The Beginning of Baseball
Baseball and its Origins
The exact origins of baseball are unknown, but most historians concur that it was derived from the English game of rounders. It started gaining population in the United States in the early 19th century, and many sources report the growing popularity of the game, sometimes called "townball" or simply "base." During this period, small towns formed teams and larger cities established baseball clubs. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright established a formal list of rules for play. Many of those rules are still in place today. Abner Doubleday is widely credited with inventing the game, but baseball's true father was Cartwright.
The first recorded baseball game took place in 1846 when Cartwright's Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club in Hoboken, New Jersey. Baseball continued to grow in popularity after this game until the Cincinnati Red Stockings decided to become the first entirely professional team in 1869. Two years later the first professional baseball league, the National Association, was formed. This association was short-lived because the teams were owned and operated by the players themselves. A group of businessmen formed the National League in 1875, giving birth to modern professional baseball. The American League formed in 1901 and raided many of the National League's players, causing the National League's commissioners to turn on each other. A court injunction, which impaneled a three-man commission to run the league, paved the way for the two-leagues to peacefully co-exist.
During the first decade of the 20th century, baseball remained a game of strategy. Its so-called "dead ball" led to few homeruns. Contact-hitters, base stealing and bunting provided most of its offense. The 1911 adoption of cork- centered ball changed the game dramatically. With the use of the new ball, forty years of batting records began to fall, and the game's popularity exploded.
One of the most popular people in U. S. history is George "Babe" Ruth. He alone revolutionized the game because he could hit a home run just about every time his bat hit the ball. He first started baseball as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, then became an outfielder for the New York Yankees. The year was 1920, and it was a very good year for baseball.
Some really great players have come from the game of baseball since the days of Babe Ruth. Men like Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Ted Williams, Reggie Jackson and Roger Maris have all contributed to this great game. Labor disputes and work stoppages have also marred the game over the years but the worst was in 1994 when the World Series was actually cancelled because the players were on strike. The game picked up in 1998 and regained some of its popularity since the 1994 strike due in large to the race for the home-run record in a single season between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sousa. McGuire won by beating Maris longstanding record of 61 home runs by hitting 70 of his own. His glory didn't last long though because in 2001, Barry Bonds beat McGuire's 70 home runs by hitting 73 home runs of his own.
This article was posted on March 03, 2006
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