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Portal:Baseball

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Baseball (crop).jpg
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...)

Selected article

The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card
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.

Selected picture

Andy Pettitte
Credit: Keith Allison

Andrew Eugene "Andy" Pettitte; born June 15, 1972) is an American former baseball starting pitcher who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), primarily for the New York Yankees. He also pitched for the Houston Astros. Pettitte won five World Series championships with the Yankees and was a three-time All-Star. He ranks as MLB's all-time postseason wins leader with 19.

Selected biography

Walter Francis O'Malley (October 9, 1903 – August 9, 1979) was an American sports executive who owned the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers team in Major League Baseball from 1950 to 1979 and who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He served as Brooklyn Dodger chief legal counsel when Jackie Robinson broke the racial color barrier in 1947. In 1958, as owner of the Dodgers, he brought major league baseball to the West Coast, moving the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and coordinating the move of the New York Giants to San Francisco at a time when there were no teams west of Missouri. For this, he was long vilified by Brooklyn Dodger fans.

O'Malley was mentioned several times in Danny Kaye's 1962 song tribute, "The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song (Oh, Really? No, O'Malley!)", which spins a tale of a fantasy game between the Dodgers and the Giants. At one point, the umpire's call goes against the home team:

Down in the dugout, Alston glowers
Up in the booth, Vin Scully frowns;
Out in the stands, O'Malley grins...
Attendance 50,000!
So ....what does O'Malley do? CHARGE!!

On March 17, 1970, Walter turned over the presidency of the team to his son Peter, remaining as Chairman until his death in 1979. Peter O'Malley held the position until 1998 when the team was sold to Rupert Murdoch. The team remained successful on the field under Peter and won the World Series in both 1981 and 1988. They remained successful at the box office as well: by the end of the 1980s, they had not only became the first franchise to draw three million fans, but also they had done it more times than all other franchises combined.

Quotes

"On my tombstone just write, 'The sorest loser that ever lived.'"
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Selected list

Paul Molitor, tied for most Silver Sluggers at DH
The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (MLB). These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver. Designated hitters (DH) only receive a Silver Slugger Award in the American League because the batting order in the National League includes the pitcher; therefore, pitchers receive the National League award instead.

Three players are tied for the most Silver Slugger wins among designated hitters. Paul Molitor won the award four times with three different teams: the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987 and 1988; the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, when the team won the World Series; and the Minnesota Twins in 1996. Edgar Martínez won the award four times with the Seattle Mariners (1995, 1997, 2001, 2003), and David Ortiz won four consecutively from 2004 to 2007. Don Baylor won the Silver Slugger three times in four years (1983, 1985–1986) as a designated hitter with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and Frank Thomas won it twice with the Chicago White Sox (1991, 2000). Harold Baines won the award while playing for two separate teams in the same season; he was traded by the White Sox to the Texas Rangers in the middle of the 1989 season. Aubrey Huff is the most recent winner. Martínez set the records for the highest batting average and on-base percentage in a designated hitter's winning season with his .356 and .479 marks, respectively, in 1995. Manny Ramírez' slugging percentage of .647 is best among all winners at the position. Ortiz hit 54 home runs during the 2006 season, when he won his third consecutive award, and his 2005 total of 148 runs batted in is tied with Rafael Palmeiro's 1999 mark for best among designated hitters.

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