History of Baseball

Baseball is perhaps the most widely played game in the U.S., but do we all know its history and evolution? Here’s a quick glance at the history of baseball that will enlighten you in time for a game day get together!

History of Baseball
History of Baseball


Back in the 18th century, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, amateurs played a game similar to modern baseball with improvised instruments and informal rules. A newspaper article as early as 1828 also referred to the game. The article by Miss Mitford, published in a Hagerstown, Maryland, newspaper described a girl who was drawn more to the game than household chores:

“Then comes a sun-burnt gipsy of six, beginning to grow tall and thin and to find the cares of the world gathering about her; with a pitcher in one hand, a mop in the other, an old straw bonnet of ambiguous shape, half hiding her tangled hair; a tattered stuff petticoat once green, hanging below an equally tattered cotton frock, once purple; her longing eyes fixed on a game of baseball at the corner of the green till she reaches the cottage door, flings down the mop and pitcher and darts off to her companions quite regardless of the storm of scolding with which the mother follows her runaway steps.”

Evolution and adaptation

The New York Knickerbockers were the first team to play baseball following the modern day rules. Doc Adams and Alexander Cartwright, both members and founders of the club National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), formulated the Knickerbockers’ Rules which form the framework of the game today:

  • Nine-man teams
  • Nine-inning games
  • Bases 90 feet apart
  • Prohibition of soaking or plugging the runner, instead
  • Tag or force the runner, as is done today, and avoided a lot of the arguments and fistfights that resulted from the earlier practice.

The new rules were rapidly adopted by teams in New York which explains why the game came to be known as the “New York Game”. By 1867, almost 400 clubs had registered with NABBP to play and promote baseball as a competitive sport. Chicago Cubs, who continue to play even today, is the oldest team in the history of organized American sports. The popularity and mass appeal of the game prompted authorities and state governments to take the sport more seriously.

Following a conflict between professional and amateur baseball players, NABBP split into two groups: The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players and the amateur group, though the latter fizzled out due to the lack of a fan following.

Soon after the conflict, William Hubert formed the National League which started to focus more on the clubs than the players. They introduced player contracts refraining players from joining higher paying clubs. The dominance of the league in major cities, especially New York, helped it to retain its Numero Uno position. The cities offered the teams a larger fan following and generated higher revenues.

Contemporary players, rules, and game

By the 20th century, almost all of the U.S. was hooked to baseball. The teams were mainly divided into the National and American. The most victorious team in each league was said to have won the "pennant"; the two pennant winners met after the end of the regular season in the World Series. The winner of at least four games, out of a possible seven, was the champion for that year. Over the decades, all the teams have had their fair share of fame thanks to their flagship players such as Babe Ruth (1895-1948) and Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson (1919-1972).

Since 1970, a lot has changed about the game. Players are now a lot freer, though with certain limits over their movement from one team to another. This has resulted in baseball players being paid millions of dollars a year so that they stay true to their teams.

Today, baseball continues to be America’s favorite pastime and evokes nostalgia in the nation like nothing else.

Additional information

Your account hasn't been activated yet. Please activate it through the gameplay permission email we sent you.


The email has been sent to you.