History of Baseball

What is the brief history of baseball?

The first traces of baseball in the United States dates back to the 18th century when amateurs would get together to play a game with equipment that is similar to that used in today’s baseball. For example, many players would use sticks as their bats. During the 1860s the game became so popular that casual baseball clubs started to pop up around the country. One of the first recognized official mentions of the game of baseball was in the late 1700s when a city ordinance in Massachusetts banned it from being played near their town hall building.

The New York Knickerbockers

The first baseball team to play under an official set of rules was the New York Knickerbockers. At the time, the team was referred to as a club designed to provide entertainment for middle and upper-class residents in the New York City area.

The club remained an amateur one throughout its lifespan, but the club paved the way for professional teams to form as time went on. In fact, the club is responsible for laying out what was then called the “Knickerbocker Rules”.

The Beginnings of Baseball Rules

Many of the “Knickerbocker Rules” were adopted into the professional game of baseball as professional teams were formed and started to play against each other. Some of the most notable initial baseball rules made by the now-famous baseball club include:

  • Teams of Nine People
  • Game of Nine Innings
  • No “Throwing” the Ball to Tag Runners (They must be tagged by tough instead)
  • Bases Should Be 90-Feet Apart

However, these rules didn’t seem to help the Knickerbockers when they played their first competitive game against another club in Hoboken New York! A club called the New York Nine won the game against the Knickerbockers with a score of 23-1.
In 1857, a handful of New York area baseball clubs got together and incorporated the National Association of Baseball Players which was the first official organization to govern the professional game of baseball and to implement the Championship process.

The Introduction of Professional Game Play

The first club to refer to themselves as a professional baseball team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings. They were eventually joined by eleven others so that there were twelve professional teams registered to play in the NABBP during the 1869 season. The very first major league lasted for four years and was named the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP).

Within the organization, players were jumping their contracts to play with other teams when offered a better deal, so a new professional league was formed and named simply the National Baseball League. There ended up being dozens of different leagues formed throughout the years, most named after their location such as the Eastern League and the Western League.

In the late 1800s, two leagues and one association were dominant in the arena – the American League, the National League, and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. They all signed contracts with one another to manage a fair playing field across the board for baseball teams. Until the early 1900s baseball was concentrated in the Western states until the Pacific Coast League was formed including baseball teams from Los Angeles, Seattle, and Sacramento.
Today the game of baseball is as popular as ever and makes leagues as well as players quite a bit of money thanks to the droves of fans who enjoy watching their favorite teams play both in person and on their television screens.

Baseball Popularity in America

Baseball is considered America’s favorite pastime, and for good reason. It’s been around since the 1800s and while it started as a casual pastime for residents in the New York City area, it is now a competitive game that tends to excite fans during times of nail-biting gameplay. There are a variety of reasons baseball has maintained itself as a strong and viable mainstay in America’s, some of the most notable are as follows:


Being able to root for your favorite teams with friends and loved ones offers camaraderie that can be hard to come by otherwise. Baseball games are the perfect opportunity to get together, enjoy some good food, cheer during gameplay, and laugh with one another for a few hours.

In-Person Events

Heading to baseball games is an exciting way to spend an afternoon. Not only is it a time to watch a great game in person, but you just might catch a baseball that’s being used on the field! You can be sure that there will be plenty of tasty options available at the concession stands too.

The Competition

Everyone likes a little competition in their life now and then, especially when their own personal self-confidence and abilities aren’t the ones being put on the line. Many people love the thrill of making friendly bets with friends or teasing their “rivals” during an intense baseball game, so it’s not surprising that millions of people tune in to games on a regular basis.

The Famous Factor

Professional baseball players have always held a famous status, especially those who break records or set themselves apart from their co-players. It’s not uncommon for fans to become enamored with their baseball heroes. Because of this many people watch their favorite players continuously, just as they would watch every movie their favorite big actors are in.

For these reasons and more, there isn’t a sign of baseball becoming obsolete any time soon-so go ahead and choose another team to root for this coming season!

Baseball In the US

Anything for the love of the game—baseball inspires millions of Americans across North America, especially in the USA. The history of baseball in US finds its first recorded evidence in 1791 in Pittsburgh, Massachusetts. It is said that there was a bylaw that banned the game from being played within 80 yards of the town meeting house. The reason becomes obvious as there was a great deal of cheering and noise that went with baseball events.

Historical evidence points at Alexander Cartwright’s New York Knickerbockers for playing baseball based upon modern rules in 1845. The club established in September 1845 was primarily a social club with members from upper-middle-class families. It was not until Alexander Cartwright published a book on baseball rules that the club was taken seriously. One important published rule was the ban of “soaking” or “plugging” the runner. With the prevailing baseball rules, a fielder could put a runner out by hitting the runner by just a thrown ball. The rules added a clause that required fielders to force the runner, seen in today’s game of baseball. The earlier rules lead to arguments and fights that were straightened up by this new rule.

It is said that Cartwright pulled out 20 rules based upon his experience of playing town ball at Manhattan. Interestingly, the Manhattan play rules were not published and it is believed that Cartwright’s rules are essentially based upon Manhattan rules that he transformed according to using his experience and diligence.

Baseball teams in New York speedily accepted the Knickerbocker Rules. It is amusing to note that their version of baseball gained popularity as the New York Game, distinguishing it from the Massachusetts game popularly played in the Boston area. It was in the year 1857 when 16 New York Clubs came together to establish the National Association of Base Ball Players. It was the first such organization that administered the game and organized a championship. The club membership soared to almost 100 by the year 1865. The initial most prominent professional club of the NABBP era undoubtedly was the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

The growing racism in the 1860s also reached contours of the sport. Dated as early as 1867, the National Association of Baseball Players, which was rated an amateur association, voted to eliminate any club that had black players from playing with them. The year 1871 witnessed first professional white league and Bud Fowler was their first professional black baseball player. In 1884, Fleet Walker who was a catcher also showed up in 42 games with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association.

In 1887, the International League’s tabled against any further contracts with black baseball players. Following the ruling, Black baseball established its own network that had official, non-official, informal pro and semi-pro leagues. In 1885, the first black baseball club known as the Cuban Giants was established.

Owing to financial pressures in the 1890s professional black baseball started falling apart. Near the 20th century, leagues began to surface in two centers at Chicago, the Midwest, and the New York-Pennsylvania hall. It was the gifted black player Rube Foster who established the Negro National League in 1920. Following it in the year 1923, a second league known as the Eastern Colored League was established, and these leagues became popular as ‘Negro Leagues’.

The period from 1942 to 1848 was the golden era of Negro League baseball time when. The rise saw some brilliant stars and good financial standing. The year 1920 saw a change in rules forbidding ball-tampering. Pitchers would often play foul by producing shiny balls and generally tampering. The rule saw strict following after death of Ray Chapman, who was struck in the temple by a pitched ball from Carl Mays in a game in 1920.

Faded balls were also banned. This allowed easy visibility for the batter and the pitchers were also restricted to control spinning.

By the late 1920s and 1930s Chicago’s Hack Wilson, the Yankees’ Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Fox in Philadelphia, Hank Greenberg in Detroit grew very popular. Yankees won the American League Championship and some games in World Series to win great popularity.

Whilst the American League championship, and to a lesser extent the World Series, would be dominated by the Yankees, there were many other excellent teams in the inter-war years. The legendary Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics side and the National League’s Saint Louis Cardinals were also very popular. The war years saw a brief silence. After World War II, Jackie Robinson baseball was a big hit in 1945.

The equilibrium between pitching and hitting rolled in favor of pitchers in the late 60s. The first serious challenge came with a lawsuit in 1970. Curt Flood of St. Louis Cardinals lost the case in the Supreme Court by 5 to 3 but gained a wave of public sympathy from all quarters.

Starting with 1980, the major league game has seen islands of changes. Development of sports science, free agencies, media, and marketing escalated brand names for higher popularity. The game audience rose to 20,000 in 1979 and a spectacular 30,000 in 1993. Even today, we see a few improvements and nothing in comparison to the spectacular 1993 records.

Baseball has been a hot favorite with TV viewers since the 19th century. The love and passion for the game are difficult to describe. As they say, it’s all in the game…the game of baseball.

World Cup Baseball

The first series of world cup championship began in 1938. Teams competed from the US and UK in a match of 5 games. Britain won the very first world cup with a lead of 4-1 to become the first-ever to hold the trophy. Right after the world cup series, the International Baseball Federation (IBF) was established in 1938. Ever since we have seen World Cups be played at uneven intervals. It is interesting to note that professional baseball players generally do not play in World Series as the contest collides with regular league competition games.

Olympic Baseball

There is a myth about the first Olympic baseball to have been played in St. Louis in the year 1904. Historians are skeptical about the accuracy as most sports events held at St. Louis were titled Olympic events.

The first recorded Olympic event dates to 1912. A baseball team from Vasteras competed against the US team at the Olympic Games in Stockholm in Sweden. The US team beat Sweden in two games, with Jim Thorpe as a right fielder. During the Olympics held in 1936, the German hosts invited the United States to demonstrate a match against Japan. For an amateur crowd of 125,000, the World Champions team from the US won by a lead of 6-5.

In the Olympics of 1940, the original plan to include baseball was discarded as Japan withdrew due to war in Manchuria.

Another baseball demonstration took place in 1954 at the Melbourne Olympics in Australia. A team consisting of the U.S. Far East Command servicemen played in Australia. During the match, the audience gathered for the other athletic events summed up to a striking crowd of 114,000 spectators. The US won the match by 11-5.

The Olympic events in Tokyo took place in 1964. Baseball was very popular in Japan and a team consisting of American college baseball players along with eight major league players fielded against the Japanese all-star team. They won the championship by 6-2. Again in 1981, the contest took place between teams from United States, Japan, South Korea, Dominican Republic, Canada, Taiwan, Italy, and Nicaragua. Japan and the USA reached the finals and the Americans won by 6-3.

Another demonstration tournament in Seoul, South Korea in 1988 and Cuba, the dominant team winning all major international championships since 1984, again boycotted the Games just like in 1981. The tournament was held between teams from United States, Japan, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Canada, Taiwan, Netherlands, and Australia, Japan and the US again reached the final. The United States won by 5-3.

The 1986 IOC Congress decided in a meeting that the first official Olympic baseball tournament be held in Barcelona in 1992. It was decided at the 117th IOC Session to remove baseball and softball from the 28 existing Olympic sports to be held in 2012 in London. A major fraction of the world does not play baseball, but the driving factor was also the reluctance of Major League Baseball to have breaks during the games.

A list of organized leagues in the US:

Youth Leagues

  • Little League: Located at Williamsport, Pennsylvania
  • Dizzy Dean Baseball
  • American Legion Baseball: Indianapolis, IN
  • USSSA Baseball: Kansas City, Missouri (USA)
  • Ripken Baseball, a youth program, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland (USA).
  • Babe Ruth League: New Jersey (USA).

High School

  • The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

Collegiate Level

List of Collegiate Summer Baseball Leagues

  • NCAA, including NCAA Division I and the College World Series, are collegiate level baseball programs played in the USA.
  • National Club Baseball Association (NCBA)

Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States

  • Minor League baseball in the United States;
  • Negro League baseball: Non-functional in the United States.
  • All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
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