Baseball developed from a British children's game called rounders. It was imported to the American colonies in the eighteenth century and was referred to as "town ball," as well as other names. Gradually, the game began to take on its distinctive American flavor. The infield became a diamond-shaped surface, the posts used as bases became plates, field positions were established, and baseball emerged as the eighteen-player (without a designated hitter), nine-inning game that Abner Doubleday is credited with "inventing" in 1839. The first professional Baseball game in this country between two organized clubs took place on June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey. A 1908 investigative commission found Baseball to be a distinctly American sport, and it soon came to be recognized as America's national game. Baseball is commonly played in North and Central America, Japan and the Far East, as well as in South America and Europe.
Baseball consists of two teams of nine players each (ten players each if a designated hitter is utilized). There are typically nine innings, or periods, in a game in which the two teams alternate in batting and fielding. There are no time constraints on the length of an inning. Professional Baseball games used to average about two hours in length but are now rapidly approaching three hours in duration. The object of the game is for the batters to reach first base or beyond by one means or another, and advance around the bases to home base (= home plate) without being put out, and thereby scoring a run. A team retains the advantage of batting in any one inning until three players have been legally put out. At that point, the teams change batting and fielding positions. With few exceptions, the team with more runs at the end of nine innings has won.
BASEBALL DICTIONARY OF TERMS
See the books listed above for most of the more common and well-recognized vocabulary surrounding Baseball.
Less often heard buzz words found in the dugout or broadcast booth follow.
- APPLE: A Baseball.
- AUTOMATIC STRIKE: The pitcher has thrown three balls and no strikes and you "take" (do not swing at) the next pitch to try to reach base on balls. Knowing this, the pitcher almost always gets the ball over for the "automatic strike."
- BAIL OUT: Jumping back from the plate to avoid being hit with the ball when batting.
- BALTIMORE CHOP: Not found at the local butcher's. A ball hit down on the infield that bounces very high in the air.
- BANJO HITTER: Hitting fly balls or singles just out of reach of the infielders. Hitting the ball lightly, like strumming a banjo.
- BAT AROUND: When all nine hitters on a team come to bat in one inning before three outs have been made.
- BATTERY: The pitcher and catcher.
- BEANBALL OR DUSTER: A ball pitched at a batter's head with the intention of driving him back from the plate.
- BONER OR "PULLING A ROCK": To make a foolish play.
- BUSHER: Any player who has just come up from the minor leagues, or a major leaguer exhibiting improper behavior on or off the field.
- CAN OF CORN: A high pop fly.
- CIRCUIT CLOUT: A home run.
- COLLAR: Going through a whole game without making a hit.
- COUSIN: What a batter calls a pitcher he finds easy to hit.
- CROSS-FIRE DELIVERY: A pitched ball delivered by stepping in the direction of the foul line instead of toward home plate.
- CUTTING CORNERS: Pitched balls passing over the inside or outside edge of the plate.
- CY YOUNG AWARD: Given to the "Pitcher of the Year" in the major leagues by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
- FADEAWAY: A screwball.
- FEEDER: A player or coach that stands behind the mound and supplies the pitcher with baseballs during batting practice.
- FUNGO: A ball hit to a player during practice.
- GOPHER BALL: A pitched ball easily hit for a home run.
- HIGH SKY: A sky which bothers a player's vision. A cloudless sky.
- HOT STOVE LEAGUE: Baseball talk among fans during the winter before the Baseball season opens.
- HUMMER: A pitcher's fast ball.
- IRON GLOVE: A fielder who makes more than his share of errors.
- IVORY HUNTER: A big league scout who tours the minors looking for young players who might be ready for the majors.
- JUNKMAN: A pitcher, often a veteran, who has lost his fastball and throws mostly slow pitches with great control.
- KEYSTONE: Second base, so called because many key plays are made there.
- LOB: Left on base; runners left stranded when three outs are made.
- LOOP: A baseball league.
- MEAL TICKET: A baseball team's leading pitcher.
- NICK: To get a minimum number of hits and runs.
- PEA, PELLET OR PILL: All refer to a baseball.
- PORTSIDER: A left-handed pitcher. [Also referred to as a "southpaw."]
- RABBIT EARS: A name ball players are called when they cannot take a razzing or ribbing from the opposing team.
- RAP: As a verb, almost exclusively applied to ground balls. "Rapped into a double play," for example.
- RUBBER ARM: A workhorse pitcher who batters claim has an arm made of rubber.
- SACK: First base is the initial sack and second base is the keystone sack. Third base is the hot corner.
- SCORING POSITION: A base runner on second or third base.
- SKIN: That part of the field where there is no grass.
- SQUEEZE PLAY: An offensive tactic in which the batter attempts to score a base runner from third base with a bunt.
- STRONG WIND: A good throwing arm.
- TEXAS LEAGUER: A weakly hit fly or "softly" hit line drive that falls between in-rushing outfielders and out-rushing infielders.
- TOMATO: A baseball.
- TRIPLE CROWN: An award given to the major leaguer who turns in the highest batting average, the most runs batted in, and most home runs of any player in the league.
- WAITER: A batter who attempts to reach first base by obtaining a base on balls.
- WHEELS: A player's legs. He has either fast or slow wheels, depending on how he runs.
- WOODPILE: The bats in the rack in a team's dugout.
GENERAL BASEBALL REFERENCES:
- A Wife's Guide to Baseball, by Charline Gibson and Michael Rich; a comic approach to explaining Baseball for the beginner.
- All About Baseball, by Leonard Koppett; a diverse look at the game as well as the personalities.
- Baseball Player and Strategy, by Ethan Allen; the basics and strategies of Baseball - a good overall breakdown of the game.
- Baseball Talk for Beginners, by Joe Archibald; a book dealing solely with Baseball jargon.
- Learning How to Play Baseball, by Dick Siebert; another book covering the how-to's of Baseball.
- The Rule Rook, by the Diagram Group; a technical review of the rules and regulations of Baseball, as well as over fifty other sports.
STANDARD STATISTICAL CATEGORIES AND THEIR ABBREVIATIONS
- G - Games Played
- AB - Official At Bats
- R - Runs Scored
- H - Hits
- 2b - Doubles
- 3b - Triples
- HR - Home Runs
- RBI - Runs Batted in
- TB - Total Bases
- S - Sacrifices
- SF - Sacrifice Flies
- SO - Times Struck Out
- BB - Times Walked
- BBI - Times Walked Intentionally
- HB - Hit by Pitch
- SB - Stolen Bases
- CS - Caught Stealing
- GIDP - Grounded into Double Play
- G - Games Participated In
- GS - Games Started
- CG - Complete Games
- IP - Innings Pitched
- H - Hits Allowed
- R - Runs Allowed
- ER - Earned Runs Allowed
- BB - Walks Issued
- BBI - Intentional Walks Issued
- SO - Strikeouts
- WP - Wild Pitches
- HB - Hit Basemen
- SHO - Shutouts
- SAVES - Games Saved
- ERA - Earned-Run Average per 9-Inning Game
- G - Games Played
- PO - Putouts
- A - Assists
- E - Errors
- DP - Double Plays
- TC - Total Chances
- PB - Passed Ball (Catchers Only)
- T - Triple Play
- D. DEFENSIVE POSITIONS [USED IN SCOREKEEPING]:
VISUAL SKILLS IMPORTANT FOR BASEBALL
The following is a list of the visual skills critical for a baseball player. The importance of these skills changes depending on whether the player is fielding (F), batting (B), or pitching (P). After a description of the various demands, the form(s) of the game to which it is most critical will appear in parenthesis.
- VISUAL ACUITY: Both static and dynamic visual acuity are important to the baseball player. Good dynamic acuity will aid a player's reaction time and tracking ability. (B, P, F)
- PERIPHERAL VISION: Important to many positions and aspects of the game. Pitchers benefit from good peripheral vision while monitoring baserunners while pitching. Peripheral vision gives the defensive player a sense of spatial localization. It allows the players to know where they are relative to the base, to the other players and to the walls, thus avoiding collisions. It is also important to a baserunner who must keep the ball, the pitcher, the bags, and the base coach all in view as much as possible. (P, F)
- DEPTH PERCEPTION: An essential skill for an outfielder who is constantly judging fly balls. Depth perception is challenged most when the ball is hit high in the air rather than on the ground. (F)
- EYE MOTILITY: Tracking ability is integral to a batter. Hitting a Baseball has been called the most visually demanding event in sports, and good eye motility is the first step in being a good batter. Motility is also important to the fielders. (B, F)
- EYE/HAND/BODY/FOOT COORDINATION: Very helpful to the performance of a hitter as well as a fielder. (B, F)
- VISUALIZATION: Especially useful to batters and pitchers. (B, P)
- SPEED OF RECOGNITION TIME: Important to fielders; i.e., they must be able to field a hit as quickly as possible and still be able to make a play to a base. Also critical to batters that are discerning the type of pitch being thrown. (F, B)
- SPEED OF FOCUSING: A rapid change of focusing is desirable for both offensive and defensive positions to more accurately track the Baseball. Fine discrimination is not a necessity in Baseball.
- GLARE RECOVERY SPEED: Especially helpful to fielders on sunny days and at night games. After fielding a ball "in the light," the player must recover and throw the ball in to make a play. Also, batters are often distracted by reflective objects in the stands. (F, B)
- ABILITY TO SEE IN DIM ILLUMINATION: Not an important factor in most major league games where good lighting, either domed or open, is available. Possibly a factor in minor league, college, high school, Little League, or sand lot games.
- ABILITY TO WITHSTAND EYE FATIGUE WITHOUT DECREASED PERFORMANCE: Baseball has many brief and concentrated periods where eye movements and concentration are required. Therefore, due to the many extended periods of relatively relaxed eye posturing, most ballplayers will not suffer a decrease in their performance.
- COLOR PERCEPTION: Mainly important in identifying your opponent and in figuring ground considerations. The ability of a Baseball player to distinguish the Baseball from the background increases as the contrast increases.
- EYE DOMINANCE: Very important to the hitter. A crossed eye-hand dominance (e.g., right hand dominant and left eye dominant) is an advantage to the hitter as the dominant eye will be closest to the pitcher and the ball. It is suggested that a same-side dominant player open up his stance to compensate for the dominant eye being away from the pitcher. (B)
- FIXATION ABILITY: Fielders require this to watch the ball into their gloves, as do hitters concentrating on the incoming Baseball. (F, B)
- VISUAL MEMORY: Somewhat helpful to pitchers and fielders remembering where a particular batter hit previous pitches. Equally as true to the batter who faced a pitcher before and has seen his "stuff." (P, F, B)
- CENTRAL/PERIPHERAL AWARENESS: Important to a pitcher who must utilize central vision for the batter and peripheral vision for the baserunner. Equally important to the fielder who must concentrate on fielding a ball, stepping on a base, and throwing to another base in a matter of seconds. (P, F)
- SPATIAL LOCALIZATION: See Peripheral Vision.
VISUAL SCREENING/TESTING PROCEDURES INDICATED FOR ATHLETES IN BASEBALL
- STATIC VISUAL ACUITY:
- Snellen Chart
- DYNAMIC VISUAL ACUITY:
- CONTRAST SENSITIVITY:
- PERIPHERAL VISION:
- Synamed Fieldmaster
- B & L Vision
- Tester with Attachment
- DEPTH PERCEPTION/EYE TEAMING:
- AO Vectographic Slide
- Stereo Fly
- Worth Four-Dot
- EYE MOTILITY:
- Projected King ? Devick
- Entrance Eye Movements
- Wayne Saccadic Fixator
- REFRACTIVE CONDITION:
- EYE/HAND/BODY/FOOT COORDINATOR PROACTION & REACTION:
Wayne Saccadic Fixator with Footboard
- EYE MUSCLE POSTURE:
- Maddox Rod
- Cover Test
- B & L Vision Tester
- COLOR VISION:
- Ishihara Plates
- B & L Vision Tester
- ACCOMMODATIVE FLEXIBILITY:
- +2.00/-2.00 Flipper
- 8 BI/BO Flipper
- EYE DOMINANCY:
- SPEED/SPAN RECOGNITION:
- TIMING/ANTICIPATION SKILLS:
Bassin Anticipation Timer
- GLARE RECOVERY/NIGHT VISION:
Night Sight Meter
- VISUAL LOCALIZATION:
- OCULAR HEALTH:
- Visual Fields Tester
VISION TRAINING TECHNIQUES WHICH MAY ENHANCE PERFORMANCE IN THE VISUAL SKILLS IMPORTANT FOR BASEBALL
- VISUAL ACUITY:
- Accommodative Rock for pseudomyopia
- Dynamic - Marsden Ball
- Bean Bag Pitch. Attach different sized letters and shapes to bag. Pitch bag into pitch-back net and call out shapes, letters, or colors before you catch it.
- Attach two-inch cutouts of colors, shapes, and letters to a tennis ball. Bounce off wall and call out shapes, etc. Also attach to a baseball and call out shapes, etc., as ball is being pitched to you.
- Make a record of different size letters and numbers (Sherman Sports Disc), and set speed at 33 1/3 rpm. As the disc spins, call out the letters and numbers. Increase speed as you improve.
- PERIPHERAL VISION:
- Tape an X on a screen and align the middle number of a seven number flash from a tachistoscope on the X. The Baseball player concentrates on the X. He must call out the outside two numbers on both sides of the X. When he can accomplish this, the number of digits flashed can be increased.
- Hang a ball from a string at eye level as you sit. Swing the ball in a circle around your head and shoulders as you concentrate on a point on the wall in front of you. As soon as you spot the ball in your peripheral field, yell "now." As you become more adept at this, you will yell "now" sooner.
- DEPTH PERCEPTION:
- Depth perception per se is not trainable but, since it is a function of good binocularity, one can train binocularity (BI and BO reserves), and stereovision should improve.
- Red/Green Sports Tranaglyphs from Bernell
- EYE MOTILITY:
- Pegboard Rotator
- Wayne Saccadic Fixator
- Marsden Ball
- EYE/HAND/BODY/FOOT COORDINATION:
- Wayne Saccadic Fixator with Footboard (C & S strobe light)
- Video Games
- Bean Bag Toss with Strobe Light
Analyze, Visualize, Center, Execute, and Playback.
Close eyes and visualize a Baseball the size of a grapefruit. Then open your eyes and again visualize a grapefruit-sized ball. Then do it with audio distractions. If you maintain a clear picture with the television or stereo on, you have mastered the exercise.
- SPEED OF RECOGNITION TIME:
- Computerized Anaglyphic Trainer
- SPEED OF FOCUSING:
- Wayne Saccadic Fixator
- FIXATION ABILITY:
- Wayne Saccadic Fixator
- Fine focus on the smallest possible detail on your target (Baseball, strike zone, etc.). The shorter the amount of time for fine-focusing, the more intense the focusing ability.
- VISUAL MEMORY:
The "playback" step of visualization helps you build a frame of reference from successful past experiences.
- SPATIAL LOCALIZATION:
- Brock String
- Computerized Anaglyphic Trainer
- Have someone hold a straw at arms length from you. Hold a toothpick out in space, somewhere to the right of the straw. Then concentrate on the straw with both of your eyes, paying only slight attention to the toothpick, and slide the toothpick into the straw.
SPORTS VISION PROBLEMS RELATED TO BASEBALL
A. Playing Baseball with less than your optimal correction can lead to decreased performance, as well as possible injury.
Soft contact lenses is the correction of choice when possible. They are less distracting than rigid lenses and don't limit the field of view as glasses may.
B. High Velocity Projectiles: A baseball or slipped bat can cause severe damage to the orbital area if there is no protection.
Face guards that attach to batting helmets are available from Little League to the majors. Wear polycarbonate lenses where spectacles are indicated. Otherwise, improve the response of the visual symptom to decrease injury.
C. Inexperienced Players: Less playing time and lack of skills in a more generalized playing population increases the risk of injury to players.
The younger the player, the higher the incidence of injury in Baseball. To decrease risks, all players should know the rules, have an optimal correction - preferably with polycarbonate lenses, and wear mandatory face guards when batting.
D. Dust and Wind: Can cause greater problems for contact lens wearers.
Water down infield before the game. Use lubricants for eyes. Switch to polycarbonate spectacles if contact lenses are intolerable.
E. Glare and Sunlight: Both can be a problem to fielders. Glare can be especially hard on some contact lens wearers.
Sunglasses, especially a "Baseball flip," would help fielders. An updated prescription may reduce glare as might an anti-reflective coating. Vitamin A (10,000 units/day) therapy may also decrease glare.
F. Fogging of Glasses: Definitely a problem in a hot sweaty stadium.
Utilize anti-fogging compounds. Fit spectacles "out and away" from brow to allow circulation behind them. Fit contact lenses if possible.
G. Presbyopia: This is not generally a problem in Baseball since most ball players' careers end before the onset of presbyopia. An exception is the new "older" league formed in Florida in 1989.
Avoid fitting a bifocal. A sharp distance correction should be sufficient for even a younger presbyope.
H. Playing with One Usable Eye: Definite danger due to high speed projectile.
First choice is not to participate in Baseball. If player or parents insist, explain risks and their possible results, and note in patient's chart.
Also have them sign a release form detailing your recommendations.
Then prescribe polycarbonate sports spectacle to be worn at all times, as well as a face guard while batting.
I. Poor Eye Movements, Decreased Binocularity, Slow Visual Motor Responses, Decreased Peripheral Awareness:
A Sports Vision or vision therapy program.
PROTECTIVE/CORRECTIVE EYEWEAR FOR BASEBALL
- Soft Contact Lenses - The corrective method of choice for most Baseball players.
- Face-Guard Polycarbonate Shield - To be worn on batting helmet. Should be mandatory at Little League level.
- Sport Frame with Polycarbonate Lenses - A good sport frame can be selected that is resistant to forceful blows. It should be as safe as possible with the least field restrictions. Polycarbonate lenses should be utilized in this frame.
- Sports Strap for Glasses - To help hold spectacles in place and therefore provide optimal correction and protection.
MOST COMMON OCULAR INJURIES SUSTAINED IN BASEBALL
- Corneal Abrasion
- Periorbital Lacerations
- Trauma to the globe may result in:
- periorbital contusions, edema or fracture
- blow-out orbital fracture
- entrapped extraocular muscles
- subconjunctival hemorrhage
- miotic, mydriatic or fixed pupils
- iris defects
- angle recession
- traumatic cataract or lens sublaxation
- vitreous hemorrhage
- retinal hemorrhage, tears or detachment
APPROPRIATE EMERGENCY FIRST-AID FOR BASEBALL OCULAR INJURIES
Trainers should be taught to:
- lavage an eye with foreign body.
- instill ophthalmic drops.
- apply lubricant to lower cul-de-sac.
- handle contact lenses (hard and soft) and remove them from eye.
Any lacerations should be closed with a butterfly bandage and evaluated for stitches. With any blunt trauma, an ice pack should be applied immediately and the player taken to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for examination. A systematic examination should include history, acuities, pupil examination, gross penlight examination, slit lamp examination, fundus evaluation with direct and indirect ophthalmoscope, and photos where appropriate.
OCULAR SUPPLIES WHICH SHOULD BE CONTAINED IN A BASEBALL TRAINER'S FIRST-AID KIT
- Sterile Eyewash
- Oval Eye Pads
- Gauze Pads
- Dermacel Tape
- Ice Pack
- Butterfly Bandages
- Artificial Tears
- Saline Solution
- Spare, labeled contact lenses
- Phone numbers of eyecare professionals.
BASEBALL CELEBRITIES BENEFITING FROM OPTOMETRIC EVALUATION
There is a very long list of well-known baseball players that have benefited from being fit with spectacles or contact lenses, or have received beneficial vision training. Just a few of these ballplayers are listed here.
- Don Mattingly, New York Yankees, first baseman - Sports Vision training. A prolific hitter.
- George Brett, Kansas City Royals, third baseman - Sports Vision training. Excellent batsman.
- Howard Johnson, New York Mets, third baseman - Sports Vision training. Selective hitter with power.
- Ricky Horton, former pitcher with St. Louis Cardinals, - disposable contact lens wearer. A long-time starter and relief pitcher.
- All About Baseball. Charline Gibson and Leonard Kappett. Viking Press, 1970.
- The Athletic Eye. Arthur Seiderman and Steven Schneider. Hearst Books, 1983.
- Baseball, Play and Strategy. Ethan Allen. Kreiger Press, 1968.
- Baseball Talk for Beginners. Joseph Archibald. Messner Books, 1968.
- The Complete Guide to Sports Injuries. H. Winter Griffith, M.D. The Body Press, 1986.
- Learning How To Play Baseball. Dick Siebert. Creative Educational Society, Inc., 1968.
- The Rule Book. The Diagram Group. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983 (ISBN 0-312-69576-4).
- Sports Injuries Handbook. Barron's. Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1988.
- Vision and Sports. James R. Gregg. Butterworths, 1987.
- A Wife's Guide to Baseball. Charline Gibson and Michael Rich. Viking Press, 1970.