Baseball is often referred to as “America’s pastime.” All throughout the country, Americans feel nostalgic about their experiences watching and playing baseball, or its counterpart softball. One thing about baseball that makes it continuously popular is that fact that so many people can play it. Unlike football or basketball, people of average heights and weights can play baseball. Baseball is a great way for people to make memories with their families, whether they are playing in their backyards, attending games or cheering in front of their TVs.
So how exactly did baseball start? Before the American Civil War, people played rounders, a simple game played on sandlots that would eventually evolve into the incredible game of baseball that we cherish today. One of the biggest changes that were made to change rounders into baseball was the addition of aspects that challenge players’ skill and mental judgement. These aspects were what made cricket a well-respected sport in England, and this proved true for baseball was well. Another change that helped baseball to skyrocket was scoring and record-keeping. When we think of baseball, we often think of a number of records from the past that are still remembered today. I great example of this is Roger Maris’s record of 61 home runs in 1961 that broke Babe Ruth’s longstanding record of 60 home runs in 1927.
In 1857, the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) was formed. This was the first organization that established a championship and governed the sport of baseball. By 1865, there were almost 100 clubs, and by 1868, there were over 400. This growth was in part aided by the Civil War. How, you may ask? During the time of the Civil War, soldiers from various regions of the U.S. played baseball together. This led to the creation of a more unified national version of baseball. The NABBP was originally not a professional organization, but rather an amateur one. However, a number of the star players did receive compensation, even at the beginning of the NABBP.
The first team to declare themselves as openly professional was the Cincinnati Red Stockings. In 1869, twelve clubs declared themselves professional. And thus, in 1871, came the first attempt to create a “major league.” This league was the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which lasted until 1875. This caused a divide between amateur and professional baseball players. By the start of the 20th century, most of the large cities located in the eastern United Station had professional baseball teams.
In the 1920s, Babe Ruth led the New York Yankees to a number of World Series title. This was one of the first big stepping stones for professional baseball in America. Another large milestone for baseball was the success of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson, who became the first African-American player in the major leagues in 1947. Then, in the 1950s, baseball expanded throughout the U.S. It was no longer just a game played in the eastern region of the United States. Western cities acquired teams by either persuading teams to move from Eastern cities or by forming expansion teams. The owners of baseball teams at one point virtually owned the players, but in the 1970s this was changed so that players were free to sell their services to any teams of their choosing.
Baseball is not only popular in the United States. It is believed that an American professor introduced baseball in Japan in 1870s. Up until the 1930s, Japanese baseball was predominantly made up of university leagues. In the 1930s, this changed with the beginning of professional Japanese baseball and the formation of the Japan Professional Baseball League. Baseball is also largely played in the Caribbean nations, especially Cuba. In fact, in the 1996 Olympics, the gold medal in baseball went to Cuba in a tight competition between Cuba and Japan.
Overall, baseball has affected people all throughout the world because of its rich history and its ability to bring people together – and that’s why it’s my favorite sport.