This year, America is celebrating one hundred and fifty years of professional baseball. It began with the foundation of the Cincinnati Reds team in 1869, but it wasn’t until 1903 that the country established its professional baseball organization Major League Baseball (MLB). It consists of two leagues, each with fifteen teams: the National League and the American League.
THE WORLD SERIES
Since March, the teams in each league have been competing against each other in a series of games across the US. And this month, the best team from each league will compete in the World Series, a championship series of up to seven games that begins on October 22nd.
MORE THAN SPORT
Millions of people go to MLB games every year. Going to a baseball game, also known as simply a ‘ball game’, is a quintessential American experience. But the majority of people don’t just go to support their team; they also go to enjoy the many activities and traditions associated with the sport.
Baseball games can last for many hours, so organizers entertain fans by playing loud music and videos on the big screen. Every game begins with someone singing the national anthem, and some games end with fireworks, especially those on holidays or that are special events, like the MLB All-Star Game in July.
Every baseball game has at least nine rounds, called ‘innings’. Between innings, people often leave their seats to go to one of the many stands at the stadium selling food and drink. Typical baseball food includes hot dogs, burgers and pretzels.
At most games, you can also buy things like fries, nachos and beer in a special souvenir cup. Or, if you don’t want to leave your seat, you can just wait for people to come around selling Cracker Jack. That’s an American snack that consists of popcorn and peanuts, and has long been associated with the game.
Many of the games have special give-aways, so everyone who goes gets a free item — often a t-shirt, a baseball cap or a bobblehead doll of one of its star players.
A SONG AND A WAVE
Another popular baseball tradition is the seventh-inning stretch. In the middle of the seventh inning, everyone stands and stretches while singing along to the 1908 song Take Me Out to the Ball Game. At other times, people do the Mexican wave, dance to the music or kiss their loved ones, while a camera films them and shows them on the big screen for everyone in the stadium to see!