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Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objective of the offensive team (batting team) is to hit the ball into the field of play, allowing it to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team (fielding team) is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate (the place where the player started as a batter). The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

The first objective of the batting team is to have a player reach first base safely. A player on the batting team who reaches first base without being called "out" can attempt to advance to subsequent bases as a runner, either immediately or during teammates' turns batting. The fielding team tries to prevent runs by getting batters or runners "out", which forces them out of the field of play. Both the pitcher and fielders have methods of getting the batting team's players out. The opposing teams switch back and forth between batting and fielding; the batting team's turn to bat is over once the fielding team records three outs. One turn batting for each team constitutes an inning. A game is usually composed of nine innings, and the team with the greater number of runs at the end of the game wins. If scores are tied at the end of nine innings, extra innings are usually played. Baseball has no game clock, although most games end in the ninth inning.

Baseball evolved from older bat-and-ball games already being played in England by the mid-18th century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly in Japan and South Korea.

In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The MLB champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. The top level of play is similarly split in Japan between the Central and Pacific Leagues and in Cuba between the West League and East League. The World Baseball Classic, organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, is the major international competition of the sport and attracts the top national teams from around the world.

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The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card
The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card depicts Pittsburgh Pirates' Honus Wagner, a dead-ball era baseball player who is widely considered to be one of the best players of all time. The card was designed and issued by the American Tobacco Company (ATC) from 1909 to 1911 as part of its T206 series. Wagner refused to allow production of his baseball card to continue, either because he did not want children to buy cigarette packs to get his card, or because he wanted more compensation from the ATC. The ATC ended production of the Wagner card and a total of only 50 to 200 cards were ever distributed to the public. In 1933, the card was first listed at a price value of US$50 in Jefferson Burdick's The American Card Catalog, making it the most expensive baseball card in the world at the time. The most famous T206 Honus Wagner is the "Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner" card. The card has a controversial past, as some speculate that it was once altered, based on the card's odd texture and shape. The Gretzky T206 Wagner was first sold by Alan Ray to a baseball memorabilia collector named Bill Mastro, who sold the card two years later to Jim Copeland for nearly four times the price he had originally paid. Copeland's sizable transaction revitalized interest in the sports memorabilia collection market. In 1991, Copeland sold the card to ice hockey figures Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall for $451,000. Gretzky resold the card four years later to Wal-Mart and Treat Entertainment for $500,000, for use as the top prize in a promotional contest. The next year, a Florida postal worker won the card and auctioned it at Christie's for $640,000 to collector Michael Gidwitz. In 2000, the card was sold in an auction on eBay to Brian Seigel for $1.27 million. In February 2007, Seigel sold the card to an anonymous collector for $2.35 million. Less than six months later, the card was sold to a California collector for $2.8 million. These transactions have made the Wagner card the most valuable baseball card in history. A number of other T206 Wagners, both legitimate and fake, have surfaced in recent years. Some of the real cards have fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars in auctions. One particular T206 Honus Wagner owned by John Cobb and Ray Edwards has attracted media controversy over its authenticity, despite many leading hobby experts regarding it to be a fake.

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Koufax circa 1965
Sanford "Sandy" Koufax /ˈkfæks/ (born Sanford Braun, on December 30, 1935) is an American left-handed former pitcher in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, from 1955 to 1966. Koufax's career peaked with a run of six outstanding seasons from 1961 to 1966, before arthritis ended his career at age 30. He was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1963, and won the 1963, 1965, and 1966 Cy Young Awards by unanimous votes; in all three seasons, he won the pitcher's triple crown by leading the league (indeed, both major leagues) in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average. A notoriously difficult pitcher for batters to face, he was the first major leaguer to pitch more than three no-hitters (including the first perfect game by a left-hander since 1880), to average fewer than seven hits allowed per nine innings pitched in his career (6.79; batters hit .205 against him), and to strike out more than nine batters (9.28) per nine innings pitched in his career. He also became the 2nd pitcher in baseball history to have two games with 18 or more strikeouts, and the first to have eight games with 15 or more strikeouts.

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Elston Howard's Babe Ruth Award in the New York Yankees Museum
The Babe Ruth Award is given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player with the best performance in the postseason. The award, created by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) in honor of Babe Ruth, was first awarded in 1949 to the MVP of the World Series, one year after Ruth's death. The award continued to be awarded exclusively for performances in the World Series until 2007, when the New York chapter of the BBWAA changed the award to cover the entire postseason. Though it precedes the World Series Most Valuable Player Award, which was not created until 1955, the Babe Ruth Award is considered less prestigious, as it is not sanctioned by MLB and is awarded several weeks after the World Series.

MLB expanded its postseason to include the League Championship Series (LCS) in 1969 and the League Division Series (LDS) in 1995. The LDS follows a best-of-five playoff format, while the LCS and World Series follow a best-of-seven playoff format. The most recent World Series champions are the St. Louis Cardinals, who won in 2011. David Freese, the most recent recipient of the Babe Ruth Award, also won the NLCS and World Series MVP awards in 2011. Ruth was a noted slugger who batted .326 with 15 home runs and three wins in three games started as a pitcher during World Series play. However, the Babe Ruth Award does not only go to sluggers or pitchers. Dick Green won the award for the 1974 World Series, in which he batted 0-for-13, but helped the Oakland Athletics win the series with his defense.

Joe Page of the New York Yankees was the first winner of the Babe Ruth Award. In all, members of the Yankees have won the award sixteen times. Luis Tiant is the only winner of the Babe Ruth Award to play for the World Series-losing team. Two players, Sandy Koufax and Jack Morris, have won the award twice.

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