If you want to construct a baseball field in your backyard, you should go big by equipping each corner of the diamond with the appropriate base. Most people think that baseball home plates are the same shape and size as the other bases, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The home plate on a baseball field is pentagonal in shape. It is a 17-inch square but with 2 of its corners removed to create 5 sides. The adjacent sides of the 17-inch bottom measure 8-1/2 inches that connect to create a point with 12-inch sides.
In this guide, I’ll explain the anatomy of a baseball home plate, how it differs from the other bases, and how far away it is relative to other important marks on a baseball field.
What Is Home Plate in Baseball?
Home plate is one of the most important marks on a baseball field. It signifies the relative location at which the batter and catcher should stand and squat, which direction the pitcher should pitch the ball, and how a team can score a point.
Anatomy of Baseball Home Plate
The home plate in baseball is a rubber slab in the shape of an unequal pentagon. Some have described it as being a 17-inch square with 2 of its sides shortened and enjoined to create a corner.
The measurements of a baseball home plate are as follows:
- 1 inch thick
- 17 inches on its widest side
- 8-1/2 inches on the adjacent sides
- 12.02 inches on the sides of the corner
When planting home plate on a baseball field, make sure the pointed end is facing the batting umpire, and the 17-inch-wide end is facing the pitcher. The corner where the 8-1/2-inch and 12.02-inch sides meet should be placed on the baselines to the first and third bases.
Problem with the MLB Rulebook
In the official rulebook of the MLB, the home plate is described as having 12-inch sides that join together to create a right-angled point. This, however, is impossible.
If you were to draw a line between the connecting points between the 8-1/2-inch and the 12-inch sides, you would get a triangle that measures 17 inches at its base, leaving two unknown measurements that create the point.
Using the Pythagorean Theorem, we know that a2 + b2 = c2. In this case, c2 = 17 and a2 = b2. So, if we substitute the theorem with the known variables, we would get:
a2 + b2 = c2
x2 + x2 = 172
2×2 = 289
x2 = 144.5
x ≈ 12.02
Is Home Plate the Same Size in Every League?
Yes, it is. Regardless of what league a person plays in, the dimensions of home plate will remain the same.
In many cases, the rulebooks of non-professional or semi-professional leagues will call for regulation-size bases, which includes home plate. Regulation-size bases refer to the home plate dimensions mentioned above.
Home Plate vs. Other Baseball Bases
A common misconception people have about baseball bases is that all 4 of them are equal in size. This simply isn’t the case.
The home plate is pentagonal in shape, whereas the other baseball bases are square with slightly rounded corners. The other bases measure 15 inches wide on all sides and are slightly raised in the center, giving it a thickness of between 3 and 5 inches.
Now, you’re probably wondering why the home plate is so different from the other bases in terms of shape and size. The simple answer is that home plate is placed in a sensitive part of the baseball diamond.
The sides of the plate are cut and enjoined together in a corner in order to mark the strike zone. If the pitcher’s throw deviates too far (subject to the umpire’s assessment) from the corner, they will call it a ball and not a strike.
Distance Between Home Plate and Other Baseball Field Marks
Apart from finding the right base to serve as home plate, you should also know how far to place it relative to other important marks and objects on a baseball field. So, let’s take a quick look at the distances of those marks relative to the home base.
- First Base—90 feet
- Second Base—127 feet 3-3/8 inches
- Third Base—90 feet
- Pitcher’s Mound—60 feet 6 inches
- Foul Line Fence—320 feet
- Center Field Fence—400 feet
- Backstop—60 feet
When designing a baseball field, it’s suggested that you start with the backstop—i.e., the fence or screen that protects spectators from getting hit by wild pitches. From there, you can measure where to place your home plate. After that, you shouldn’t have too much of a challenge marking the baselines to create the 90-foot diamond, pitcher’s mound, and fences.
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