British and Finnish Baseball: International Variations on an American Pastime

By Williams, Emyr W.; Romar, Jan-Erik et al. | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, January-February 2010 | Go to article overview
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British and Finnish Baseball: International Variations on an American Pastime


Williams, Emyr W., Romar, Jan-Erik, Hartman, Michael, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


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Increase students' activity levels and introduce an international element to your softball or baseball unit by including British and/ or Finnish baseball in your curriculum. Both British and Finnish baseball are easy to introduce, as the specific skills involved in both sports are identical to those used in traditional baseball. If students have the skills to play traditional baseball, they have the skills to play British and Finnish baseball as well. After a brief overview of the unique rules and strategies of these international sports, students can quickly participate in these high activity versions of traditional baseball.

British baseball is a high scoring game that is a cross between cricket and baseball/softball. In British baseball, runs are scored based on the number of bases a batter reaches after hitting the ball, resulting in a high scoring game similar to cricket. Running the bases for both British and traditional baseball are more or less the same. Finnish baseball is a direct descendent of the American version of the game, however it evolved into its own unique sport (Pullinen, 1993) which emphasizes the running aspect of the game more than hitting. The major benefit of including both British and Finnish baseball into your softball/baseball unit is the increase in student activity levels that are inherent in these international variations. Additionally the novelty of both British and Finnish baseball can motivate students who are indifferent to traditional softball/baseball to actively participate in these fun sports. Finally, the inclusion of these sports into the curriculum can enhance students' appreciation of the international diversity of sport and also provide the opportunity for interdisciplinary connections across the curriculum.

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This article outlines the rules (with some American adaptations) for introducing both British and Finnish baseball. The rules outlined have been minimally modified for practical and safety reasons from the original sports for inclusion into American physical education classes.

British Baseball

Basic Rules

The first aspect of British baseball that's different from traditional softball/baseball is the bat. The British baseball bat is essentially a cut down version of a cricket bat (Welsh Baseball Union, 1992), which has a flat surface (See Figure 1). Consequently, any flat bat is appropriate to use for this game. A flat bat with a larger surface area generally results in enhanced opportunities for the batter to successfully hit the ball, which in turn promotes the requirement for running the bases--an integral factor in increasing the active participation of students.

Table 1 outlines the main rules of British baseball. These rules relate to the number of players on each team, game duration, type of ball used, pitching and pitcher rules, strikes and balls, playing area, how runs are scored, and how outs are achieved. Some of these rules are completely different (Foul Territory, Number of Players etc.,) whereas some rules (Strike Zone and Outs) are similar to traditional baseball and softball.

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Layout of the Field

The bases are located in the same general area as baseball (see Figure 2). The suggested distance between the bases for the middle school aged students is 55 feet from home to first, first to second, and second to third, respectively (International Baseball Board, 2001). The distance from third to fourth base is 43 feet. Players do not run to the home plate; they are safe once they reach 4th base (12 feet from home plate), (International Baseball Board, 2001).

Finnish Baseball

Basic Rules

As Finnish baseball is a direct descendant of American baseball, the same bats, balls, bases etc., are used for this sport. The major difference, however, is where the bases are located, and consequently the direction that batters run the bases, how runs are scored, and how outs are determined.

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