Baseball5 (B5) is a variation of baseball and softball. The game revolves around two teams taking turns playing offense and defense, with each of the offensive team's players hitting a rubber ball with their bare hands into the field of play and then running around four bases laid out in a square shape to score a run, while the defensive team tries to eliminate ("get out") offensive players before they complete their trip around the bases to prevent them from scoring. The teams switch roles upon the elimination of three offensive players, with an "inning" being completed when both teams have played offense once. There are five players on each team and five innings, with any ties being broken by playing extra innings as necessary, and games generally lasting 15 to 20 minutes. Unlike baseball/softball, there is no pitcher, with the batter (offensive player who hits the ball) starting each play with possession of the ball.
|Highest governing body||World Baseball Softball Confederation|
|Team members||5 (plus 3 substitutes)|
|Mixed gender||Single or mixed|
|Type||Safe haven games|
|Equipment||(Rubber) Baseball5 ball|
The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) proposed the game in 2018 with the intention of growing baseball/softball on a global level, and organizes a B5 World Cup for senior and youth players in alternating years. The game is also scheduled to be played at the 2026 Summer Youth Olympics, and has started to find adoption in schools and national championships in countries like the Dominican Republic and Australia.
B5 was inspired by several similar games played in Latin America and elsewhere, such as "cuatro esquinas" (four corners) in Cuba and "pelotica de goma" (little rubber ball) in Venezuela. The WBSC invented it in part to increase the odds that a sport similar to baseball and softball will be played in the Olympics, as well as to create a game that would be more accessible, as the only equipment used in B5 is a rubber ball (with a circumference of 208.4 mm (8.20 in)), and the field is much smaller than a baseball diamond or softball field (with the game being playable indoors or outdoors.) In addition, the game is meant to be both simpler to learn, and more exciting, with players participating more frequently.
Rules and gameplayEdit
The infield is a 13 m (43 ft)-square, with a base in every corner. The fair territory is a 18 m (59 ft)-square, with one of the corners coinciding with the home plate (the final base). The batter’s box is a 3 m (9.8 ft)-square. It is placed outside of the fair territory and is built on the extension of the two foul lines (which distinguish fair and foul territory, and sit in fair territory) crossing each other at the home plate corner.
Ideal shape and size of all bases is a 50 cm (20 in)-square, with the bases being marked on the ground (i.e. they are not physical cushions like in baseball/softball.) In order to avoid collisions, the first base is "doubled" in foul territory. The ideal height of the fences bounding the field is 1 m (3.3 ft). However, every league or tournament organisation may decide on other ways of limiting the field of play, such as using existing walls or marking the ground with lines.
B5 can be played as a mixed-gender game, in which case each team must have a minimum of two active players per gender.
The Visitor team starts the game in offense, with the Home team on defense. The goal of the offensive team is to have each of its players hit the ball and then run counterclockwise around all four bases in order without being eliminated by the defense, thus scoring one run for their team. The act of hitting takes place while a hitter is entirely in the batter's box and shall remain within the lines until the hit ball leaves their hand. The ball has to be hit hard either with a palm or a fist. The first bounce has to be at a minimum distance of 3 metres (9.8 ft) from home plate, and in fair ground. The batter in the action of running towards first base, after putting the ball in play, has to touch the base in foul territory. In order to stay safe, the batter has to remain in the area included within the base and the 1.5 m (4.9 ft)-safe area attached to it in foul territory.
How the offensive players eliminate themselves due to illegal behaviors/actions:
- By touching (stepping) on one of the batter's box lines while hitting the ball
- By hitting the ball on its first bounce into foul territory
- By being hit by a legally hit ball
- By not making a hit ball touch the fair ground before touching the fences or going above the fences
- By not giving the hit ball enough momentum to reach the outfield fence after its first bounce(s), unless it is touched by a defender
- By not respecting the batting order and hitting in place of a teammate
- By a runner leaving the base before the batter hits the ball
- By passing a teammate while in the action of running the bases
- By being tagged while two or more runners are on the same base. The one further down the batting order shall be called "out"
- By sliding in the attempt to safely reach a base or in the attempt to avoid a tag
Bases loaded with two outsEdit
In a situation with bases loaded and two outs (two offensive players having been eliminated), if the runner at third base has to be the next hitter in the batting order, the runners at first and second bases each advance one base, the runner on third base goes to hit, and a pinch runner is placed on first base. In teams with only five players, the first player called out (eliminated) in that inning becomes pinch runner on first base. The batting order shall always be respected.
The five players (1st Base, 2nd Base, Midfielder, Shortstop, and 3rd Base, from right to left) of the defensive team shall all be in fair territory when the batter hits the ball. The defensive team shall eliminate three opponents so as to switch sides and become the offensive team, with one "inning" being completed when both teams have completed one turn as the offensive team.
How the defense makes "outs" (eliminates offensive players):
- By touching the base (while in possession of the ball) to which a runner is "forced" to run
- By catching a hit ball before it touches the ground
- By tagging a runner when he/she is not on a base (touching the ball, held in the defensive player's hand, to the runner)
Ball leaving the fieldEdit
If the ball leaves the court due to a defensive error (missed throw or missed catch), each runner is awarded an extra base (i.e. the batter goes to 2nd base, and all other runners advance 2 bases as well). However, no extra base is awarded for a ball leaving the field for any other reason (i.e. the batter only goes to 1st base if the hit ball rebounds out of play off a defender.)
End of the gameEdit
The game ends at the end of the fifth inning if one team has scored more runs than the opponent. Should the Home Team be ahead on the score after the Guest Team has completed its fifth offensive inning, the game is over and the Home Team wins. For matches that are played as a best-of-three series of games, the team that wins two games wins the match.
In case of a tie game, the teams shall play and complete extra inning(s) until one team scores more runs than the opponent. The player scheduled to hit fifth for the sixth inning (i.e. the player who batted last in the fifth inning, and whose name precedes the first batter of the sixth inning) is placed on first base as a runner to start the inning. The players scheduled to hit fifth and fourth in the seventh inning are placed on first and second base, and so on with three runners to start the following innings until the game ends.
A game is over if a team leads by 15 runs at the end of the third inning or by 10 at the end of the fourth. Should a team reach a 10-run (or more) advantage during the top (first half) of the fifth inning, the game shall be completed.
Differences from baseball and softballEdit
- There is no pitcher or catcher.
- Defensive players do not have gloves.
- The B5 field has a standardized size and shape (21 m (69 ft)-square).
- The batter only gets one chance to hit the ball i.e. they are out if they do anything other than legally hit the ball into fair territory.
- The first bounce of the hit ball must be in the field and in fair territory, and it must have enough momentum to reach the fence (i.e. Out-of-the-park home runs are not allowed.) For youth players, the hit ball need only reach the outfield i.e. pass the line connecting 1st-2nd-3rd base.
B5 competitions are played throughout the world, with national championships played in countries such as the Dominican Republic, and international championships such as the World Cups being played each year. In addition, the game is being implemented in many schools in some countries, like Australia.
The Baseball5 World Cup (B5WC) and Youth Baseball5 World Cup (YB5WC) will be administered by the WBSC, with both tournaments alternating and happening every two years, and following the general format of having 50 games played between 12 national teams over 7 days. Continental qualifiers for each tournament will be played during their off-year. The 2025 YB5WC will act as a qualifier for the Baseball5 event to be held in the Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
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