One of the United State's many major league ballparks
Baseball has been considered America's pastime for over a century and today remains one of the biggest sports in the country. Baseball is played at a number of amateur levels, from Little League to High School to College, and professional leagues range from the lowest Minor Leagues to Major League Baseball. In almost any place in America, there will be a baseball game going on during the spring and summer months, and it is a fantastic way to meet the locals and experience American sports culture.
Major League Baseball is the highest level of baseball played in the U.S. and the richest professional baseball league in the world. It attracts the highest level of talent from North America, South America, Asia, and the Caribbean. There are thirty major-league teams in twenty-six U.S. cities (plus one in Canada). Each team plays in its own stadium, all of which seat at least 40,000 spectators. Tickets generally cost between $15-50 for most seats; the best seats will cost upwards of that. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs are the most difficult teams to get tickets for, but online seller-to-seller websites have available tickets if you're willing to pay more. Major League Baseball season runs from early April-late September, with pre-season Spring Training games in March and the post-season playoffs in October.
Major League Baseball is divided into two leagues: the American League and the National League, each of which is further divided into three divisions: East, Central, and West.
The two leagues are also distinguished in that the American League uses the designated hitter rule where the pitcher does not hit and run bases with another player, the designated hitter, substituting; the National League does not use this rule.
Prior to the start of the regular season, the Major League teams participate in a series of exhibition games through the month of March. Spring Training is an opportunity to get a lot closer to your favorite players than would be possible during the regular season. For climate-related reasons, all Spring Training games are held in Arizona or Florida, the Cactus League and Grapefruit League respectively.
Composed mostly of teams from the west and some from the Midwest.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Tucson Electric Park - Tucson
Washington Nationals - Space Coast Stadium - Viera
Held every year in early to mid-July, the All-Star Game is an exhibition game pitting the best players in the American League against the best of the National League. Wherever it is held, the All-Star Game is the centerpiece of a week-long celebration, which usually includes a fan fest and a home run derby. The league determines the location of the game in advance, and tickets are very expensive.
Every October, the leaders of each of the three divisions plus a Wild Card team (the best second-place team in the league) from each league will compete to play in the World Series championship. The World Series pits the winner of the National League playoffs against the winner of the American League playoffs.
Hall of Fame
A destination for any baseball fan is Cooperstown, New York, home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which honors the game's history and its finest players. According to folklore, Cooperstown is where the game of baseball was invented, but no one has been able to prove that this is the case. Nevertheless, the town has become synonymous with the history of baseball.
All teams have a team store at the stadium to purchase jerseys, hats, and other memorabilia.
Team merchandise can often be purchased at nearby stores for less than what the stadiums charge.
All stadiums have a plethora of eating options from standard ballpark fare like hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, and sodas to more specialized eats like sausages in Milwaukee, fish tacos in San Diego, and sushi in Seattle. Prices usually run between $3-$5 for hot dogs and $10 or more for specialized food like barbecue or chicken.
Any interference with the game in play will lead to an ejection from the stadium without compensation.
Drunkenness at the stadium will also be cause for ejection and possible arrest.
Smoking is prohibited in most locations in most stadiums. Some may ban it in all locations.
Many stadiums prohibit coolers, large bags, backpacks, plastic or glass bottles, cans and video cameras from the stadium. Check specific stadium policies before attending. All stadiums will ban knives, firearms, fireworks, and noisemakers.
Minor League Baseball
Minor League Baseball is the general name for a group of developmental leagues operated by major league teams for younger players who have not yet developed the skills to play in the major leagues. Almost all small to mid-sized cities in America will have a minor league team of some sort and it's considered a very affordable and fun alternative to higher priced major league games. The leagues are organized in a system based on the level of talent. Triple A is the highest dropping down to A level and then to the Rookie Ball level. Minor League Baseball operates from early April to early September, though lower levels may only play from late June until late August. The minor leagues are praised for being fan friendly and cost efficient for families.
Tickets generally cost between $7-12 each, with special promotions sometimes lowering that price. At almost all stadiums, you are able to walk up and purchase tickets at the gate, but be advised that certain higher level teams do sell out ahead of time.
Food is priced similarly to major league stadiums and generally the same things are available, although variety decreases dramatically below the AAA level.
Triple A Level covers most of the largest metropolitan areas without Major League Baseball franchises, as well as some smaller cities.
International League (mainly cities in the eastern part of the country)
Appalachian League - teams in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
Arizona League - teams in Arizona
Gulf Coast League - teams in Florida
Pioneer League - teams in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah
College Baseball is the general term for non-professional baseball organized by either the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). College baseball play can run the gamut from high level programs such as the University of Oregon, University of North Carolina, and University of Miami which compete in the NCAA, to small schools like Lewis-Clark State University of the NAIA. The biggest event in college baseball is the College World Series, an NCAA sanctioned event featuring the best college baseball teams held each June in Omaha. Almost all colleges will have a baseball team and play runs from February to June.
College World Series
Held in Omaha every June, the CWS pits eight teams against each other in a double elimination tournament to choose the NCAA Champion. Tickets range from $19-36 for reserved seats and $10 each or $70 for ten for general admission (non-guaranteed) seats. Tickets go on-sale in April 2008 for the 2008 tournament.
High School Baseball is played around the nation by teams organized by each individual high school. The level of play is lower than college baseball, though some elite schools produce multiple college baseball players each year. Schools typically play local and regional competition in an April through June schedule. There is no national championship like in college baseball or pro levels, and teams rarely charge to attend games.
Little League Baseball
Little League Baseball is a collection of youth baseball leagues run by Little League Baseball. It operates leagues for children from ages 8-18. Its premier event is the Little League World Series. In almost any town across the country, you can find a Little League game between April and June, and seating is free with most places having a food stand of some kind.
Little League World Series
Held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, every August, the LLWS pits sixteen teams of 11-12 year olds from around the world in a tournament to prove the best team. Its very popular among people of all ages and the atmosphere is electric for every game. Tickets are available first come, first served for all games except the World Championship Game. Those tickets are distributed by a lottery system, but seating beyond the stadium fences is always available.
Outside the United States
Baseball has since spread from the United States to other countries. The following countries also have a large number of baseball fans and players: