Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The goal is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square, or diamond. Players on one team (the batting team) take turns hitting against the pitcher of the other team (the fielding team), which tries to stop them from scoring runs by getting hitters out in any of several ways. A player on the batting team can stop at any of the bases and later advance via a teammate's hit or other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn at bat - 3 outs - for each team constitutes an inning; nine innings make up a professional game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-eighteenth century. This game and the related rounders were brought by British and Irish immigrants to North America, where the modern version of baseball developed. By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball on the professional, amateur, and youth levels is now popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia. The game is sometimes referred to as hardball, in contrast to the derivative game of softball.
PNC Park is a baseball park located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the fifth home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the city's Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise. It opened during the 2001 Major League Baseball season, after the controlled implosion of the Pirates' previous home, Three Rivers Stadium. The ballpark is sponsored by the locally-based PNC Financial Services, which purchased the naming rights in 1998. PNC Park features a natural grass playing surface and seats 38,496 people for baseball, which as of 2008 is the second-smallest capacity of any Major League park. Funded in conjunction with Heinz Field, the $216 million park stands along the Allegheny River, on the North Shore of Pittsburgh with a view of Downtown Pittsburgh. Plans to build a new stadium for the Pirates originated in 1991, but did not come to fruition for five years. Built in the style of "classic" stadiums, such as Boston's Fenway Park, PNC Park also introduced unique features, such as the use of limestone in the building's facade. The park also features a riverside concourse, steel truss work, an extensive out-of-town scoreboard, and many local eateries. Constructed faster than most modern stadiums, workers built PNC Park in a 24-month span. Since completion, PNC Park has been hailed as one of the best ballparks in the country. It has the third-cheapest average ticket prices of any MLB stadium and has helped attract business to surrounding establishments, though the Pirates have not had a winning season since they moved to the stadium. PNC Park hosted the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the fifth MLB All-Star Game held in Pittsburgh.