BY ANASTASIA MONTAVON
Baseball season is in full swing, and Americans across the country have been going out to games or gathering around their TVs to start the action. Collegiate baseball has just about come to an end, but Little League is just getting started. While Americans take to the fields, people around the world also embrace the warm weather and play their versions of baseball.
Pesäpallo, or Finnish baseball, is often referred to as the national sport of Finland. This sport is similar to American baseball, but has a few key differences. For one, the ball is pitched vertically instead of horizontally. In American baseball, the pitch travels horizontally from the pitcher to the catcher. But in Pesäpallo, the pitcher and the batter face each other on opposite sides of the home plate, and the pitcher throws the ball vertically in the air above the plate. The ball has to go at least one meter over the pitcher’s head. This gives the offense more control of the power and the direction of the hit, as well as making it easier to hit the ball. As a result, offenses can have several strategies, and the defense has to have plans in place to counter the offense’s strategy. Pesäpallo is more mentally challenging than other ball-and-stick games. The managers also play a role in the game. They lead the offense by waving a multi-colored fan to signal the players. Then the defensive strategies are led by the manager’s orders and hand signals between the players.
In parts of England and Wales, British baseball is a popular ball-and-stick game. There are, of course, several differences between British and American baseball. The ball is delivered underhand, and like in cricket, the delivery is called bowling. Instead of bags, poles are used as bases, and bats are flat instead of entirely round. Scoring is much different than in American baseball. After hitting the ball, a player earns a run for each base they reach. A home run is four runs. They will not continue to score when they reach bases on another player’s hit. Each team gets two innings. An inning comes to an end when all eleven players are dismissed (out), or when players are stranded on bases.
Lapta is a Russian ball and bat game that’s been around since the 14th century. This game is played on a field half the size of a soccer field with six players on a team. The pitcher stands next to the batter and tosses the ball to them. Each batter has two chances to hit the ball past the ten meter mark. If they succeed, they can run to an end line at the other end of the pitch. If they can successfully run between the two endpoints without getting out, they earn two points. The goal for the batter is to hit the ball as far as they can, so they have a better chance of getting between both endpoints. Each game lasts an hour, split into two halves. A team wins if they score the most points, or if all of the players complete their runs.
While baseball is an American tradition, other parts of the world have their variations, some of which have even been around before baseball. So, when you’re outside in the warm summer heat, enjoying a baseball game by either watching or playing, it might be nice to know that people around the world will be enjoying similar sports.