balls, they get a free walk to first base.
Count: The count refers to how many balls and strikes a batter has. The number of balls always comes first. So a count of 1/2 would mean that the batter has 1 ball and 2 strikes. A loaded count means that the batter has 3/2, or three balls and two strikes.
Brush back: A brush back happens when the pitcher thinks that the batter is crowding home plate, or standing too close to or on home plate. The pitcher will throw a ball that is designed to just barely miss the hitter. If the pitch does hit the batter, it's usually referred to as a bean ball, and the batter can get a free walk to first base.
Seventh inning stretch: The 7th inning stretch happens in between the top half and the bottom half of the 7th inning. There is a break of a few minutes. This time is when the spectators can get up, stretch, and run to the bathroom or concession stand without missing any of the action. The song Take Me Out to the Ball Game is also usually played and sung during the 7th inning stretch.
Inning: There are nine innings in a game, unless the game is tied at the end of the ninth. Each inning consists of a top and a bottom. The top of the inning is when the visiting team bats and the home team pitches. The bottom of the inning is the reverse.
Baseball can be an exciting and complex game, and it is often called the thinking man's game. So if you're unfamiliar with baseball, and your child or someone else you know is doing travel baseball tryouts, learning these terms should allow you to enjoy their games even more.