The History of Baseball

Baseball History

 

If we look at the various cultures around the world, it seems that most of them have some sort of game that involves a ball and stick. Among all of these baseball definitely has become one of the most popular. But how familiar are we with the sport, what do you know about the history of baseball?


The Origin

According to most historians, the game of baseball has evolved from the English game of rounders. During the 19th century, with the growth of the game, the name eventually evolved from townball to baseball.


From small towns to larger cities, baseball teams or clubs were formed. By 1845 a move was made by Alexander Cartwright to create a list of rules that all baseball teams should abide by. It is interesting that many of the rules put in place during that time is still in play up until today. In this context, despite popular belief that the game was invented by Abner Doubleday, many believe that Cartwright is the true father of baseball.


Let the Games Begin

In 1846 the Knickerbockers team of Cartwright lost to the New York Baseball Club at Elysian Fields. This was the first recorded baseball contest that took place in Hoboken, New Jersey. A convention of amateur teams was organized in 1857 to talk about the rules and other issues concerning baseball. Delegates from the 25 teams in the northeast came. This led to the formation of the National Association of Baseball Players, known as the first organized baseball league.


Despite the turmoil during the 1860s in the United States, the interest in the sport did not decline and was even carried to the other parts of the country. In fact, the 1868 annual convention was attended by more than 100 clubs.


The Cincinnati Red Stockings became a completely professional team by 1869 and the Wright brothers began recruiting the best players from all over the country. The team won 65 games and never lost one. Even if many wanted baseball to remain amateur, the idea of paying players was well received. Eventually amateur teams slowly faded away, which gave birth to the National Association professional baseball league in 1871.


Professional Baseball

Within the first 4 years of the National Association, the number of teams grew from 9 to 13. This initial burst of promise however did not sustain the league and by 1875 the National League took over. Since this league was ran by businessmen, standards for schedules, player contracts, and ticket prices were quickly put in place.


The promising future of the professional league gave rise to the rival American Association in 1882. To compete, this association reduced ticket prices and maintained teams in larger cities. Instead of competing, both leagues ratified a National Agreement that called for all the teams from both leagues to honor player contracts.


Players who did not agree with the National Agreement formed their own league, the Union Association, in 1884. However this lasted only for a year. In 1890 the Players League was formed with some of the best coming from the professional leagues joining. Unfortunately, this did not last long too and also affected the American Association, which eventually folded as well.


By 1901 the American League was born. Through a three-man commission, the National League peacefully co-existed with the American League. This was not the end of the challenge though as the Federal League tried to gain foothold in 1914, but lasted only for 2 seasons. By 1960 the major league agreed to expand, which led to its growth from 16 to 24 teams.


Baseball Explosion

The success of the baseball though still lies in the way the game has been played. With the dead ball in play, the game focused mostly on bunting, contact hitting, and base stealing for offense. In 1911 the use of a ball with a cork center dramatically created an explosion.


Baseball batting records of the past 40 years started to fall. Reforms brought about personalities like Babe Ruth who was initially a successful pitcher of the Boston Red Sox and converted to an outfielder when the New York Yankees bought out his contract.


He was one of the personalities who revolutionized the game. Homerun hitting infused more excitement into the game. When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, integration became a slow process that creeped into the game. Professional baseball became fully integrated by the early 1960s.


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