The Great American Pastime

Baseball has been called the Great American Pastime by many folks and it is amusing to imagine that the exact history of baseball is vastly unknown. Sport historians believe that it is roughly based on an English game called rounders. The game gained its popularity in the northeast around the late 1700s and early 1800s. The precise name of the sport had changed several times from base, to roundball to cricket during the beginnings of baseball history.
In the early nineteenth century, some cities started to form teams and leagues. The sport began to grow in popularity such that the players and patrons of the game decided that they had to formalize the rules of the game. So in 1845 Alexander Cartwright began the formulation of a list of rules that all teams were to follow, and it is interesting to note that many of those rules are still followed today.
Cartwright is considered to have been the actual founder of the game and not Abner Doubleday according to baseball historians. Cartwright was a fireman who formulated the basic rules of the sport. He was credited with founding the Knickerbockers Baseball Club which sculpted baseball history. He then chose to follow the riches of the California Gold Rush and began spreading the game westward. His travels enabled him to continue the expansion of this new sport throughout the country.
The initial game on record took place a year after Cartwright created his team in 1846. As a consequence, in the 1850s some teams in the northeast came together to discuss rules and the expansion of the game, and in 1858 they founded the National Assoc. of Baseball Players, which is deemed to be the first baseball league ever created in the history of baseball.
The sport continued to grow in the late 1850s as membership grew from 100 to over 400 teams. The Civil War broke out, decimating the interest in baseball as there was obviously no time for games. Interestingly enough baseball started to cause interest in other areas throughout the country. When the war ended, the sport began to blossom once more. Teams grew, and cities throughout the country started to take interest and play against each another.
The NABP was initially supposed only to be made up of amateur athletes, but just as with any sport it became very competitive, and the best players were compensated for their abilities on the field.
The Wright brothers who owned the team decided to recruit the best talent from around the country, and they challenged all comers. They were so successful that they went 65 and 0. With such little competition the idea of creating a completely professional league was initiated, and in 1871 the National Association was developed.
In the early 1900s, the American and National league were formed which as we all know remains. These changes in the 1900s established the two leagues, the world series and began the practice of player contracts. The popularity of baseball had firmly begun and was well on its way to becoming known as the Great American Pastime.




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