ESPN Kids Writer Mailbag

Q: How many players are on each MLB team? Beth from Portland, ME

A: Beth, for most of the season, Major League Baseball rosters are made up of 25 active players. These players dress in uniform for every game and travel with the team. On the first of September each season, the rosters expand to 40 players. At this point teams are allowed to call on 15 players from the Minor Leagues to play on their every day roster.

Q: How did the World Series get its name, if only US teams play? David from Bloomington, IN

A: David, I'm not 100 percent sure why it was originally called the World Series. We do know that the first World Series was played in 1903, when the Boston Red Sox defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, before 1903, several other professional baseball organizations staged championship series. In 1884, the Providence Grays of the National League played the Metropolitan Club of New York of the American Association for what was called "The Championship of the United States." The Grays won, and several newspapers at the time referred to them as "World Champions." After that, the champions of baseball were often called World Champions. It is likely that professional baseball's championship series became known as the World Series to reflect this title.

Q: Why do baseball games get rained out, but football games are played in the snow and rain? Casey from Detroit, MI

A: Casey, baseball games get rained out because it's very dangerous to play baseball in bad weather. The ball becomes slippery and hard to control, and players can hurt themselves swinging the bat and running on the muddy infield. Coming of the bat, a baseball travels very fast. If the field is wet, the ball can move even faster and fielders have a harder time predicting where the ball is going to bounce. In football, many teams play on artificial turf and the field isn't as dangerous when it's wet. Also, a football isn't as hard and doesn't move as fast as a baseball, so it's not as dangerous if the ball is slippery. Baseball games get rained out to protect the players from getting injured.

Q: How did collecting baseball cards get started? Ben from Los Angeles, CA

A: Ben, baseball card collecting really got started in the late 1800's. In the 1870s and 1880s, companies would create advertisements for their products with pictures of popular ball players and teams on the other side. In the 1900s, many candy and gum companies would put baseball cards in their products as a way to boost sales. Eventually, the popularity of the baseball cards made it so the companies would put a single piece of gum in the pack of cards instead of a single card in the pack of gum. Throughout this entire period, fans of all ages would collect the cards of their favorite players.

Q: Which pitch is harder to throw, curveball, fastball or slider? Omar from Memphis, TN

A: Omar, all of these pitches are difficult to throw well. The key to a good fastball isn't just speed, but placement as well. Good pitchers don't just throw their fastballs over the middle of home plate; they move the ball around the strike zone: high, low, inside and outside. The fastball is usually the first pitch a pitcher learns how to throw. After that, pitchers usually work on curveballs. Of those three pitches, a slider is the most advanced. Pitchers have to have the correct arm motion and wrist movement in order to throw an effective slider. The most important thing about throwing curveballs and sliders is that young pitchers shouldn't attempt to throw them without the supervision of a coach. If a young pitcher tries to throw curveballs before their arm is ready, they can get seriously injured.

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