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Baseball's Basic Rules

By Ripken Baseball, 12/31/99, 12:00PM CST


Innings & Outs

An “out” is when an offensive player must leave the field after:

  1. Being tagged by a ball in play
  2. Not making it to the base or home plate before a member of the opposing team with the ball in their glove does
  3. Swinging three times at a pitch and missing all three times

Once the offensive team gets three outs, it’s their turn to play defense. An inning ends after both teams have played both offense and defense, and each team gets three outs.


Each batter has three chances to hit a ball that’s pitched to them. If they swing and miss, or they don’t swing on a pitch that’s ruled fair by the umpire, it’s called a strike. After three strikes, the team receives an “out.”

Foul Balls

There are lines drawn on the field that connect the bases. The lines leading from home plate to first base, and from home plate to third base are used to determine whether a ball is in play. If the ball is hit between the base lines, it’s in play. If a ball is hit outside of the base lines, it’s called a foul.

If a batter hits a foul on the first or second pitch, it counts as a strike. If a batter hits a foul on the third pitch, it counts as a foul, and the batter is allowed another pitch.


If a pitcher throws an unfair pitch, it’s called a ball. If the pitcher throws four balls, then the batter is allowed to walk to first base.

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