ESPN Kids Writer Mailbag 16

Q: How do you play baseball well? Delaney from Massachusetts
A: Delaney, that's a great question! The answer is hard work and practice. There are many different skills involved in being a good baseball player. You need good hand-eye coordination in order to hit the ball and catch the ball. Many players are fast runners who can speed around the bases and track down fly balls in the outfield. Pitchers usually have strong arms. The best way to achieve these skills is to get out there and play ball!

Q: What is a full count? Adam from Georgia
A: Adam, a full count is when a batter has three balls and two strikes. They call it a full count because if the pitcher throws one more ball it's a walk and one more strike would be a strikeout.

Q: When was the last time the Boston Red Sox had a no-hitter? Ryan from Massachusetts
A: Ryan, the last Boston pitcher to throw a no-hitter was lefty Jon Lester in May of 2008. The Red Sox beat Kansas City 7-0 and Jason Varitek was the catcher. In fact, Varitek has caught four no-hitters for the Red Sox, a Major League record!

Q: Why do pitchers put the rosin bags on their hands? David from Connecticut
A: David, a rosin bag helps pitchers grip the ball better and also prevents blisters. The rosin powder inside the bag makes a pitcher's hand tacky, so that he has better control over his pitches.

Q: Who had the record for fastest slap shot before Zdeno Chara? Kaleigh from Massachusetts
A: Kaleigh, in January of 2009, Chara fired a slap shot 105.4 miles per hour, setting a new world record. The previous record of 105.2 was held by Al Iafrate, who played for the Maple Leafs, Capitals, Bruins and Sharks between 1984 and 1999.

Q: What's the biggest Major League Baseball stadium? Tyson from Texas
A: Tyson, the largest big-league stadium, by capacity, is Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The big stadium sits 56,000 fans, the most in baseball.

Q: Why is baseball called America's favorite pastime? Troy from New Mexico
A: Troy, it is believed that sports writers began referring to baseball as the "national game" as early as the 1850s. It was at this point that organized leagues began forming and by the 1860s several professional teams came about. While no one knows for sure, it is likely that the term "national pastime" came about during this period because baseball was getting so popular so fast and took the nation by storm.

Q: How big is a tennis court? Nadia from Vermont
A: Nadia, for regulation singles play, a tennis court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide. In doubles, players are allowed to use the doubles alleys on either side of the court. This extends the court's width to 36 feet.

Q: What is the farthest home run ever hit? Rob from New Jersey
A: Rob, that's a difficult question. It's not easy to measure home runs because of different factors like wind and how far a ball rolls after it lands. It is generally believed that the longest home run ever hit in a big league game came off the bat of Mickey Mantle. The former slugger for the Yankees once hit a ball 565 feet against the Senators in Washington in 1953. The Guinness Book of World Records claims that Mantle once hit a ball 634 feet against Detroit in 1960. However, critics have claimed that these numbers measure where the ball landed after it bounced a few times and rolled to a stop and that the ball didn't travel that far in the air.

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