Baseball is a rich sport that is full of tradition, history, and interesting facts that give it the nickname "America's Pastime." The depth of its history is incredible and extremely interesting to those who are looking to learn more about one of the most popular sports across the world.
Baseball's Best Traditions
One of the greatest traditions in modern sport is the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game. This tradition is followed by all Major League Baseball teams and originally started in 1910. This tradition began with President William Taft throwing out the first pitch at the Washington Senators game. Nowadays, the ceremonial first pitch is implemented at every MLB game, often times with celebrities or other professional athletes throwing it.
Seventh Inning Stretch
The Seventh Inning Stretch is a tradition like no other in professional sports. In the middle of the seventh inning, fans at every MLB stadium will get a break to stand up, stretch, go grab some food, and sing. The tradition also started with President William Taft, when he chose to get up and stretch during the seventh inning and, out of respect, the crowd chose to join him.
The singing during the Seventh Inning Stretch began with Harry Caray, a former announcer for the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs. Harry began singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" in 1971 during the Seventh Inning Stretch at a White Sox game. Fans began to join in in 1976, and when Harry started announcing Cubs games in 1982 on national television, the song spread across the league and is part of the experience of attending an MLB game.
- A set of historical documents titles "The Laws of Base Ball" were sold at an auction in 2016. These documents outlined some of the original rules of the sport back in 1857.
- The New York Knickerbockers were the first organized baseball club, originating in 1837.
- The first World Series was played in 1903 between Boston and Pittsburgh. It was a best-of-nine series and Boston won the series 5-3.
- The first MLB All-Star game was played in 1933, where stars from the National League and American League squared off.
- The MLB had eight original members when the league was formed: the Boston Red Stockings, the Chicago White Stockings, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the Hartford Dark Blues, the Louisville Grays, the Mutual of New York, the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Brown Stockings.
- The two newest MLB organizations are the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays, who became apart of the league in 1998.
Current MLB Format
For Major League Baseball, a lot has changed since its birth in 1876. The current league format is different than when it first began, and here is what the current landscape of the league looks like today:
- There are 30 MLB teams today, with 15 in the American League and 15 in the National League.
- Each of the two leagues with Major League Baseball is split up into three divisions, an eastern division, a central division, and a western division.
- The baseball season begins in early April and ends in late September. After that playoffs begin.
- The MLB Playoffs begin with a wild card game between the two best teams in each league who didn't win their division.
- After the Wildcard Game is completed, the Divisional Series is played, followed by the League Championship Series and then the World Series.
- The Divisional Series is a best-of-five series, while the League Championship and World Series are best-of-seven series.
MLB Player Records
We have seen some incredible professional baseball players during the game's history and some have accomplished accolades that are truly unbelievable. Some of the most notable MLB player records include:
- Cal Ripken Jr., the Baltimore Orioles shortstop, didn't miss a game for 16 years. He played in a whopping 2,632 consecutive games from April 30th, 1982 to September 19th, 1998.
- Pete Rose holds the all-time record for career hits and total games played. He totaled 4,256 hits over his career and played in an outstanding 3,562 games.
- The single-season home run record was broken in 2001 by Barry Bonds with a total of 73 home runs over one season. The previous record was held by Mark McGuire in 1998 with 70 home runs.
Interesting Baseball Facts
- In 1939, television aired its first professional baseball game and it was a doubleheader between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds.
- In 1930, Babe Ruth, former New York Yankee star in the 1920s, was making about $80,000 a year, which would be around $1 million dollars today. When asked how he deserved to make more money than the U.S. President, he replied: "I had a better year."
- The oldest baseball park still in use is Fenway Stadium, home of the Boston Red Sox. The stadium made its debut in 1912.
- The New York Yankees were the first team to adopt numbers on the back of their jerseys during the 1920s. Originally, the numbers symbolized a player's spot in the batting order. Babe Ruth, for example, always hit third in the order, and had his number three jersey retired in 1948.