For most people, the history of Major League Baseball (MLB) is synonymous with American history. From its inception in the late 19th century to its evolution into the modern era, MLB has reflected many of the changes that have taken place in this country over the past two centuries.
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The history of MLB begins with the first professional baseball league, which was called the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. The league was founded in 1871 and consisted of teams from New York, Philadelphia and Boston. The first professional baseball team to play in a major league game was the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who won 52 out of 56 games played until they disbanded after being banned for throwing games for money in 1877.
The first professional game that did not involve gambling took place on June 20th, 1869, between the Cincinnati Red Stockings and Brooklyn Atlantics at Elysian Fields Stadium in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Beginnings of the Modern League
The modern National League was established in 1876 with eight teams, including the Chicago White Stockings (now known as the Cubs), Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves), Cincinnati Reds, Hartford Dark Blues (now the Oakland A’s), Louisville Grays and Mutual of New York. The American League followed suit in 1901 with eight clubs, including Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Blues. Each league played a 154-game schedule with no postseason until 1903, when baseball became so popular that it had to be divided into two separate formats: one for each league.
The first World Series was played between Boston Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates on October 1st, 1903, at Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston, Massachusetts, where the Americans won 5-3 against their rivals from Pennsylvania.
Evolution of the League
The National League was around for 23 years before the American League was founded, making it MLB’s oldest division. The AL was first created in 1901 as a rival to the NL. It consisted of eight teams, all based in eastern cities like New York City and Boston.
The American League gradually grew over time, expanding to 16 teams by 1969. In that same year, they adopted a second division structure: each league would have three divisions along with one wild card team (the best non-division winner) who would advance to the postseason playoffs.
In 1973, they introduced interleague play—games between teams from both leagues on an annual basis—and today, this is one of baseball’s most popular features!
Expansion and Racial Integration
The MLB that we know today began to take shape in the 1960s when the league expanded from 16 teams to 24. This expansion led to new rivalries between cities and states as well as fueled a surge in fan participation and media coverage.
In 1967, MLB became an entirely integrated league with the addition of its first black players since 1947. The biggest story came from one player: Hank Aaron, who moved into first place for most home runs ever hit by a single player at 2,297 after hitting his 755th career homer on April 8th that same year.
Having gone through the history of MLB, we can see how it developed from being a small organization to the massive industry that it is today. This has meant that players have more opportunities to play for different teams throughout their careers, as well as more games being played during every season. Stay updated with the MLB schedules and watch the games on DirectTV. As per their professionals, “They offer MLB EXTRA INNINGS, the Major League Baseball package to DIRECTV FOR BUSINESS and residential DIRECTV Satellite TV customers.” Once you have done that, you will be ready for the season.