College baseball or university baseball is baseball as played on the intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education. It predominantly is played in North America and Asia, while in other continents baseball is often played by sports clubs.
Collegiate baseball in Canada is overseen by the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association, which sponsors the national championship. The association is not part of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), the national governing body of university sport in Canada, and most teams play club baseball without athletic scholarships. However, Ontario University Athletics, a regional association of the CIS has sponsored baseball since 1999.
Universities throughout Japan take part in local university leagues which are associated with the Japan University Baseball Federation. These leagues usually play two seasons each year, in the spring and fall. The league champions have met in the All-Japan University Baseball Championship Series since 1952.
The two most prestigious leagues are located in Tokyo. The Tokyo Big6 Baseball League consists of six teams and has the longest history dating back to the 1920s. The Tohto University Base Ball League was founded five years latter and currently consists of over twenty teams in four divisions. The Tohto league (along with most collegiate leagues) uses a promotion and relegation between its divisions.
The first known intercollegiate baseball game took place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on July 1, 1859. The game featured teams representing Amherst College and Williams College, with Amherst winning, 73 to 32. The game was played under the Massachusetts rules, which prevailed in New England until the "New York rules" developed in the 1840s gradually became accepted. The first nine-man team game was played later in the year on November 3 between the Fordham Rose Hill Baseball Club of New York's St. John's College against St. Francis Xavier College.
College baseball in the United States is played under the auspices intercollegiate associations of college baseball clubs is played under the auspices of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which in turn are divided into three divisions (I, II, III). The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, comprised of nearly 300 schools, and the National Junior College Athletic Association, comprised of over 200 split into three divisions. Other smaller associations include the Community College League of California, National Christian College Athletic Association, and the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges. The National Club Baseball Association oversees club baseball in the country.
The three largest associations hold national championships for each of their divisions. The most famous and oldest of these year-end tournaments is the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship which ends in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
The rules of American collegiate baseball are substantially similar to the Official Baseball Rules. Exceptions include the following:
- The bat may be made of wood, aluminum, or a metal or composite material that meets the organizing bodies standards.
- The designated hitter rule is used. In addition, a player may serve as both pitcher and designated hitter 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. The NCAA has recently tightened the interpretation of what constitutes a regulation game, encouraging schools to play as many nine-inning games as possible.
- 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). Several athletic conferences institute this rule only on Sundays or the final day of a conference series, so that the visiting team can travel on time. This rule is not used in tournament games.
- Boyd's World - fansite on NCAA baseball
- NAIA Baseball
- NCAA Baseball
- NJCAA Baseball - Division I
- NJCAA Baseball - Division II
- NJCAA Baseball - Division III
- Bill Ballew: Diamonds and Diplomas: How to Get Recruited to Play College Baseball, Old Norse Publishing. 2012. ISBN 0967039320
- Gregory J. Tullt: Nine College Nines: A Closeup View of Campus Baseball Programs Today, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2009.