It’s spring—and that means it’s baseball season in the US!
Played in the United States since the 18th century, baseball has become a traditional American sport, affectionately known as “the national pastime.” You can’t learn English in the USA without watching an all-American baseball game (well you can, but we don’t recommend it)!
With a Major League Baseball team near each of the LCI English schools in the US, it’s both fun and easy to “catch” (watch) a game.
Check out the Houston Astros when you study English in Houston. Attend a Colorado Rockies’ game while you learn English in Denver. Take a weekend road trip to see the Philadelphia Phillies when you study English in Pennsylvania. If you learn English in Kansas City, you can watch the Royals—who made it to the 2014 World Series—take the field (set up to play defense on the playing field).
And to help you prepare, we’ve created a list of American baseball lingo (terminology), so you’re ready when the umpire (referee) yells, “play ball!” (start the game).
1. Bases: The four corners of the baseball diamond (field) that much be touched by a runner in order to score a run (point). They are first base, second base, third base and home plate, which is where the batter (the player whose turn it is to hit) stands to hit the ball.
2. Strike zone: The area a pitch (the ball thrown towards the batter) must pass through in order to be considered good. The strike zone is above home plate and usually between a batter‘s knees and his chest.
3. Strike: When a batter swings at a ball and misses, or doesn’t swing at a good pitch (a ball thrown in the strike zone), it is called a strike. Three strikes is a strike out, and the batter’s turn is over.
4. Ball: A pitch thrown outside the strike zone. If a batter is thrown four balls, he gets to walk (to proceed to first base without a hit).
5. Single: A hit that allows the runner to run to first base. Double: to second base. Triple: to third base. If a batter doesn’t get a hit or a walk, he is out and his turn is over.
6. Home run: A hit that allows the runner to run all four bases back to home plate. Often the ball is hit out of the park (over the walls of the playing field and into or past the stands), but it can be an inside-the-park home run, usually if the fielding team makes an error like dropping the ball or making a bad throw.
7. Bases loaded: When there is a runner on each of the three bases. If the bases are loaded and the batter hits a home run, it’s a grand slam, which counts for four runs.
8. Infield: The dirt area where the bases are located. Outfield: The grassy area beyond the bases.
9. Foul: A hit ball, either on the ground or in the air, which goes outside the foul lines at the edges of the field. The foul lines are usually marked by white chalk on the field and yellow poles in the outfield.
10. Pop fly or pop-up: A ball that is hit very high in the air but doesn’t go very far in the field.
11. Line drive: A ball hit hard and straight (on a “line”), not touching the ground or going high in the air.
12. Grounder: A hit ball that travels on the ground rather than through the air.
13. Steal: A runner who advances to another base before the ball is hit by the batter is stealing a base.
14. Inning: The portion of the game where teams alternate playing offense and defense. Each team gets three outs per inning, and then it’s the other team’s turn to play. There are nine innings in a game.
15. Dugout: The covered seating area on the sides of the field where the players wait for their turn to play.
Are you ready for baseball now? Play ball!