|Highest governing body||World Baseball Softball Confederation|
|Team members||5 (plus 3 substitutes)|
|Mixed-sex||Single or mixed|
|Type||Safe haven game|
|Equipment||(Rubber) Baseball5 ball|
|Olympic||Youth Olympics from 2026|
|World Championships||Baseball5 World Cup Youth Baseball5 World Cup|
Baseball5 (B5) is an internationally played safe haven game with many of the same rules as baseball and softball, which is governed alongside those sports by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).
The game revolves around two teams of five players taking turns playing offense and defense, with each of the offensive team's players taking turns hitting a small rubber ball with their bare hands into the field of play (which is a 21 m (68.90 ft)-square), and then running counterclockwise around four bases (13 m (42.65 ft) apart) laid out in a square shape to score a run, while the defensive team tries to eliminate ("get out") offensive players before they complete their trip around the bases to prevent them from scoring. Outs (eliminations) occur either when a hit ball is caught before it touches the ground by a defender, or (in specific situations) when a defender with the ball either touches the base a runner is supposed to reach, or touches the runner themselves. Offensive players can also get themselves out by illegally hitting the ball or for breaking the rules while running the bases.
The teams switch roles after three outs are made, with an "inning" being completed when both teams have played offense once. The game is played to five innings, with any ties being broken by playing extra innings as necessary, and games generally lasting 15 to 20 minutes. Oftentimes, a best-of-three (or even best-of-five) series is played to determine the result of a matchup between two teams. Unlike baseball/softball, there is no pitcher, with the batter (offensive player who hits the ball) starting each play with the ball, which is the only equipment used in the game.
The WBSC proposed the game in 2017 with the intention of growing baseball/softball on a global level, claiming that the game's low cost, fast pace, and small field make it a more accessible and appealing entry point to those sports. It organizes a mixed-gender B5 World Cup for senior and youth players in alternating years, with teams required to field at least two active players per gender. The game is also scheduled to be played in a mixed-gender format at the 2026 Summer Youth Olympics, and has started to find adoption in schools, national championships, and other international events around the world.
B5 was inspired by similar games that have been played on the streets in Latin America and elsewhere for decades, such as "cuatro esquinas" (four corners) in Cuba and "pelotica de goma" (little rubber ball) in Venezuela. In some cases, B5 significantly diverges from the rules of these games; for example, it does not feature a pitcher, as is done in one street variation in Colombia, and players are allowed to run the bases, as opposed to only walking, as is required in "cuatro esquinas".
The WBSC invented B5 in part to increase the odds that a sport similar to baseball and softball will be played in the Olympics, with B5 meant to contribute to an ultimate goal of having a billion fans in the baseball-softball community by 2030 and helping to demonstrate the global reach of the games. It also intended to create a game that would be more accessible and cheap, as the only equipment used in B5 is the rubber ball, and the field is much smaller than a baseball diamond or softball field, with the game being playable indoors or outdoors, even during the winter. In this respect, as well as the fact that there are fewer players required to play a game, B5 is meant to imitate smaller, more urban variants of other major sports, such as 3x3 basketball, futsal, and rugby sevens. Inclusiveness is meant to be another goal of B5, with the game having been demonstrated at a refugee camp in Jordan, and being scheduled to be the first mixed-gender team sport in an Olympic event to not have a separate competition for male-only or female-only teams. In addition, the game is meant to be simpler to learn, have more youth appeal, and be more exciting, with players participating more frequently throughout the game. Another claimed benefit is that with B5 being introduced across the entire world at the same time, no one country is likely to dominate the game; the lack of the pitcher role, which is highly specialized, contributes to this.
The game has been demonstrated and played in various places across the world, such as in the United States during the MLB All-Star Week, in the 2021 Bulgarian Olympic Festival, and on the sidelines of the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Argentina and the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Japan. It is being implemented in many schools in some countries, like Australia and France.
Before the 2022 Baseball5 World Cup, a new B5 rulebook was published that added additional clarity on some of the rules, as well as changing some of the field dimensions.
The infield is a 13 m (42.65 ft)-square, with a base in every corner. The fair territory is a 18 m (59.06 ft)-square, with one of the corners coinciding with the home plate (the final base). The batter's box is a 3 m (9.84 ft)-square. It is placed outside of the fair territory and is built on the extension of the two foul lines (which distinguish fair and foul territory, and sit in fair territory) crossing each other at the home plate corner. There is also a "no-hit zone", which is the area between home plate and a line drawn between two points that are each 4.5 metres (14.76 ft) (or 3 metres (9.84 ft) for the U-15 age category) down the two foul lines from the home plate corner; this area is not part of fair territory.
All bases are marked on the ground (i.e. they are not physical cushions like in baseball/softball). Ideal shape and size of the first three bases is a 60 cm (23.62 in)-square, and they are placed in the outfield (the part of fair territory outside of the infield). In order to avoid collisions, the first base is "doubled" in foul territory. Home plate sits in the no-hit zone and is shaped like a 43.2 cm (17.0 in)-square, except that two of its corners are removed such that the edges of home plate touching the foul lines are 30.5 cm (12.0 in), the two adjacent sides are 21.6 cm (8.5 in), and the remaining side is still 43.2 cm (17.0 in).
The ideal height of the fences bounding the field is 1 m (3.28 ft). However, every league or tournament organisation may decide on other ways of limiting the field of play, such as using existing walls or marking the ground with lines.
The only piece of equipment used is a hollow rubber ball with a circumference of 208.4 mm (8.20 in).
The Visitor team starts the game in offense, with the Home team on defense. The goal of the offensive team is to have each of its players hit the ball and then run counterclockwise around all four bases in order without being eliminated by the defense, thus scoring one run for their team. The act of hitting takes place while a hitter is entirely in the batter's box and shall remain within the lines until the hit ball leaves their hand. The ball has to be hit hard either with a palm or a fist. The first bounce has to be at a minimum distance of 3 metres (9.8 ft) from home plate (i.e. not in the "no-hit zone"), and in fair ground, with the ball then being either touched by a defender or reaching the outfield fence. The batter in the action of running towards first base, after putting the ball in play, has to touch the base in foul territory. In order to stay safe, the batter has to remain in the area included within the base and the 1.5 m (4.92 ft)-safe area extension attached to it in foul territory.
An offensive player who touches first base, second base, third base and home plate in that order scores one run for their team, and then leaves the field until their next turn as a hitter. However, a run can not be scored by an offensive player touching home plate during a play where the third out in the inning is made by:
How the offensive players eliminate themselves due to illegal behaviors/actions:
Note: If a play occurs where the batter failed to legally hit the ball, then the play is canceled (i.e. any runners who got out or advanced around the bases during the play return to their bases as if the play never happened) and the batter is eliminated.
In a situation with bases loaded and two outs (two offensive players having been eliminated), if the runner at third base has to be the next hitter in the batting order, the runners at first and second bases each advance one base, the runner on third base goes to hit, and a pinch runner is placed on first base. In teams with only five players, the first player "called out" (eliminated) in that inning becomes pinch runner on first base. The batting order shall always be respected.
The five players (1st Base, 2nd Base, Midfielder, Shortstop, and 3rd Base, from right to left) of the defensive team shall all be in fair territory when the batter hits the ball.
How the defense makes "outs" (eliminates offensive players) using the ball:
If the ball leaves the court due to a defensive error (missed throw or missed catch of a thrown ball), each runner is awarded an extra base (i.e. the batter goes to 2nd base, and all other runners advance 2 bases as well). Any runner who clearly advanced 2 bases before the defensive error may be granted an extra base as well (i.e. a runner on 1st who advanced to 3rd before the error can be awarded home plate). However, no extra base is awarded for a ball leaving the field for any other reason (i.e. the batter only goes to 1st base if the hit ball rebounds out of play off a defender.)
The game ends at the end of the fifth inning if one team has scored more runs than the opponent. Should the Home Team be ahead on the score after the Guest Team has completed its fifth offensive inning, the game is over and the Home Team wins. Many B5 competitions feature best-of-three series known as "matches", with each individual game in the match called a "game"; the team that wins two games in the match wins the overall match.
In case of a tie game, the teams shall play and complete extra inning(s) until one team scores more runs than the opponent. The player scheduled to hit fifth for the sixth inning (i.e. the player who batted last in the fifth inning, and whose name precedes the first batter of the sixth inning) is placed on first base as a runner to start the inning. The players scheduled to hit fifth and fourth in the seventh inning are placed on first and second base, and so on with three runners to start the following innings until the game ends.
A game is over if a team leads by 15 runs at the end of the third inning or by 10 at the end of the fourth.
See also: Comparison of baseball and softball
At the international level, B5 is administered by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). Within each country, it is administered by the national baseball and/or softball governing body. Exceptions apply for certain countries, such as Japan, where a specific governing body has been set up to run B5.
B5 competitions are played throughout the world, with national championships played in countries such as Tunisia, Taiwan, and the Dominican Republic, and international championships such as the World Cups being played each year.
The Baseball5 World Cup (B5WC) and Youth Baseball5 World Cup (YB5WC) will be administered by the WBSC, with both tournaments alternating and happening every two years, and following the general format of having 50 games played between 12 national teams over 7 days. Continental qualifiers for each tournament will be played during their off-year. The 2025 YB5WC will act as a qualifier for the mixed-gender Baseball5 event to be held in the Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
The B5WC's and YOG event were originally scheduled to start in 2020 (in Mexico) and 2022 respectively, but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WBSC's premier events:
Due to a prolonged power outage in the venue's hall, all series scheduled for the final day was taken from a best-of-five series to a best-of-three series.
The potential of Baseball5 was showcased in the Gambia in January 2018. Run the Bases, a Sport for Development organization, engaged the local community on a beach. At the time of writing, there is no baseball or softball field in the small country on the Atlantic coast of Africa.
Ultimately, the WBSC won't be able to lobby for both baseball/softball and Baseball5 at the Olympics and Baseball5 offers it a potential lifeline if baseball/softball again fall off the program.
If I start to play baseball now in India or Africa - before, to create one pitcher I need 15, 20 years working. With Baseball5, I take out this problem and they can compete in India and Africa and they can compete with the United States tomorrow.
Baseball5 has taken up significant growth in our first term of the school year, that in Australia runs in February and March," commented Vale. "A total of 80 schools completed our programme with 7,808 participants. Our previous highest with T-Ball was 58 schools, 4,861 participants."
On matches played over a series of three games, the team that wins two games is the winner.
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