Baseball is a common game played in a wide field of two teams made up of nine players each who attempt to score points by striking a spherical ball with a bat and making runs on each of the four bases without stopping. The root of the game is not well known, but most historians use terminology as a game of English rounders. A common legend says that Abner Doubleday had invented the game, but Cartwright was the real ancestor of baseball. The game became popular in the 19th century when local teams formed baseball teams, and big cities formed baseball clubs (Goldstein 13). In the United States, the first amateur games were played in Pittsfield, Massachusetts where the law had strictly stated it should be played at least 80 yards away from the meeting house. Other sources show that the game was played in the outskirts of New York City (Goldstein 16). The New York Knickerbockers, which was founded on September 23rd, 1845 by the middle-class people of New York City, was the first team to play under the new set of rules. The set of standards were mainly written by the New York knickerbockers Cartwright, which was majorly copied by other teams in New York to form the New York game which differed with the Massachusetts game. The important rule was the prohibit of soaking; the runner could not be put off by hitting him with the ball, but rather tag or force the runner. The law avoided fights and lots of arguments in the game and practice (Goldstein 19).
Despite setting the rules, the first competitive game of the knickerbockers ended in a bad result as they were humbled 23-1 by the New York nine, a game which was played in 1846 in the Elysian Fields in New Jersey. These amateur games henceforth became more frequent and widespread. Later in 1857, sixteen teams around New York came together and made the national association of baseball players (NABBP). It was the first baseball organization to govern the game and begin a championship entirely. In their first year of operation, the league supported itself by placing a fee on the fans who came out to cheer their teams. During the civil war, the number of games declined drastically, but at the end of the war, the game became even more popular. The number of clubs increased to 100 in 1865 and even hit 400 in later years of 1867, which included teams from as far as California (White 56).
As the league grew, so did the expenses, fans paying a fee to watch games became even more familiar. Teams then needed sponsors to make trips to play games away from home, so winning became very necessary to attract big and better sponsors. Although the league was comprised of amateurs, some of the players were paid secretly for playing. A revolution had begun, and in the year 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings decided to go professional after NABBP introduced a professional category. They searched for the best players all over the country including Brothers Harry and George Wright. Consequently, the decision led to them winning all the games and losing none of the games. The idea of playing players then caught up with the amateur teams, and they could not be able to compete with the professional teams. The move resulted in rising of more professional teams to thirteen in 1875 (White 16).
The domestic league quickly replaced the national association, the reason being gamblers who undermined the public confidence. The national league was run the businessmen who established ticket prices, game standards, schedules and player contracts. The national league meets opposition by other leagues trying to lower ticket prices. Nevertheless, they concluded after delegates met and discussed the issue. Players contract was to be honored, and a reserve contract was to be put in place to keep off suitors. Any other attempt by affected players were futile, as their leagues ran bankrupt. At the beginning of the 20th century, an American league came to play, they raided all the best players in the national league, which forced the national league to move to court, and an injunction was put to play, and both leagues were to exist peacefully. In 1914, there was yet another setback where federal league wanted a part of the game too. Both the national league and the American league sued for monopoly. In turn, after the federal league called a quit, the Supreme Court granted the patent (White 15).
The following decades the game experienced boom and great fame. In 1919, a gambling scandal led to great reforms, and a hero was born in the biggest city known George Ruth. His great performances in the Boston Red Sox forced the Yankees to buy his contract. He led an economic growth to the sport until World War 2 where players were forced to the war. It took more than ten years for the league to integrate and adopt the African American players. Labor battles then followed where players hired Marvin Miller to address their issues. Marvin, a legend in employment cases, quickly addressed the television rights and pension issues, which followed an increase of pay to players. Businesspeople did not like the move with the union interference to their business, and that led to a standoff between players and owners. Later in the year 1966, a deal was struck, and it gave the players rights to negotiate contracts and payments. Thus, financial problems had to end (Goldstein 23).
Lately, baseball has fallen in popularity compared to other sports, and action needs to be taken to bring back the fame the sport had in the years. However, fans and respective should be optimistic considering the long and proud history behind the game.
Goldstein, Warren. Playing for keeps: A history of early baseball. Cornell University Press, 2014.
White, G. Edward. Creating the national pastime: Baseball transforms itself, 1903-1953. Princeton University Press, 2014.
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