History of Baseball
The game of baseball is said to have been based on an English game called roundball. Alexander Cartwright wrote the first rules in September 1845. In 1846, the first game was played between the Knickerbockers of New York City and the New York Base Ball Club. Originally, baseball was played mainly by immigrants. In 1858, the first amateur association of baseball players was formed. It was called the National Association of Baseball Players. During the Civil War soldiers taught baseball all over the country. In 1869, the first players were paid. They belonged to a team called the Cincinnati Red Stockings. George Wright was the highest paid player and earned $1400 for the season.
In 1870, the Red Stockings moved to Boston, and, in 1871, it joined with eight other teams to form the National Association of Professional Ball Players. In 1875, William A. Hulburt started the National League with players from the then dying National Association. He was the owner of the Chicago White Stockings. The owners of all the teams in the league were tough on their players. If players complained about their salaries, they were fired. Gambling on baseball games also began.
After Hulbert's death, A. G. Spalding took over the Chicago team. He wanted the players to be treated well. He also formed a sporting goods business and sold gloves, balls, caps and uniforms. It is said that he created 'the business of baseball.'
In 1882, The American Association was formed to provide a rival league. In 1890, the American Association dissolved, but in 1900, the American League was formed to take its place. Major League Baseball was founded in 1903. A Baseball Commission was set up. A chairman was hired and served with the President of each league. In 1903, the best team from each of the two leagues played a series of games to determine the best team in the United States. The series was called the World Series.
In 1919, a major scandal occurred when the Chicago White Sox purposely lost the World Series for money. This was called the 'Black Sox Scandal.' After this, the idea of a three-man commission for baseball was done away with and a single Commissioner was hired. After investigation of this scandal, eight of the Chicago players were banned for life from baseball.
After a player was killed in 1920 when hit in the head by a ball, balls could no longer be scuffed, spit on or altered in any way. The umpire had to provide a new ball as soon as one got dirty. By the mid-1920's, the major league teams had farm teams. These were lower level teams from which the major league owners could draw to obtain new or better players.
During the Great Depression, in the late 1920s and 1930s, the interest in baseball slowed due to a lack of attendance. People had no money to buy tickets. The game of baseball, however, took off in the country of Japan in the 1930's. American players toured and played against Japanese teams.
In 1936, a National Baseball Hall of Fame was established in Cooperstown, New York. The first class of players was inducted in that year. Night games were started and most stadiums added lights. In 1965, a Players' Association was formed to address the right of team members. Marvin Miller became the director.
Players went on strike in 1981 and 1994, and the national love of baseball decreased. In the late 1990s, great players, like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire began to stir up that love for the game again. Today Americans baseball fans are stronger than ever.
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