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Baseball | Under the Sun Sports to get a Suntan

Let’s take a look at a sport that has roots in our English background. Cricket and rounders both have components that contributed to what we eventually called baseball. It did not acquire the moniker of the Great American Pastime until the late 19th century even though a form of it had been played since the 18th century. This sport is played professionally in the Major and the Minor Leagues but more often it is played in Little League, college leagues, church leagues, school and neighborhood games. Being an outdoor sport we spend a great deal of time as spectator and/or player, out in the glorious sun and fresh air having fun, and also getting a tan.

Professional baseball is a small part of this sport but it is the most visible. There are two leagues in professional baseball, the Major League and the Minor League. The Major League encompasses two entities, the American Baseball League and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. The Minor League is comprised of “farm teams” that exist within 6 divisions supported by the Major League. Within each division there are several leagues, based on locale, with several teams in each. The professional teams have “farm teams” where they may send prospective players to prepare them for the “big leagues” and to gauge whether they “have what it takes” to be successful in the “majors”. The Major League and the Minor League each have their own governing entity, schedule and parks. The Minor Leagues are very complex with multiple divisions and a select few players ever make it out of the minors into the majors.

During the season a few games are played where an American and a National team may play each other but the ultimate clash between the two is the World Series. The Fall Classic, as it is also known, is played at the end of the 162 game season between the top team in the American League and the top team in the National League. After the season ends 8 teams are chosen to compete in the playoffs, 4 from the American League and 4 from the National League (three division winners and one wildcard in each league). The two teams that win the playoffs play each other for the best out of seven games to determine the Champion. Dividing the games between the two team cities, they battle for the World Series Championship.

It was in 1938 in Williamsport, PA that Carl Stotz started a program for preteen boys which is known as, Little League. Williamsport is still the site of Little League headquarters and it has become an international organization. There are eight divisions: Little League (9-12), Junior League (13-14), Senior League (14-16) and Big League (16-18 being the core, while Tee Ball (5-6), Minor League Baseball (7-12) with lesser skills, 9-10 Year Old Baseball and the Challenger Division (for children with mental and physical challenges), being less well known. The Little League World Series is televised worldwide and covers the 4 primary divisions. What a wonderful opportunity for young people to interact with their age group from other cultures.

Basically, the game of baseball is played with a small ball, bat and glove on a field set up with home plate, first base, second base, third base, infield and outfield. One team is on the offense (up at bat) while the other team is defending (on the bases, infield and outfield). There are 9 players on each team and they play 9 innings, which means each team is up at bat 9 times. The pitcher throws the ball and the batter tries to hit it in such a way that the opposing team cannot gain control of the ball in time to stop the batters ‘race’ around the bases. Now not every team player gets to bat 9 times because within an inning a team is allowed chances to get on base but may be thwarted by striking out, being “caught” out or being tagged out. Three outs and the other team comes up at bat. The length of time it takes to play the game depends on the skill of the players. Hitting the ball, making it around the bases and scoring the most home runs within the 9 innings, is the ultimate goal. Rules regarding where the hit ball lands, where the pitched ball crosses the plate and how it is handled by the infield and outfield all contribute to the outcome of the game.

Now as a spectator you may, depending on where you sit and the level of game, have access to constant shade but more often than not you will be faced with spending hours in the sun. Professional stadiums and some colleges have more seating areas providing shade, but don’t think this means that sun protection measures need not be taken. At local games spectators definitely need to make sure they have sun protective hats, sunscreen and sunglasses. There are many places you may need to bring your own chairs and an umbrella would not be a bad idea for sun and heat protection. Players in organized games will usually have an area called the dugout where they may sit in the shade out of direct sun. The caps used by baseball players gives some sun protection but players need to make sure that they use sunscreen or tanning products on their exposed skin, including their face, ears and neck. With preparation your time in the sun may result in a nice tan and a great time watching or playing a fun game. Lack of preparation may result in sunburn, sunstroke and/or dehydration.

Since this is primarily a summertime game sun protection is a must. A person can become so involved in the game that sunburn and dehydration can become a real concern. Spectators can choose to wear UV protective clothing but UV protective uniforms do not seem to exist. For those with sensitive skin and even those without organic or natural sunscreen and tanning products may be the best choice. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are best for noses, cheeks and ears and even come in colors to make it more interesting. Can’t you see the fans coming out wearing team colors on their faces and being protected from excessive sun exposure at the same time? What better way to exhibit team spirit and protect your delicate facial skin from the sun!

Baseball Parks and Stadiums


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-Miss Suntan

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