A Short History of Baseball

 By: Tauqeer Hassan
Baseball is an international sport. It is played between two teams of nine players having nine innings. However it is mostly played in US and Canada. Baseball is similar to other bat and ball sports like cricket. One team is on the field with one player designated pitcher while the remainder fields. The other team rotates a player to bat. It has four bases and the hitter needs to negotiate until a home run is hit.

As the US dominates the game of Baseball, it is not an invention of North America. Its origin goes back to the medieval games from where cricket also developed. Bat and ball games of medieval times is most likely the father of modern baseball. Similar variants were played in the 14th century may have originated collectively earlier in history.

Bat and ball games played in England during the medieval times were dog and cat, rounders, Stoolball and perhaps cricket. Many historians suggest that stoolball was adopted by men in medieval villages which became an ancestor of cricket since by the 1500s. The game of Rounders which is played in Ireland today was also invented by England. It is very much similar to Stoolball and modern baseball.

A game called Town Ball played in US appeared to be brought by Irish and English immigrants. It was similar to Rounders. Town Ball was played in the 1740s and it was known as base, ball or round ball in some parts of the US. The name base ball was long considered to be coined in the US.

The early reference to baseball comes from 1791. The first recorded rules of Baseball came from 1845 when Alexander Cartwright, a New York firefighter.

Passion for baseball at club level and spectators was the cause of formation of several new clubs during the coming years. In 1858, 25 clubs came together and created the National Association of Base Ball Players. The NABPP and its successor the National Association were not very successful in encouraging growth in teams. This led to the formation of National League which continues till today.

The National League originally consisted of 12 teams but declining ticket sales in 1900 forced the league to downsize to 8 teams. This decision was exploited by the minor Western League and they expanded to other cities dropped by National League. The Western League later renamed itself to American League.

There is not too much difference between the two leagues as they both essentially operate the same rules with the exception of designated hitter rule adopted by American League in 1973.

From the birth of baseball, some great players inspired fans and players becoming celebrities from their humble beginnings. The integration of baseball started in 1945. Most of the club owners and major league executives were not in good principles regarding black players chance in the majors. A movement began in the late 1960s to have these players recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There have been successful changes to the structure of major league baseball. Club finances have been credited with several minor clubs in the MLB winning the World Series in recent years including the Chicago White Sox (2005) and) and Florida Marlins (2003).
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