Baseball is, of course, one of the most popular sports in America. Millions of people engage in the sport each and every year, both on an amateur and a professional level. On this page, we are going to look at the brief history of the sport.
The time that baseball ever received a mention in the history books was in 1791. It happened in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The sport was played before this, but it was never referred to as baseball. The game was based upon the British sport of rounders, which is very much the same as baseball, albeit with a few differences. There was a commission formed which claimed that baseball was a completely American invention and bears no relation to rounders, but there are still arguments for and against this. Either way, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs claims that Abner Doubleday invented the sport in America.
The first baseball team to use the rules that are played today was the New York Knickerbockers. They were formed on September 23rd 1845. They were an amateur team. They never played professionally before they were disbanded. Their first match against another team was on June 18th 1846. They played against a team called New York Nine, although they lost 23 to 1. The rules established by the New York Knickerbockers were used around the country from this point onwards.
The Knickerbockers, along with sixteen other teams in the area, formed the National Association of Baseball Players. This organization was there to provide guidance to the sport. They also formed a league. By the end of 1867, there were over 400 clubs registered tot his organization. This was in part down to the civil war.
After the civil war, the popularity of cricket, which was far more popular than baseball at the time, started to dwindle. The organization formed previously started to have an even bigger role on the national stage, although the majority of the teams that were in the organization were still in the northern part of the country.
It was the Cincinnati Red Stockings which were the first ‘out’ professional team (some teams had paid players before, but they have never been that open about it). In 1869, there were 12 teams that were playing professionally, all working hard to recruit some of the best baseball players.
Once more and more teams decided to play professionally, there were a number of distinct attempts to form professional leagues. The first was formed by the National Association of Professional Baseball players and lasted from 1871 to 1875. After this, and a number of leagues later, the popularity of baseball exploded. It very quickly became the dominant sport throughout America, a position that it holds to this day. The rules of the sport have not actually changed much over the years, but the amount of cash spent in the game means that players are becoming more skilled. For example, games between 1900 and 1919 were part of what is known as the ‘dead ball era’ where scores were incredibly low.