Although the national sport of the United States, baseball is a product of the old English game of rounders, and is in some respects a combination of that game and cricket. It is an exceptionally fast game, and so popular has it become in America, that some of its professional exponents are paid several million dollars a year to play for their club.

The field of play is roughly of diamond shape, each side measuring 90 feet. At each of the corners is a base, one of which is known as the home plate, and the others as first, second and third base. Situated 60 feet 5 inches from the home plate in a direct lino with the second base, is the pitchers box.

Two teams of nine players each take part in the game, one side batting as in cricket, only one batter at a time, and the other fielding. The bat is a rounded staff or club tapering gradually to the handle, and the ball has a circumference of 9 inches and weighs 5 oz.

At the beginning of a game the fielding side take up their respective positions, one at each base, two on the left side of the field, one to the right, one behind second base, one (the catcher) behind the batter, and one (the pitcher) at the pitchers box.

A batter takes his place at the home plate, and the pitcher then pitches or throws the ball to the batter in such a way that he shall force the latter to miss hitting; it. Should the batter fail to hit the ball, a strike is counted against him, and if he fails three times he is out, and another batter takes his place.

The object of the batter is to drive the ball as far as possible, keeping it within the lines leading from the home plate to bases one and three; this is called a fair ball. He then runs to the first base, and if the ball is not caught or he reaches the base before the fielders throw it to the fielder at the first base, he is safe. He may run on to the second, third, and home baces if there is time, but should he be touched between bases by a fielder with the ball in his hand, hit by a batted ball, or forced out at one of the bases, he is declared to be out.

A batter who crosses the home plate without being put out, scores a run, and if he makes a complete circuit of the bases from his own hit, he registers a home run.

When the fielding side have put out three of the batting side, the two sides exchange places, and the innings ends when the second batting side have three of their players put out.

A game consists of nine innings, but in the event of a tie in the score, further innings are played until such time as one side possesses a lead at the close of an innings.

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