By: D. Westphalen
Baseball is one of the oldest and most traditional sports still played today. It was invented almost 200 years ago in 1839 by a man named Abner Doubleday, and quickly became a very popular sport throughout the whole world. In the 1850’s baseball became America's “national pastime” and was the most popular sport in the country. By 1856, the first ever baseball league was created, it was called the National Association of Professional Baseball Players and had 16 clubs with semi-pro players. As the years passed, the game would develop more and more with new rules every year, until 1867, where the league banned all African American players from the league. In 1869, the first professional team was founded, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. They went undefeated during the regular season, and to this day are the only team to do it.
The national league was founded in 1876, after the cancelation of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players in 1875. The national league is still active to this day and is one of the two conferences that makes up the MLB. Through the following years, many other leagues were created, but none lasted enough to compare with the National League, until 1901 when the American League was created and had just as much talent and potential as the National League. In 1903, the first World Series occurred. The champion of each league would meet in the best of 9 game series to see which league was best. The World Series became an annual event, and one of the most anticipated moments of the year. But at that time baseball was nothing like it is today, it only began to change when a player called Babe Ruth started playing.
Babe Ruth is considered to be one of the best baseball players in the history of the game, he won a total of 7 championships, 3 with the Boston Red Sox and 4 with the New York Yankees. Nicknamed the “bambino” he was able to win with every team he played with, in fact, after he left the Boston Red Sox, they suffered an 86-year drought without winning a championship, they called it “the bambino curse”. He changed the game with abilities and still holds many batting records, even after 90 years from his retirement.
Another player that changed the league is Jackie Robinson. On the 15th of April 1947 Jackie became the first ever African American to play in an official MLB game. That day he broke the racial barrier and allowed other African Americans to play professionally. Jackie would go on and win Rookie of the Year, National League MVP, 1955 World Series Champion and would be a first-ballot hall of famer. Nowadays, on the 15th of April, players wear number 42 on their jerseys to honor Jackie, as he was number 42. After Jackie broke the racial barrier in the league, many Hispanics and Eastern Asians joined the league as the sport became very famous in their countries. To this day baseball is very popular in countries in Central America, South America and South-East Asia, with countries starting their own national leagues and having many players being recruited to play in the MLB. In 1992 baseball became an Olympic sport but was cancelled after the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
In recent years, the MLB has witnessed many marking moments such as, the Chicago Cubs comeback after being down 3-1 against the Cleveland Indians in 2016, the Houston Astros cheating scandal in the 2017 World Series even last year when the Washington Nationals finally
won a title after going 100 years without one. Many films about baseball have also been made, the most famous of them all being “Moneyball”, a film about a Yale graduate who wants to innovate his team using a sabermetric model.
During the pandemic, the MLB had to cancel the start of the season. It only restarted on the 23rd of July, meaning that teams would only play 60 games instead of the 162 they used to play.