The History of Baseball
Baseball is as much a part of American history as anything else, and this is obvious because wherever you go in the United States you will meet people that have a real passion for the sport. Not only do they have a favorite team, but they know all of the ins and outs of the game, and they wear their team spirit on their bodies, on their vehicles, and even on their homes in the way of flags, decals, and more! Baseball has been alive and well in the United States for a long time and has simply become part of the American culture, passed down from generation to generation.
When we look back in history we can see that baseball dates back quite a ways. The first known mention of the game in the States was in 1791. This date associated with baseball is linked to Pittsfield, Massachusetts where there was a bylaw that banned the playing of the game around the town meeting house. There are also many reports that the game of baseball was played on the weekends in the form of organized pickup games just outside of New York City in the early 1800s.
Baseball’s First Team
The first real team to play baseball, as we now know it, was the New York Knickerbockers! This was a club that was formed in the fall of 1845 and was seen as a social club for the middle class. This team was not professional and eventually fell apart. An important name was attached to this club though, that name being Alexander Cartwright, the man that is often credited with inventing the modern baseball game. Cartwright was the club leader and established the rules of the game. These new modern rules for the game of baseball made it more exciting, more challenging, and the game that we all love today. The rules seemed to spread like wildfire, with all of the area teams adopting the rules and applying them to what had become known as the game of baseball.
In 1857 there was a coming together of 16 New York baseball clubs, of which one was the Knickerbockers. These 16 teams formed the National Association of Base Ball Players, of the NABBP. The NABBP is notable because it was truly the first entity that was formed that had the purpose of governing the sport. Within just ten years the membership grew to more than 100 clubs and two years later it tripled with more than 400 clubs involved. It was truly a remarkable time for baseball as there were people playing under these rules from New York to California.
In 1869 baseball changed again with the NABBP allowing for professional play. This was new as the rules had not previously allowed for professional play, but with so many teams involved it was called for. The first club to join the professional NABBP was the Cincinnati Red Stockings. This is where baseball really started to become what it is today as the major leagues were forming before the eyes of baseball fans and players everywhere.
In 1870 the NABBP effectively split into two different entities. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players is considered to be the first major league of baseball and was in full swing from 1871 until 1875. The amateur league was also disbanded after a few years as well, though this was all but the end of baseball with the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs being established in 1875 and soon after came the American League. In time these leagues would begin to battle it out in the World Series, which is still played today and the highlight of every baseball season.
There have been good times as well as bad times in the game of baseball. We have had baseball heroes as well as people that have come in shining brightly only to burn out fast. Baseball is America’s game because it allows us to throw back to another, more simple time by getting together with friends and family and enjoying one of the most competitive games you can play. Dead ball eras, strikes, and trouble amongst baseball clubs have not done away with the love of baseball, which proves that it is a game that is here to stay.