MLB Baseball History:
Unlike professional basketball and American football, interest in baseball has not been sweeping the globe. Declining participation at the amateur level and protracted labor problems at the professional level has thrust " America's Pastime" into an era of uncertainty. Despite this current adversity, baseball will occupy an important place in American culture. This column starts a 3 part look at the history of baseball.
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Throughout the early part of that century, small towns formed teams, and clubs were formed in larger cities. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright wanted to formalize a list of rules by which all teams could play. Much of that code is still in place today. Although popular legend says that the game was invented by Doubleday, baseball's true father was Cartwright.
The first baseball contest took place a year later, in 1846. Cartwright's Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club in a game at the Elysian Fields, New Jersey. These amateur games became frequent and more popular. In 1857, a convention of amateur teams was called to discuss rules and issues. 25 teams from the northeast sent delegates. The following year, they formed the National Association of Base Ball Players, the 1 st organized baseball league. In its 1 st year of operation, the league supported itself by occasionally charging fans for admission.
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As the league grew, so did the expenses of playing. Charging admission to games started to become more common, and teams often had to seek out donations or sponsors to make trips. In order for teams to get the financial support they needed, winning became very important. Although the league was supposed to be comprised of amateurs, many players were secretly paid. Some were given jobs by sponsors, and were secretly paid a salary just for playing.
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Some wanted baseball to remain an endeavor, but there was no way they could compete with the professional teams. The teams began to fade away as the best players became professionals. In 1871, the National Association became the 1 st professional baseball league.