Baseball is a team sport played between two teams of nine players each. It is a bat-and-ball game in which a pitcher throws (pitches) a hard, fist-sized, leather-covered ball toward a batter on the opposing team. The batter attempts to hit the baseball with a tapered cylindrical bat.
A team scores runs only when batting, by advancing its players--primarily via hits, walks, and the opposition team's fielding errors--counterclockwise past a series of three markers called bases and touching home plate arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square, or diamond. Baseball is played without time restrictions and is structured around nine segments called innings. In each inning, both teams are given the opportunity to bat and score runs. A half of the inning ends when the fielding team successfully counts three outs against the batting team. An inning ends when both teams have had a chance to bat.
Baseball is generally acknowledged to be the American pastime, but the reach of baseball has spread into East Asia and Central and South American nations as well. The prevalence of professional players from nations such as Japan, The Dominican Republic, Panama, and Nicarague has grown in recent years and is expected to continue growing as baseball becomes more popular overseas.