Baseball History

Baseball’s history goes way back. The French were playing something similar in the 1300’s. The game, rounders, from England is thought to be predecessor. The first mention of the word, baseball, goes back to the mid 1700’s in England. The diamond was a triangle and the bases were posts, but the game was similar.

Immigrants to the US of A, brought this game to the Americas and here it took off. First mention of the game in the Americas is a 1791 law that said it couldn’t be played near the town hall in Pittsfield Mass. By the 1830’s baseball was getting played quite a lot, but the rules were different. There were 5 bases. If you caught a batted ball on the first bounce, the batter was out. You could only pitch underhanded.

The first recorded game was between the “New York Nine” and the “Knickerbockers” on June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey. The New York Nine won 23-1.

In 1845 baseball’s rules were formalized in the Knickerbocker Rules. Rules were adjusted over the next 50 years. The rules of today’s game were pretty much in place by 1893. Foul balls were counted as strikes starting in 1901.

By the 1850’s baseball had become a craze, “the national pastime” . The first professional league “ The National Association of Professional Baseball Players” lasted from 1871 to 1875. The National League started in 1876. The American League started in 1901. They had 8 teams each. The first World Series was organized in 1903.

In 1884 African American, Moses Walker, played in an early league, The American Association. By the early 1890’s a “gentlemen’s” agreement barred all African Americans from playing in the white owned leagues. Negro leagues formed and folded. Negro “barnstormer” teams succedded. The gentleman’s agreement held until Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The last team to include black players was the Boston Red Sox, in 1959.