College baseball

College baseball

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 States plays a less significant contribution to cultivating professional players, as the minor leagues primarily fulfill that role. Unlike football and basketball, players do not have to go to college to turn professional. However, if they enroll at a four-year college, they must complete three years to regain eligibility, unless they reach age 21 before starting their third year of attendance. Players who enroll at junior colleges (i.e., two-year institutions) regain eligibility after one year at that level, with one notable example of such a player being Bryce Harper. There are over 280 NCAA Division I teams alone throughout the country (College). All of these teams face the same rules, obstacles, restrictions, and more throughout the year.

A college baseball player.

As with other US intercollegiate sports, most college baseball is played under the auspices of the NCAA or the NAIA. College and university baseball teams that are club teams are organized under the National Club Baseball Association. 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, Nebraska in June, following the regular season. 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). 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 2011, the winner of the College World Series was the South Carolina Gamecocks.



The first known intercollegiate baseball game took place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on July 1, 1859, between squads representing Amherst College 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 England until the "Knickerbocker Rules" (or "New York Rules") developed in the 1840s gradually became accepted.[1] The first ever nine-man team college baseball game under the Knickerbocker Rules still in use today was played in New York on November 3, 1859 between the Fordham Rose Hill Baseball Club of St. John's College (now Fordham University) against (the now defunct) St. Francis Xavier College.

Recent growth

A map of all NCAA Division I baseball teams, using 2012 alignments

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 Oregon 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. Humphrey Metrodome to play the majority of their games, including hosting a prestigious preseason tournament, and with the 2010 departure of the MLB Minnesota Twins for the new Target Field, hope to use the Metrodome 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 2010, this date was March 1. 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 included 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 a composite material that meets NCAA standards. Starting with the 2011 season, composite bats must pass the "Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution" (BBCOR) test.
  • 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.
    • In televised games and in tournament games, instant replay may be used in tournament games to determine if a slide was malicious.

Metal versus wood bat

Though a wood bat is legal in NCAA competition, players overwhelmingly prefer and use a metal bat. The metal bat was implemented into college baseball in 1975.[2] Use of a metal bat is somewhat controversial amongst baseball aficionados. Supporters of an aluminum or composite bat note how it can increase offensive performance, as the speed of a ball off a metal bat is generally faster than off a wood bat. Those against metal, and for wood, would argue how a metal bat is not safe to use, and that a metal bat doesn't prepare players for the next level, as pro baseball uses a wood bat exclusively. In the 2011 season the NCAA changed the requirements for a metal bat, reducing the maximum allowed exit speed in a way that is said to produce a feeling more like a wood bat.[3] As a result in 2011 there were fewer overall "long" drives or home runs than in the past.

Draft process

A college player at a four year school is eligible for the draft after they are done with at least three years of school. They must either compete up to their junior year or be twenty one years of age to enter the First-Year Players Draft. A player is not able to enter the draft before this unless they attend a junior college, in which case, they are eligible to leave whenever they choose to do so. There are fifty rounds in the Rule IV Major League Draft for eligible college and high school players to be selected.[4] Despite MLB's draft being considerably longer than that of the NFL or NBA, only about 9.1% of all NCAA senior baseball players are drafted by an MLB team.[5]

One of the biggest controversies with the draft and these amateur athletes is the use of agents. There have been many cases of college athletes consulting or hiring an agent prematurely in direct violation of NCAA rules. The NCAA came up with the “no agent rule” as a result of this for what they say was to benefit their amateur athletes. This law stated that a college player is unable to hire an agent or even a lawyer in order to assist them in negotiating a contract with a professional team.[6] The rule states that “[a]n individual shall be ineligible for participation in an intercollegiate sport if he or she has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation in that sport”.[7] Representation of an agent is considered to be any direct contact with the professional team during the contract negotiations. This contact can be made many different ways, whether through direct conversation, via mail or through the telephone.[8] This rule is strongly enforced by the NCAA and has harsh consequences if broken.

Recruitment process

The recruitment process is similar to that of the Major League Draft in that a high school athlete is taking the next step in his career. The NCAA places restrictions on the coaches that are trying to convince athletes to come play for them and attend their university. College Baseball programs are only allowed to offer a limited number of scholarships each year, so the process of earning a scholarship is quite competitive. Baseball is classified by the NCAA as an "equivalency" sport, meaning that limits on athletic financial aid are set to the equivalent of a fixed number of full scholarships. Division I schools are allowed the equivalent of 11.7 full scholarships;[9] Division II schools, only 9.0.[10] Schools generally choose to award multiple partial scholarships rather than exclusively full scholarships.[11] In Division I, the NCAA also limits the total number of players receiving baseball-related financial aid to 27,[9] and also requires that each of these players receive athletic aid equal to at least 25% of a full scholarship.[12]

Before September 1 of a potential college player’s 11th grade year, it is illegal for a college program to give any kind of recruiting materials to the prospect. A phone call is not even permitted to the prospect until July 1 of his 11th grade year.[13] Once the player is committed to the school of his choice, he must sign his letter of intent during one of several signing periods. The early signing period for a Division I baseball player is between November 8 and November 15; the late signing period dates for these players are April 11 to August 1.[13]

Substance policies

The substance policies for college baseball are very strict and set by the NCAA. There is a set list of the forbidden substances a college baseball player is allowed to put in their body, and there is a very strict punishment for those that defy it, whether it be intentional or unintentional. There is a very long list of these substances, including alcohol, marijuana, anabolic steroids, heroin to name a few of many. These substances fit into categories such as stimulants, anabolic steroids, diuretics, street drugs, hormones, anti-estrogens, and more.[14] Failure to pass scheduled or random drug tests can result in ineligibility.[15]

Attendance records

Top college baseball crowds of all-time

Attendance Schools Ballpark and Location Date
40,106 Houston at San Diego State Petco Park, San Diego, CA March 11, 2004 [16]
36,056 Louisiana Tech at Minnesota Target Field, Minneapolis, MN March 27, 2010 [17]
28,836 Georgia Tech at Georgia Turner Field, Atlanta, GA May 11, 2004 [18]
27,673 LSU at Tulane Superdome, 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 14,556 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 12,313 Alabama at LSU, Baton Rouge April 17, 2010
11 12,076 Florida at LSU, Baton Rouge March 18, 2011
12 11,763 Auburn at Mississippi State, Starkville April 12, 2003
13 11,588 Centenary at LSU, Baton Rouge February 19, 2010
14 11,496 Florida State at Mississippi State, Starkville May 27, 1990
15 11,332 Alabama at
16 11,225 Arkansas at LSU, Baton Rouge March 19, 2010
17 11,220 Pepperdine at LSU, Baton Rouge March 6, 2010
18 11,201 Florida at Mississippi State, Starkville April 9, 2011
19 11,174 Florida at Mississippi State, Starkville April 13, 1991
20 11,157 Kansas at LSU, Baton Rouge March 12, 2010
21 11,127 South Alabama at Mississippi State, Starkville May 26, 2000
22 11,126 Centenary at LSU, Baton Rouge February 20, 2010
23 11,089 Tennessee at Mississippi State, Starkville April 17, 2010
24 11,074 Kansas at LSU, Baton Rouge March 14, 2010
25 11,014 Arizona State at Arkansas, Fayetteville April 8, 2009

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, Texas. 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.[19][20]

See also


  • Arkell, Thomas J. “Agent Interference With College Athletics: What Agents Can and Cannot Do and What Institutions Should Do In Response.” 4 Sports Law. J. (1997): 147-180. Web. 21 July 2010.
  • “College Baseball Teams.” The Baseball Cube. n.p. n.d. Web. 20 July 2010.
  • Green, Gary A., Frank D. Uryasz, Todd A. Petr, Corey D. Bray. “NCAA Study of Substance Use and Abuse Habits of College Student-Athletes” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 11.1 (January 2001): P.51-56. Web. 21 July 2010.
  • Greenwald, Richard M., Lori H. Penna, and Joseph J. Crisco. “Differences in Batted Ball Speeds With Wood and Aluminum Baseball Bats: A Batting Cage Study.” Journal of Applied Biomechanics 17 (2001): 241-252. Web. 20 July 2010.
  • Karcher, Richard T. “The NCAA’s Regulations Related to the Use of Agents in the Sport of Baseball: Are the Rules Detrimental to the Best Interest of the Amateur Athlete?” 7 Vand. J. Ent. L. & Prac. (2004-2005): 215-232. Web. 21 July 2010.
  • Newlin, Clint. “Estimated Probability of Competing in Athletics Beyond the High School Interscholastic Level.” National Interscholastic Athletic Association. n.p. April 20 2010. Web. 22 July 2010.
  • Schlegel, John. "Texas wins NCAA record 25-inning game", (MLB Advanced Media, L.P.), May 31, 2009.
  • Traub, James. “Take Me Out to the Picket Line.” WALL ST. J., A12. 21 July 2010.
  • "2009 NCAA Div. I Baseball College World Series Bracket" (in column 1 (Regionals), click on Austin box; then click on Texas–BC box), (NCAA).
  • A night to remember San Diego Union-Tribune (March 12, 2008)
  • College
  • Minnesota-Louisiana Tech Boxscore Minnesota Athletic Communications (March 27, 2010)
  • NCAA Baseball History. Historical Facts And Information Relating To College Baseball
  • Record Crowd Watches No. 15 Georgia Tech Top No. 12 Georgia, 12-5 Georgia Tech Sports Information (May 11, 2004)
  1. ^
  2. ^ “The History of the Baseball Bat.” Articleclick. n.p. n.d. Web. 27 July 2010.
  3. ^ "NCAA Baseball Bat Certification". Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  4. ^ “Official Rules.” n.p. n.d. Web. 21 July 2010.
  5. ^ Newlin
  6. ^ Karcher p. 215-216
  7. ^ Traub
  8. ^ Arkell p. 149
  9. ^ a b "Bylaw 15.5.4 Baseball Limitations" (PDF). 2011–12 NCAA Division I Manual. NCAA. p. 207. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Bylaw Maximum Equivalency Limits" (PDF). 2011–12 NCAA Division II Manual. NCAA. p. 154. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  11. ^ “Baseball Scholarships What You Need to Know About College Baseball Scouting and Recruiting.” College Sports Scholarships. n.p. n.d. Web. 21 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Bylaw Minimum Equivalency Value" (PDF). 2011–12 NCAA Division I Manual. NCAA. p. 207. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b “Athletic Recruiting Regulations.” College n.p. n.d. Web. 21 July 2010.
  14. ^ “NCAA Banned-Drug Classes 2008-2009.” n.p. n.d. Web. 21 July 2010.
  15. ^ “NCAA Drug Testing Program.” P. 110-115. Web. 21 July 2010.
  16. ^ A night to remember, San Diego Union-Tribune (March 12, 2008)
  17. ^ Minnesota-Louisiana Tech Boxscore, Minnesota Athletic Communications (March 27, 2010)
  18. ^ Record Crowd Watches No. 15 Georgia Tech Top No. 12 Georgia, 12-5, Georgia Tech Sports Information (May 11, 2004)
  19. ^ *Schlegel, John. "Texas wins NCAA record 25-inning game", (MLB Advanced Media, L.P.), May 31, 2009.
  20. ^ "2009 NCAA Div. I Baseball College World Series Bracket" (in column 1 (Regionals), click on Austin box; then click on Texas–BC box), (NCAA).

External links

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