While many people love baseball, only a few know the history of this game as this isn’t the type of information that you can read about in sport news articles. The origins of baseball have been debated for more than a century. Like other bat, ball and running sports, baseball developed from early English folk games. Early forms were called “Round Ball”, “Fletch-catch”, “Base” or “Base Ball”. The batter was called out after three strikes, the runners went around the bases in the opposite direction and team pitched to themselves. If a player was hit with the ball, he was put out.
The baseball history in the United States can be traced to the 18th century, when players used improvised equipment and did not have any formal rules. The 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts ordinance banned the playing of the game in the surrounding of the town meeting house. Thos is the first mention of baseball. An article published in 1828 in a Hagerstown, Maryland newspaper tells the story of a girl that plays baseball with her friends.
The New York Knickerbockers were the first team in baseball history to play under the modern rules. Alexander Cartwright and the other club members devised the first rules and regulations under the name of the “Knickerbocker Rules”. In 1846, the New York Nine won against the Knickerbockers with a score of 23 to one. They didn’t win, but their rules were adopted by many teams that named this version the New York Game.
Although the game was becoming very popular, the press was still more interested in cricket. In 1857, the Knickerbockers and fifteen New York clubs formed the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), the first baseball organization. Influenced by the Civil War, almost 100 clubs joined by the end of 1865, and two years later it reached 400 members. The first professional team and was the Cincinnati Red Stockings from Ohio and also the winners of the 1870 championship. They are the oldest team in America, known today as the Chicago Cubs.
In 1870 the NABBP split, forming two groups, one for amateurs and one for professionals. The amateur league dissolved after a few years and the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players operated from 1871 through 1875. The William Hulbert’s National League formed and it still exists today. It was a tumultuous period in the baseball history, because the power shifted to the club and players were held as “slaves” to the contracts. Non-white players were forced out or sent to minor leagues, a practice that didn’t end until 1947.
A new era begun in 1919 with the emergence of Babe Ruth. In the 20s, the New York Yankees won several World Series making the headlines of most sport news articles, and in 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player in the major leagues. Today, baseball is a sport and a business, although many consider that the business side is more powerful.