The Finnish Pesäpallo Association is the governing body for the sport of pesäpallo, often also referred to as Finnish baseball. By many it is regarded as the national sport of Finland. It is not entirely played in Finland only, with further participation in nations like Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and parts of Canada and Australia. The game is very similar to baseball, brännboll and rounders. Pesäpallo was invented in the 1920s and has changed over the years as it became more popular. Like baseball, there is a fielding side and a batting side.
The objective for the fielding side is to ensure the batter and runners do not complete a circuit of all the bases. The one key difference from baseball is that the ball is pitched vertically. This gives the batter greater control over the power and direction of the strike. It also provides the batting side with a variety of game strategies and for the fielding side requirements for defensive planning and anticipation of where the ball will be played. The managers play an important role during matches. For the batting side signals are given using a multi-coloured red fan. For the fielding side, hand signals are often used by the players, while the manager directs the play through instructions to the team.
A standard match is divided into two periods of four innings each. During an innings, both teams will bat and field. A period is won when a team scores more runs in its batting half-innings. The fielding side has nine players on the pitch at one time. The batter and pitcher face each other on home base on either side of the circular plate, before the ball is pitched directly upwards above the plate. Should the ball be caught in flight, it is not an automatic out. It does force the runners to ensure they get to the next base. If successful, the runner returns to home base without consequences. If not, they are out. The sport made a breakthrough in 1952 when it was used as a demonstration event at the Summer Olympics in Helsinki. Since then and through the work of the governing body, it has grown to a level of a professional league in Finland known as Superpesis. The league is directly managed by the Finnish Pesäpallo Association. The highest competition is a World Cup played every three years.