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Baseball History

What is the history of baseball? From the first league, to the first paid player, get ready to learn about the important dates that defined the perfect game.

The Perfect Game

Taking over 200 years to perfect, baseball is a structured game filled with a rich history. Baseball has stood the test of time surviving wars, depression, and greed. It's become business, fueled by capitalism. But it's a fun and youthful game that unites all ages, races, and genders. Truly anyone can play the game of baseball.

baseball field

Rounders

Originating from the roots of international sports like cricket and rounders, baseball emerged in America as a game called townball. With the first recorded game of townball cited in Cooperstown, NY, a man named Abner Doubleday sat down to define the rules of the game. From there, Alexander Joy Cartwright created the first organized baseball team, the New York Knickerbockers. On June 19th 1846, on the Elysian Fields in Hoboken New Jersey, the 1st recorded baseball game took place starring the Knickerbockers losing 21-1 to a local cricket team. At the time, there were no innings. Instead, winning required 21 runs.

Alexander Joy Cartwright

Alexander Joy Cartwright added 3 strikes to the game and eliminated the ability for fielders to peg runners with the ball for an out. The bases were placed 90ft apart and the game was given nine innings.

The National Association of Baseball Players was formed by Cartwright and added umpires and added uniform rules to the game. Baseball was an amateur game and players would never be paid for their work.

Henry Chadwick

Henry Chadwick took the baseball to the next level defining a player's manual, the box score, and baseball statistics. He spread baseball to Americans all over the country.

Civil War Era

In 1858, for the first time baseball became a spectator sport, charging viewers 50 cents to watch the New York All Stars.

The Civil War was a defining conflict in American history and baseball played a role. Not only did the players and fans fight, but also war spread the game across the country. Baseball was played in war camps all over.

In 1866, at universities like Vassar College, women began forming recreational baseball teams. For the first time, women were participating in physical education by playing baseball.

Come 1869, Harry Wright played for and managed the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Each player was paid.

The Curveball

The world of baseball was shocked when pitcher William Cummings discovered how to throw a curveball, one of the most recognized types of pitches in the world.

National League

But baseball was becoming a game of corruption through gambling and the public was losing hope in a game that once represented amateurism and commanded respect. The National League was formed in 1876 by a group of club members to repair the game's reputation. It put the power into the owners instead of the players making them reserved to specific teams.

American League

Largely geared toward the working immigrant class, the American League was formed in 1882 offering its fans games on Sundays, cheaper tickets, and liquor all things that the National league didn't offer.

Spalding

By 1882, Albert Goodwill Spalding opened one of the first sporting goods shops, selling baseball equipment such as bats and baseballs, becoming the largest distributor of sporting equipment in the country.

Philadelphia Pythians

The Philadelphia Pythians became the first all Black baseball team. Later, Moses Fleetwood Walker became the first black player in the majors. But in 1889, blacks were removed from the major and minor leagues beginning 60 years of segregation.

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