Variations of baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport that has many recreational variants, with the Olympic discipline of softball being strongly linked to it. Many variations of baseball change the game significantly. For example, many variations are played informally, with less equipment/space requirements and a softer ball, and certain variations do not feature a pitcher, and/or have the batters hit the ball using their hands or feet. There may be a lack of baserunning, with base hits awarded according to the distance or number of bounces the batted ball takes before being fielded, and imaginary "ghost runners" advancing around the bases in lieu of actual runners. Other variations are more loosely based on baseball, often involving the same scoring system applied to dramatically different contexts, such as playing darts. There are also some bat-and-ball sports which are distinct from baseball, such as rounders, that strongly resemble it.
Softball originated as a variation of baseball, and today is a very popular sport in its own right, with most of the rules remaining the same as baseball. The field is significantly smaller, with the bases only 60 feet (18 m) apart, and the pitcher is required to throw the ball underarm. Softball is administered at the international level along with baseball by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, with the two sports being treated as disciplines of the same overall sport when played at the Olympics.
Baseball5 (B5) is an international variation of baseball where the only equipment used is a rubber ball, and the field is a 21 m (69 ft)-square. Batters "self-serve" the ball, hitting it with a bare hand to start each play. Each team has only five players and there are five innings in the game. It is scheduled to be played at the 2026 Youth Olympic Games, and is administered by the World Baseball Softball Confederation.
These variations of baseball generally reduce the amount of equipment and space needed to play the game, and the ball is often softer to reduce the risk of injury. They may also be modified to work with fewer players; for example, some informal variations of baseball use the ghost runner rule, simulating having runners on base when a player must take their turn to bat. However, the basic structure of a pitcher throwing to a batter, with the batter hitting the ball with some type of bat, is retained.
Vitilla is a variation of stickball played mostly in the Dominican Republic. Instead of a ball, a large plastic water bottle cap is thrown towards the batter, and there are only two bases to advance around before going to home plate.
Games with no pitcherEdit
The following variations of baseball do not have a pitcher, meaning that the batter starts every play with possession of the ball. They may feature strikes, or the batter may automatically be out for failing to legally hit the ball into fair territory.
Tee-ball is a popular introductory variant of baseball for children, with the ball placed on a "batting tee" each time a batter is prepared to hit. The batter hits the ball off the tee to commence play. Older players may be given the opportunity to face some pitches from their coach, making it easier for them to hit the ball while still helping them to progress toward facing an opposing pitcher. Each inning may be played until three outs, or until all players on the offensive team have had a turn to bat.
Games with no batEdit
The following games involve the use of either the hands or the legs in order to hit the ball.
Stoop ball is a variation where the ball is thrown by the batter at the steps of a stoop (concrete stairway) with the goal of making the rebounded ball travel away from the fielders. Bases or points are awarded based generally on the distance or number of bounces the ball takes before it is fielded.
Beep baseball is generally played by visually impaired or blind players, using a ball that beeps so that it can be located more easily. There are "spotters" who assist the fielders by indicating which section of the field the batted ball has been hit into. The game is played to six innings.
Dartball is played using a dartboard, with the results of each throw of the dart relating to the rules of baseball. "Batters" simulate an at-bat, with the dart's landing position on the board determining whether they get a ball or strike, and whether they ultimately reach base/advance runners already on base.
Related bat-and-ball sportsEdit
Pesäpallo, also known as Finnish baseball, was invented in the 1920s, with some of it being based on baseball. It has four bases placed at increasing distances between each other (such that the distance between 3rd base and home is greater than between home and 1st base.) The ball is pitched "vertically" to the batter (such that it is thrown upwards by the opposing pitcher at home base), and is hit as it lands. The game features a number of significant differences to baseball; it is not possible to hit out-of-the-park home runs, as these are considered foul balls, and batters do not have to run on fair contact, being allowed three chances to hit the ball (regardless of the result of each hit) before being forced.
Rounders involves a similar hitting of a thrown ball as baseball, with a "rounder" being scored upon rounding all four bases. It is popular in the United Kingdom among school children, having been played since the 1700s.
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