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Poster illustration of a college baseball player, 1908.
College baseball is baseball that is played on the intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education. Compared to football and basketball, college competition in the United Statesmarker plays a less significant contribution to cultivating professional players, as the minor leagues primarily fulfill that role.

As with other intercollegiate sports, most college baseball is played under the auspices of the NCAA or the NAIA. The NCAA writes the rules of play, while each sanctioning body supervises season-ending tournaments. The final rounds of the NCAA tournaments are known as the College World Series; one is held on each of the three levels of competition sanctioned by the NCAA. The College World Series for Division I takes place in Omaha, Nebraskamarker in June, following the regular season. In reference to the University of Mississippi (aka "Ole Miss") baseball team's 37-year absence from the College World Series, OMAHA has also been coined an acronym for "Ole Miss At Home Again". [105741] [105742] [105743]The playoff bracket for Division I consists of 64 teams, with four teams playing at each of 16 regional sites (in a double-elimination format) in late May. The 16 winners advance to the Super Regionals at eight sites, played head-to-head in a best-of-three series. The eight winners then advance to the College World Series, a double elimination tournament (actually two separate four-team brackets) to determine the two national finalists. The finalists play a best-of-three series to determine the Division I national champion. In 2009, the winner of the College World Series was the LSU Tigers.


The first known intercollegiate baseball game took place in Pittsfield, Massachusettsmarker, on July 1, 1859, between squads representing Amherst Collegemarker and Williams College. Amherst won, 73-32. This game was one of the last played under an earlier version of the game known as "Massachusetts rules", which prevailed in New Englandmarker until the "Knickerbocker Rules" (or "New York Rules") developed in the 1840s gradually became accepted.[105744] The Fordham Rose Hill Baseball Club of St. John's College in New York (now Fordham Universitymarker) played the first ever nine-man team college baseball game under the Knikerbocker Rules still in use today on November 3, 1859, against (the now defunct) St. Francis Xavier College.

Recent Growth

College baseball has grown phenomenally in popularity since the 1980s. Traditionally, it has been played in the early part of the year, with a relatively short schedule and during a time when cold (and/or rainy) weather hinders the ability for games to be played, particularly in the northern and midwestern parts of the U.S. These and other factors have historically led colleges and universities across the nation to effectively consider baseball a minor sport, both in scholarships as well as money and other points of emphasis. During the 1980s, coaches and athletic directors in warm-weather regions of the nation began to recognize the unrealized potential appeal of the sport. These coaches went out and aggressively recruited the sport to potential athletes, as well as made various upgrades to their programs; such as bigger and better stadiums, more money for staff and support salaries, and promotions. As these efforts resulted in better players and overall programs, more television and print media coverage began to emerge. The ESPN family of networks greatly increased television coverage of the NCAA playoffs and the College World Series.

Soon, in many warm-weather regions, baseball came to be considered a major sport, approaching the level of football and basketball. And even non-warm weather schools started to recognize baseball's potential and began to put considerably more emphasis on it. Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Oregon State are three notable examples of cold (or rainy) weather schools with very successful programs. The first two made the College World Series when warm-weather schools placed major emphasis on baseball as well as had the advantage of playing earlier and more games because of favorable climates. Oregon State won back-to-back national championships in 2006 & 2007; at that time, archrival Oregonmarker had been without baseball for a quarter-century, having dropped its program in 1981. Many credit the Beavers' success as being a primary factor in UO's later decision to revive baseball in 2009. Minnesota has taken advantage of the use of the Hubert H.marker Humphrey Metrodomemarker to play the majority of their games, including hosting a prestigious preseason tournament, and when the MLB Twins leavemarker after the 2009 season, hope to use the facility for future Big Ten tournaments and bids on the NCAA tournament. Along with that, many smaller conferences (not in Division I) will play games at the Metrodome during February in order to keep up with schools in warm-weather locations. For 2008 and succeeding seasons, the NCAA has mandated the first ever start date for Division I baseball. This day is exactly thirteen weeks before the selection of the NCAA tournament field, which takes place on Memorial Day. For 2008, this day is February 22. Many feel this date will give schools outside of warm-weather areas more parity in college baseball and help continue to make the sport a major one nationally.

EA Sports released MVP 06 NCAA Baseball, the first college baseball video game ever released. It includes most Division I schools. A sequel, MVP 07: NCAA Baseball was also released.

Collegiate Rules

The rules of college baseball are similar to the Official Baseball Rules. Exceptions include the following:
  • The bat may be made of wood or of aluminum or a metal or composite material that meets NCAA standards. [Note: The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel adopted a proposal by the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee, and ordered an immediate and indefinite moratorium on composite bats. NCAA research indicated bats, either through doctoring or normal use can, and do exceed limits of BESR (Bat Exit Speed Ratio, the speed at which the ball leaves the bat). Further research was called for to provide a means to assure the NCAA that composite bats remain within standards. NCAA press release dated August 24, 2009.
  • The designated hitter rule is used. In addition, a player may serve as both pitcher and DH at the same time and may remain in one position when removed in the other.
  • One or both ends of a doubleheader are sometimes seven innings in length. However, the NCAA has recently tightened the interpretation of what constitutes a regulation game, encouraging schools to play as many nine-inning games as possible. Seven-inning games may be played on the final day of a conference series, or if the two teams in a non-conference match will play two games in one day, often to make up a game that cannot be played earlier in the year because of inclement weather.
  • A mercy rule may be in use, which terminates play when one team is ahead by 10 or more runs after seven innings (6½ innings if the home team is winning). In games that are scheduled for seven innings the rule takes effect in the fifth. This rule is not used in NCAA tournament games. Several conferences institute this rule only on Sundays or the final day of a conference series so that the visiting team can travel on time. In some conferences, the mercy rule may also be used to end such games in order to start the next tournament game on time as possible.
  • There is an automatic ejection for maliciously running into a defender who is trying to tag a runner or a force out. An automatic double play may also be called if a player slides into a base in an attempt to take out the defensive player who is trying to throw the ball to continue a double play.
  • Instant replay may be used in tournament games to determine if a slide was malicious.

Attendance Records

Top College Baseball Crowds of All Time

Attendance Schools Ballpark and Location Date
40,106 Houston at San Diego Statemarker Petco Parkmarker, San Diego, CA March 11, 2004
28,836 Georgia Tech at UGA Turner Fieldmarker, Atlanta, GA April 2004
27,673 Tulane at LSU Superdomemarker, New Orleans, LA April 22, 2002

Top 25 On-Campus College Baseball Crowds of All Time

Rank Attendance Schools, Location Date
1 14,991 Florida at Mississippi State, Starkville April 22, 1989
2 14,378 LSU at Mississippi State, Starkville April 16, 1988
3 13,761 Arkansas at Mississippi State, Starkville April 25, 1992
4 13,715 Clemson at Mississippi State, Starkville June 9, 2007
5 13,617 Georgia at Mississippi State, Starkville April 8, 2006
6 13,123 Ole Miss at Mississippi State, Starkville April 15, 2000
7 12,708 Auburn at Mississippi State, Starkville April 24, 1993
8 12,620 Clemson at Mississippi State, Starkville June 8, 2007
9 12,360 Georgia at Mississippi State, Starkville April 6, 2002
10 11,763 Auburn at Mississippi State, Starkville April 12, 2003
11 11,496 Florida State at Mississippi State, Starkville May 27, 1990
12 11,174 Florida at Mississippi State, Starkville April 13, 1991
13 11,127 South Alabama at Mississippi State, Starkville May 26, 2000
14 11,014 Arizona State at Arkansas, Fayettevillemarker April 8, 2009
15 10,958 Auburn at Mississippi State, Starkville April 9, 2005
16 10,923 Florida at LSU, Baton Rouge May 9, 2009
17 10,832 Notre Dame at Mississippi State, Starkville May 28, 2000
18 10,688 Washington at Mississippi State, Starkville May 25, 1997
19 10,619 Florida at Mississippi State, Starkville April 17, 2004
20 10,588 North Carolina at Mississippi State, Starkville May 28, 1989
21 10,581 Louisiana State at Arkansas, Fayetteville May 5, 2007
22 10,555 Kentucky at Mississippi State, Starkville April 18, 2009
23 10,414 Tennessee at LSU, Baton Rouge April 18, 2009
24 10,382 Florida at Mississippi State, Starkville April 25, 1987
25 10,324 Kentucky at Mississippi State, Starkville March 31, 2007

Longest game in college baseball history

The longest college baseball game was played between Texas and Boston College on May 30, 2009, during the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship regional tournament at Austin, Texasmarker. Texas — which was designated the visiting team despite playing on its home field — won the game, 3-2, in 25 innings. The game lasted seven hours three minutes.

See also


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