The US is known for many things, from its democracy to its expanse and it being a melting pot for various peoples of various cultures and other countries. However, the US is also known for being a country that really likes sports. Football and basketball are particularly popular in the US, but so is golf. However, one sport is really popular, and considered a national pastime, and that sport is baseball.
How did baseball become that popular in the US? Here is a brief overview of the history of baseball in the US, as well as its growth and development.
The Beginnings of Baseball
Baseball is a sport that many will say was developed in the US, but some will also state that it came from the game of rounders played in England. The fact is, that doesn’t matter, as much as that baseball was played in the US around 1786. It was discovered in a diary of a Princeton student, that they were playing a game called baste ball. In 1791, baseball was banned to be played near the Pittsfield, Massachusetts town hall, because of the danger to its glass windows. Baseball was regularly played by 1823 in New York city.
Baseball Becomes More Than a Pastime
Baseball’s first club that played by modern rules was the New York Knickerbockers, and was founded in 1845. These rules were called the Knickerbocker rules and they did not serve the team well in their first match. They lost 23 to 1 against the New York nine. In 1857 the National Association of Base Ball Players was formed, or the NABBP. The association had most New York clubs as their members. During the Civil War, however, baseball spread to other states and by 1865, there were over 100 member clubs in the NABBP.
Baseball became more popular and widespread due to the Civil War. Prior to that, it competed with cricket as the most played sport, as well as the most popular one.
Professionalism – Leagues and Rivalries
Baseball became more than a simple game by the 1880s, more than a pastime. Professional leagues were formed, notably the NABBP. But, due to different opinions and many leagues existing at the same time during the late 1880s, there was a split between two leagues, namely the National Association and the American League. The American League was first formed under the name Western League and it existed for a brief period of 1885 until 1889.
The Western League started growing in 1894, and in 1901 it got its official name, The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs or American League, shortly.
Blowing Up as a Sport
Even in the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were superstar baseball players such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, not to mention Jackie Robinson. Given their status as athlete superstars, the sport was already popular. From 1920 until 1960 was the Golden Age of Baseball, a time when plenty of popular names were playing. Baseball grew from that point on, to something we know today, the MLB and the MiLB.
Baseball is popular in the US, and this was its short history.