For more than a century, baseball and hockey have been among the most popular sports in the United States.
Both sports have millions of fans across the entire continent, and around the globe as well.
And, for more than a hundred years that two sports have simultaneously existed, the fans of each of them have been debating which one is better, harder, more popular, and ultimately, more fun.
While these two sports are vastly different, either side of this debate has some valid arguments.
Both baseball and hockey have plenty of advantages, some of them shared, but also some downsides.
Of course, there are a lot of people that enjoy both sports, as baseball and hockey are both very exciting, competitive, and fun, but rather challenging games.
Below, I’ll compare baseball vs hockey and take a closer look into what separates and what connects these two hugely popular sports.
So, let’s dive in!
Baseball – Game Information
There’s hardly any sport that can be called American more than baseball. Ingrained in the national tradition, baseball has a special and honorary place in the history of American sports.
It’s also probably the most unique major sport in the world. Baseball features gameplay and rules that are like nothing else that can be found in the world of sports.
Mostly played outdoors, on a diamond-shaped field, baseball has many features that set it apart from other major sports, most notably the absence of a time limit.
Instead, the game is played for 9 innings (or less on lower levels of completion).
The most popular bat-and-ball sport, baseball features two teams consisting of 9 players, taking turns on offense (batting and base running) and defense (pitching and fielding).
The goal is to score more runs than the opposing team. The runs are scored while a team is at bat.
Hockey – Game Information
Hockey (or ice hockey) is a sport most popular and with origins in northern parts of the world.
The game itself, at least its modern version, was developed, unsurprisingly, in Canada in the late 19th century and hasn’t changed much since.
Still, as a predominately indoor sport, its popularity is no longer limited to the colder regions of the world.
A hockey game is played on an ice skating rink and players wear ice skates while playing it.
It features two teams, each with six players (one of whom is a goaltender) on the ice at the time, trying to score more goals than the opposition.
The game revolves around controlling and shooting the puck (small rubber disc). Goals are scored by moving the puck past a goal line and behind a goaltender.
Hockey is a full-contact sport and players often use their bodies or equipment to hamper the opposition.
Baseball vs Hockey – What’s The Difference?
Baseball and hockey are significantly different in almost every game aspect.
Below are some of the most notable differences between the two sports.
Baseball, as I already mentioned, is commonly played outdoors on the diamond-shaped field.
While the dimensions may vary, the basic design of the field is the same everywhere.
The playing field (fair territory) is bound by foul lines starting at the home plate and extending at a 45-degree angle.
Fair territory is divided into infield (between the bases) and outfield (anything beyond infield). The pitcher’s mound is located in the middle of the infield.
Instead of grass or dirt field featured in most other major sports, hockey is played on ice.
The ice skating rink features a goal on each side and markings and lines dividing the playing field into different zones (defending, attacking, neutral).
The rink has the shape of a rectangle with rounded corners and is surrounded by walls (or boards).
The one thing that’s in common between baseball and hockey is that they both use a piece of equipment to make contact with the ball or puck.
In the case of baseball, that’s a bat, while hockey players control and shoot the pack with a stick.
Other than that, the basic baseball equipment also features specially designed gloves.
Baseball players also wear some protective equipment (catchers especially), but nowhere near the level of hockey players who are protected from head to toe.
Another significant difference is footwear.
As they play on the ice, hockey players wear skates, while baseball players use cleats.
Is Baseball More Popular Than Hockey?
Due to the fact that hockey requires an ice skating rink and special gear, baseball has always been more popular among the two.
Unlike hockey, it can be played almost anywhere, including backyards or streets.
Baseball has been the second most popular sport in the United States, right after football, for decades.
Only recently has it been taken over by basketball.
Hockey has steadily held the place as the 4th most popular major sport for a long time, although it’s been slowly losing that position to soccer.
In general, the popularity of both baseball and hockey has been on the decline over the last 20 years.
Baseball draws around 15% of sports TV viewership, while hockey is only at around 3%.
Hockey is also inferior when it comes to the total number of players, both pro and amateur, with around 3 million, compared to more than 23 million playing baseball.
Is Baseball Harder Than Hockey?
When it comes to which one is harder, both sports have a pretty good case.
Hockey is definitely more physically demanding, as it requires constant movement, often under intense physical pressure from the opposing players, while baseball players have plenty of idle periods during the game.
Plus, it’s played on skates, which is far from easy. In addition, while skating, hockey players must maintain focus, and situational awareness, and be ready to react in a second.
On the other hand, it’s often said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing in all sports.
Batters have to react in split second to a ball that’s often flying their way at a speed greater than 100 mph.
Plus, each player on the field, especially the pitcher, is under tremendous pressure, as one mistake can cost their team a whole game.
Comparing two sports that are so different as baseball and hockey may sometimes seem like a waste of time.
However, discussions like this are always fun and may lead to discovering and learning new things about each sport.
What’s certain is that both baseball and hockey are tremendously fun and exciting.
Therefore, instead of debating which one is more popular or harder, it’s better to focus on simply enjoying both sports and baseball and hockey provide a great opportunity to do so.
As one is mostly played in the summer and the other in the winter, following both sports is a guarantee of year-round joy and excitement.