Baseball, and later Major League Baseball, have their roots in the United States. This country is where the game made its first wake and developed into a new standard of sport just a little different from anything ever seen anywhere before. Exactly how the game came to be is itself something of a mystery, although its later growth is much easier to follow. One theory or myth is that baseball came about through a man named Abner Doubleday. Doubleday was a Union soldier during the time of the civil war, and it has been said by many that he was the inventor of baseball, but these claims are rather far fetched and there isn’t really any supporting evidence for the idea. It is most likely that the game can be traced back to our European ancestors somewhat, as baseball appears to be a combination of two European games: rounders and cricket, which were in existence long before baseball was.
In 1856 baseball was called “the national pastime” for the very first time, although at baseball’s early stage it hadn’t exactly reached that point, at least not yet. During this time period baseball was mostly being enjoyed by immigrants who were vastly attracted to the sport. Baseball was still an American sport, however, and as time went on the Knickerbockers continued to develop and refine the intricate details of the game.
During and after the American Civil War baseball began to really take shape into something that would soon become a much more popular sport. Baseball had some advantages which cricket lacked. The biggest drawback to the more ancient sport, cricket, was that it needed finely cut grounds, which was a lot more difficult to do during the Civil War. Baseball was much more versatile in this regard and could technically be played just about anywhere. There was another important shift which took place during the 1850s and 1860s that caused baseball to rise up. Working-class teams began to take the stage and they were more popular among baseball’s fans than the previous middle-class merchant clubs. Because many of the fans were also working-class it made sense that they would be much more interested in teams which had that fact in common; the same sort of people from similar walks of life.
In 1869 the very first all-professional baseball team was formed and they were financed by a group of Ohio investors. Each player belonging to the Cincinnati Red Stockings was paid a salary. Shortstop George White got the most of the team, being paid $1,400 each season. Now, that is equivalent to approximately $23,000. A couple of years later in the early 1870s the National Association of Professional Ball Players was formed between the Boston Red Stockings and eight other teams from Rockford, Illinois; Fort Wayne, Indianian; Troy, New York; Washington; Philadelphia; Chicago; and
The National Association predates the National League and it faced a few bumps in the road throughout its journey. The National League came into being in 1876 when William A. Hulbert poached five of his own players on his team Chicago White Stockings from two of the other teams. He thus formed The National League, which included teams from Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Cincinnati, Louisville, Hartford, and St. Louis. It is possible that the harshness of the owners of the league lead to gambling in 1877, a year after the league was formed. Because players felt their salaries were insufficient and they could not say anything, for fear of being blacklisted, they began to gamble. Around this time baseball also began to become more integrated as a business rather than just a sport. Spalding became the new president of the White Stockings and he decided that the players should be paid much like entertainers. He is often given credit for creating the business of baseball. Spalding Sporting Goods was one of his noteworthy endeavors which sold baseball-related merchandise, such as uniforms and caps.
The National League did compete with a few other leagues, such as the Player’s League and the American Association, but for the most part The National League was dominant and had a monopoly on baseball. All of this changed when the Major Baseball League emerged. In the year 1900, 115 years ago, Byron “Ban” Johnson used four teams to produce the Major League. A few years later in 1903 the National Agreement emerged and so did the National Baseball Commission. The National Baseball Commission consisted of a president of each league and a permanent chairman. In October of that very year baseball’s first “World Series” was played between Boston and Pittsburgh, with Boston winning.
It was not always easy for baseball players but as time progressed they began to get the better end of things. The first improvement came along with Spalding, but things were still a little difficult and players had limited rights. Over the years things gradually improved. Cy Young and Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner were some of the earliest and most noteworthy stars. When you get one of these high-speed Internet plans you can watch all the action online.