Baseball Field Dimensions
Before getting to the article, here are the basic dimensions of a baseball field: 90 feet between the bases and 60 feet 6 inches between the pitcher’s mound and home plate. Outfield dimensions are not standardized. Read on to learn about the history of baseball’s dimensions, as well as Little League dimensions.
There are nine players in a baseball, nine innings in a baseball game and each base is 90 feet apart. Yes, the folks in the Knickerbocker baseball club, who in 1845 started to develop the rules of modern baseball, had a thing for the number nine.
But besides the 90 feet between the bases the rest of the dimensions of a baseball field were developed post-Knickerbocker, and have with a few exceptions been more or less set for the past 120 years.
The most important dimension on a baseball field after the distance between the base is the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate, something the Knickerbocker rules never specified. In fact, the original pitcher’s mound was a large box which was 45 feet away from home plate at its closest point. Pitchers of the day, who threw underhanded, could run up to that closest point before release as long as they began their running inside the box.
In 1893, the pitching rubber was moved back to 60 feet 6 inches, where it remains today, and all the running up and throwing underhand nonsense had been eliminated. There has long been rumors that baseball came to 60 feet 6 inches through a clerical error, but the best evidence suggests the distance was an intentional attempt to balance the power between hitter and pitcher.
While pitchers initially pitched off of flat ground, starting in 1903 there was a pitcher’s mound, which could be no higher than 15 inches. After a particularly dominant year for pitchers in 1968 (and the fact that some teams had pitcher’s mounds approaching 20 inches, in violation of the rule) MLB changed the dimensions of the pitcher’s mound, ruling it now had to be no higher than 10 inches, and actively enforcing that rule. The rubber, on which the pitcher has to maintain contact before his throwing motion begins, is six inches front to back and two feet across. The entire mound is 18 feet in diameter.
Home plate is a five sided slab of rubber, which would be 17 inches square if not for its peaked top. On each side of home plate there is a batter’s box, with is 4 feet by 6 feet.
The dimensions of the three bases are 15 square inches.
The dimensions of the outfield in Major League and all levels of baseball are not standardized. In current MLB stadiums the distance from home plate to the fence at the foul line is between 302 and 355 feet. To center it is between 390 and 435 feet. Throughout Major League history there have been been center field fences as deep as 500 feet (The Polo Grounds in New York) and foul line fences as short as 251 feet (Los Angeles Coliseum.)
Youth baseball has different field dimensions than MLB. In Little League the bases are 60 feet apart and the pitcher’s mound is 45 feet from the plate. The minimum an outfield fence can be in Little League is 200 feet.