Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The goal is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square, or diamond. Players on one team (the batting team) take turns hitting against the pitcher of the other team (the fielding team), which tries to stop them from scoring runs by getting hitters out in any of several ways. A player on the batting team can stop at any of the bases and later advance via a teammate's hit or other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn at bat - 3 outs - for each team constitutes an inning; nine innings make up a professional game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-eighteenth century. This game and the related rounders were brought by British and Irish immigrants to North America, where the modern version of baseball developed. By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball on the professional, amateur, and youth levels is now popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia. The game is sometimes referred to as hardball, in contrast to the derivative game of softball.
In North America, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL). Each league has three divisions: East, West, and Central. Every year, the champion of Major League Baseball is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. Five teams make the playoffs from each league: the three regular season division winners, plus two wild card teams. Baseball is the leading team sport in both Japan and Cuba, and the top level of play is similarly split between two leagues: Japan's Central League and Pacific League; Cuba's West League and East League. In the National and Central leagues, the pitcher is required to bat, per the traditional rules. In the American, Pacific, and both Cuban leagues, there is a tenth player, a designated hitter, who bats for the pitcher. Each top-level team has a farm system of one or more minor league teams. These teams allow younger players to develop as they gain on-field experience against opponents with similar levels of skill. (more...) Template:/box-footer
The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card
depicts Pittsburgh Pirates
' Honus Wagner
, a dead-ball era baseball player
who is widely considered to be one of the best players of all time. The card was designed and issued by the American Tobacco Company
(ATC) from 1909 to 1911 as part of its T206
series. Wagner refused to allow production of his baseball card to continue, either because he did not want children
to buy cigarette packs
to get his card, or because he wanted more compensation from the ATC. The ATC ended production of the Wagner card and a total of only 50 to 200 cards were ever distributed to the public. In 1933, the card was first listed at a price value of US$
50 in Jefferson Burdick
's The American Card Catalog
, making it the most expensive baseball card in the world at the time. The most famous T206 Honus Wagner is the "Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner" card. The card has a controversial past, as some speculate that it was once altered, based on the card's odd texture and shape. The Gretzky T206 Wagner was first sold by Alan Ray to a baseball memorabilia
collector named Bill Mastro, who sold the card two years later to Jim Copeland for nearly four times the price he had originally paid. Copeland's sizable transaction revitalized interest in the sports memorabilia collection market. In 1991, Copeland sold the card to ice hockey
figures Wayne Gretzky
and Bruce McNall
for $451,000. Gretzky resold the card four years later to Wal-Mart
and Treat Entertainment for $500,000, for use as the top prize in a promotional contest. The next year, a Florida postal worker won the card and auctioned it at Christie's
for $640,000 to collector Michael Gidwitz. In 2000, the card was sold in an auction on eBay
to Brian Seigel for $1.27 million. In February 2007, Seigel sold the card to an anonymous collector for $2.35 million. Less than six months later, the card was sold to a California collector for $2.8 million. These transactions have made the Wagner card the most valuable baseball card in history. A number of other T206 Wagners, both legitimate and fake, have surfaced in recent years. Some of the real cards have fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars in auctions. One particular T206 Honus Wagner owned by John Cobb and Ray Edwards has attracted media controversy over its authenticity, despite many leading hobby experts regarding it to be a fake.
James Rodney Richard (born March 7, 1950) is a former right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played his entire career, from 1971 to 1980, with the Houston Astros. After leaving high school, Richard was selected by the Astros as the second pick in the first round of the 1969 amateur draft. From the time he made his major league debut with the Astros in 1971 until 1975, Richard had a limited role as an Astros pitcher, throwing no more than 72 innings in a season. In 1975, Richard played his first full season in the majors as a starting pitcher. From 1976 to 1980, he was one of the premier pitchers in the majors, twice leading the National League in strikeouts, once in earned run average, and three times in hits allowed per nine innings, winning at least 18 games each year. Richard could throw a fastball over 100 mph and has the fastest recorded slider in the books at 98 mph. On July 30, 1980, Richard suffered a stroke and collapsed while playing a game of catch before an Astros game, and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to remove a life-threatening blood clot in his neck. His condition brought a sudden end to his major league career at the age of 30. His 313 strikeouts in 1979 remain an Astros franchise record, and he held the team's record for career strikeouts (1,493) until 1987. In 1981, Richard attempted a comeback with the Astros, but this failed because the stroke had slowed down his reaction time and weakened his depth perception. He spent the next few seasons in the minor leagues before being released by the Astros in 1984. After his professional baseball career ended, Richard became involved in unsuccessful business deals and went through two divorces, which led to him being homeless and destitute in 1994. Richard found succor in a local church and later became a Christian minister.
Major League Baseball
(MLB) honors its best relief pitcher
monthly with the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award
and annually with the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award
. The awards were initially part of a sponsorship agreement between MLB and package delivery company DHL Express
from 2005 to 2010. They are usually presented to a closer
, though all relief pitchers are eligible.
From its inception in 2005 through 2008, the annual award was voted online by fans from a group of 10 finalists chosen by an MLB panel. The panel took sole responsibility to select the annual winner starting in 2009. The winner of the monthly award is decided on by a four-man panel, which originally consisted of Dennis Eckersley, Jerome Holtzman, Rick Sutcliffe and Bob Watson.
New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has won the award more than any other American League pitcher; he received the annual award in 2005, 2006, and 2009, and was named the monthly winner in April 2008 and July 2009. Trevor Hoffman has won four times in the National League; he won the monthly award in May 2005, September 2006, May 2007, and May 2009. Joe Nathan (July 2006, July 2008, and June 2009) and Rafael Soriano (May 2010, July 2010, and August 2010) have won the monthly award three times. Other pitchers who have won multiple times include Jonathan Papelbon (April 2006 and the 2007 annual award), Brad Lidge (July 2005 and the 2008 annual award), Heath Bell (April 2009 and the 2010 annual award), and Francisco Rodríguez (August 2006 and June 2008). J. J. Putz of the Arizona Diamondbacks is the most recent monthly winner for his performance in September 2011.