Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams. Each team normally has nine players.
The objective of baseball is to score runs by the batter hitting a ball which is thrown by a bowler.
The batter must hit the ball far enough so they can run and touch a series of four markers called bases arranged at the corners of diamond.
Players on one team take turns trying to hit and score runs while the other team tries to stop them from scoring by getting the batters out. This can be done in a variety of ways.
A player on the batting team can stop at any of the bases and hope to score on a teammate's hit. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team gets three people out.
The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins. The game is sometimes referred to as hardball in contrast to the very similar game of softball.
Baseball was incorporated into the Asian Games in 1994.
List of disciplines
Baseball is a sport which was primarily developed in the United States in the early 19th century. Legend has it that the sport was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York, but that legend has been largely discredited, and Doubleday should instead be recognised for being an American Civil War hero.
The sport is based on several earlier British sports, such as rounders and cricket, which were popular in the 17th and 18th century. After its early development in the United States, professional teams and leagues were later formed, especially the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1871, the first formal professional organisation.
Five years later, in 1876, this organisation was replaced by the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs.
Baseball later spread to many nations, notably Japan, Taiwan, Australia, and also to many Latin American countries, including Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Cuba's first professional league was formed in 1878, only two years after the National League in the United States.
Many Latin Americans and Asians have played in the American Major Leagues. Baseball was contested in the Olympics as a demonstration sport in 1912, 1936, 1956, 1964, 1984 and 1988.
Finnish baseball (pes?pallo) was a demonstration sport during the 1952 Helsinki Games. Baseball became a full medal sport in Barcelona in 1992, while the similar sport of softball was added to the Olympic programme in 1996.
The United States no longer dominates this sport in international play, as the Cubans and several Central American and Asian countries produce excellent teams. Australia won silver medal in Athens 2004.