What is the History of the MLB?

 
 

 

Throughout the early part of that century, small towns formed teams, and baseball clubs were formed in larger cities. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright wanted to formalize a list of rules by which all team could play. Much of that original code is still in place today. Although popular legend says that the game was invented by Abner Doubleday, baseball's true father was Cartwright.

The first recorded baseball contest took place a year later, in 1846. Cartwright's Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club in a game at the Elysian Fields, in Hoboken, New Jersey. These amateur games became more frequent and more popular. In 1857, a convention of amateur teams was called to discuss rules and other issues. Twenty five teams from the northeast sent delegates. The following year, they formed the National Association of Baseball Players, the first organized baseball league. In its first year of operation, the league supported itself by occasionally charging fans for admission. The future looked very bright.
The early 1860s, however were a time of great turmoil in the United States. In those years of the Civil War, the number of baseball clubs dropped dramatically. But interest in baseball was carried to other parts of the country by Union soldiers, and when the war ended there were more people playing baseball than ever before. The league’s annual convention in 1868 drew delegates from over 100 clubs.

As the league grew, so did the expenses of playing. Charging admission to games started to become more common, and teams often had to seek out donations or sponsors to make trips. In order for teams to get the financial support they needed, winning became very important. Although the league was supposed to be comprised of amateurs, many players were secretly paid. Some were given jobs by sponsors, and some were secretly paid a salary just for playing.

In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings decided to become a completely professional team. Brothers Harry and George Wright recruited the best players from around the country, and beat all comers. The Cincinnati team won sixty-five games and lost none. The idea of paid players quickly caught on.

Some wanted baseball to remain an amateur endeavor, but there was no way they could compete with the professional teams. The amateur teams began to fade away as the best players became professionals. In 1871, the National Association became the first professional baseball league.

Professional baseball was built on the foundation of the amateur leagues that preceded it. Interest in baseball as a spectator sport had been nourished for more than 25 years when the first professional league began operation. The National Association fielded nine teams in 1871, and grew to 13 teams by 1875.
The National Association was short-lived. The presence of gamblers undermined the public confidence in the games, and their presence at the games combined with the sale of liquor quickly drove most of their crowds away. Following the 1875 season, the National Association was replaced with the National League.

Previously, players had owned the teams and run the games, but the National League was to be run by businessmen. They established standards and policies for ticket prices, schedules, and player contracts.
The businessmen demonstrated that professional baseball could be successful, and a rival league soon emerged. In 1882, the American Association started to compete with reduced ticket prices and teams in large cities. Rather than fight each other, the two leagues reached an accord, ratifying a National Agreement. It called for teams in both major leagues and all of the minor leagues to honor each other’s player contracts. In addition, the agreement allowed each team to bind a certain number of players with the Reserve Clause. This clause granted teams the rights to unilaterally renew a player’s contract, preventing him from entertaining other offers.

In 1884, they tried to form their own league, the Union Association. Many players left their teams for the freedom of the Union Association, but the league lasted only one season. The teams lost too much money to attempt a second season. Another attempt was made in 1890, when the Players League was formed. Most of the best players from the American Association and National League joined, but like its predecessor, the Players League went bankrupt after one season. The competition and loss of players forced the American Association to fold, too, with four of its best teams joining the National League. And so the sport continues until today in the United States.

 

 

 

--

 

HOME

History of the NFL

History of the NBA

History of the MLB

History of the NHL

History of the MLS

SITE MAP