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Cubans helped spread the game throughout the Caribbean region. Two Cuban brothers brought baseball to the Dominican Republic in the s, and Cubans, along with local nationals who had studied in the United States, introduced baseball to Venezuela in and to Puerto Rico in Cuban refugees from the independence struggle, along with railroad workers and U. Today baseball remains the most important sport in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, and is among the most popular sports in Puerto Rico.

Football soccer remains the dominant sport in Mexico but is challenged by baseball in certain regions of the country; baseball is also an important sport in Central America. In the final decades of the 20th century, players from Latin American countries and Puerto Rico became an increasingly dominant force in major league baseball in the United States. Games are played between October and January, with the winners of the four leagues meeting in the Caribbean Series each February.

In Mexico there is also a summer league affiliated with Minor League Baseball the governing body of minor league baseball in the United States that has been given Triple A status.

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Adolfo Domingo Luque Guzman, a right-handed pitcher, made his major league debut in with the Boston Braves but spent most of his career in the United States with the Cincinnati Reds from to Library of His season, when he Congress Prints and Photographs recorded 27 wins and 8 losses and posted a 1. Luque is described as having an explosive temper and a caustic tongue.

An incident in in Cincinnati certainly underscored those personality traits. When players on the New York Giants bench were taunting Luque, he placed his glove and ball on the pitching mound, went into the Giants dugout, and punched the player—Casey Stengel—whom he believed to be the primary instigator. During his 20 years in the major leagues, he won games and lost When his major league playing career was over, Luque was a coach for the New York Giants and a title-winning manager in the Mexican League.

He 58 7 A National Pastime 7 played more than half of his 23 Cuban seasons with Almendares, the team he debuted with in Luque had 93 wins and 62 losses in official Cuban League games, but he also barnstormed throughout the island, hiring himself out to several sugar mill teams. He managed eight Cuban League championship teams between and and was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in Havana in Professional baseball leagues existed in Cuba from until , when the Cuban government abolished the professional game. With all the Cuban talent now at the amateur level, the Cubans began to dominate international amateur competition, winning the first gold medals given in baseball at the Olympic Games in Barcelona and Atlanta Baseball in Asia and the Pacific Baseball was introduced in Japan in the s.

It quickly gained popularity and by the end of the century had become a national sport. A professional league was organized in , and the two current leagues, the Central and the Pacific, began to operate in The most famous Japanese professional player is Oh Sadaharu, who hit home runs while playing for the Yomiuri Giants between and Oh led the league in hitting 5 times, led in runs batted in RBIs 13 times, and was selected Most Valuable Player on 9 occasions. In the left-handed hitter batted only. He then studied Zen Buddhism and several martial arts to improve his batting skills, and he adopted an unusual batting stance—known as the flamingo— in which he stood on one leg while awaiting the pitch.

His batting philosophy involved an attitude far different from that found in American baseball.

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The Britannica Guide to Baseball by Adam Augustyn

My strength and skills were only part of the equation. The other half was theirs.

By comparison, the leading home-run hitter of all time in Major League Baseball in the United States, Hank Aaron, had a career total of It is difficult to compare these records. Oh hit in smaller parks and against less-skilled pitching, but he forged his record while playing in a league with a game season and against a large number of slow-ball, or junk-ball, pitchers. When his playing career was over, Oh managed the Tokyo Giants for the —88 seasons. Some of his decisions as a manager stirred controversy and called into question the notion of fair play in Japanese baseball.

The public was quick to forgive, however, when Oh managed the Japanese team to victory in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in While the Japanese leagues have long imported players from the United States, only recently have Japanese players begun to play in the major leagues in the United States. In pitcher Hideo Nomo became the first Japanese citizen to join a U. Nomo won National League Rookie of the Year honours for his performance with the Los Angeles Dodgers in , became a hero in Japan, and drew the attention of the American public to the quality of Japanese baseball.

Ichiro Suzuki, as an outfielder with the Seattle Mariners at the turn of the 21st century, was another player who impressed American baseball fans. Baseball is also an important sport in Korea, where there is a professional league, the Korea Baseball Organization, that has fielded an eight-team circuit since 61 7 The Britannica Guide to Baseball 7 Taiwan, which has produced several Little League world champion teams, has two professional leagues, the Chinese Professional Baseball League, a four-team league that started in , and the Taiwan Major League, a fourteam league that began operations in Australia has an eight-team professional league, the International Baseball Association Australia, which started in International Competition Baseball debuted as an Olympic sport at the Games in Barcelona, Spain, and in the late s the International Baseball Federation permitted professionals to play in international competitions.

But because the Olympic Summer Games take place during the Major League Baseball season, the Olympic tournament failed to attract the top players in the sport. In the International Olympic Committee voted to drop the sport from the Summer program following the Olympics.

The Britannica Guide to Baseball (The World of Sports)

That same year the International Baseball Federation sanctioned the World Baseball Classic, a triennial international competition between national teams consisting of professional and amateur players. The inaugural World Baseball Classic was held in March It featured 16 teams from all parts of the globe and was won by Japan. No other sport provides fans with so much numerical depth and breadth. Apart from the box score introduced in that newspapers publish to provide statistical summaries of specific games, in the s annual guides began furnishing year-end tabulations of batting, fielding, and pitching exploits.

Hefty encyclopaedias of baseball contain detailed records of the performances of thousands of players and team seasons, and a vast array of special statistics are offered on the Internet. The official scorer rules on each play, deciding, for example, whether a pitch that gets away from the catcher is a wild pitch a pitch so off target that the catcher had no chance to catch it or a passed ball a pitch that should have been handled by the catcher. Members of the media and fans often choose to keep score of the game also. Official scorers and media professionals use detailed forms to record every pitch.

Fans, who typically buy a simple scorecard at the game, record the action in a much simpler fashion. A basic scorecard, such as those sold at baseball parks, includes two charts, one for each team. A chart consists of the innings, marked along the top of the scorecard, and the batting order along the vertical axis. In between are boxes representing the potential at bats of each player in the lineup.

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Underneath each chart there is a small box used to record pitching statistics. All defensive players are assigned a number for score keeping; the methods of keeping score vary from fan to fan, but the numbers assigned to each position are the same everywhere. The pitcher is 1; the catcher is 2; first, second, and third basemen are numbered 3, 4, and 5, respectively; the shortstop is 6; and the left, centre, and right fielders are numbered 7, 8, and 9, respectively.

With these numbers, plays such as a groundball to the shortstop who fields the ball and throws to first base for an out would be recorded as There are also abbreviations, such as SB for stolen base and E for error, that are found on almost every scorecard.

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Software programs that allow fans to keep score on smartphones and personal digital assistants PDAs are now available. The information in a scorecard is easily translated into a box score, which serves as a statistical summary of a game and is a staple of baseball news reporting. No individual accomplishment possesses more drama for fans than the tally of home runs. It should be noted 65 7 The Britannica Guide to Baseball 7 that, although Josh Gibson is credited with hitting 89 home runs in one season, Negro league records, which were sketchily kept, are not included in Major League Baseball statistics.

Ruth had long held that record as well, with a career home-run total of , until Aaron passed him in For several decades, many of the records established by Ty Cobb, who played from through , remained unbroken. Henderson also holds the record for career steals with 1, Ripken finished his streak in with 2, games. Late in the 20th century, pitching records came under assault.

While Cy Young outpaced his modern counterparts in career wins with , pitchers since the midth century have far surpassed earlier hurlers in career strikeouts, led by Nolan Ryan, who retired in 66 7 Analyzing Baseball 7 with 5, No one, however, has equaled the record of Grover Cleveland Alexander, who is the only four-time winner of the Triple Crown of pitching that is, leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and the lowest earned run average.

Alexander won the Triple Crown in , , , and In addition to individual marks, baseball fans carefully monitor record-shattering team performances.


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Great dynasties, teams that dominated play from year to year, have characterized much of major league baseball history. Hence, New York teams appeared in 53 of World Series through the year In particular, since the New York Yankees have towered over baseball: through the season the Yankees captured 40 American League pennants, and from through they had a 46—15 postseason divisional playoffs and World Series record, more postseason wins than all their competitors combined. Lengthening the pitching distance to 60 feet 6 inches April 14, , Cincinnati, Ohio, U. During his career Rose was noted for his all-around ability and enthusiasm.

He was named Player of the Decade —79 by The Sporting news. At the end of his career, he became better known for the accusations of gambling that led Major League Baseball to ban him from the sport in Peter Edward Rose began to play in organized youth baseball at age eight. During his 24 seasons in the major leagues, he played second base, left field, right field, third base, and first base exclusively from , leading the league in fielding in , , , and In he went to the Philadelphia Phillies and helped that team win the World Series in Rose began the season with the Montreal Expos, but in mid-season he was traded back to Cincinnati, where he made his record-breaking hit in as player-manager of the Reds.


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  4. By the time he retired as a player in , Rose had a record career total of 4, hits. His other records included most games played, 3,; most times at bat, 14,; most runs scored, 2,; and most seasons with hits or more, Rose denied having bet on baseball, but in August Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti banned him from Major League Baseball for life as a consequence of the investigation.

    This ruling made Rose ineligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his second autobiography, My Prison Without Bars , he admitted to gambling on baseball. The hitting drought continued until the s; then the outlawing of the spitball, the use of more balls per game, and the free swinging of Ruth produced a new offensive onslaught. Offense continued to dominate the game until , when baseball officials sought to speed up games by increasing the size of the strike zone called by the umpires. Lowering the pitching mound and reducing the size of the strike zone in , along with the advent of the designated hitter rule replacing the pitcher in the batting order with a betterhitting player in the American League in , all served to partially reverse the decline in offensive productivity.

    The s witnessed a new hitting revolution, with a proliferation of home runs at its centre.

    Indeed, before a player hit 50 or more home runs in a season just 18 times; 70 7 Analyzing Baseball 7 from to there were 15 homer seasons. By the sluggers were averaging 1 homer for each 30 at bats. Just two years later the record was shattered by Bonds. Initially it was believed that this outburst of power was the result of lighter bats, a new style of hitting, an arguably more resilient ball, and weakened pitching in the wake of the expansion of the number of teams in the league.

    The slugging explosion was also attributed to the increased muscularity of hitters, though the matter of how hitters had gone about becoming stronger became increasingly controversial. In the mids, rumours circulated of the spreading use of steroids, which increase muscle mass.